Disclaimer: I do not own Code Geass nor do I claim that I do. This was written solely for my own entertainment, and serves no other purpose.
Summary: This is what Suzaku wakes up to: a white ceiling, a dead princess, and no memories whatsoever. At rock bottom, he's trying to piece his life back together. And then there is this Lelouch guy who claims to be his boyfriend.
Warning(s) for this chapter: strong language
1) Clichéd premise? Oh, yes indeed. I imagine you staring at your screen in boredom, expecting nothing, thinking 'prove me right' until you feel justified in clicking the back button. But I hope that if you do, you'll do so with conviction (and gusto!).
2) This will be slash. Considering the summary, this is hopefully not a surprise.
3) ESL here and I don't have a beta. Just so you know. I'd really like a beta, though.
4) Started this fic in summer of 2010 and it grew and grew and then I swelled with altruism and eventually wrapped up the first chapter.
5) Note how its acronym is BS? Yeah, I'm very pleased with that. I'm less pleased with its length. Chapter 1 was supposed to clock in at around 5k words. Yeah, that didn't happen.
6) This is basically a What If fic. There are spoilers for the entire first season and then it'll wreck R2. You'll get the most out of this if you finish the entire series first.
7) This fic is also not as cracky as you probably think it is, judging from these notes. Then again, I did categorize it under 'drama', so maybe you are just as confused as I want you to be. But enough of that; lean back and try to enjoy the fic.
Chapter 1 (May, 10th 2011)
Retrograde amnesia is the diagnosis.
The doctor is blurry and far away when he tells Suzaku this, and even if Suzaku can't wade through the medical lingo, the most important part of the message comes across. Suzaku wants to ask more questions, but he is too exhausted and sinks back into the hospital bed. He gets his name, though, and it whirrs around in his otherwise empty head as the only thing he knows to be true.
When he wakes up again, he's more lucid, but no less confused. He grips the white linen in his fist like an anchor, and tells himself not to panic. I have a name. Everything else will come to me in time, he reassures himself. He fears that it's an empty promise, but that is all he has right now, and that is what he will cling to.
He is alone in this room. The ceiling is pristine and wide, flowing into equally bare and boring walls, and Suzaku just sits there in this room, alone and lost.
When the silence starts to become too much for him he presses the button for the nurse, and asks her to bring him a mirror. Before she comes back, he flexes his hands in wonder, watching the tendons shift. How can you forget everything about yourself but still remember all the algebra you ever learned?
The face in the palm-sized mirror is horribly unfamiliar. Ignoring the nurse, he stares at his reflection for minutes, memorizing his features, moving his facial muscles, seeing the way everyone sees him and has seen him for years, but only draws a blank.
"I am Suzaku Kururugi," he tells the face in the mirror.
It's a bit weird to get reacquainted with himself like this, but so far the memories haven't come to him yet, and he isn't optimistic enough to think that everything will magically resolve itself on its own. At any rate, this is him, this is a big question mark, and this is the card he has been dealt with. There are worse things in this world, and he's convinced it's nothing he can't handle.
When he finally tears his eyes away from his image the nurse looks at him with impatience. Wilting slightly, he gives the mirror back to her, feeling stupid and like a charity case. She walks off without a word.
There are still so many things he wants to know, but he feels like he is running into a brick wall every time he asks someone about himself. His last talk with the doctor was particularly dreadful:
"I lost my memories because of emotional trauma?"
"Princess Euphemia li Britannia died. You were her knight."
"I failed her?"
"You are an Eleven. No one expected anything else."
Through this, and the derision and barely concealed hostility, Suzaku finds out more about his situation in life than anyone could have ever told him. He knows what it means to be an Eleven; the knowledge is coming to him slowly as if he's fishing through a puddle of mud with his bare hands. The knowledge itself is there, though, and at the moment he is grateful for even a hint of a silver lining.
He knows that being an Eleven might make his life even more complicated than it already is. He must have lived with it before, but all of his experience is gone now, so he has to start at square one. He's not particularly looking forward to that.
But for the time being, he leans back against his white pillow in his white room and waits for someone out there to find him. He has no other option.
A day later he still sits under the thin sheets of the hospital bed.
He still waits for someone to help him through this, to help him get reacquainted with the world, and stares a hole into the walls, tapping his mirror against his knuckles. The nurse gave him the palm-sized mirror after he asked one too many times, so he alternates between waiting impatiently and staring at his face to pass the time. But he can stare at a stranger for only so long before he turns away in hopelessness. He feels like he is sinking into a hole.
One of the kinder nurses- who pities him more than she hates him- told him a little bit about himself, but it's difficult to reconstruct a life out of hearsay from someone who doesn't even know him. There are still so many pieces missing to the puzzle.
This is what Suzaku Kururugi knows about himself:
He is seventeen.
He is a soldier.
He has retrograde amnesia. His academic knowledge stayed intact, but every personal memory is gone.
He was Princess Euphemia's knight.
Princess Euphemia is dead.
He is an Eleven.
He speaks both Japanese and Britannian.
No one has come for him yet.
That is all. He taps the mirror harder against his knuckles, staring at the setting sun and resigns himself to throwing a pity-party in his head. They want to keep him here a little longer, so he has no choice but to wait. He has nowhere to go anyway.
This is what Suzaku Kururugi fears:
He is alone in this world.
On the third day he is moved to a different room with a little TV in it. For the next few hours, his eyes are glued to it.
This gives him a whole new layer to the mystery that is his life.
They call her the "Massacre Princess". Suzaku watches the footage where she stands before thousands of Elevens, watches her kindly ask them to die, and then watches her as she paints the entire ground red.
He is horrified and bewildered. There must have been a mistake, he is sure, this cannot possibly be the person he had sworn to protect, bowed down for, but then he sees his own face in the TV and he doesn't know what to think anymore.
She was beautiful, comes to mind, uselessly.
There are already little documentaries about her. Most of them feel a bit rushed, a bit cobbled together, all of them interesting, but none of them shed light on what happened with her, really, and all they do is illuminate a tragedy, and it becomes painfully clear that no one holds an absolute answer.
Suzaku watches them with a sheer unending curiosity while studying himself in the TV, standing tall and proud next to her, smiling fondly whenever their gazes meet.
There is nothing there; he can neither recognize himself in these stilted shots, nor can he find any hint of what is about to happen in her words or gestures. She always seems so calm and gentle, a bit timid in the face of the crowd, but proud and hopeful, like a true visionary, like a true Princess.
Like a true actor.
He wonders if she had planned it from the start.
He wonders if he had known.
Suzaku wonders what kind of life he had led that no one would want to visit him.
Is he an orphan? An outsider and a total recluse?
At this point in time he doubts anyone will come to visit him anymore. The doctors and nurses can't help him and seem altogether unsure about him in general.
There has been a flurry of reporters and journalists around the hospital, all wanting to interview him, and the staff seems to have a lot of trouble with keeping them at bay.
He's a burden to them. They don't know what to do with him, but Suzaku can't blame them, he doesn't know what to do with himself either.
Suzaku feels like a failure.
Listlessly, he stares at the TV to take his mind off of his pathetic excuse for a life.
The masked terrorist "Zero" is in the TV again. Suzaku only listens with half an ear as a table full of old men try to discuss him neutrally. Tempers spark quickly, the "Massacre Princess" is mentioned a few times, "Savior of Japan!" is said once, but Suzaku drowns it out in favor of staring at the wall again.
Eventually the nurse comes in with his dinner.
To pass the time, Suzaku plays a little game with himself. He counts the people who have a look of pity on their faces against those with a look of either disgust or reproach. So far the disgust/reproach group is winning, but Suzaku isn't deterred.
As the nurse leaves, Suzaku adds a stroke for the pity group, and then makes faces at the bland hospital food.
The tedium trudges on.
But then a gentle knock startles him out of his boredom.
"Yes?" he asks calmly, but his insides are doing cartwheels, because no one here has ever knocked before.
A woman with blue hair opens the door tentatively.
"Hey," she says, and steps into the room with a man following behind her.
They are here to visit him.
He allows himself to feel a wave of pure, pathetic relief. These people know me. Whoever they are, they know me.
He wonders what kind of relation they have to him, even at a glance he knows they aren't related by blood. Are they friends then? Or some kind of patchwork family? Either way, he is unbelievably happy that for once, he has people smiling at him instead of glaring. Not only that, but he's sure that they will help him. He's not alone anymore.
The woman smiles at him with a gentle, almost maternal expression on her face. He likes her immediately. In tow is a man with glasses and hair that has the color of freshly fallen snow…whose face is turning purple.
Suzaku feels a bit rude, but he can't help but stare at the man's bruised cheek. When he snaps out of it, he fidgets in anticipation.
"Are you… I mean do you…" he fiddles with his thumbs, feeling giddy with nervous energy and something that counters his black, black outlook in life from earlier.
"I'm sorry you've been alone for the past few days. It must have been difficult," the woman says, her eyes gentle and warm.
"No… I mean…uhm." He feels so tongue-tied, it's ridiculous. Rationally he knows that this isn't their first meeting, he doesn't need to make a good first impression, but he can't help but feel like he has to prove his worth. These people have seen something in him once, and the last thing he wants to do is disappoint them.
He's very quickly disappointing himself as he finds it impossible to string a basic Britannian sentence together.
Fortunately, the woman has mercy on him and cuts into his babbling. "The doctor already told us. You don't need to explain anything."
Relieved, and feeling like he hasn't done anything wrong for once, Suzaku matches her smile, trying not to look too eager. "Could you maybe… introduce yourselves? I don't know who you are…"
"Of course," she smiles, "I am Cécile Croomy and this is Lloyd Asplund. We are working in the military division called the Advanced Special Envoy Engineering Corps-
Suzaku's prior happiness screeches to a halt and then falls off a cliff. He interrupts her without meaning to.
"You're my superiors? Not family or friends?"
The woman, Cécile, splutters through her surprise while the man, Lloyd, just raises one eyebrow. Embarrassed, Suzaku wants to apologize for his outburst, but he finds that he's too overwhelmed by his crushed hope to do so.
"Do I have… parents or something? I mean…"
The woman's face falls.
Closing his eyes, Suzaku just nods.
He refuses to grieve over something he never even had to begin with. He berates himself for ever expecting anything else. With that he buries his last hope of having a family at all and decides to never look back.
When he can open his eyes again, he notices that they both look uncomfortable with how this is going- a reunion, not a first meeting, Suzaku has to remind himself- and wishes he could take his words back. It's not their fault that Suzaku has lost his memories or that he is an orphan, and he pretty much slapped his superiors right in the face with that.
Not only that, but he must look like a fool.
Before he can save the last vestiges of his pride, and maybe his employment, Cécile holds something out to him.
A cell-phone and an ornate pin.
"I know it's not much, and I'm really sorry you have to go through this, but maybe this will cheer you up a bit or trigger a memory. They're yours. Here."
Suzaku reaches out gingerly, hesitantly, savoring the moment because this is his, this is something personal, something old and familiar.
Except it isn't.
He remembers neither of these items, made of plastic and cool in his palm, no recognition, nothing.
His eyes jump between them, and then settle on the pin to give it a closer look.
It's gold and blue, shaped like a miniature sword with a crown in it and four white wings. He's seen himself wear the pin in the TV as he stood next to the princess. It must have been his symbol for knighthood.
Have I worn this with pride once? It must have been an honor.
But it holds no memories for him now. Not only that, but now it holds no importance either.
Without a princess he can't be a knight anymore. The pin just serves as a reminder of his failure, a last connection to a dead person.
Trying not to fall into the black hole again, he turns to the phone. Hesitantly he switches it on and waits for it to boot up. When it's done, it wants him to enter a pin-code he doesn't remember. Shoulders slumping in disappointment, he turns to the Cécile. "You wouldn't happen to know my pin-code, would you?"
The benign smile slips right off her face, and he turns away so he doesn't see the pity in her eyes. He tunes out her stammered apology.
Another one who pities me, he thinks sourly.
Suzaku glances at Lloyd just to see if he can add another stroke for the pity group so the disgust group isn't in the lead anymore, but the man just looks bored, bouncing on the balls of his feet.
"Seeing as the boy is fine, we have nothing left to do here~."
Suzaku stares at him, but the man doesn't meet his eyes. That was kind of… tactless.
Cécile shoots her companion a disapproving glance before turning back to Suzaku with another gentle smile.
"Do you know where you live? I have your keys here." She drops them in his lap.
"Ah… no, I don't know anything about myself."
"You'll get discharged tomorrow evening, right? We'll drop you off where you live."
"Thank you." When he smiles this time, he really means it.
"Congratulations!" comes from the man out of nowhere.
Suzaku startles a bit, but then turns to stare at him in confusion. Lloyd breaks into a wide grin.
"On only losing your memories. This could have ended much, much worse! Come to think of it, this is probably the last thing you wanted. Instead of granting you your suicide wish, you were given a second chance. Maybe that was a good trade!"
"Lloyd!" Cécile scolds.
"What?" Suzaku asks, bewildered.
Cécile turns to him again with a frown on her face and concern in her eyes.
"Lloyd doesn't know what he's talking about," she says before glancing at Lloyd and giving him the stink eye. "Isn't that right?"
"Oh~, does that rule still apply?"
"Don't joke about that. And stop talking such nonsense."
Lloyd opens his mouth, but then snaps it shut again with an audible click.
Confused, apprehensive, and with dread curling in his stomach, Suzaku looks between them. "What did you mean by that? Suicide wish?"
Lloyd shakes his head, waving his question away with a carefree smile blooming on his face.
"Don't mind little old me, that was an inside joke!"
Suzaku has no idea what to think.
Dismissing him entirely, Lloyd turns to Cécile. "Anyway, the important thing is that he is physically fine! We'll wait until he's discharged, and then he'll be as good as new!" The man's grin spreads from ear to ear. He winces a bit then, and places a hand over his bruised cheek.
Cécile looks unconvinced and turns back to Suzaku. "Do you think you can pilot the Lancelot in your current condition?"
Suzaku stares at her in incomprehension. "Pilot what? I'm a pilot now, too?
Both of them freeze at that.
Lloyd slowly turns around to make eye-contact with Cécile, and from that glance alone Suzaku can tell that the man only now realizes that not everything is as it has been before.
They continue their silent communication until Cécile turns back to him.
"We'll have to run you through a few simulations before we can put you in the Lancelot again," Cécile decides for everyone. Lloyd looks away at the verdict, crosses his arms, and then actually pouts.
"Do you have anything you'd like to ask? I'm sure this is all a bit much right now."
Shaking his head a bit to clear his thoughts, Suzaku just asks the first thing that comes to mind.
"If you don't mind me asking, why didn't you come to visit me earlier? I've been alone since I woke up."
Lloyd throws him a pinched look. "We would have come earlier if someone hadn't stolen the Lancelot."
Suzaku blinks in confusion. "Someone stole the 'Lancelot'? Why would anyone steal a plane?
At his reply Lloyd huffs in overt displeasure. Suzaku really doesn't know what that guy's problem is. He decides to ignore him.
"Could you tell me a bit about myself?"
They exchange glances again which is understandable, but what really unsettles Suzaku is the blank look on their faces.
"Uh… you are…" Cécile bites her lower lip, and Suzaku should have known, but still fights not to show his disappointment.
"You are our devicer! You could say that you are a very important part of the Lancelot," Lloyd says with a smile.
Suzaku has no idea what he is saying. It's becoming very clear very quickly that Lloyd isn't quite on the same page as anyone else.
"Okay, but what about myself? What kind of person was I? What kind of hobbies did I have?"
"You are a very kind person", Cécile begins, "and you smile a lot."
"A polite and empty smile."
That guy is my superior, Suzaku thinks in disbelief. When did my life turn into a comedy?
Cécile looks a bit out of her element, but she still continues.
"You're really easy to work with and-"
"Obedient like a trained dog!"
Suzaku likes Cécile a lot more than Lloyd, he decides.
Before they can continue to drag Suzaku's self-esteem anymore through the mud, Cécile looks at her watch and winces.
"I'm very sorry about this, but we have to cut our visit short. We'll pick you up tomorrow evening."
"Thank you," Suzaku says in a strange mix of disappointment and relief.
Before they reach the door Cécile turns back to him. "I almost forgot! I made you something."
With that she presses a strangely colored muffin in his hands. Suzaku stares at it, not knowing what to think.
"It's an asparagus muffin!"
Lloyd makes eye contact with him at that, shaking his head wildly, crossing his arms in front of his chest- batsu, Suzaku notes the Japanese sign with surprise- and then makes gagging motions.
Afraid that Cécile might notice Lloyd's antics, Suzaku quickly thanks her with a mostly sincere smile and a softly spoken "Thank you".
When they are halfway out the door, he hears Lloyd's not really quiet enough whisper: "He didn't even apologize."
Then a hiss from Cécile that sounds suspiciously like "Lloyd!"
Suzaku can't help but grin in reluctant amusement. But he has no idea what Lloyd wants him to apologize for.
The door closes with a resonant click, and Suzaku is alone with his thoughts again.
Unsure what to do with the muffin, he gives it an experimental sniff, shrugs and then puts it away. He figures that if it really is as bad as Lloyd seems to think it is, Suzaku is at the very least at the right place to test his luck.
Cécile and Lloyd didn't really act like they are his superiors, he thinks. He's really lucky in that regard. On top of that, it almost seems like they have mixed their professional and private life a bit to form this strange interaction Suzaku really can't find a good name for. He's not entirely sure what to make of them.
All in all, he feels like he has more questions now than ever before.
But even through this whole confusion, Suzaku is grateful to have them here. He really is.
Staring down at his lap he looks once more at his possessions.
This is all that is left of me.
A bit disappointed, he sets both the cell-phone and the pin next to the untouched asparagus muffin and closes his eyes without anything better to do. He decides that he might as well take a nap to kill some time until his discharge.
He reminds himself that he is not entirely alone and that takes the edge off of his melancholy. Now he has his apartment to look forward to, and Suzaku allows himself that bit of hope.
Before he falls asleep, he realizes that he never found out what Lloyd had meant with that one worrisome comment.
When he wakes up later it takes him some time to realize that he hasn't woken up on his own, but that instead someone has woke him up.
Suzaku blinks up at the black haired guy in sleepy disorientation. He is awake immediately when the guy only stares at him without saying anything. He does nothing else.
He wears a black school uniform with golden embroils, black pants and has jet black hair that looks just as orderly and air-pressed as everything else about him. But what immediately grabs Suzaku's attention are not even his uncommon violet eyes, but the look in them.
He stares down at Suzaku with a calculating, holier-than-thou look that looks completely natural on his features. Suzaku mentally adds another stroke to the disgust/reproach group and sits up.
"Yes? Can I help you?" he asks when it becomes clear that the guy is apparently content in just staring at him like an animal in the zoo. Suzaku immediately dislikes him.
"I'm just enjoying the view," the guy says, his voice deadpan and ostensibly bored, although his tone betrays his gaze which seems to intensify.
Rationally, he should just boot the guy out of his room or turn around to go back to sleep, but that guy offers to be a somewhat nice distraction from Suzaku's life-sapping boredom. He's so done with staring at walls, anyway.
Furthermore this guy doesn't seem like the type to waste his time talking to strangers. There is a high chance that Suzaku has known him before, and he latches onto that hope.
"Do I know you?"
There's a long, awkward pause when the guy just stares at him in contemplation and Suzaku tries not to fidget. Embarrassed, he adds: "Sorry, I have amnesia, I don't remember anything about myself."
As if to say "this is going to take awhile," the stranger puts his school bag down next to the hospital bed without breaking eye-contact.
"Does the name 'Zero' ring any bells?" he asks out of nowhere.
Suzaku feels a bit lost, but decides to play along for the time being. "The… terrorist?"
"What would you do if he suddenly stood before you?" the guy asks, completely ignoring Suzaku's mounting confusion.
"I… don't know?"
The guy's eyes narrow. "Maybe you'd try to catch him?"
"Um… no. I guess I would call the nurse." The guy is starting to creep him out a bit.
Like working out a difficult puzzle, the guy tilts his head, still fixing him with a stare that makes Suzaku feel like he is being dissected.
"You don't want to catch him, then?"
"Right now I only want to get out of this hospital and get back to my old life."
A look passes over the guy's features for a moment that Suzaku instantly recognizes. He has seen that same expression in a mirror before.
That alone keeps him from putting a stop to this cryptic nonsense. Suzaku waits for him to collect his thoughts, because there has to be a point to this.
"Bear with me for a second. What would you do if he stood before you?"
Suzaku scratches his head. "I'd… uh… what would he want from me exactly?"
If possible, the guy's stare intensifies. "He just wants to talk to you."
"Then I'd talk to him," Suzaku says, feeling like he's missing something.
They have a silent staring match then, or at least to Suzaku it feels like they're having one. He feels a bit silly, because the whole situation is a bit silly if he thinks about it. But he's also a bit unsettled.
"You remember nothing?" The stranger looks down at him from his nose, eyes narrow almost glaring now.
"I don't…?" He answers, not just a little bit confused as he looks for the call button for the nurse. Once he has reassured himself that it hasn't suddenly disappeared right under his nose, he feels a bit better, but decides against pressing it for now. "I wish I did, it would make my life so much easier," he says once he has shaken off his bewilderment.
"Do you remember why you are here?"
"The doctors told me the gist of it. I'm a bit spotty on the details." He doesn't offer more. He thinks the guy should really be about done with being invasive now.
"Do you think she planned it from the start?"
"Princess Euphemia," the guy elaborates with a snarl, "Do you think she planned it from the start?"
Suzaku is starting to feel a bit intimidated. The course of the conversation is making him uncomfortable.
Who is he? What is this anyway? 20 Questions or something?
"I don't know. I mean, I told you I… Are you a journalist or something? I don't think I'm supposed to talk to one."
A very strange look passes over his features. It makes Suzaku even more uneasy.
After what feels like half an eternity of staring the guy finally answers, enunciating every word very carefully with a terse voice.
"I am your friend."
Suzaku can't suppress a snort. Though, not only can he not refute that claim, a little part of him that feels lost and overwhelmed wants it to be true very much, no matter how strange this guy is.
"So? What do you think? Did she plan it from the start?"
Suzaku huffs in exasperation. "You probably know more about that than me. Everything I know about her I heard from the news. I'm really not the right person to ask that."
"But it's possible."
Really, what's wrong with this guy? He shrugs. "I guess."
Now the guy stares blankly at him. Suzaku is rapidly losing his patience.
This feels too much like a test for Suzaku's liking. If it is one, he has no idea whether he's failing or doing well.
"Assuming that she indeed planned it from the start, do you think that you in turn played a part in it, too?"
Suzaku stares at him. He can't believe the guy just asked that with a straight face. He basically asks him if he has planned killing hundreds of innocent people in cold blood. Is he serious? What does that guy expect to hear? He doesn't seem all that sane. Am I sure he didn't run out of the psych ward?
"Geez, you think really highly of me, don't you?" He gives a little laugh that is supposed to lighten the oppressive mood, but even though he knows it sounds contrived, he really can't manage any better. At the moment he feels like the guy doesn't quite deserve a sincere one anyway.
"Zero killed Princess Euphemia, didn't he?"
Suzaku can't quite suppress an agitated sigh. "Yes, he did." Where is he going with this?
"Are you sure he killed her?"
Suzaku tries very, very hard not to roll his eyes. "Yes, it was in the news and all."
Something ugly transforms the stranger's face. "Maybe it wasn't Zero who killed her. Maybe it was her knight."
"What?" Suzaku asks incredulously, completely thrown.
"Did you kill her?"
Anger mixes with his confusion. "What are you- look, Zero killed her. I had nothing to do with her murder or the massacre."
"Did he really?" And in that instance Suzaku has the strangest thought that he has just met a demon in disguise. "Didn't you kill her? You probably did everyone a favor with that, too."
Suzaku straightens his spine. This is so ridiculous he can barely find the words. He searches his memories if there was any footage of Zero killing the princess, but he can't remember.
As it is he has no way of refuting these claims. And if they really are true, then…
Then nothing. Everyone is glad that she is dead.
It wouldn't matter, Suzaku tells himself, I must have killed people before. Killing one more isn't really... But he had been her knight; he's sure he wouldn't stab someone in the back like this.
But then again, she killed so many innocent people. Killing her might have even saved some innocent civilians.
He doesn't know anymore.
He swallows down the conflicting cocktail of emotions and concentrates on his anger.
"Who are you anyway? What gives you the right to talk to me like that?"
"The bigger question, Suzaku Kururugi, is: who are you?" All teeth, blazing eyes and intent now, like he has smelled blood and wants more.
Suzaku doesn't know how to react.
It shouldn't, but it still unsettles him when the guy says his name. Just because the guy knows it doesn't automatically mean the guy knows him personally, Suzaku has to remind himself. Suzaku's face has been in the news often enough that he knows that anyone could recognize him.
Whatever the case, his patience is at its limits.
"I told you I don't remember anything."
The malevolent smile seems to seep from his face. Intense purple eyes watch him in silence. "I could tell you anything. I could tell you that you killed your own father and you'd have no way of proving me wrong."
Suzaku sees red. "I don't know what kind of psych ward you broke out of, but-"
The violet-eyed man barks a sharp laugh. "Oh, Suzaku. I wish you could appreciate the sheer irony with me of what you just said."
Suzaku ignores both him and the headache that has started to develop. He decides to remove this guy from the disgust/reproach pile and puts him into the just now invented 'batshit insane' category. At the very least now he has a category to put Lloyd in.
"Leave me alone or I'm going to call the nurse to throw you out."
More than just a bit fed-up, Suzaku leans back on the bed and shows the stranger his back.
Apparently unperturbed the man continues to talk.
"Are you sure you want to throw me out? I might be the only friend you have left, Suzaku."
He doesn't deign that with an answer. At that very moment he'd rather have no friend at all than this asshole. He just hopes the guy would leave already.
There's a stretch of silence in which Suzaku can only hear his own angry breathing and the hum of the artificial light. He hates the whole world right now.
Then the stranger has the gall to laugh. "Stand up straight and just endure, little soldier. Maybe wipe the rheum out of your eyes."
Suzaku ignores the non sequitor and just wraps the blanket tighter around himself. Batshit insane, he thinks again.
Then there is only silence and his own breathing again.
"You are an orphan," the man suddenly says, "if you are waiting for someone to pick you up, you can wait forever."
The words sting. Even though he already knows this, the words sting. But he refuses to show any weakness to this stranger, refuses to give that guy anything at all. "Just go away, please."
Silence again, but this time he hears a little bit of rustling.
"They kidnapped Nunnally, did you know?"
Suzaku frowns into his pillow. "I have no idea who that is. Stop talking to me. You're only wasting your time."
Still not taking the hint, the stranger remains standing while Suzaku balls a fist under the blanket. The guy just won't leave.
"You are right, Zero killed her. Want to know why?"
That's it. "If you don't leave now, I'll call the nurse." Suzaku pushes himself up to glare at him and to drive the point home.
There's something intense in the guy's eyes that makes Suzaku uncomfortable, but he's too riled up to do anything about it. Against his expectations, the stranger still doesn't go away, even though he must be seeing that Suzaku isn't just making empty threats.
With no patience left, Suzaku decidedly reaches for the call button to drive this freaking pest away, when the guy speaks again.
"I have something for you."
Despite himself, Suzaku stills and turns to look. He immediately hates himself for it, but then he sees what the guy is actually holding and feels his muscles go slack. The irritation is gone in an instant.
A picture frame.
But more importantly: Suzaku is in that picture.
He reaches out, almost against his own will, and gingerly brings it closer for inspection.
There are three small children in the photo- a little girl he can't remember who had her eyes closed, a younger version of the guy standing next to him, and himself.
The girl sits between them, the edge of a wheelchair steals itself into the photo, but he barely notices it next to the soft, serene smile of the girl.
Suzaku's eyes flicker to the black-haired boy. He has a more reserved smile on his face, eyes bright, posture relaxed and slightly leaning towards the younger version of himself. The image stands almost in stark contrast to the guy he would become one day, but Suzaku can't deny that he still sees some traces of that little boy in the older version.
When he's ready, he turns his eyes on himself. A toothy smile threatens to split his whole face, and the energy he exuberates is palpable even in a motionless snapshot. The body language also tells him that the three of them were close.
He stares at that photo for a long time. They all look so happy, so carefree, so…
His throat feels tight.
Something in the air has shifted. He doesn't need to look up to confirm that the stranger feels it, too.
"How old am I in this photo?"
"Almost ten. I am already ten, and Nunnally is seven."
Suzaku nods and thinks 'Nunnally' in confusion, the name he mentioned earlier, but decides not to ask.
He still can't look up. "I am… seventeen now?"
"Yes," the stranger turned acquaintance says, all traces of his earlier maliciousness gone.
Suzaku finally manages to look up. He can see a small, barely-there smile that matches the soft tone he has used just now, but stands in sharp contrast to everything that has transpired up until now. It's like looking at an entirely different person. It took only a few moments, but now the last thing he wants to do is drive this person away.
"What is your name?"
"Ah," he says, because he has nothing else to say. The guy just did a complete 180, and Suzaku feels like the last few minutes were a bad dream. Suzaku can hardly believe they were friends judging from way Lelouch has treated him until this sudden change of heart.
Then, because he still hasn't forgiven him for earlier, "You had a stupid haircut."
Lelouch chuckles lightly. "Indeed."
Suzaku snorts and adds: "And you're really horrible at first impressions."
"Duly noted. But you're not angry anymore, are you?"
Suzaku says nothing and continues to look at the picture. There are no words for how relieved he feels at that very moment. Something behind his eyes prickles.
"You're allowed to cry, by the way."
"I don't have to," Suzaku says, almost irritated again.
"Nevertheless you can. I won't think any less of you. You were always a bit more on the sentimental side."
"I don't-" He almost chokes on a lump in his throat. He is angry at himself for the relief that floods through him like a broken dam. But he is just so relieved. He covers his eyes with one hand because he's afraid that he really will burst into tears any second now.
He has feared that he is alone with this situation up until now and the only people that barely know him are the crazy scientist and the gentle, but distant woman who know nothing about him outside of work. But now there is someone here who knows him, really knows him and suddenly he isn't alone in this anymore. Suzaku is now convinced that the earlier almost violent interrogation had been a test Lelouch has planned beforehand so he can tell if Suzaku really is telling the truth or not. He isn't quite sure why something like that would be needed, but maybe Lelouch will tell him later. And, keeping his current situation in life in mind, he can't afford to be picky about his friends right now, even if this one forgot to learn his manners.
But first things first; he has a lot of questions.
When he has composed himself, he looks at Lelouch once again.
"Lelouch," Suzaku says carefully, testing the name on his lips.
Suzaku hesitates for a moment and then scouts up the pin in his left hand. He watches Lelouch's face closely for a reaction, but he can't find any besides idle curiosity and a little flicker of recognition.
"Do you know if this is important to me?"
"It's your symbol as Princess Euphemia li Britannia's knight."
He seems like he would go on about it, but Suzaku cuts him off.
"I know that. I know what it means and why I have it. I saw me wearing it in the TV, but I mean… is it important to me?"
Lelouch raises one eye-brow. "I wouldn't know."
Suzaku lowers it again in slight disappointment. He overcomes the feeling in a matter of seconds when he reminds himself that this person can tell him all about his life, even if he doesn't know every small detail. Suzaku has so many questions not only about himself, but also about Lelouch that it almost stuns him. He doesn't know where to begin.
"Do you… want an asparagus muffin?"
Suzaku looks away in embarrassment. "How have we met?"
An unexpected shift on the bed makes him look up again. Lelouch has sat down on the edge of the bed. Belatedly Suzaku realizes that there are no chairs in this room. I haven't needed any before, Suzaku thinks briefly but then chases the thought away.
"We met shortly before this photo was taken. We spent the whole summer together but were separated and hadn't seen each other until a few months ago."
"Oh," Suzaku says, and feels a frown on his face. Seeing it like that, they really haven't known each other for that long. It makes him a little bit afraid that there are now large chunks of his life that he will never know. He's a bit disappointed that Lelouch apparently doesn't hold the key to most of Suzaku's memories after all.
He has glossed over a lot of details, Suzaku is sure, and there're still so many things about that time that he wants to know, but he feels like asking a few other things first. Before he can Lelouch interrupts him.
"We're going to the same school. We're in the same class actually."
"Oh. Wait, didn't you say you were one year older?"
Lelouch shakes his head. "I'm older by about half a year. That doesn't change the fact that we're in the same class."
The relief from earlier returns like it has never escaped him in the first place.
Finally. Finally I can pick up my life again. "Do I have friends there?"
Suzaku feels elated for the first time since he woke up three days ago. "I can't wait to meet them!" He wonders how his friends are, what the school is like, what his favorite subject is-
Suzaku frowns in thought. "But if I'm a student…" he counts on his hand, "I'm a student, a soldier, a knight, and a- what's that word- a devicer? A pilot? How did I ever manage to be all that at once? Or am I wrong?" He looks at Lelouch for help.
Strangely enough he has that intense look in his eyes again. Suzaku doesn't know what to do with that look, so he just hopes it goes away on its own. He has a feeling like Lelouch is the kind to over-think, the kind to stay in the shadows to observe and keep his secrets close to himself. Suzaku doubts he has much in common with him.
"You aren't a knight anymore," Lelouch finally says after what feels like minutes. It's an affirmation if nothing else.
Suzaku grins bashfully. "Yeah, can't be a knight without a princess anymore. But still. I mean, it sounds like a lot of work."
Lelouch still looks at him in that peculiar way. It's a bit sad to think about it in that way, but maybe Lelouch is just now realizing that he lost something, too. Suzaku can't imagine that he is the same anymore after losing all his memories, and the sooner Lelouch realizes that the better.
To ward off the silence, Suzaku tries to be chipper for the both of them.
"No wonder I had been stressed! The doctors told me I lost my memories because of stress basically. Well, they used different words but that's what it boils down to."
Lelouch makes a little 'Hm' sound, staring off into the distance.
Torn between letting the guy think and distracting Lelouch from whatever is making him sad, Suzaku decides that he'd rather not waste his time. Visiting hours are probably almost over.
"Say, do you know what I'm piloting? My superiors forgot to tell me when they visited. They called it Lance or something."
Lelouch snaps back to reality, but the strange look still hasn't left his features.
"Lancelot," Lelouch corrects. "It's a Knightmare."
Excitement fills him. "A Knightmare? Seriously? I'm piloting a Knightmare?"
At Lelouch's nod Suzaku can barely sit still anymore. He is well aware that he is almost bouncing on his bed now like a small child, but he can't contain himself. At the moment he really does feel like a little boy. Why didn't Cécile and Lloyd tell him that?
"But then… I'm fighting the terrorists, right? Is that why you've asked me what I'd do if Zero was here? That makes sense then. No, wait, I still don't understand that."
Lelouch's face smoothes back into a blank stare.
"We weren't just friends, Suzaku."
All of his thoughts come to a screeching halt.
Lelouch couldn't possible mean…
Lelouch's face holds a sliver of insecurity, but otherwise he looks still as high and mighty and imposing as he has before.
Suzaku only notices that his own mouth is hanging open when his dry lips bother him.
Jumping to conclusion, he thinks, you're jumping to conclusions.
"We're… family?" Because he really isn't ready for the alternative, because that came really out of nowhere, because friend or not, Lelouch still creeps him out a little bit.
Lelouch looks away with a look Suzaku can't place. He only catches the wayward trails of embarrassment.
"You know what I mean, Suzaku. Don't make me spell it out for you."
When Lelouch meets his eyes again, he doesn't know how to react.
You've got to be kidding me…
"I…um…I," he fumbles for words while he tries to look like hasn't just bitten into a lemon. Say something! "We're gay?"
Now Lelouch looks like he has bitten into a lemon.
"Don't worry about it." Then he says nothing else.
Suzaku stares into nothing while he tries to process all that.
Something like confusion and unease nag at his mind. "If we are… I mean, why didn't you visit me earlier? I've been here for three days now."
Lelouch looks like he has to swallow something sour yet again. "We had a little disagreement the last time we spoke. It doesn't matter now, though."
"Was that why you were so hostile before?"
"Yes," he says, unrepentant and staring him down.
Frowning, Suzaku looks down at his hands, at a loss for words. Then, scraping together his courage: "Are you sure we are… like that? I mean, because… you are kind of an asshole."
Rather than offended, Lelouch looks amused. "We do seem to bring out the worst in each other. That doesn't change that we are together."
"Oh," Suzaku says despondently, completely out of his element.
He feels a bit queasy about the thought that Lelouch might want to pick up where they have left off.
The thing is, Lelouch doesn't even come across like a very good friend. Suzaku can't really imagine being with this person.
Suzaku isn't quite sure he can do this.
But Lelouch breaks him out of his musings.
"We were friends before we were lovers. Don't worry about it. Let's make a new start, okay?" A pale hand is offered.
The decision is an easy one. Whatever he's getting himself into, he far prefers to have someone on his side than to face his life alone.
The hand is slightly cool to the touch, but that doesn't detract from the warm gesture.
Suzaku is grateful, even if he can't help but feel like he's just signed himself up for more than he ever bargained.
End of chapter 1