That Night, In The Stripper Bar

Warning(s): Awkward boys, and surprisingly more innocent than you'd assume at first. And the T-rating is there for a reason. So no sex. My porn muses weren't quite cooperating here. Self-edited..

A/N: Heavily edited from what I wrote on the kink meme. Place an extra emphasis on the 'heavily', and finished! Depending on how I feel and how my muses cooperate, I might consider adding a second part to it.


This was not the cafe Gino had promised to take him to.

Lelouch should have been suspicious when Gino had, instead of leading him to the luxurious parts of the city, taken him somewhere downtown, to an area that was famous for its various shady 'entertainments'.

The buildings were all bright colours – either yellow, red or something else that was disgustingly flashy – and out of those buildings loud jazz music blared. Not the tasteful kind of jazz, but the sort that Lelouch associated with bad French porn films, and he'd watched one or two because Gino had forced him to.

Really. That Gino. Lelouch should have known that he wasn't to be trusted.

Because, right now, they were standing in front of a building that most definitely wasn't a café, but something that – Lelouch looked up at the sign hanging above the door – had more to do with naked people dancing around poles than coffee.

Unless, of course, through some spontaneous shift in the universe, bouncing buttocks and a pole had come to stand as a metaphor for pouring milk into the coffee or something – yeah, Lelouch knew that it sounded dumb. Because it fucking was.

Lelouch curled his hand to a fist, drew his mouth to a tight line, and bit his underlip. He fixed his friend Gino with a dead glare. Unfortunately, Gino didn't seem to be too intimidated.

"Lelouch," Gino said patiently as if talking to an angry child, "don't make that face. It's not a brothel. Just a stripper bar." He smiled brightly, and – grabbing Lelouch by the arm – dragged him towards the door. "Come on, let's go in."

Lelouch couldn't free himself from his friend's grip – he was strong and, Lelouch didn't want to cause a scene here. He was Lelouch Vi Britannia, son of the renowned business typhoon Charles Vi Britannia, and Lelouch Vi Britannia didn't throw fits in public.

The interior of the building smelled like nicotine, vodka and … something else Lelouch didn't wish to identify. And it was all red … and black. The floor was all in red, but the tables and chairs were black.

Lelouch tried not to look at the … main scene. But, unfortunately, the walls – a shade of way too intense wine red – burned his eyes, and he was forced to avert his gaze and to see…not the scantily clad females he'd been expecting, but the decidedly unfeminine dancers making obscene circular movements around poles.

Lelouch took a deep breath.

"Gino, you – this is male stripper bar." Lelouch tried his best not to hyperventilate or sound too panicked. He really needed to sit down –

No, he needed to get fucking out of here. Right, because if he sat down, then everything would just go straight to hell.

Gino simply shrugged his shoulders and laughed. "Well, I thought that maybe the reason my porn collection never did it for you is because you just don't swing that way." He chuckled. "So I thought I'd take you here – because, come on, Lelouch you've got to have some kind of sexual interest –" Gino frowned then, rubbing his neck, "Unless you're really into Nunnally or somethi-"

Okay, Lelouch decided. The universe hated him. It really did. Because, if there was one thing that could make him stay here (and no, it wasn't the naked or half-naked or whatever men dancing around the poles), then it was any mention of him having feelings for Nunnally that were anything but brotherly (how dare Gino even?). "Fine, I'm staying."

Lelouch sat down at the nearest empty place and fixed his eyes on an interesting crack on the wall. He was resolved to spend this evening just doing that.

Gino could go to hell for all he cared.


So he'd brought Lelouch to a male-exclusive stripper bar, and persuaded him to stay. Somewhat.

So now, Lelouch was here. Seated. But not looking at the main event. Also, he looked about as pleased as a crab in an oven (that meant he wasn't pleased at all).

Gino sighed. "You know, I didn't do this to anger you or anything – I just wanted you to go out there and have some fun, Lelouch."

A glare. "And that constitutes going to a stripper bar?" Lelouch looked disgusted, and Gino felt something like guilt churning inside of his stomach. Had he really made a mistake, bringing him here? Kallen had said – ah damn it, Gino decided that, while his lovely Kallen was a lot of positive things, she wasn't the best judge of character.

(Lelouch definitely hadn't loosened up since he'd entered this place. Nor did the sight of dancing men do anything for him.)

Gino let out another sigh. "I'm sorry. I guess I wasn't thinking."

He expected a "you never think" from Lelouch, but the hard look in the other boy's eyes softened, and he was biting back a smile. "Don't apologise. I know you didn't mean anything bad. I mean," Lelouch waved his hand dismissively, "I guess you mean just as well as Milly did when she … you know." Lelouch was flushing slightly, and Gino knew what he'd meant –

(Milly had often made Lelouch dress up as a girl during the culture festivals – ).

"I miss those times, they were fun," Gino said and he meant it. With them all in college now, it sometimes felt like they were drifting apart and … for a second, Gino thought that – maybe he hadn't brought Lelouch here for his sake, but for his own. Well, it didn't matter now. Gino was resolved to settle things right between him and Lelouch. "Do you want to leave?"

But Lelouch was not listening to him, his eyes – for the first time – trained on the main stage. And Gino, because he was curious to see what had distracted him, looked at the stage too –

He saw a young dancer dressed in a soldier's outfit slowly dancing around a pole, hands already tugging at his tie. Because they were close to the stage, Gino could see the dancer's face too, and, while not drop dead gorgeous, he certainly was easy on the eyes.

Well, if you had that sort of inclination, Gino thought.

But yes, inclination or not, Gino had to admit that dancer had some of the prettiest pair of green eyes he'd ever seen. He smiled. "That one caught your fancy, eh?"

Lelouch turned to look at him, his face pale. "No, that's Suzaku. One of my oldest friends."


Taking a deep breath and straightening in his seat, Lelouch forced himself to look calm while Gino still stared at him – a look of utter bafflement marring his usually cheerful features. He could see the unspoken question lingering in his eyes.

He tore his eyes away from the dancing figure on the main stage, the tie now loosely wrapped around his neck, those hands still tugging and him swaying his hips –

Instead, Lelouch tried to look at Gino, and not that horrid (oddly entrancing) spectacle of Suzaku (Suzaku, Suzaku, Suzaku) making an utter fool out of himself.

Gino thankfully chose to speak at that moment. "Suzaku … one of your oldest friends?"

"I haven't seen Suzaku since …," Lelouch paused, feeling a bit dizzy in the nicotine-infiltrated dim of the stripper bar, "middle school or something."

(Don't forget me, Lelouch, Suzaku had said then, and Lelouch had promised he never would because real friends never forgot.)

"So, I guess this is a bit of a strange reunion?" Gino laughed a bit – awkward and forced. Then, Gino stopped laughing, and he simply looked apologetic, distressed even. "I swear I didn't plan this, Lelouch."

"Don't apologise. Well not for that."

"You mean your childhood friend turned stripper?" The amusement was back in Gino's voice, and he was smiling a bit, but it was an odd smile, a tinge of strain in it. He shrugged his shoulders. "At least, you don't have to make up any imaginary girlfriends in Canada now, cuz being a male stripper is kinda … ," Gino cocked his head to the side as his brain was obviously ransacking its various cells for an appropriate word, "more embarrassing, I guess."

Lelouch rolled his eyes. "Really, you're mistaking me for Rivalz." He wasn't the one talking about how important it was to get laid, after all. Nor was he the one with a long-standing, up to date unreciprocated crush on Milly Ashford. "And I don't think that making up fake girlfriends is very dignified." He scowled. "I have more pride than that."

"Right," Gino said and shook his head, "I forgot that you're not a normal teenage boy."

"Because I don't want to screw everything that walks?" Lelouch let out a sigh. "Anyhow, perhaps we should just go – this place reeks." He really just wanted to get a bit of fresh air – maybe even a change of scenery …

Gino nodded, though he frowned as he seemed to recall something. "You don't want to wait until your frien- er, Suzaku is done? So you can talk to him?" He sounded reproachful, and Lelouch sensed that nagging feeling of guilt welling up inside of him. Because Suzaku didn't deserve to be brushed off like that, even if he'd become – Lelouch didn't want to think about it.

"No … I'll find another way to contact him," Lelouch finally decided. "Now that I know he's back in town, it won't be hard to track him down. I just don't want to talk to him right now." Yes, because right now, Suzaku was occupied, dancing around like some cheap whore.

"I guess I can understand now," Gino said, and got up from his seat. "Let's go."

But the moment he rose, Lelouch's eyes locked with Suzaku's. And Suzaku was staring straight at him, though he was still moving around the pole, his tie undone now, and the first few buttons of his uniform jacket open, revealing tanned skin –

But Lelouch was only looking at his eyes – still that brilliant shade of green, still expressive, telling him everything he needed to know –

(Suzaku's eyes had always lit up when he smiled, had been downcast when sad or disappointed, and wide and brimming when angered.)

And Suzaku remembered. Lelouch was certain of it because, for a moment or two, he stopped dancing and just stared at Lelouch.

So, because the universe hated him, and the nicotine smoke of the room was probably getting to him, Lelouch sat down again.


Okay, Gino was totally out of his league here because, right now, things were just happening way, way too quickly.

Fact the First: Lelouch had said he wanted to leave. Gino had been fine with that because he'd realised – by then – that the whole 'let's take Lelouch to a stripper bar' hadn't been such a cool idea, and was totally not fun.

Fact the Second: Lelouch had sat back down. Gino had stared at him for a long time. Bemused. Horrified. Scratch that, he'd just been plain confused.

Fact the Third: Somehow, Lelouch's actions had attracted the attention of Suzaku.

So much that Suzaku was getting off the stage, and advancing towards them –

No, fuck that.

'Advancing' was not the right word. It was more like dancing …and, for the first time in his life, Gino cringed as – because there really was nothing better to do in this kind of situation – he sat back down again.

It was slightly … horrifying to see another male dancing like that. Flamboyant would have been a word to describe it, but … Gino thought that though … Suzaku, wasn't it? – moved his hips to and fro rhythmically enough, it lacked the elegance and grace he associated with the word. No, Lelouch had grace (when he walked, ran a hand through his hair, flicked his hand with a pen -).

Suzaku moved energetically, with a raw power that bespoke of physical strength. And yet, there was something stiff about his movements, a bit too stilted as if he'd been drilled to do it … yes, in a way, he moved just like a soldier who'd been bribed into doing this.

Gino's gaze swept back to Lelouch, and he nearly let out a gasp.

The way Lelouch was looking at Suzaku.

It wasn't lust.

It was a mixture of affection and love – a look he usually just reserved for Nunnally. But there was something else. A flicker of disappointment? Rage?

Gino wasn't sure, but he knew he'd never seen such a vivid display of so many conflicting emotions in Lelouch's eyes, looking more vibrant under the fierce glare of the brightly shining lamps hanging above them.

But that wasn't the only thing. Gino looked right back at the still moving Suzaku, and noticed that his eyes were fixed on Lelouch's too.

(Both of them were looking at each other, as if they were standing on a seashore, facing each other, and about to draw swords – )

Okay, Gino had an overactive imagination.

Right. Maybe, this was what you referred to as having sex with your eyes. Or maybe it was just intense non-verbal communication.

Gino didn't really care. He just knew he'd just dug his own grave by bringing Lelouch here.

Had he known he'd just have stuck with the porn.


Sometimes you could lose yourself in the eyes of another person. Yes, it was cheesy, but that saying was certainly applicable and, as Rivalz would have termed it, relevant to his interests right now.

Suzaku had gotten off the stage, was moving closer to them - to him, but Lelouch didn't feel the adrenaline of excitement scuttling down his spine, nor the rush of horror chilling him to the core, it was just -

Suzaku … he didn't dance very well at all.

His movements were ill-timed (you didn't move your hand that quickly when you advanced forward with one foot, and your movements should match the music, not be a jarring parody of an imitation, Lelouch thought.)

Lelouch chuckled in amusement, and shook his head - Suzaku obviously wasn't quite keen on the stripping. Nor did he hide his aversion to it because the uncertainty was all there in the trembling of his hands, and the way he was hesitating, him still not having done more really than having gotten rid of his tie, and unbuttoned a bit of his green soldier's garb -

However, the cheers and jeers were growing louder, things like 'fucking do some undressing finally, lover boy' and other decidedly unflattering things filling the stripper bar, having a cutlass like effect on Suzaku.

He grimaced, and - obviously not wanting to displease, Lelouch thought with a snort - did start unbuttoning the rest of his shirt (a bit too quickly, and clumsily - just like a little girl trying to be a graceful ballerina, but stumbling over her own two feet).

Much to Suzaku's fortune, the crowd didn't seem to care.

"Bloody finally - I've been wanting to see the new one get naked!" someone roared, and a chorus of other voices joined into the statement, growing into an orchestra of assent. Lelouch wished he could have shot them dead on the spot.

But still, the thing he'd heard -New one? - was of more pressing concern.

"It's time we get to see some fresh blood -" someone said, as Suzaku started to lower his uniform, letting it slip past his broad shoulders, slowly revealing a muscular chest and more of that tanned skin -

Lelouch felt like slapping himself on the forehead, trying to ignore certain …. thoughts.

(Suzaku did not look good. He did not look good, not like this - not when he clearly didn't like doing this.)

But Lelouch couldn't look away because Suzaku was still moving closer to him, slowly.

Or, maybe, it wasn't that slowly really, but everything seemed to have been drowned out by slow motion, and - Lelouch knew he wasn't making any sense because Suzaku's uniform was now practically taken off, and hanging by his arms like laundry on a clothesline, and that chest, those abs -

Suzaku really had grown up admirably, and - even though he was dancing stiffly - the way his muscles tensed when he did, it made Lelouch really want to - (trace his hands over that body, feel just how soft or not that skin was …)

No, he wasn't going to think about that. He'd never harboured those thoughts about anyone before, and certainly not towards Suzaku-

(But they'd been children the last time they'd met. And he'd loved Suzaku then - loved proud, stubborn and adorable Suzaku who could climb trees like no one else, but cried bitter tears when he'd thought something was wrong with Nunnally -)

Lelouch couldn't tear his eyes away from Suzaku, and he was licking his lips when Suzaku finally let that jacket drop to the floor, and was so close that Lelouch only had to reach out with his hand …

An odd tightness formed itself in Lelouch's throat when Suzaku stopped in front of him, and just stood there for a second, his hands ghosting over the belt of his green trousers-

Suzaku was looking at him again, his green eyes brimming with so much emotion, and saying everything Lelouch needed to know.

(Please stay. Don't go now.)

And Lelouch stayed.


Things began getting really … bizarre the moment Suzaku started stripping right in front of Lelouch. For some odd reason or the other, he'd just stood there for a long time, as if cemented in stone, and he and Lelouch had just, sort of, stared right into each other's eyes-

Like two people who really were in love.

Suzaku's jacket was already off, and - with shaking hands - he was unclasping the belt of his trousers. Slowly.

Like snail's pace slowly.

Oh just fucking get on with it, Gino wanted to say, but he didn't. He had manners.

When Suzaku finally let the pants drop to the floor, loud hoorays erupted in the room. Gino blushed and looked away.

Suzaku was wearing … well, he didn't know what you called them, but it was the equivalent of a girl's tong? Or something. But it highlighted certain assets of his, and Gino - his male ego not being threatened in the least - had to say that Suzaku was certainly not a representation of the common stereotype that Japanese men had a small penis.

(God, this sentence sounded awkward in his head, and Gino was surprised just how academic he could sound. Well, he had to blame 'Introduction to Cultural Studies 101' for that.)

And fuck, Gino thought as he averted his gaze from Suzaku's crotch, he really should have just taken Lelouch to a porn cinema or something.

Because having Suzaku like this … in front of Lelouch, them, was so … embarrassing.


Gino sighed, and tried to forget that all eyes were fixed on them - most of them belonging to guys in their middle ages, all in varying stages of drunkenness. Awkward.

Very awkward.

So Gino thought of the Dalai Lama. And Pooh The Bear.

And Harry Potter.

He wasn't thinking, definitely not contemplating how Suzaku was swaying his behind - not too badly this time, but still a bit stiffly - in front of Lelouch, how everyone was yelling loudly in the room, and how Suzaku's buttocks flexed to some weird 80s pop music, and how it was a rather well-defined bottom and -whatthehell

Right, after this, Gino swore to go home, and just get smashed. Or go to bed. Maybe the second option was better.

When he finally did face them, Gino noticed that Suzaku's cheeks were red. It might have only been from the exertion of dancing, but he rather looked nervous, too - his lips pressed tightly together, and eyes focused on something in the distance.

People usually looked like this before an oral examination. Especially when they were ill-prepared.

But Gino didn't have time to contemplate on Suzaku's state of anxiety (not undress, mind you) because he then sat down on Lelouch's lap. But not before he'd danced a bit - but now just for Lelouch, first from behind, then turning around, and placing his hands on Lelouch's knees, his hands rubbing, moving upwards until they stopped, and Suzaku seating himself on ...

Yes, Lelouch's lap.

Gino would have laughed out loud, but genuine affection for his friend, and the fact that everyone was staring at them very intently now, kind of kept him from doing so.

He was consciously not looking at Lelouch. Because, part of Gino, feared what he'd seen there. Because what he'd seen before had seemed so private, so intense …

What Suzaku did on Lelouch's lap was … Gino flinched a bit … basically nothing but grinding his ass, barely covered, only by a thin G-string against Lelouch's … Gino wasn't going to reflect on that.

It was an odd sort of lap dance, at least.

Suzaku was sort of just moving up and down on Lelouch's lap, and … he was looking at Lelouch all the time, he leaned forward, whispering something into Lelouch's ear, and then –

And then, they were kissing. Right.

Not just a simple peck of lips against lips, but really kissing, and Suzaku was snaking his arms around Lelouch's neck ...

(Lelouch was kissing someone. In public. Lelouch, in all the years Gino had known him, had never been anything but proper, not even accepting the smallest wrinkle on his clothes -)

This was really not what he'd signed up for Gino thought, the only coherent one because the rest of his mind was filling with 'fuck' and 'what the hell'.


Lelouch wasn't thinking clearly when Suzaku leaned forward, his breath tickling his skin, a strand of his hair brushing against Lelouch's cheek, and the weight of his body on Lelouch's lap - and he certainly wasn't thinking when Suzaku whispered into his ear …

(Never walk away from me, Lelouch, and I missed you - so much.)

Maybe, it was the way Suzaku had said those words, his voice rough and thick with emotion - or Lelouch had finally lost his mind. Because those words weren't anything new or special, people said them all the time - (in films, when they were drunk and horny, intent to copulate, when …)

But this was Suzaku, and he was Lelouch. And the words meant the world to him.

Lelouch had found himself unable to move once Suzaku had sat down on his lap, the movements of his body, the friction, making Lelouch feel things … things he'd considered himself above.

When Suzaku had looked at him, his green eyes sincere and so, so everything Lelouch couldn't say no to, he had found himself leaning forward, forward until their foreheads were touching and their noses brushing, and Suzaku's lips were only a few inches away …

He didn't know who had bridged the gap.

It might have been him.

Might have been Suzaku.

Or them both at the same time, too caught in the moment, too full of longing to resist, to not give in -

Suzaku tasted of lazy summers, and wide fields. Yes, he tasted like childhood memories, and a warm lull of content settled over Lelouch.

And Suzaku was so warm. Not only his hot breath or his lips, but the way he made Lelouch feel:

Relief. Because Suzaku was shuddering, his lips trembling as much as his own while they were kissing,

Giddiness. Because, fuck, this really was Suzaku here exploring the feel of his lips, his tongue. And the way Suzaku shivered when Lelouch's hands wrapped themselves around his waist made Lelouch feel all sorts of … he didn't know. It was just marvellous.

Yearning. Because, now that he had Suzaku here, Lelouch wanted more, wanted to know what the hell he'd been up to … what his life had turned out like, why he hadn't come earlier.

And, lastly, affection, not born out of this moment, but steady and something that had always been there -

Because, it wasn't just that Lelouch realised now how much he needed Suzaku. Yes, as he felt Suzaku's mouth moving his own, his tongue massaging his - a bit cautiously and a tad bit awkwardly, and, to Lelouch's relief, about as expertly as he was doing it - he'd never quite forgotten about Suzaku, him (them) only losing touch because Suzaku's moving had happened so quickly, and then Lelouch had moved too …

(He'd searched for Suzaku. Online at first, but found nothing. Then he'd gone to the library, and still nothing. And, with time, he'd somehow lost hope, thought that it was funny how, despite the world being globailised and all, it was still so, so easy to lose contact …)

Ah, why was he thinking about it now, Lelouch wondered as he broke the kiss, but didn't remove his hands from Suzaku's waist …

Suzaku's hair was all messy, and part of it sticking to his forehead. His lips were slightly swollen, and he looked disoriented. Totally so.

His eyes were glossy, and Suzaku was breathing heavily. "Lelouch-" But then he shook his head, and smiled lazily, seemingly deciding that words were, perhaps, not necessary right now. Suzaku leaned forward again, and Lelouch closed his eyes, wanting to feel Suzaku's lips against his again.

There was a cough. And then, Gino's voice, "I really don't want to interrupt your … charming reunion, but you two do realise this is a stripper bar?"

And Lelouch snapped out of his trance. Immediately. "Suzaku, get off. Now." He tried not to sound too stiff, but Suzaku flinched, and Lelouch, his features softening, added in a lower tone, and more gently," Please, Suzaku - we got carried away."

This made Suzaku snap out of his state of … inertia. He flushed for a moment, and - more quickly than Lelouch imagined possible - did get off his lap, and muttering something about 'sorry, Lelouch', and 'I should leave now' ran off to what Lelouch assumed was the backstage, not even bothering to stammer an apology to the audience.

But Lelouch guessed he was just too embarrassed for that. Or just running on pure instinct, and that, in such a situation, of course protocol dictated that exiting was the best option.

And the audience... It was only now that Lelouch registered how loud the bar had gotten. It wasn't curses, but howls and cheers and all sorts of vulgarities tossed at him.

Taking a deep breath, Lelouch looked at Gino. "Gino, this -" Lelouch couldn't finish. He'd never been more embarrassed in his entire life.


Gino knew there were situations in life when it wasn't right to crack jokes. There were times when you needed to be serious. This was one of them.

Right now, he just wanted to be a good friend to Lelouch.

"Never mind, Lelouch," he replied - and he saw Lelouch visibly relax at that, the tenseness out of his expression fleeting, and he shrugged his shoulders," let's just get out of here, okay?"

Lelouch paled at that. "Suzaku-I can't just, you know ..." He hesitated, and bit his lower lip. He was blushing too. (Adorable, Gino would have said and squeezed his cheeks playfully in another situation.)

He didn't have to continue. "Okay, but … let's go outside? It's too um," Gino waved his hand, and Lelouch - getting it - nodded in response. But he made no gesture to move - somewhat rendered immobile, and Gino - who was already up and ready to leave - was forced to drag him by taking his hand.

Gino tried not to pay any attention to the cheers they (Lelouch) was getting, but just moved forward until they were out - finally - in the fresh air. Scanning the area, Gino found a nice alleyway of sorts - not too far from the stripper bar. He judged that he and Lelouch could wait there for Suzaku.

"So, how come you never told me about Suzaku?" Gino said as he leaned against the wall. "Actually, why did you never tell any of us about him?" He'd always believed that he and Lelouch were tight. "I mean, he has to be big in your life. For you to forget everything and just - you know."

"I … it was before I met any of you, okay?" Lelouch sounded a bit apologetic, but also annoyed. "There was no need to bring him up."

Ah, maybe he had a point there. "You could tell me about him now, though. I'm curious." And he was, he really was. Curious what Suzaku possessed that had made Lelouch lose control like that.

"We grew up together."

"Were you neighbours?"

Lelouch nodded. "And we attended the same school, too. Suzaku -" a warm smile played on Lelouch's lips, the sort that he usually only reserved for Nunnally," was there when Nunnally was born, was there when," he paused, his smile fading. He was trembling a bit, as if recollecting something terrible.

"Your mother died?" Gino didn't want to broach the subject too much, knowing that it was still a sore topic. He knew there had been an accident, which had left Nunnally a cripple and left both her and Lelouch half-orphans.

"Yes. I remember how he - comforted me that day. He really was …," Lelouch didn't continue, but the emotion in his eyes was enough for Gino.

"He's a really important … friend, I guess. How did you lose touch then?" Gino frowned. If they were so important to each other …

"His father had to go back to Japan. Family matters. It was very sudden and … of course, I tried to find out where he was, but …," Lelouch took a deep breath, "I couldn't. And I guess he couldn't find me either because we moved too. You know the rest."

Gino laughed. "Yes, I know you entered our school." And that was how he'd gotten to know Lelouch, how they'd all - the entire group of them - become friends.

He figured he should have asked why Lelouch had kissed Suzaku. This wasn't something mere childhood friends usually did, but - there was time for that later.

And, at the moment, footfalls - quick and hurried - were advancing towards them, and then the sound of panting became audible. It was Suzaku.

"Lelouch, I thought you'd left … Good, you didn't … " Suzaku smiled brightly, and Gino's eyes widened a bit because it made him look so … unassuming. Actually, now that he thought about it, Suzaku did look unassuming in normal clothes.

(And Gino liked Suzaku better that way.)

"No, he insisted to wait. Ah," Gino scratched his neck a bit," I'm Gino Weinberg, and it's nice to meet you …" He'd not let Suzaku know that he knew who he was. Yes, that would make thing less awkward.

Suzaku hesitated for a moment, a slight flush on his face, but then he took Gino's hand, and - smiling - said. "Suzaku. Suzaku Kururugi." The smile on his face wasn't fake.

Gino knew he liked Suzaku already.

"Okay, how about we leave this place, and go somewhere nice? Unless..."

Suzaku did work here, after all. But Suzaku just smiled again. "Hmm, that would be nice." He rubbed his hands awkwardly as he added," I'm kind of done here anyway."


Gino did take them someplace nice - McDonalds.

"You didn't know a better place than this?" Lelouch asked with a keen frown placed on his face, eyeing the 'restaurant' with a not inconsiderable amount of disgust.

The tables and seats were all - in a bad imitation of stylish hip - black, and cool of quality; Lelouch had never sat on anything more uncomfortable in his entire life.

Lelouch didn't want to think about the food, and how unhealthy it was. He didn't even want to know how fatty the hamburgers were that Gino had just ordered for them (a Veggie Burger for Lelouch, who - as Gino never forgot to point out - was too good for meat). "It's all garbage here, Gino. Every minute spent eating some of the food here is shortening your life by some -"

With a wave of his hand, Gino - smug smirk on his face - said,"Yeah, yeah. I get it. I'm suicidal for coming here, Mr Propagator of Healthy Lifestyles." Lelouch rolled his eyes; he had not missed the sarcastic undertone.

"Look, just because I don't spend much time exerting myself physically -" Lelouch stopped, and scowled. Stupid Gino.

Suzaku was sitting beside Lelouch, silent and hadn't even started eating in fact. But, as Lelouch turned to him, he saw that the other boy was hiding back a chuckle. "Something on your mind, Suzaku?'

Suzaku stiffened for a slight moment, but then broke out into a grin. "It's nothing ... You just haven't changed." The smile on Suzaku's face was warm, and there was no hint of teasing in his tone (not like Gino's amused 'I've got you' nor Milly's delighted 'ah, let's how we can make you feel flustered-)

"I wish I could say the same for you, Suzaku." Lelouch did feel bad about it, yes. But really, he wasn't the one who'd ended up being a stripper. Even if he looked so normal now, in those faded jeans and in that dark-blue sweatshirt (also worn in quality).

Suzaku's eyes widened, and - for a second - there was a flash of hurt in those green eyes. "What do you mean, Lelouch?" Suzaku's eyes were narrowed.

"I just meant what you were doing at a stripper bar, Suzaku."

Suzaku sighed. "I needed the money." He shrugged his shoulders and looked somewhat pained. "Trust me, nothing else would have induced me to go a stripper bar, otherwise."

"There was no better place, nothing else you could do?"

For a second or two, Suzaku didn't speak, but chewed his underlip thoughtfully. Then, he cocked his head to the side, and - fixing his eyes on Lelouch's - said, "It was a spontaneous thing -"

"Spontaneous?" Lelouch shot Suzaku a death glare.

Suzaku flinched,"I saw this advertisement in a newspaper a few days ago and decided to test it out - today was my first day -,"Suzaku paused, and his green eyes were blazing, "And my last. I don't think I'm cut out for stripping..." He chuckled nervously, scratching the back of his head.

Shaking his head, Lelouch couldn't hide the smile forming on his face. "You're an idiot. Why even bother going to a place like this?"

Suzaku rose an eyebrow. "Um, what were you doing at a stripper bar?"

Lelouch was about to reply, but Gino piqued in. "Oh, Lelouch loves naked men. He -"

"Shut up, Gino. You dragged me there." Lelouch flushed, not quite meeting Suzaku's eyes. "I wouldn't have gone otherwise..."

Suzaku smiled - just smiled. And shook his head. "Lelouch," his voice was warm and full of affection," it doesn't matter. I am glad you showed up today, it made things easier, and we got to see each other again -" He took a sip out of the coke in front of him, his eyes never leaving Lelouch's -

(showing just how glad he was, how happy he was to be with Lelouch, and looking at him like this, Lelouch knew that, even if it had been years, he and Suzaku were still so close, so -)

"And to make out - heavily and in public, I should add," Gino said, snapping both of them out of their reverie.

Suzaku choked on his drink and blushed. Lelouch felt himself blushing, too. Damn it. "Gino -" he started, but didn't know what to say, not at all.

Gino shrugged his shoulders. "What? I'm just stating facts. And please, I need to say something. You two have been ignoring me all this time now, busy making moony eyes at each other -" He laughed, and then patted Lelouch good-naturedly on the shoulder. "It's cool man, I don't mind you two lovebirds at all. But don't forget about me entirely, okay?"


Great. So, he'd made things awkward.

Because currently, everything was silent.

Lelouch was finally eating his burger, nibbling at it delicately, and Suzaku was eating too. Less delicately than Lelouch, but also with caution, as if he feared upsetting someone by being too conspicuous - and they were not looking at each, nor at Gino.

Gino sighed, and decided to break the ice. Someone had to. "So Suzaku -" Suzaku stopped eating and looked up, "what do you do other than stripping?"

Oh, something flashed in those green eyes, and Gino grinned. So, Suzaku could do more than smile cutely. "I said before that I wasn't really a stripper."

Oh Gino knew that. But teasing Suzaku was too much fun. "I wouldn't have guessed - your moves were very professional ..." (A lie. A big fat lie.) "Did you have some training?"

He was curious about that. And Lelouch, who'd placed his burger back into its wrapping, seemed curious too. And furious because he'd shot a death glare into Gino's direction.

"No, I just … watched a few videos online, and did some practicing," Suzaku cleared his throat, and averted his eyes," in front of a mirror. That's all." When he was looking at them again, he was red in the face.

Gino felt like hugging Suzaku. Why he was kind of adorable when he was flustered like that (even more than Lelouch, a feat Gino hadn't imagined anyone could have beaten -). But he didn't. He'd wait for that. He and Suzaku were just at the beginning of their friendship. "So what do you do?"

"I'm planning to study engineering next term, I was going to do to do it this term, but fees are very high, and my scholarship didn't cover all costs, so I've decided to use this term to earn some money, so I could … you know." Suzaku smiled a bit sadly, and then shook his head. "I really wouldn't have considered stripping if it hadn't been for the good pay. But eh, maybe I wasn't thinking cle-"

"You weren't," Lelouch finished, and Suzaku cringed, gazing apologetically at him. "If you need money that badly, I can -"

"I am not taking any money from you." Gino's eyes widened at that. Had Suzaku been shy and flustered before, he was determined - and stubborn right now, his mouth tightening to a tight line and something defiant shining in those eyes. Gino realised that Suzaku was no pushover. No certainly not. Those eyes belonged to someone who knew exactly where he stood, and would not shy away from his position all that easily.

Lelouch shook his head, as if he'd been expecting just that kind of reaction. "I wasn't going to give you money. But I can ask a few people - I do have a few good contacts - to find you some kind of job at a library or cafe. With good pay - and that does not involve you getting naked. In any shape or form." His tone was serious, so serious that Gino had to stifle a chuckle.

But he couldn't stifle this. "Jealous, Lelouch?"

Cue: blush. And flailing. "What-what are you saying?"

Okay, now Gino really couldn't help it. He stood up, and wrapped his arms around Lelouch, laughing. "Don't deny it. You don't want others to see Suzaku -"

"Of course, I don't want others to see Suzaku making a fool of himself -" Lelouch pushed him away, scowling. Gino sat back down, but he was still smirking. Lelouch wasn't fooling him.

Suzaku had remained silent all the time, just staring at them with a hint of amusement and bewilderment. But the amusement was definitely greater because he was grinning a bit, playfully like someone who had something in mind -

"So," Suzaku started, mischief shining in his eyes," you think I was making a fool of myself," he pouted," and I tried so hard just for you-" He trailed off and pretended to look upset.

Lelouch's entire attention snapped back to Suzaku, and he was gritting his teeth. "Shut up and go back to eating."

Suzaku shrugged his shoulders. "I am done, and you are mean, Le-lou-ch to not appreciate my dancing skills."

Gino snorted. Suzaku was oddly funny.

"What dancing skills, Suzaku? I didn't know that shaking your behind was akin to tango or ballet." Lelouch rose an eyebrow and crossed his arms, waiting for Suzaku to say something in return. Gino had never seen him so at ease with his wit, falling so familiarly into banter. With them, he always held back -

"If you tried it, you'd see how hard it is. But you wouldn't - of course you wouldn't since it would be a blow to your manly ego and pride." Those were somewhat bitter words, but Suzaku didn't speak bitterly, and he was smiling. Lelouch was just shaking his head.

Gino knew it was fine to contribute to the discussion now. "Oh -" Gino smiled broadly,"Lelouch isn't all that manly. I'll let you know that he has a fetish for crossdressin-"

Lelouch interrupted him, his tone a bit shaky as he spoke. "Don't listen to him, Suzaku. That's not true."

Suzaku grinned. "Really? I do remember that incident when Nunnally and Euphy made you dress up in that pink gown with the white frills -"

"Suzaku -" Lelouch started, but then got up abruptly, scarlet in the face. He muttered something about the bathroom, excused himself and left.

"There he goes," Gino said and snickered, exchanging looks with Suzaku who was grinning from ear to ear. "Did that really happen?"

"Yes, but Lelouch made a face like he'd been ordered to execute someone, but he couldn't say no because Nunnally and Euphy really wanted him to do it," Suzaku paused, his eyes full of warmth as he seemed to remember something. "Lelouch just can't say no to Nunnally or Euphy."

"I know. And he can't say no to you either -"

"Huh?" Suzaku looked confused for a moment, but then he sighed. "Look it might be because he's just so happy to see me after -" Suzaku was speaking too quickly, and he was trembling a bit.

"No. You're important to him. And he's hard to cr-" Gino shook his head, "And I'm not just saying this because you two kissed in front of me."

(No, he was saying it because he'd never seen two people who'd been parted for so long slip so effortlessly back into their friendship, and the way those two looked at each other, communicating so much non-verbally, God a blind fool would have seen how important they were to each other.)

"Oh, um that," Suzaku was flushing a bit, but his eyes weren't downcast, and he wasn't hiding the emotion there either - Gino shook his head, really; the boy was whipped. "I wasn't thinking clearly, just acting on instinct, and when Lelouch kissed me back I just kind of … sorry, you had to see it."

"It's fine. Just try not to make out in such a public place next time -" Gino smiled, and Suzaku smiled back, the tenseness in the atmosphere fleeting.

Suzaku was more relaxed too, had he been sitting up straight before, he was now more sagging slightly against the chair -"I'll try to keep it restrained to the bedroom-" He blushed again.

Gino just laughed. "Well, unless you have a fetish for exhibitionism."

"Well no, I don't but … Lelouch doesn't really have a fetish for cross-dressing, does he?" Suzaku was smiling. "You know, things might have changed."

Gino chuckled. "No, but a friend of ours called Milly loves it when he dresses up as a girl -"

And so he and Suzaku started talking, exchanging funny tales about Lelouch, but then also turning to sports, and, by the time Lelouch arrived, Gino's misgivings about the evening were gone.

Yes, the stripper bar visit had been a sort of flop, but then again not: he'd - unwittingly, perhaps -reunited two childhood friends, and made a new friend himself. Someone who wouldn't say 'no' to playing basketball with him!

What could be better?


It was growing late, it had already been late when he and Gino had gone to the stripper bar, but it was colder outside now. A cold breeze was squeezing its way through the streets, not the chill frost of November, but close.

It was dark too, illumination arising now from the streetlamps, and the lights coming from the households, still opened shops and flitting by cars: bright colours, lights that were intense and others that were vague, dull.

"Ah, it's gotten late, I need to go home," Gino said as he looked at his watch. They'd just left McDonalds. "I'm sure I gotta leave you two like this, but I really need to dash -" And he did that, right after shaking both his and Suzaku's hands, smiling and saying stupid stuff like 'see you' and 'have fun!'.

His last words were 'I definitely will have fun tonight!'.

Lelouch suspected he had a date with Kallen.

"What an idiot," Lelouch said as he looked after Gino's retreating figure, a smile creeping up his features," but he's a loveable idiot." He looked at Suzaku, and remembered (how soft Suzaku's lips had been, how he'd sighed contentedly when Lelouch had pushed his tongue in - )

"... Um. Lelouch …?" Suzaku looked worried, and he was standing a bit closer to Lelouch.

Lelouch tried his best to appear collected and calm, so he stood straighter than usual. "What is it?"

Suzaku chuckled a bit, and was rubbing his hands absent-mindedly. "I said 'Gino is great, and you're lucky to have such friends', but you were kind of … ah, I didn't think you'd be spazzing."

At first, Lelouch didn't reply to that, noticing that Suzaku was actually trembling. Various thoughts shot through Lelouch's mind, thoughts of how Suzaku was perhaps regretting all of this, of how - but then the most logical made itself apparent; Lelouch noticed that he was shuddering himself, despite wearing a jacket.

And Suzaku was only dressed in a light sweater and faded jeans. Of course. And he was still rubbing his hands - that idiot. Why hadn't he said anything?

"Suzaku, it's late and cold -"

Suzaku frowned, and he looked down. "Oh - I'm sorry I thought you'd - we'd talk a bit - you know, but if you need to-" He stopped, and smiled - but it was a sad smile, and it wasn't reaching his eyes. "I am sorry for wasting your time."

"You fool. I didn't mean it like that … " Lelouch frowned. "I just meant that we should go someplace warm. Or do you want to get sick that badly?"

Immediately, Suzaku's face brightened, but he frowned. "Oh, but I live far off - and I don't have a car …" Suzaku trailed off.

"I do, and we can go to my place - Nunnally is sleeping over at Euphy's today, but … we could talk." Actually, it wasn't like Lelouch regretted Nunnally not being there today, because - for once - he really just wanted to have something for himself.

(And he'd make sure that Nunnally and Euphy too would meet Suzaku soon enough. God, Euphy - he knew she'd be delighted. And so would Nunnally. It made him smile, both of them were so adorable - at least, when they were not making him wear dresses or teasing him about his love life.)

"Okay, Lelouch. I'll gladly go with you."


This night, this day had been one of the strangest in Suzaku's life. And one of the happiest too.

Yes, he'd made an ass out of himself while trying to dance around a pole. And performing a lap dance.

Suzaku still had no clue what kind of demon had possessed him to seriously consider that stripping was a good part- time-job. Lelouch was right. He could be an idiot at times.

Lelouch -

Suzaku felt his heart growing warmer, and part of him couldn't believe this was real. Him seating in the passenger seat, watching Lelouch drive - and they were finally - okay, he was being sappy. But Suzaku couldn't help it; he was just ridiculously happy.

(And he was sure Lelouch noticed it, whenever he turned to look at him.)

Suzaku sighed contently, enjoying the car journey; the seat was so comfortable, so much more comfortable than anything public transportation offered. His eyelids fluttered shut; he could really fall asleep nicely like this, and the low hum of the car was -

"How's your father, Suzaku?" Suzaku's eyes snapped open. Had he really been close to dozing off now?

"Ah, he's fine," Suzaku said and sighed," he regrets that he can't help me, but life in Japan isn't really easy right now." It wasn't - what with the recession and business not being all that good.

Lelouch turned to him for a second and just glared. "He still lives in Japan?"

"Yes! I did too until a month or so - I went to high school there!" He laughed. "I'm surprised you didn't notice - my accent is a bit thicker these days …"

"How did you manage over there?" Lelouch sounded so baffled that Suzaku laughed again.

"You forget that I visited Japan quite often before living there, and besides, Father taught me Japanese from early childhood … So, the language wasn't too much of a problem …" Sure, there had been strange occurrences - like the Japanese being much louder than he'd expected, drinking much more alcohol than he'd expected, and there being more cockro- okay, not going there.

"That's why I didn't find you - you were in Japan all the time." Lelouch let out a sigh. "I thought it was temporary thing - stupid, how I didn't think of that. God -" He sounded really irritated.

"And I thought you'd forgotten about me. I did write letters, but -"

"I moved."

"Ah." That explained things, and Suzaku was relieved. So much that he knew he was grinning stupidly. "But we met again? Um - today, I mean."

Lelouch nodded, and they fell into an amiable silence, Suzaku closing his eyes again, just enjoying the ride - until Lelouch pulled over and said, "We're here."

By here, Lelouch meant a grand house that was bigger than the apartment block he lived in. "I see your father has been doing well."

Lelouch cocked an eyebrow at Suzaku as they got out of the car. "What? It's just a house."

Suzaku shook his head and chuckled, earning a glare from Lelouch. "Sure, Lelouch. It's just a mansion. No big deal." Lelouch looked at him as if he'd gone bonkers, and Suzaku shook his head. "Um, I lived in a tiny apartment with my father in Japan. I live in an even tinier apartment here … so no, a mansion is not big thing at all." He chuckled again.

Suddenly, he felt a hand on his (warm, so warm), and Lelouch was dragging him towards the entrance. "Come on, let's just go in."

And they did go in. Inside, the house revealed itself to be nicely spacious, but not lavishly decorated; everything was refined, but still within reasonable limits. Suzaku mused that Lelouch had had a say in the decorations (he was a bit like that - refined, but never too pompous. Mostly.)

Suzaku only had one problem. "Um, Lelouch?" He looked at their still joined hands; it felt nice but - "You can let go of my hand. I want to take off my shoes, and I can't do that if you're holding on to me."

Letting go of his hand, Lelouch flushed a bit; Suzaku smiled. "No need to be shy about it," Suzaku said, not knowing why he was being like this, but Lelouch was kind of adorable and Suzaku remembered how he'd loved teasing him when they'd been younger, "we've already ki-"

"Shut up about it already - or has Gino rubbed off on you?" But Lelouch didn't sound or look angry, just plain embarrassed. No, had he been angry he wouldn't have been this red in the face - but cool and poised; he'd have hurt Suzaku with collected and chillingly rational words.

Suzaku sighed while he placed his shoes neatly in the corner. "No, he didn't. And let's not skip around the bush," Suzaku paused (was this the right thing to do after such a long time spent being apart? Did he really have to address this now). He took a deep breath. "I kissed you, and you liked it. You kissed me back." He looked Lelouch straight in the face, making sure that the other boy saw just how important this was to him -

And Lelouch, who'd been taking off his shoes as well and just finished placing them right next to Suzaku's, sighed too. "Suzaku -" He smiled then, and stood up, now face to face. "You're not going to let this rest until I say something, right?"

"No," Suzaku said, affection seeping into his voice," you know me. I'm stubborn."

"Then let's go to the living room," Lelouch said and started walking, leading them to just that place, "because, unlike you, I don't appreciate having serious conversations standing."

Suzaku snorted. "You just don't like standing too long, Mr I Don't Like Exercise."

"Fantastic. We've barely been reunited for a few hours, and you're already insulting my stamina." Lelouch flopped down on a comfortable-looking sofa, and Suzaku followed - oh, the sofa was very comfortable.

"And you called me an idiot at least thrice. So we're quit." Suzaku grinned cheekily and would have stuck out his tongue. But he didn't. That was childish -

(but God, it was so easy to be carefree around Lelouch.)

And Lelouch was thinking the same.

"Well, you are an idiot sometimes. Don't deny it. A stripper bar?" Lelouch shook his head and crossed his arms, intent to show all the displeasure he felt. And indignation.

Suzaku rolled his eyes. "I already explained everything. Stop repeating yourself."

Oh, someone was getting saucy here. "Only if you promise to never -"

Another sigh. Suzaku crossed his heart. "I won't. Promise." Then he grinned again, but not mischievously. "I already knew, before you even arrived, that I was going to quit."

"Didn't really seem like it. You … danced all -" Lelouch hoped he wasn't blushing. "You - when our eyes met -" Fuck. Why couldn't he express himself properly? But Suzaku, judging by the way he was looking at him, seemed to get it.

Suzaku ran a hand through his hair, his eyes serious. "I didn't want you to leave. So I did everything in my power to make you stay. You … you were going to leave." He bit his lips, his eyes blazing.

"I am sorry. I guess I jumped to conclusions too early-" He squeezed Suzaku's hand.

"So … what do you do?" Suzaku smiled, squeezing back and then he let go, but their hands were still brushing, and Suzaku had shifted a bit closer, so that their knees were occasionally brushing against each other too … as if Suzaku wanted to say 'you can reach out for me anytime you want, I am here'.

Lelouch cleared his throat. "I am majoring in law. Probably at the same university you want to study in." He was pretty certain of it. There was only one university in this area, after all.

"Fits you, and yeah I'd love that -." Suzaku yawned, and he looked sleepy. Then, without further ado, Suzaku shifted, moving so until he was lying on the sofa, his head suddenly on Lelouch's lap - a welcome weight. "This is okay, right?" He didn't sound insecure.

"Sure." It was. Had it been anyone else, Lelouch would have pushed them away, but - this was Suzaku.

"I am just so, so tired, Lelouch. This whole stripper thing - ah, this whole night," Suzaku sounded, and Lelouch imagined that his eyes were half-lidded; he'd noticed before how Suzaku had been close to dozing off in the car. "Good I got to see you though, even if a part of me wonders if it's not all just a dream -"

"Shh, just close your eyes." Lelouch said, and he combed his fingers through Suzaku's soft curls. He heard a soft sigh escape Suzaku's lips. "I'll be there when you wake up. Promise."

Suzaku did and, soon, he was breathing heavily; Lelouch kept treading his fingers through his hair, his throat oddly dry - Suzaku was so vulnerable like this, and - by revealing himself this side of him to Lelouch - it was a sign of utter trust.

And Lelouch -

And Lelouch hadn't felt this comfortable and secure around someone for years.


Suzaku woke up after some two hours, after he'd elbowed Lelouch in the tummy.

"Fuck, Suzaku - can't you watch out?" Lelouch rubbed his eyes and groaned. "We're reunited for a day, and you're already back to injuring me on a daily basis- and you've only gotten stronger!" He gave Suzaku a pointed look.

Ah damn it. "Did I wake you up?" Suzaku asked as he sat up, his eyes apologetic - he scratched the back of his head. "I took kendo lessons in Japan, so um - sorry." He grinned a bit sheepishly. "I was dreaming of Todoh-sensei … now that I think about it. Sorry!" Todoh had been really scary, coming after him with a shinai …!

"Kendo?" Lelouch said carefully, as if the word were offensive to him. "What else did you do?"

Suzaku tilted his head to side, and tapped a finger against his chin. "I did some running, swimming in the summer and, when Dad closed the store, I liked to go cycling … But never too much, I didn't really have much time for sports!" Suzaku laughed then, and the sound rang through the otherwise silent room.

A loud sigh escaped Lelouch's lips. "I didn't mean what kind of sports you did over there, you exercise nut." Lelouch shook his head. "But you mentioned a store -"

"Oh, a bookstore, but not a very big one or … selling anything you'd approve of," Suzaku said as he sighed, and he fell back against the sofa. "We mostly just sold magazines, manga anthologies and newspapers."

Lelouch rose an eyebrow. "And your father needed your help so much for that?" His tone was a little incredulous.

Rolling his eyes a bit, Suzaku huffed in irritation. "Well, excuse me … not everyone has the time or money to engage workers. And Dad had to take care of the shrine as well." Ah, he'd forgotten to mention that. "Dad also had to take care of the family shrine, after Uncle Jiraiya passed away so … things were a little tough." Suzaku smiled, and before his vision he could see the little shop now, in one of those crammed little areas between other shops, with the upper stories of the buildings functioning as apartments. "You know, but it was nice, even if there was always work to do..."

"But you still had time for kendo," Lelouch said and chuckled.

"Well, father insisted on me doing something proper in my spare time. And … I usually did it at school, so it didn't really interfere with anything." Suzaku smiled warmly as he played with the strings of his sweater. "I kind of miss it. Japan, I mean -" And he did: Japan was warmer, more beautiful flowers blooming, and he felt that the people were less … he didn't know. Maybe this was homesickness. A little.

Lelouch gave him a quizzical look, and there was frown playing on his face. "But you came over here …"

"I wanted to see you again. Well, I hoped to, and … studying abroad is good? Pa finally found a suitable apprentice, so I could leave now and …"

"Become a stripper," Lelouch finished for him, his eyes rolling.

This time, Suzaku rolled his eyes. "Um, I already told you I needed the money, and it … seemed easy."

"So you're used to … stripping and kissing people in public?" Lelouch asked, his tone dangerous.

"Eh, no. Definitely not the latter, and … well, that kiss was kind of my first." Suzaku was shaking his head. Really. Who did Lelouch think he was?

"Say the latter part again or pinch me."

"I only said that that the kiss was kind of my first?"

"What do you mean 'kind of'?"

Suzaku sighed. "Well, that I'm not exactly used to kissing? I … did date, but it was mostly holding hands and Father didn't really approve of me going anywhere after school, so - he wanted me to work, study and -well, I just always thought there was no rush in those things." He didn't blush, just looked at Lelouch, his throat feeling a little dry, and his heartbeat thumping so loudly he thought Lelouch had to hear it.

"Suzaku -" Lelouch started slowly, carefully, "you can't seriously tell me you started working at a stripper bar as a virgin?"

Suzaku shrugged his shoulders, smiled then and nodded. "Yeah! You don't need to have had sex to strip, I thought, so … um, why are you starting at me like that?"

To Lelouch, it seemed to be very clear why he was staring at Suzaku like that: his eyebrows raised, and a tight line drawn around his mouth. His violet eyes were narrowed, and brimming with emotion. "Do you realise what kinds of men go there?"

Suzaku laughed, and when he finally calmed down, his lungs still hurt. "Men like you and Gino?"

"Shut up! I meant, perverted men. With dirty thoughts, who grope -"

"You kissed me," Suzaku interrupted, and smiled. Because really, it was true, wasn't it?

"Well, you kissed me first!"

"...I wanted to. I just -" Suzaku swallowed," wanted to do it."

When Lelouch leaned forward and kissed him gently. It was over quickly, but Lelouch stayed close, his hair tickling Suzaku's cheek, and Suzaku had could look straight into those beautiful, beautiful eyes of his -

"I won't lie. I did want to kiss you."

Suzaku just closed his eyes and sighed; this was really nice, his heartbeat was quickening, and he unconsciously licked his lips.

"You kiss well, I think -I mean, I like it." Suzaku said, pressing his forehead against Lelouch's while he held onto his shoulders. He was blushing a little. "I wouldn't mind doing it … again." He bit his underlip. "If you don't mind it." And there was a slight ache in his chest at the thought of Lelouch not wanting more.

And Lelouch smiled - warmly and traced a fingertip against Suzaku's cheek. "And there I thought you'd become corrupted. But you're still the same loveable Suzaku."

"Hmm, loveable?" Suzaku's heartbeat was quickening even more now, and he knew he was flushing. His stomach was doing all sorts of somersaults, and he looked at Lelouch, his green eyes full of questions. "Lelouch -"

(Do you like me? Do you want me to stay? )

Lelouch kissed him again, deeper this time: the pressure of his lips more insistent, and Suzaku - not quite sure what to do - tried to return the pressure.

He didn't know who opened his mouth first, or who slipped their tongue in, but what he did know was that it didn't feel as strange and awkward as he'd always imagined. No, just like in the stripper bar, Lelouch's tongue moving against his own, meeting his again and again, felt … natural and nice.

And Lelouch's lips were so soft, his hands warm as he pulled Suzaku closer, and the only conscious thought buzzing in his brain was 'this is Lelouch, Lelouch's warm lips, and his hot tongue' and even those stream of thoughts soon pulverised into a running mantra that just rang 'Lelouch, Lelouch'.

When he found himself pushed against the couch, with Lelouch's lips still meeting his, and his hands clinging onto the other boy's shoulders, Suzaku didn't quite know whether he'd been pushed down, or had just let himself fall … it didn't matter all that much in the long run.

Lelouch was here, and this wasn't a dream.


When Gino called the next morning, it was Suzaku who picked up the phone. "Hello?"

"Oh, so you're awake - Suzaku." Gino sounded a bit surprised, and very amused. "What is Lelouch doing?"

"Sleeping," Suzaku said and yawned. He was dressed in Lelouch's pyjamas, barefoot, and his hair looked more like a bird's nest than usual.

"So you stayed over the whole night?" Gino asked.

"Yeah." Suzaku shrugged his shoulders, and frowned. His stomach was growling, and Lelouch was still asleep … he really didn't want to wake him up, even if he was hungry.

"You two shared a bed?"

"Yes." And it had been a nice bed, Lelouch's room, in general, being rather nice.

"Oh, I see," Gino said, and there was a muffled noise in the background, but Suzaku didn't ponder over it. "Well, anyhow, when Sleeping Beauty does wake up, tell him I called. See you!"

"Oh, okay. Bye."

As Gino hung up, Suzaku wondered if the conversation had given the other wrong ideas.

But … he and Lelouch were childhood friends, and it wasn't unusual for two boys, who'd known each other as long they had, to sleep in the same bed (they'd done it before!). Pretty much everything they'd done last night had been nothing short of ordinary for two friends … well, minus the kissing, but that was something that only concerned him and Lelouch, was something that only belonged to them, and them only.

And with that in mind, Suzaku went to take a shower.

(Later on, a blushing Lelouch would call him an 'idiot' for making Gino believe they'd gone all the way that night.)


"So you're quitting for certain, yes?" Lelouch asked over the breakfast table.

Suzaku laughed. "Worried, Lelouch?" When Lelouch shot him an irritated glare, Suzaku shook his head. "It was a joke. For the last time, I'm not going back … not that I think they'd take me back after the stunt I pulled last night."

Sighing, Lelouch said, "Good, I just want to make sure."

"I do need look for a job though." He reached out for the butter, but it was too far, and he frowned.

Lelouch handed him the butter, and Suzaku smiled before mouthing a 'thank you'. "I'll help you with that. And don't say no."

"But it'd be too much of a hassle! You have to study and -"

"Suzaku, I want to help you. Besides," he smiled warmly and leaned over to pour some tea into Suzaku's cup, "I'll make sure to find something that is close to university, and that can be considered an ulterior motive."

Suzaku chuckled. "To see me as often as possible? You sure you won't grow tired of me?" He gave a mock sigh. "You know, I can terribly vexing." He pouted. "I'll ask you to play basketball with me! And drag you off to watch bad action films."

"That didn't scare me back when we were kids," Lelouch couldn't seem to stop smiling, "and... it's not going to scare me away now."

Suzaku couldn't seem to stop either. "Good, I expect you to hold true to those words because you won't get rid of me all that easily."

"Hmm, is that a promise or a threat?" Lelouch was preparing a roll for himself, his movements dainty and elegant as he sliced it in two.

"I'd rather go for the former, because the latter sounds creepy and I think … it's hardly necessary in this case." Suzaku was grinning now, and when Lelouch grinned back, he knew that that there was nothing to be afraid of.

After all, neither of them would leave the other's side from now onwards.