"You retrieved him?" Lelouch asked C.C. as he flung off his cloak. C.C. nodded and Lelouch looked at her. Something was off… "Is he injured?"

"A little," C.C. said, her voice a steady monotone, but not quite the same as usual…

"How badly?" Lelouch demanded.

C.C. just looked at him. "See for yourself."

Lelouch glared at her and flung the door to Suzaku's room open. "Suzaku?"

"Lelouch!" Suzaku beamed at him, all cheerfulness and innocence under the white bandage that was wrapped around his head. "What are you doing here?"

Great. He was playing the passive-aggressive game again. Lelouch sighed. "You're clearly not that badly hurt. Take a few days to recover and we'll announce your death."

"My… what?" Suzaku frowned, his smile slowly falling from his face. "I'm not dead Lelouch."

"Of course not; it's not like you could die even if you wanted to." …that was cruel and uncalled for, unlike most of Lelouch's cruelty. "Sorry. I… I'm a little tense, Nunnally…"

"Nunnally's here?" And that bright smile was back, even bigger than before. "Wow, did everyone come to visit? Anyone from school? Milly, Rivalz, Shirley?"

This was no longer funny. At all. Not that it ever had been, really, but bringing up Shirley… Lelouch narrowed his eyes and leaned into his knight's space. "This was part of the plan Suzaku. I know you have regrets, but it's all for Zero Requiem, as you told me before." He leaned even closer. "Remember your promise."

Suzaku kissed his nose. "Of course I remember, Lelouch." He reached up to cup Lelouch's cheek, pressing a gentle kiss on his lips. "How could I ever forget?" His eyes darkened slightly. "You're still putting up with me, aren't you?"

Lelouch had been frozen, shocked by Suzaku touching him in anything other than anger, stunned by the gentle kiss, so like the ones they use to share. But those words…

"…do you think this was a mistake?"

"No! I mean… no. I wanted it, Suzaku. You… you did too, right?"

A chuckle. "I don't think I could have done that to you without wanting it, Lelouch." A sigh. "But… this complicates things."

"Really? How?" A body moving against rumpled sheets, the press of lips on a shoulder. "You've always been… an important person to me, Suzaku. This doesn't change that, it just… changes the activities we do together."

"So analytical." Arms wrapping around shoulders. "You can really reason away having me for a lover?"

"I don't want to reason that away, idiot. I… I want you. As a friend, and as a lover."

"…is that a confession?"

"Shut up!" A small struggle, leaving Lelouch inevitably pinned down by a smiling Suzaku. "I… if I have to put up with your teasing and stupidity, then you should at least be grateful."

"I am." And, god, the naked honesty in those two words… "I am grateful, Lelouch. And I promise that you'll have to continue to put up with me, because I'm not going anywhere." And that, and the press of lips and glide of hands, ended that conversation.

"Lelouch?" Suzaku sounded a little uncertain, a little concerned… "I'm sorry for getting hurt. I know you think I'm an idiot, but I… I can't remember why I did it, but I do know that it was important. Really important."

Lelouch stared at him. "…you just can't remember what was so important?"

Suzaku kissed him again. "I remember you, though. And nothing's more important than that."

Lelouch stepped back, horrified, as his mind reeled. "What else do you remember? Ashford? The Black Knights? Euphy?"

"Euphy?" Suzaku frowned. "How did you know…" He waved his hands. "I never told her about you or Nunnally, Lelouch. We just… she fell out a window, and I… I didn't know she was a princess. Not that it matters, I don't think I'll see her again…" His voice trailed off fondly, and Lelouch felt that particular wrench in his chest that he hadn't felt for almost a year. "Your sister's kinda weird, Lelouch."

"Yes," Lelouch said softly. "She was." It was silly to be jealous of Euphemia, in part because she was dead and in part because Suzaku clearly didn't remember when she became more important to him than Lelouch. "I… I'll be back."

He stepped out of the room and breathed a calming sigh.

C.C. took one look at him and started laughing. "He's hilarious, isn't he?"

Lelouch was so not in the mood for C.C.'s mockery right now. "Fix him."

C.C.'s eyes were still dancing with mirth, but at least she wasn't outright laughing. "And what do you expect me to do, exactly?"

"You fixed me before." Lelouch snapped. "Just do that for Suzaku." …to Suzaku. This Suzaku, happy and affectionate and warm, would hardly appreciate reverting back to the sullen angry knight of his most hated enemy. Whatever. It was necessary.

"His memory wasn't locked away by a geass." C.C. shrugged. "It's physical and possibly psychological. And I've got as much chance of fixing him as you do." She smiled. "Possibly less."

That was not what Lelouch had wanted to hear. "He's supposed to kill me and take the mantle of Zero and how the hell is he supposed to do that the way he is now?"

C.C. looked at him. "This is really bothering you, isn't it?" Lelouch sputtered, unable to answer that really obvious question. C.C. walked up to him, placing her hand on his cheek. "The fact that you have your lover back, willing and eager for you, unrestrained by the more recent trauma of your past together… this is upsetting to you."

Lelouch looked away. "What I… what he… that isn't important anymore." No matter what this current Suzaku thought. "All that matters is Zero Requiem."

Of all the expressions on C.C.'s short list, the one Lelouch hated the most was the pitying look. Being pitied by C.C.… "Find your own answers, Lelouch. I'm not going to help you destroy this final gift."

The sound of her quiet footsteps as she walked away from him mingled with the soft padding of Suzaku coming up behind him. "Hey. Was that…"

Lelouch didn't want to deal with this right now. Or ever. "That was C.C."

"She's the girl from Shinjuku." Suzaku said. "She… I saw her at Narita. With Zero…"

"Fancy that," Lelouch murmured, as a sudden vicious desire to screw with Suzaku the way Suzaku was accidentally screwing with him came over him. "How did you get close enough to see Zero, Suzaku? I thought you were with the Engineering Corps."

Suzaku gulped and paled. "Well… about that…"

"Yes?" Lelouch pressed, moving closer to Suzaku, smiling slightly and so, so angry. "What about that? You weren't in combat, were you Suzaku? You wouldn't have lied to me about that, would you?"

He really should have seen it coming. Apart from physically running off, it had been Suzaku's favourite distraction technique. But the nearly violent embrace and the sudden deep kiss still managed to take him by surprise. "Lelouch…"

Lelouch struggled for a moment in Suzaku's arms, hating how good it felt, how true and genuine and it wasn't, it was a lie, but…

It had been so long, and Lelouch had never been able to hold onto his hot rage with Suzaku. The cold fury, yes, but the passionate emotions always fused into this sharp desire and… "Suzaku."

There must have been a part of Suzaku that also knew how long it had truly been, because in all the time Lelouch had been with him, he'd never heard Suzaku moan that desperately. They stumbled back into Suzaku's room, landing on the bed in a tangle of limbs and tongues, scrambling at each other's clothes. Lelouch had an advantage here, because he knew how the suits were designed. Suzaku wasn't even sure how to get out of his own clothes, never mind Lelouch's. This was probably the first time Lelouch had Suzaku stripped before he was naked and, right now, he really wanted that.

He pulled away from Suzaku's hands, his breathing shaky, but hands steady as he removed the remainder of his clothing. "If we're going to do this, you need to find something."

Suzaku frowned, his mind always a little slower when he was aroused. "We've gone without before…"

That was when they'd been fucking almost daily. "Not this time," Lelouch snapped, trying not to think about what he was doing. "Find something, Suzaku." And Suzaku, always eager to please, jumped up to obey.

By the time Lelouch was done, Suzaku had returned. "This was all I could find." Water-based SPF 15 sunscreen. Whatever, it would do.

"Fine." Lelouch said. "That's… fine." He was starting to have second thoughts.

Suzaku wasn't about to let him. "Good." He wrapped one arm around Lelouch and stroked his neck with the other. "Because I really want you right now, Lelouch."

Lelouch closed his eyes and bit back hysterical laughter. "Right now, perhaps…" Suzaku cut him off with a kiss, pushing him down to the bed.

"Something's wrong, Lelouch. I can tell. And I… I'm not going to make you tell me. But…" He kissed Lelouch's neck and slid his hand between his legs. "If you want to talk about it, I'm here." Lelouch spread his legs, embarrassingly eager. "I love you, Lelouch." And Suzaku kissed him and pressed in a single coated finger.

Lelouch tried to relax, but it had been so long… "Suzaku…"

"You're so tight," Suzaku whispered. "It's almost like our first time…"

Lelouch shook his head, nearly laughing at the thought. Their first time – an almost accidental acceleration of kisses and touches, with each one watching the other to make sure they didn't cross a line, eventually culminating in Suzaku moving inside him, looking almost amazed that this was happening… that was nothing like this; a prince, an Emperor, manipulating his knight to get what he wanted. "Take what you want, Suzaku. Take your time, take me fast, whatever you desire." It was the least he could offer in return for using Suzaku like this.

Suzaku chuckled. "You're always so good at saying just the right things to turn me on." He forced a second finger in, kissing Lelouch's mouth as Lelouch gasped. "Do you enjoy teasing me, Lelouch?"

Teasing him…"Not as much as you enjoy taunting me," Lelouch shot back, moaning as his body finally remembered how to react properly to Suzaku's stroking fingers. "And it's not like I'm – hnng…"

Suzaku grinned. "Not like you're pretending? We can if you like…" He nipped at Lelouch's ear, still grinning. "We can pretend that you're naïve and still learning instead of what we both know you are."

Lelouch panted at the ceiling and focused on not coming, not yet. "And what is that, Suzaku?"

"A glorious…" Suzaku kissed him and twisted his fingers, making Lelouch gasp. "Beautiful…" Another kiss and scissoring. "Incredible…" The fingers slid out and Lelouch spread his legs wider, fully aware of what was coming next. "Tease." Suzaku slammed into him, starting a steady pace right from the start as one hand wrapped around Lelouch's cock.

It hurt, a little, which was actually good because the sheer sensation threatened to tip Lelouch over the edge and he didn't want it over so soon. "Suzaku…" He clung to Suzaku's shoulders, trying to pull him down enough to kiss him.

Suzaku obligingly kissed him, breaking away with a grunt. "God, you're still so tight…"

"Don't hold back," Lelouch pled, wanting to be able to blame his lack of control and common sense on being overwhelmed. Which he was… "Harder, Suzaku."

It wasn't the first time Lelouch had egged him on, and Suzaku took him at his word, thrusting harder and deeper. "It feels… so good… Lelouch…"

Shut up, shut up, shut up… Lelouch wasn't sure he could take much more. "Suzaku, I'm close…"

"Oh, thank god." Suzaku exhaled, redoubling his efforts and jerking Lelouch off faster. "Together, then?"

It should have been harder to sync their breathing and heartbeats and orgasm. But it wasn't – it was the easiest thing in the world, as if they'd done this yesterday and not nearly a full year ago. The power of their orgasms, though, spoke to how long it had been. For both of them.

Suzaku collapsed on top of Lelouch, breathing hard and chuckling against Lelouch's skin. "That was amazing. I mean it's always amazing, but that was…"

Lelouch felt sick.

"Mmm, don't," Suzaku complained, holding Lelouch tighter as Lelouch tried to squirm away. "Don't go yet." He nuzzled at Lelouch's neck. "Maybe, in a few minutes, we could…" He nipped lightly at the skin there, trailing his hands and mouth down Lelouch's body, and Lelouch remembered how completely insatiable Suzaku had always been. He closed his eyes and tried not to think of staying in bed with Suzaku, resting between bouts, as they'd done on those rare weekends when they were both free…

"Lelouch?" Suzaku looked up from where he was mouthing over Lelouch's hip bone. "Where did all these bruises come from?"

OoO-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-OoO

The amusing thing was, in an unamusing way, that most of them had come from Suzaku. The worst were from when Gino had blown up the Shinkiro, but most of the rest were clearly fingermarks, places where Suzaku had grabbed him while arguing, or shook him when Lelouch faltered, or even just dragged him away when he felt that Lelouch was playing with his geassed servants or siblings too much. Lelouch had forgotten what his skin looked like unmarked by Suzaku's anger.

But Suzaku didn't remember that at all. As far as he knew, he'd never raised a hand to Lelouch or treated him roughly. As far as he knew, these marks were from someone else; someone Lelouch was letting hurt him. Lelouch snorted in unamused amusement. Only Suzaku had that right.

"Is this why you're…" Suzaku's eyes darkened, and not in lust. "Lelouch, are you… cheating on me?"

…okay. That was kind of unfairly funny. "No, Suzaku. It's a rather long story, though." Suzaku was still looking at him, uncertain and hurt. It would get worse. Lelouch kissed him lightly. "Shower, then explanation."

Suzaku nodded and followed Lelouch into the bathroom. Of course he'd expect that they'd shower together. Lelouch sighed and just stepped under the hot water, not wanting to think about anything just yet.

The feel of Suzaku's fingers lightly tracing the purple and yellow bruisemarks on his shoulders and arms wasn't helping. "Stop that."

"No." Suzaku pressed a kiss on the back of Lelouch's neck. "Some of these are almost faded. This happened a while ago, and I never… Lelouch, something's not right."

"Does it matter?" Lelouch asked hopelessly. "As long as we're together, as long as you're… as happy with me as you can be. Do little things like this matter?"

Suzaku turned him around and kissed him. "Of course they do. Everything about you matters, Lelouch."

Lelouch wound his arms around Suzaku's neck and let him kiss him and finally figured out what C.C. had meant by 'gift'. He could keep Suzaku like this for days, weeks… possibly even years. Just lock him away where he couldn't find out that Lelouch had just conquered the world and Nunnally was in prison and everyone hated him…

He could have his lover back, just as he'd been, and he could find some happiness with him.

But what C.C., the eternal narcissist, couldn't understand was that this wasn't about his happiness. Or even Suzaku's. It couldn't be, because if it was then this; the feeling of Suzaku turning him around and sliding into him, fucking him as the water fell around them until they both came, their semen mingling as it drained away; this would be Lelouch's future.

And the world, and Nunnally, would suffer for it.

"I love you," Suzaku whispered as he held Lelouch until Lelouch was able to stand on his own. "I love you, Lelouch."

He didn't, really. Not anymore; Lelouch had made sure of that. But… "I love you too, Suzaku," Lelouch confessed for the first time since Euphy… "I always have, even when I…" …hated you.

Suzaku kissed the back of Lelouch's head. "Whatever you've done… even if you've found someone else and want to…" He held Lelouch tighter. "I'll still love you. And I'll still be your friend."

Right. This Suzaku was still under the impression that the worst thing Lelouch could do to him was sleep with someone else. Lelouch snorted. "I've never had sex with anyone but you, Suzaku. Of all the things I can be accused of, unfaithfulness is not one of them."

And Suzaku, in his complete ignorance, relaxed at that. Lelouch sighed and let himself be held as the water washed away what it could. The bruises and that dull backache remained, though.

Suzaku kissed him again as they dried off. Then again as they dressed, only now noticing Lelouch's… unique clothes, but saying nothing. And finally, right before he left the room, he grabbed Lelouch (gently) and held him.

"This… this is big, isn't it Lelouch? And… not good."

Lelouch sighed. "It depends on your perspective, Suzaku." He kissed Suzaku's forehead, leaning against him. "Good and bad are in the eye of the beholder. This is… necessary."

Suzaku nodded, still clearly nervous, but obedient and willing to follow Lelouch's lead.

Lelouch wondered how long that could last.

OoO-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-OoO

Seventeen recordings were all that Lelouch found in the official database detailing Suzaku's life until he became the Knight of Seven. Lelouch didn't want to trigger that identity just yet.

"That's Narita!" Suzaku exclaimed. "That's classified military surveillance, Lelouch; how did you get it?"

"I'll explain later," Lelouch said, popping the next one in. "So you remember this?" Scattered video of the battle at the docks.

The tanker exploded and Suzaku flinched. "General Katase…"

Lelouch switched again, hesitating before he started the next recording. "Suzaku… does the name 'Mao' mean anything to you?"

The fact that Suzaku had to think was enough of an answer. "I… don't think so, Lelouch." Suzaku's eyes narrowed. "Why, is he the guy who…"

"He's dead," Lelouch said, in part just to watch the shock fall over Suzaku's face. "He's not important in any case. Except…"

Lelouch sat beside Suzaku and watched him in the TV's dulled reflection. "Because of him, I learned about what happened. With your father."

Suzaku tensed. "What?"

"I know you killed him," Lelouch said. "And I know why and I know that it was probably just an accident. And I know that you've been trying to atone for that mistake ever since."

"H-how… why…" Suzaku started shaking. Lelouch didn't move to comfort him. He wasn't done yet.

"I even know that you were willing… no, eager to die because of that. And… I took that away from you; that choice, that freedom. I didn't agree with your wishes, so I forced my own will on you." Lelouch hadn't apologized for that and, honestly, never would. "You can't die, Suzaku. You're simply incapable of it."

Suzaku was still trembling. Lelouch risked a quick glance and saw Suzaku, as expected, staring at his hands with wide, unseeing eyes. "Suzaku…"

"I… I'm sorry Lelouch," Suzaku blurted out. "I should have told you, but I…"

The apology was unexpected. When the revelation had happened the first time, Suzaku had quietly broken down, then recovered, then refused to acknowledge it. Lelouch had respected his wishes, right up until using that knowledge against Suzaku at Shikinejima. Which, incidentally, was a few recordings away. Lelouch sighed and gave up on them for now.

"You don't have to apologize, Suzaku. It's in the past. You've lost about a year of your memory, that's all."

Suzaku nodded. "I see… then those bruises…"

He was really hung up on those. "You… were here when they happened, you just don't remember it," Lelouch prevaricated. "We need to get your memory back."

"Right," Suzaku said firmly. "Um. How?"

"…I'm not sure." Lelouch hated to admit that. "Normally we'd have a proper doctor look at you, but… you're supposed to be dead."

"Dead?" Suzaku squawked. "You… you said that before. But… I thought I couldn't die…"

Lelouch sighed. "No one knows that but us. And C.C. And some other people, but that doesn't matter. We'll work chronologically for now."

Suzaku smiled fondly. "So organized, Lelouch. That hasn't changed, clearly." His smiled brightened. "And we're still together, even after a year! So whatever else has changed…"

"I'm Zero."

"What!"

After everything that had happened today; every accidentally hurtful thing Suzaku said or did, every vindictive remark that Lelouch made, every unexpected moment of transitory happiness… this nearly made it worth it – just the expression on Suzaku's face, the utter shock and disbelief followed by him processing everything once he realized that he actually did believe Lelouch.

Just in case, Lelouch said it again. "I'm Zero. Or I was, at least."

"Oh," Suzaku said faintly. "Then… Narita… Shirley's father… Prince Clovis…"

"All those." Lelouch said, no longer nearly as amused. "And more." He frowned. "I nearly forgot about Clovis…"

The look Suzaku shot him was hurt and confused and still somewhat shocked. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I almost did." Lelouch admitted. "After rescuing you from Jeremiah – he's on our side now, long story. But you were so damn stubborn…"

"All those people…"

Lelouch sighed. "And then I call you a hypocrite, and you get defensive and bring up Eu-" He stopped. "Just drop it, Suzaku. We've had our philosophical debates and no one ever wins."

"I'm still with you," Suzaku said faintly. "Did I join the Black Knights?"

Lelouch snorted. "No. I can say with complete honesty that you have always been their enemy. You are consistent in that regard, at least." He shook his head. "But that's not the point. We're going through this chronologically." He pressed play.

The grand music got Suzaku's attention. "Hey, that's Princess Euphemia."

Lelouch ignored him, watching the image of his sister and wishing…

"…and that's me."

"You're being knighted," Lelouch explained.

"No way…" Suzaku breathed, leaning forward, enrapt. "I became her knight? Why?"

Lelouch ignored the small ache in the middle of his chest. "I was not privy to that conversation."

"Why would she choose me?" Suzaku asked as if Lelouch hadn't spoken, his hands twitching as the Suzaku on the TV offered his sword to his Princess.

"She was in love with you, idiot," Lelouch said, his tone level, thank goodness. "And you were…"

Suzaku finally turned to him. "…Lelouch?"

Lelouch focused back on the point. "Is any of this jogging your memory?"

Suzaku gave him one last worried look and turned back to the TV. "No. I mean, I was obviously there, but I can't remember being there. I can't even remember… was I happy? Being knighted?"

"Ecstatic," Lelouch said sourly. "You came to the house in your new uniform and gushed about how Princess Euphemia was going to make Area 11 a better place and…" …and I kissed you to shut you up and you ended up taking me from behind with that uniform still on, and I covered my ears because I didn't want to hear if you moaned her name… "You were very excited."

"…and you were Zero…" Suzaku hummed contemplatively. "That must have been awkward. Did you ever tell me?"

Lelouch shook his head. "Not directly. Although I never exactly hid it from you either." He replaced the recording with the one from Shikinejima. "This is when I… stopped you from being able to kill yourself."

It was audio only, but Suzaku's 'I have to live!' came out loud and clear as he disobeyed orders. "…how did you do that?"

Lelouch removed his contact. "It's called geass. Every one is unique, and mine gives me the ability to give one order that has to be obeyed."

"So… I have to 'live'," Suzaku said. "Even if I don't want to."

Lelouch was still not sorry. "You do."

Suzaku shook his head. "I don't remember that either."

"No one does; it's part of my geass, not your amnesia." Lelouch was sick of this. "Come with me."

And Suzaku clearly hadn't regained his memories, since he stood and followed Lelouch without a moment's hesitation.

C.C. was waiting for them. "Well? Is he fixed?" Suzaku eyed her suspiciously, but that wasn't far off from his usual attitude.

"No," Lelouch answered sourly. "Visual stimuli have failed. We're moving on to tactile."

"…you showed him the SAZ footage?"

Lelouch glared. "I… that's a last resort."

"Ah…" C.C. sighed. "I was beginning to wonder if you were capable of that anymore."

"What's she talking about?" Suzaku demanded.

C.C. smirked. "Don't pay any attention to me, dead boy. I'll only confuse you." She smirked at Lelouch. "Well, confuse you more."

"Not helping," Lelouch snapped. "Not that you would in any case."

"Shall I leave you to it, then?" C.C. asked breezily. "Not that there's anything wrong with taking your time, Lelouch. He seems happy."

Lelouch snorted. "Well, he's not. He's faking it on the outside, while on the inside he feels worthless and vile and wants to die."

"Lelouch!"

"What?" Lelouch demanded, finally losing his temper. "It's true! Every day, every moment you were with me, you were broken inside and you never let me in! It took… well, it took a lot of things before you were able to admit how you felt, and that was only because you knew it would hurt me. You're a pile of self-loathing, guilty, suicidal passivity; and it took Euphy to fix that instead of me and… and why the hell are you staring at me like that?"

"Because it's not fair!" Suzaku shot back. "It's like I woke up and you know everything about me and you're totally different, and you hate me so much and I don't even know why and it's not fair!"

OoO-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-OoO

In hindsight, there were more mature options other than slapping Suzaku and storming off to his room after that. But it had felt good.

At the time, at least. Now Lelouch was mostly just awash in regrets as he lay on his bed. The hurt in Suzaku's eyes as he claimed that Lelouch hated him…

He didn't. Lelouch was no longer capable of that for anyone but himself. Patricide had been purging, in a way.

What did he feel for Suzaku, though? And was it the same for this naïve, affectionate Suzaku as it was for Lelouch's hardened, perpetually angry Suzaku? He'd let the gentler one into his bed, but it had been the other Suzaku, the angry bully, that Lelouch had first fallen in love with, even if he hadn't recognized it as such at the age of ten.

His Suzaku, the one who followed him only with the promise of his death, who glared and grabbed and hated… Lelouch loved him. Even forgave him, although he'd never tell him. Suzaku would completely resent it. The 'punishment' – becoming Zero – was Lelouch's only way of helping Suzaku come to grips with his endless life. The plan had been simple; Suzaku would 'die' and Zero would remain, a perpetual atonement and guardian – everything Suzaku had ever wanted.

…instead Lelouch got a different Suzaku. One who loved and even trusted Lelouch to an extent. This Suzaku who reached for Lelouch but allowed him the freedom to back away… close to the exact same Suzaku that Lelouch had laughed with and played with and… and made love to. God, Lelouch loved him. And missed him, so much…

He had to (die) go. He wasn't built for the tasks that Lelouch needed Suzaku for. He was gentle and kind and self-sacrificing and Zero needed to be hard and able to sacrifice others. Like Lelouch was.

…god. He'd turned his beloved Suzaku into a mixture of his and Suzaku's worst traits. Lelouch choked back a sob mixed with laughter. And he still loved him. So very much.

"…Lelouch?"

Not now. "Go away Suzaku."

The door closed and Lelouch knew Suzaku (both… all Suzakus) well enough to know that Suzaku was on this side of it. "Seriously. Go away."

"I'm sorry I lost my temper," Suzaku said, still from the doorway, so there was still a chance at salvaging this before Lelouch broke. "I didn't mean…"

"Don't lie to me," Lelouch ordered, only slightly muffled by his pillow. "You meant every word."

"…do you really hate me?" Suzaku asked sadly.

One word. A simple 'yes' and Suzaku would probably leave and they'd start working on returning his memories tomorrow… "I could never hate you, idiot."

Predictably, that made Suzaku sit beside Lelouch's prone form and run a gentle hand through Lelouch's hair. "Those bruises… they're from me, aren't they?"

"…not all of them," Lelouch muttered, refusing to look up. "We're not together anymore, Suzaku. We're… allies of a sort, working together for a common goal, but we're not together. We're not lovers and we're not friends."

"Do I hate you?"

Lelouch snorted into his pillow. "I think so. Not that you don't have cause enough."

"You said Princess Euphemia was in love with me," Suzaku said. "Did I…"

"I don't think you ever slept with her," Lelouch answered. "And you never said anything to me about it, but… yes, Suzaku. You were in love with her too."

"Are you sure?"

Lelouch remembered the heartbreak behind Suzaku's rage as he confronted Lelouch after Euphemia's death. He remembered the way Suzaku sobbed as he asked how Lelouch could have betrayed her, the desperation as he begged Lelouch to bring her back. "I'm sure."

"I see." Suzaku stood up and Lelouch closed his eyes. This was for the best.

The bed dipped as Suzaku settled in beside Lelouch. "I'm not getting my memories back. I don't want to be the person who betrayed and hurt you." He wrapped his arms around Lelouch and kissed his neck. "I love you."

"No, you don't," Lelouch answered, lying limp and unresponsive in Suzaku's arms. "You just think you do. You don't know any better."

"Shut up and go to sleep, Lelouch. You're not going to talk me out of this."

And Lelouch knew that the moment Suzaku got his memories back, he'd resent Lelouch for this. But… he'd resent Lelouch anyways. Why not indulge? He ghosted his fingers over the back of Suzaku's hand and slept.

OoO-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-OoO

He woke up naked. With his wrists pinned above his head and wet suction on his neck, hard and stretched by at least two fingers. The body on top of his and the slow glide of a cock against his inner thigh were familiar and missed and, for a moment, Lelouch thought that he was dreaming. It wouldn't be the first time.

"Hmm… you're awake?" Suzaku's voice replaced the feel of his mouth on Lelouch's neck. "Good. You were dreaming of me."

That would explain how he'd been able to sleep through what Suzaku had done. "Get off me."

"How about…" Suzaku's fingers slid out of him. "Instead of that, I get you off?" He pressed his cock into Lelouch, going much slower this time, as his hand wrapped around Lelouch's erection.

Lelouch kept his eyes closed as he panted, holding back from making any encouraging sounds, no matter how much he wanted to. He tried to form the words to tell Suzaku to stop, but he couldn't quite do that either. At least if he held back… "Ah, Suzaku…"

…well. That was just embarrassing.

Suzaku chuckled. "Yeah, Lelouch. Just like that…"

Lelouch started struggling, less against the sex and more against the helplessness. Suzaku clamped down harder on his wrists, keeping his hand and hips moving steadily as Lelouch writhed under him. "Hmph… I thought you had more muscle on you… did you finally start attending gym classes?" He covered Lelouch's mouth with his own, before Lelouch could answer that question, suddenly slamming harder and faster into him and swallowing his desperate cries.

Lelouch could feel the pressure building too fast, he couldn't hold it back, he…

"Ah-ah-ah…" Suzaku chided breathlessly, slowing down and lightly pinching the tip of Lelouch's cock. "Not yet. Not until…" The hand pinning Lelouch's wrists slipped against sweaty skin and Lelouch broke free, only to grab at Suzaku's shoulders and hold him close. Suzaku moaned and sped up again. "Let me hear you, Lelouch."

"Bas-tard." Lelouch moaned, planting his feet and arching into Suzaku's thrusts. "Just doing… whatever the hell you want…"

Suzaku laughed. "Right. 'Cause it's not like you want this at all." His hand resumed jerking Lelouch off and Lelouch clenched his teeth against a wail. "We've gone over what a tease you are, haven't we?"

Suzaku's voice was starting to sound shaky, his hips stuttering in their rhythm as he tried to stave off his own orgasm. It made Lelouch feel better about the fact that, even with how angry he was, he was so close that it hurt. "Just finish it, idiot."

"As Your Highness commands," Suzaku whispered and a flick of his wrist and a perfectly aimed thrust were all it took to push Lelouch over the edge, only faintly aware of Suzaku's orgasm a moment later.

Suzaku's words were still resonating in Lelouch's mind when he recovered. "It's not 'Your Highness' anymore," he said, finally opening his eyes.

"…wha?"

"It's 'Your Majesty' now," Lelouch said, enjoying taking Suzaku off guard in return for what had just happened. "We conquered the world together. Britannia, the EU, China… they're all mine now."

Suzaku looked at him. "You control the entire world."

"Yes."

"…and yet, you can't get out of this bed if I don't let you."

Was Suzaku trying to make a point? "Don't be more of an idiot than you can help."

Suzaku chuckled. "The whole world at your command, and yet you're still completely at my mercy."

That was so unintentionally true that it actually hurt. But it was a good kind of hurt. "There are worse places to be."

Suzaku smiled. "That's so sweet." He pressed a kiss against Lelouch's throat and Lelouch knew full well where this was leading…

"Get off me. We – I have work to do. You need to get your memories back."

Lelouch could feel Suzaku's scowl against his skin. "Don' wanna."

"Too bad." Lelouch squirmed out from under Suzaku, making a brief face at the sticky mess. Shower, then work. "I'll have C.C. take you back to your room. Look around and see if that brings anything back."

Suzaku looked adorable, naked and sweaty with his hair sticking out in weird angles and the cutest pout on his face. Lelouch didn't really want to replace that with the cold, narrowed gaze of his knight, but… "It has to be done, Suzaku."

OoO-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-OoO

It has to be done. That was Lelouch's mantra over the next few days as he ruled with an iron and uncaring fist, forcing governments to capitulate to his whims with the threat of Damocles, even turning them against their own people when resistance groups formed. His own soldiers – still geassed into loyalty, but far fewer in number now – were rarely even needed. Lelouch destroyed his father's legacy of inequality and replaced it with his own.

All men are created equal. And all are created subservient to me.

…Suzaku was the exception. He always was.

"So I'm officially dead now?"

Lelouch nodded. "Congratulations. Now we should implement the next stage of our plan, but you're broken, so that'll have to wait."

"Don't sulk," Suzaku chided, cheerfully straddling Lelouch's lap. "You know that only makes me want to kiss that pouty face away."

Lelouch had stopped resisting Suzaku's advances when it occurred to him that having Suzaku hate him for this as well, once he regained his memories, could only help their ultimate plan. That might have partially been a justification.

Still, when Suzaku dipped his head to plant a soft kiss on Lelouch's lips, Lelouch kissed back without any reluctance, smiling into the kiss as Suzaku laughed.

"It worked." Suzaku sounded proud of himself. "Well, if you can't finish your mysterious requiem thing, what are we going to do next?"

A large part of Lelouch wanted to just keep going, let Suzaku take him on the pristine white couch that C.C. loved to lounge around on. But it had been days since Suzaku had developed amnesia and Lelouch had never accepted failure for long.

"I want to show you something."

He'd tailored Zero's suit himself to better fit Suzaku; letting out the shoulders and replacing the boots with a larger pair. Suzaku, the first time he'd seen it, had shoved Lelouch aside and called him a selfish, manipulative bastard, demanding what right he had to ask this of him. Lelouch had responded with the same right that Suzaku had to kill him and they hadn't spoken for days afterwards.

He'd never actually gotten Suzaku to try it on.

This time was a little different.

"Holy… is this the real thing?" Suzaku's eyes were huge as he circled the suit, displayed artfully in the wardrobe. "You know, it really does make you look bad-ass."

"I'd never imagined myself a hero," Lelouch said, watching Suzaku carefully. It was entirely possible that his utter hatred of Zero, his revulsion and disgust…

"Can I try on the mask?"

…or not. It seemed that while this Suzaku had no love for Zero (besides Zero being his lover) he did have an odd admiration and appreciation. Maybe if Lelouch dressed as Zero, that would bring back some memories.

No. This was Suzaku's now. "Go ahead."

The mask looked odd without the outfit. "Huh. I can still see. My voice sounds weird…"

It did. Lelouch shook his head to clear it from the surreality. This was the future, after all. "Try on the rest as well. It should fit."

Suzaku removed the mask and stripped shamelessly. Lelouch had to help him with the cape, which was slightly different than the Knight's capes that Suzaku had worn (except that this Suzaku never had…), but everything fit and hung well on him. Then Suzaku replaced the mask.

It was Zero.

It felt odd, standing in front of his alter-ego, watching him flex his fingers in his gloves, knowing that it wasn't him; it was… "Suzaku?"

"Hmm? Yeah?" The mask pointed vaguely in Lelouch's direction. "This is surprisingly comfortable! Even the high heels… why the high heels again?"

"To make you taller," Lelouch answered. "Obviously. Can you move in it?"

Suzaku walked around the room, the cape swishing impressively, the leather boots creaking… "Sure! The cape is a little odd, but the rest is just fine."

Lelouch admired him for a moment longer before a self-indulgent desire came over him. "Suzaku, come here."

Suzaku stopped in front of him, his head cocked adorably. Lelouch smiled. "Good. Now, just stand there."

And Lelouch dropped to his knees, sliding his hand through the fabric and easily finding and lifting Suzaku's cock out before leaning forward and gently licking.

Suzaku groaned. "L-Lelouch?"

Lelouch smiled. "I'll be quick."

He'd sucked Suzaku off before, but it hadn't been for a while and, frankly, it had never been his favourite activity. But the chance to do this, with Suzaku like this… it was something he'd never even dreamed of.

It would infuriate Suzaku once his memories returned. The thought made Lelouch smirk as he took Suzaku into his mouth.

"Ngh…" Suzaku hardened gratifyingly quickly as his hand rested on the back of Lelouch's head. "Lelouch…"

Lelouch pulled off, letting his tongue linger a moment longer. "Is it good?"

"It's… god, you never…"

Lelouch kissed and steadied him. "Well, I'm doing it now, so be grateful." And he ducked his head over Suzaku's erection, sucking and swirling his tongue, and trying to remember what Suzaku had liked.

Apparently, he wasn't doing a bad job. Suzaku groaned above him and tightened his fist in Lelouch's hair, still not thrusting or holding Lelouch's head in place, but if Lelouch was remembering properly…

"Shit." Suzaku's hips started moving in small jerks, and Lelouch was reminded why he'd never really liked doing this. Suzaku was never able to just relax and let Lelouch pleasure him. "Lelouch…"

Oh well. Lelouch sucked harder, one hand bracing himself on Suzaku's hip, the other moving over the part of Suzaku's shaft that Lelouch couldn't fit in. Yet.

Deepthroating was, as it turned out, like riding a bike. It took a few tries to get the hang of it; there was an indescribable trick to it; and you never really forgot how. As Lelouch opened his throat and swallowed Suzaku deeper, Suzaku's other hand buried itself in Lelouch's hair and his hips started moving in earnest. Lelouch hung on and breathed through his nose and let Suzaku fuck his mouth as Suzaku groaned and cursed and bit off a strangled cry and came.

Lelouch managed to swallow most of it, letting only a trickle leave the side of his mouth. Not bad, considering how out of practice he was.

His mind reeled when Suzaku released him, half aroused, half sore. They usually had sex after, but Lelouch remembered why they were there in the first place.

The Zero outfit had not triggered Suzaku's memories. Damn.

They were running out of options. The only thing left was…

Reviewing the battle at Kyuushuu would do nothing. While it had been significant to Lelouch, allowing him to rescue Suzaku and fight beside him, it would mean little to Suzaku.

The only thing left was the SAZ ceremony.

Suzaku watched the whole thing; from Euphemia's cheerful declaration of genocide to the bloodbath that ensued, to his Lancelot saving her just a moment too late after Zero shot her. He stared at the screen as the picture blurred than faded. "Why would she…" He looked at Lelouch, clearly confused. "She would never have said that."

"Of course not," Lelouch said, secretly relieved yet disappointed that even this Suzaku was faithful to Euphemia in this. "I told you about my geass, didn't I?"

"No. You…" Suzaku shook his head in denial. "You wouldn't have done this either, Lelouch!"

"I've done worse," Lelouch said casually, then shrugged. "Although, that is a matter of perspective, I suppose."

"Why?"

Somehow, it seemed that Lelouch was constantly justifying himself to Suzaku. "If she'd created the Special Area Zone, the Black Knights would have been over. I couldn't have achieved my revenge and I would have gone back to being an ordinary schoolboy with a poor attendance record. She was a saint. I needed a villain."

"…you shot her."

"Well, yes. I couldn't have her actually under a geass to kill all Japanese, now could I? Someone would have killed her eventually; I just tried to make it as painless as possible."

Suzaku shook his head. "You used that… thing on her, forced her to become a monster, then killed her for it?"

Lelouch shrugged. "The ends justify the means, Suzaku. I've never made any pretense of believing anything else."

"But you…" Suzaku grabbed Lelouch by the collar and Lelouch felt a small frisson of fear. Suzaku could, if given enough reason, kill him easily. "You…" Suzaku's eyes widened. "You're lying."

It was awkward, but not exactly uncomfortable, being held like this. In fact, it was more familiar that being held more tenderly by Suzaku. Lelouch laughed. "I tend to do that, Suzaku. But there's a part of you that knows exactly what I did, and that part hates me and will never forgive me."

"Because that part loved Euphy more than it loves you?" Suzaku demanded. "But that's not true! It's just… if you're lying to me now, then you probably lied to me then! And what you did… what you said you did, it's… unforgivable. No matter how much I love you."

Lelouch looked away. "Shirley forgave me."

"…what?"

"Shirley forgave me. Which made me realize. There's no such thing as an unforgivable act. Just someone unwilling to forgive someone else." Lelouch looked Suzaku in the eye. "You should have seen yourself, Suzaku… passionate and heartbroken and vengeful and cold… you were beautiful."

Suzaku kissed him. Hard. "Stop that! Stop saying that, you're not going to make me hate you, dammit!"

Lelouch kissed him back, hard enough to draw blood. "You already hate me, idiot. And you know it."

Suzaku released him, jumping back as if Lelouch was on fire. He touched his lip gingerly, wincing when his fingers came away covered in blood. "What really happened?"

"I told you."

"No! No lies, no… manipulation. What happened with Euphie?"

Lelouch curled up. "She talked me into it."

"…she what?"

"She convinced me that her plan would make everyone… would make Nunnally happy. And you. And I… I knew I was losing you and I was already okay with that, as long as you were happy. And Nunnally's happiness has always been my dearest wish and… And my vengeance seemed so petty when Euphy smiled at me and promised me a better future, governing by her side."

"And then what?"

Lelouch had, at one point, blamed geass itself. He knew better now. "I was careless. My mask was off and I didn't think… four words. Just four words, Suzaku, and I…" He'd never admitted to this, not even to C.C. "It's almost worse that it was a mistake. That it was pointless. At least, if it was planned, if it was for a purpose, even an evil one…"

"But that's not true," Suzaku said. "It was a mistake. And lying to yourself… lying to me… that doesn't change the fact that she's dead. That you killed her."

"I know."

Suzaku hesitated, then moved to the door. "I… I doubt this helps, but I still love you."

Lelouch buried his head in his knees. "You're right. It doesn't help."

"I… I can't forgive you. It's not my place. It's his, that other me." Suzaku shook his head. "Still, I… I don't think that she would have wanted this. I don't think she would have wanted you to mourn her like this, with despair and self-blame. And I don't think she would have wanted me to mourn her with vengeance and hatred. And I don't think she would have wanted to come between us if she'd known about us – alive or dead."

"It doesn't matter what she would have wanted," Lelouch said. "She's dead. She can't want anything anymore."

"That doesn't mean we should disrespect her wishes," Suzaku argued. "All it means is that we're being self-indulgent and blaming it on her. And it's not her fault."

Lelouch shook silently and didn't answer. Suzaku shook his head sadly and left the room, making his way down the abandoned hallways to his own room. Lelouch had encouraged him to explore, but Suzaku refused to for fear that it would bring that other Suzaku back, the one who hated and hurt Lelouch. The Suzaku that Lelouch clearly wanted.

I still love you.

It doesn't help.

Suzaku set his jaw and opened the top drawer of his dresser, leafing through meaningless documents and numerous pens.

…that was an odd letter opener. Small and not overly sharp and… were those wings?

Suzaku took it out, cradling it in his hand for a moment before slowly moving it up, to rest over his heart…

OoO-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-OoO

Lelouch convinced himself that, because there were no tears, he hadn't been crying. His face looked perfectly composed as he prepared for bed; even C.C. hadn't noticed anything amiss.

He stopped congratulating himself for that when the door opened and Suzaku walked in.

"Go away."

"You never told me that Shirley forgave you."

"I just di-" Lelouch wasn't usually this slow. He let a small, cruel smile creep over his face. "You're back, then?"

Suzaku maintained his usual blank, appraising stare. "I'm back."

"Excellent." Lelouch let the smile drop. "Now get out."

"Lelouch…" Suzaku sighed. "I remember everything."

Lelouch snorted. "So do I. Now get. Out."

Suzaku moved further into the room, closer to Lelouch. "Is that what you really want?"

"Since when has what I wanted mattered to you?" Lelouch grumbled.

Suzaku laughed. "It always mattered Lelouch. In case you hadn't noticed, this whole thing is your plan, your idea. I'm just the faithful tool."

Lelouch stepped back. "Seriously, Suzaku? 'Faithful'? You?"

Suzaku hooked one arm around Lelouch's waist and pulled him in tight against his body. "Until your dying breath, Your Majesty."

"Fuck you."

"As you wish." And Suzaku picked Lelouch up bridal style and carried him over to the bed.

Lelouch waited until he was properly settled before kicking out, his bare foot meeting Suzaku's thigh and probably hurting the foot more. "You don't have the excuse of amnesia anymore, Suzaku. You're no longer my lover and no longer welcome in my bed." …ignore the fact that he was already getting hard.

"I'm just following your orders, Your Majesty," Suzaku said calmly, stripping efficiently, and the sight of that toned body shouldn't have excited Lelouch that much, seeing as he'd had it only a few hours ago…

"Bullshit. What about all those orders to get out?"

Suzaku pressed him to the bed. "Those were suggestions. Obviously. Because how could I fulfill your order without being here, in your bed, with you…"

Enough was enough. Lelouch was no match physically for Suzaku, but he still knew just what buttons to push. "You're willing to fuck me again because I showed remorse over Euphemia? If I'd known that was all it took, I'd have whipped up some tears and lube months ago."

As predicted, that made Suzaku freeze. "Lelouch…"

"Get off me," Lelouch spat. "And get out. We are not lovers, we are not friends, and until you kill me, you are not to touch me again, is that clear?"

"Yes, Your Majesty," Suzaku said with defeated, sad eyes as he gathered up his clothes.

Lelouch lay on his back and tried to just breathe normally again as his heartbeat slowed back down.

Suzaku hesitated at the door. "I never… I never loved Euphy more than I loved you. I would never have chosen her over you."

"You did choose her over me, Suzaku," Lelouch said blandly. "And you still are." He turned his head to face him. "What brought your memories back?"

"Her token."

Lelouch snorted. "Of course. We'll discuss the final stage of Zero Requiem tomorrow morning."

"I… I still love you."

"You shouldn't. It won't help anyone."

Suzaku nodded. "But I do. I just… I was angry and I hated you, but I…"

"Hold onto that," Lelouch suggested. "There's more reason behind it in any case."

Suzaku nodded and left and Lelouch turned onto his stomach and tried not to resent C.C. for calling these past few days a 'gift'.

If anything, it was as much of a punishment as anything Lelouch could have done to himself.