Chapter 16: Exodus
Kallen opened the door and froze, staring at her brother in shock. He stared back just as surprised. Technically speaking, it wasn't proper for her to answer the door when someone came to call at the Stadtfeld estate, but she'd been walking past on her way to the kitchen. So she supposed his surprise was justified.
So, however, was hers. Naoto had stormed out of the house a week ago and she'd been sure that he would never show his face here again. Sure that he'd finally escaped and severed his tie to the Stadtfelds once and for all. She'd been cheering for him ever since and putting her mind to how she could possibly follow his example without being a burden to him.
"What are you doing here?" She asked in surprise.
"Kallen . . ." He said awkwardly, as if he wished anyone else would have answered the door. "Is Father here?"
She frowned. "Why? What do you want to talk to him for?"
"Indeed." A voice interrupted behind her. "What do you want to talk to me for? I'm sure you said everything you needed to before you stormed out of this house last week."
Kallen glanced over her shoulder to find their father standing in the foyer behind her. He didn't look overly hostile, nowhere near as furious as he had been when Naoto had left, but he was definitely not pleased. It was the kind of disappointment she was familiar with from the man. The hard frown and annoyed eyes that had haunted her whenever she'd thrown a tantrum as a child.
Naoto grimaced and dropped his gaze, staring at his feet for a moment before taking in a shaky breath. "You were right." He said with a mirthless laugh. "About everything. I'm a Stadtfeld through and through and this is where I belong. I'm sorry for everything I said before."
Kallen took a step back from him, not even daring to believe her ears. He wasn't really taking back everything he'd said, was he? He'd been saying the same kinds of things for years before the inevitable fight he'd had with their father.
Their father sighed and stepped forward, taking her place in front of Naoto. He reached out, grabbing her brother's chin to tilt his face up. Only then did she notice the faded greenish-yellow bruise on Naoto's jaw. "Not as warm of a welcome as you'd wished for?"
Naoto snorted mirthlessly. "Not by far. The fucking heathens jumped me even after they knew my blood status."
Kallen felt her world shrinking. What had happened to her brother? What had happened to the man she'd practically idolized all her life? He wasn't this much of a coward. He would never have called the Japanese heathens. So who the hell was this stranger wearing his face?
She shook her head silently and took another step back before turning and storming up the stairs to her room. She slammed her door behind her, blocking out the sound of the men in her family salvaging their relationship. She locked her door behind her before throwing herself on her bed. She'd never felt so betrayed.
Naoto stared up at the door of the Stadtfeld estate with mixed feelings. On the one hand, this was the home he'd grown up in. On the other, he hated seeing what his family had been reduced to. And he hated the woman who had taken his mother's place. Not that he'd ever let her know that.
And not that he would have to deal with her tonight. The Lord and Lady Stadtfeld were currently being entertained by a duke back in Pendragon. He'd seen them off at the airport before coming over here. Much as Thomas may have pissed him off during their last meeting, he had been right about one thing. He did need to talk to his sister, and it was better to do that where their step-mother couldn't reprimand Kallen for yelling at him.
He used his copy of the house key to unlock the door, unwilling to bother one of the servants just to let him in, and stepped over the threshold before freezing. Kallen was on the other side of the foyer, eyes widened in shock and fear as she stumbled back a step, supported by one of the younger maids. Their biological mother followed behind them, carrying an icepack and a first aid kit.
Then Kallen's eyes narrowed and her lip curled up into a snarl. "What do you want? Here to express your displeasure with me too?"
Naoto didn't respond; he couldn't. His eyes were glued to her and his entire body had gone numb with horror. Her face was battered so badly her left eye was almost swollen shut. Her lower lip was split and purple bruising marred her skin. There were scratch marks that had broken through the skin, leaving red gouges down her arms and across her collar bone, and she was walking with a limp, supported by a maid named Alice.
But none of that was the worst, and his eyes refused to leave the ring of dark bruises and scratches that circled her throat. She'd been choked. Beaten and strangled. Someone had tried to kill her.
His shock and horror morphed in to blind fury as his eyes narrowed into a glare. Kallen took another shuffling little hop back away from him. "Who did this to you?" He demanded. His entire body was humming with suppressed violence. He was going to kill the son of a bitch who had laid hands on his sister. Thomas had said she was unharmed, but she'd obviously gotten into trouble since then.
"Why the fuck do you care?" She hissed in response.
"Don't argue, just tell me. Who the fuck did this?" He snapped. She only sneered at him in response. And it was only then that he realized that both his mother and Alice had averted their gazes so that they could pretend that he wasn't asking the question of them as well.
Any other time, they should have answered the question for her. They should have been out for their mistress' attacker's blood just as much as he was. Instead, they were remaining silent. Protecting the person who had battered Kallen to this state. Even though Kallen was the daughter of one of them, and even though Alice had always doted on Kallen like she was her older sister.
He swallowed back the bile that rose in his throat as he realized the answer. Realized why none of them would answer him. Because the person who had done this to her ranked higher than him. And there were only two possibilities for that.
He was sure his heart stuttered to a stop as his guilt and horror doused his previous fury. The fight went out of him. "How long?" He asked quietly.
How long had this been going on for? How long had she been suffering like this while he'd remained blindly oblivious to her pain, so focused on his own shit that he didn't even notice that his sister was being abused? Or was this the first time?
"It's none of your business, so get out." Kallen snarled.
That doused whatever hope he'd had of this being a first offence. Even if it had been, it was inexcusable.
He crossed the space between them in three wide steps and raised his hand to pull her into a hug. She flinched and closed her eyes, as if awaiting another blow. "You idiot." He breathed as he slowly pulled her into a hug. She didn't relax into it. She stood awkwardly with every muscle tensed across her back and shoulders like she was prepared to jump away at a moment's notice.
That hurt more than anything. That she didn't even trust him enough not to hurt her. That she thought so little of him. But that was his fault, not hers. He was the one who had destroyed their relationship to this point.
He glared at their mother over her shoulder. "Why didn't you stop this?" He growled.
She fidgeted nervously before averting her gaze. "What do you expect me to do?" She asked helplessly.
"I expected you to protect her." He snarled in response. Their mother flinched and wilted a little more.
He sighed and shooed the other maid away, taking over supporting Kallen's weight as he began leading her toward the stairs up to her room.
"Let go of me." She growled, reaching for Alice again.
He lifted her up instead, carrying her bridal style up the stairs against her protests. When he got to her room and saw the absolute mess it was in, he knew that this was where the fight had taken place. He deposited her on the bed before moving directly to her closet. He found an old duffel bag stuffed in the bottom corner and shook it open before he began stuffing clothes into it.
"What the fuck are you doing?" she demanded, hobbling over to him to snatch a dress out of his hands.
"Packing your shit. I'm getting you out of here. If there's anything else you want to bring, just let me know." He answered before abandoning the dress and moving onto the next row. He caught sight of denim hidden in the corner and pulled it down, tossing the jeans at her. "Change into these."
She stood motionlessly for a moment, fingers curled into the fabric so tightly her knuckles had turned white. "I'm not moving in with you, asshole. I don't want anything to do with you, you god damned traitor. I've told you that before."
"This is non-negotiable. I'm not leaving you here." He replied. The insults didn't faze him. They weren't anything he hadn't heard before. "I'll carry you out of here kicking and screaming if I have to."
She must have believed him, because she let out a sigh of defeat. "She'll find me, you know. You don't think she'll check to see if I'm at your place? And then it will get worse."
How it could get worse than the bitch trying to strangle her to death, Naoto didn't know, but he swore he wouldn't let it happen. If taking her to his apartment was out of the question, then he'd take her out of the country. He'd take her somewhere no one would be able to find her.
"Trust me." He said softly.
She didn't say anything, but grabbed a shirt from his hands before she hobbled away. He heard her close the door to her ensuite bathroom to change. A few minutes later she re-emerged in jeans and a sweater, carrying a toiletry bag.
He took it from her and forced it into the bag before wrestling the zipper shut and slinging it over his shoulder. He reached to pick her up again, but she shrugged out of his grip.
"I can walk, you know." She said sullenly before shouldering past him. He settled for walking beside her, ready to catch her if she fell or needed his support.
They returned to the foyer where she slipped into her shoes. Naoto snatched the icepack and the first aid kit from their mother before glaring at both Alice and the woman that had birthed them.
"You never saw her leave and I never came here, got it?" He snarled.
They both nodded mutely but the relief on their faces was evident enough for all to see. Either they were happy that Kallen was getting out of there or just happy that they wouldn't have to take the blame for her disappearance. He preferred to think it was the former, but he'd lost all faith in his mother and he didn't really know Alice well enough to judge.
He led his sister to the car and tossed her bag in the trunk next to his own emergency duffel. Ever since he'd started spying for the Japanese, he'd kept a bag with a couple changes of clothes, a fake ID and enough cash to last a year in his car. If he'd ever been found out, he'd been prepared to run at a moment's notice.
Kallen was in the passenger's seat when he got into the car. She was strapped in and had her arms crossed over her chest as she looked out the window to show that she wasn't pleased and was only going with him under duress. He shook his head, but didn't say anything as he pulled out of the driveway.
He waited until he was a couple streets away before he pulled out his phone and dialled a number from memory. His contact answered on the second ring but didn't speak.
"Where and when are they leaving tonight?" He asked.
There was a long pause on the other end of the line as he knew his voice print was being analyzed to identify him. He waited patiently, focusing on the traffic around them and making sure they weren't being followed. It was far too early for anyone to be pursuing them, but it was a habit he'd picked up over the last couple years.
"Confirm, Lord Lorraine."
"Noblesse oblige." He responded.
"Charon will be leaving from Tokushima at midnight. Urshanabi will be leaving from Tokyo in one hour." The man on the other end of the phone answered.
Naoto glanced down at the clock on the car's console. The boat would be leaving at eight thirty. It would take him approximately an hour and a half to get through traffic to the harbour if he was lucky and they weren't delayed.
"Tell Urshanabi to wait for me and I'll pay him triple his fare."
There was another moment of silence on the other end of the line before the man spoke again. "The message has been sent and Urshanabi has replied in the affirmative. He will wait."
"Thank you." He said quickly before hanging up the phone.
Kallen gave him a suspicious glance, but was apparently trying a new tactic and giving him the silent treatment. That was fine by him. He needed time to think, anyway.
This pissed him off, especially after issuing his challenge to Thomas just earlier this afternoon, but there was no way he would just abandon Kallen. He'd do anything and give up everything if it meant keeping her safe. But before he could do that, he needed to tie up some loose ends.
And those loose ends lived in Sapporo.
The sun had already set by the time they got to the harbour and they were a good forty-five minutes late, but he didn't let that stop him as he parked the car and retrieved their bags.
Kallen glanced between the boat and Naoto a few times before sighing. "Okay, now I have to ask. Just where the hell do you think you're taking me, you bastard?" She growled.
She was still limping, and the icepack she'd had on her ankle had already fully thawed. She held it uselessly between her fingers as she hobbled her way out of the car. He took it from her and stuffed it in his jacket pocket before looping her arm over his shoulder and helping her walk.
He watched her out of the corner of his eye for a moment, debating on how much to tell her. But things were about to get pretty self-explanatory in a moment, so there was no harm in at least this much. "North." He answered quietly.
She startled, glancing at him sharply. "What?" She demanded, but he shook his head and quietly shushed her as a hulking Japanese man approached them.
"You're holding us up." Kenji called, scrutinizing Kallen's injuries and sending Naoto a suspicious glance.
Naoto glared and held out a fistful of cash for the man. "That's why I'm paying you." He growled before shouldering his way past the man and helping Kallen onto the boat.
He got her settled onto one of the various crates that had been stacked up on the deck to serve as makeshift seating then stood guard at the railing beside her, watching as Kenji got his crew roused and the boat out on the water. It was a long time before either of them spoke.
"What's north?" Kallen eventually asked, arms wrapped around her good knee as she rested her injured ankle out in front of her.
He glanced down at her and noticed she was shivering. Stubborn brat couldn't just tell him she was cold. He sighed and stripped off his jacket, wrapping it around her shoulders. "A person I know." He answered.
"Well that was an informative answer." She grumbled.
He held his peace for a few moments before nodding his head toward her, "Why'd she do it? Not that it was in any way deserved, but something set her off, right?"
He still almost couldn't believe that their step-mother had done this to Kallen. Especially since the bitch had had the gall to act like nothing had happened as she'd kissed his cheek before he'd seen her off on the plane. He ran his mind over that memory again, trying to pick out details he'd dismissed as unimportant the first time. Had she been injured at all? Had there been any evidence at all that she'd just tried to kill her step-daughter?
He'd noticed that the woman's manicure had been a little messed up, a few of the nails chipped or broken, but he'd dismissed it. He didn't really care about women's nail polish. Now he wondered if he'd deigned to comment on it if she'd have admit to her crimes. He doubted it, and even if she had it probably would have been worse than if she'd lied about it. If she'd lied about it, it would have meant that she'd at least acknowledged that she was doing something wrong.
"None of your business." She grumbled, though it lacked a lot of her earlier venom. She was tired. She was probably coming down from the adrenaline rush from her brush with death and crashing fast.
He sighed again and smoothed her hair down a little. "Get some rest. You're safe. I promise."
"Your promises aren't worth shit." She replied, but she dutifully closed her eyes. He wasn't sure if she slept or if she was just resting with her eyes closed so she would have an excuse to not talk to him anymore.
She was probably in a lot of pain as well. He was going to have to take her to a hospital to make sure there was only superficial damage to her. He'd have gone there already if he hadn't thought it would create too much of a trail for them. Their father would be after her the moment he realized she was gone; he'd invested too much in his children to just let one of them go. Even when he'd run away years ago, he'd found himself dodging their father's security people until he'd found his way to Hokkaido.
It was a few hours before they landed on the northern island in some small town an hour away from Sapporo. A car was waiting when they made their way off the boat, a Britannian man in a baseball cap leaning against the hood of it with his arms crossed over his chest and a cigarette hanging from his mouth.
Naoto had never met the man before, but he knew better than to seem surprised that Lelouch already knew he was coming. His contact or Kenji had probably called him in advance, keeping his handler apprised of his movements. The driver flagged them over as they approached before pushing off the car to open the back door for them.
He helped Kallen into the car before giving the driver another once over. "I need to see Lelouch-sama." He said quietly.
The man smirked. "Oh, trust me, he wants to see you too. Get in."
Naoto nodded and got in next to his sister, frowning at the hinted threat. Of course, he knew he was going to have to face an inquisition when he got there. He had effectively abandoned his post and put his cover in jeopardy. But as he was planning on resigning and fleeing the country, that hardly mattered.
"Your friend is kind of quiet." Kallen said after a few minutes of silence.
Before he could respond, the driver chuckled. "I can talk if you want, girl. What happened to you? Too much talking and not enough listening?" The man asked, as if her state were no big deal. Naoto felt his fingers curl into a fist as he refrained from punching the man and potentially killing them all when he lost control of the vehicle.
Kallen ignored the barb. "What's your name?" She asked instead.
There was a half second pause that would have remained unnoticed to anyone else. "Daniel." The man answered. It was an obvious alias.
"How do you know my brother?" She asked.
"Well aren't you full of questions tonight?" Daniel deflected.
"You said you'd talk, so talk." She retorted.
"This wasn't quite what I had in mind." The driver replied.
"Just answer the question." Kallen sighed, rolling her eyes.
"Fine." Daniel said and Naoto felt himself tensing, wondering what lie the man would utter next and expect him to corroborate. "I don't know him at all. But he knows my employer."
Kallen frowned and shot him an accusing glare, as if asking if they really had just gotten into a car with a stranger. He nodded in response and settled back into the seat, beginning to mentally form his defence for the upcoming meeting. Kallen continued glaring, her earlier nap doing nothing to better her mood. Eventually Daniel began waxing poetic about his favourite baseball team, listing stats and rehashing old championship games.
It was just over an hour before the car turned into a heavily guarded driveway and stopped at a checkpoint. "I've got Lord Lorraine and a plus one in the back. They're expected." Daniel informed the guard at the gate, who promptly aimed his flashlight right at their faces, temporarily blinding them.
Naoto frowned. He'd originally thought Daniel was just some minor peon sent to pick up an anonymous agent, but he had access to Naoto's moniker and it was unlikely that kind of information would have been shared with anyone without a high level security clearance. It meant that Daniel was likely an elite agent himself.
He didn't have enough time to ponder the fact or its implications before they were being ushered out of the car. Kallen's ankle had gone stiff and she was obviously in a lot of pain as she limped up the stairs into a massive estate, not even complaining when he moved in to help her.
Daniel led them to a lavish living room before stopping and gesturing toward a sofa. "You can wait here, miss."
"Why?" She asked with a sigh, as if she was too tired to really care about the answer but her stubbornness demanded that she voice it.
"Your brother has a private meeting to attend." Daniel replied in a no nonsense tone. He wouldn't be brooking any argument from her.
"I'll try to make it quick." Naoto said as he eased her down onto the sofa. "Then we'll get you checked out and try to find you some pain killers."
"A medical attendant will be along shortly to attend to your sister's needs." Daniel answered.
He glanced at the other agent who merely arched an eyebrow, as if asking just who the hell he thought his hosts were to leave a girl in pain on their sofa. "Right." He said, giving Kallen's shoulder a brief squeeze. "Back soon, promise."
"I told you before, your promises aren't worth shit." She grumbled, but flopped back onto the couch to wait it out. All in all, she was being remarkably more pliable than he'd been expecting.
"You're with me then." Daniel said, nodding toward the door.
Naoto nodded and fell into step beside him as the man led him further into the estate. There was, surprisingly, still a lot of activity going on at this time of night. People passed them in the corridors, talking on cellphones or rushing with folders tucked under their arms. The further in they went, however, the more quiet it became. When they finally stopped it was in an empty corridor in a wing of the building that had been completely devoid of other people.
Daniel knocked twice and waited for a response before opening up the door and ushering him inside. Lelouch was seated behind a desk that was obviously not his own if the photo of a middle-aged Japanese man and his family on the desk was any indication. Naoto bowed respectfully and the door closed behind him, leaving him alone with the Prime Minister's son.
Silence reigned for a moment. It was the awkward, heavy kind that left him feeling like he was suffocating. He breathed in deeply and focused on remaining composed, even as his ears felt like they were ringing in the silence.
"So." Lelouch finally said, voice sharp and disapproving. "I didn't expect to see you here, Naoto."
That wasn't quite true. Of course Lelouch had been expecting him. He just hadn't been expecting that Naoto would suddenly up and abandon his duties to come north.
"I'm resigning my position." He said firmly. "I quit."
"You can't quit." Lelouch said with a frown.
"I'm sorry, but I need to. It's -"
"You're not listening to me, Naoto." Lelouch said, and repeated himself more slowly. "You can't quit."
Naoto paused, gaze running over his employer rapidly but he couldn't get a read on him beyond the basic indicators of fatigue and stress. He had no idea what the man in front of him was thinking or feeling. It was off-putting since that was usually his strong suit.
"You know too much." Lelouch continued after a moment. "At the very most, I could give you a twelve hour head start before I would be forced to send someone after you. Understand that it's out of my hands. There's nothing you can do to alter this outcome."
He grit his teeth, not quite sure if he believed that. Lelouch was a son of the Prime Minister. He carried the Kururugi name and that could move mountains if he it wanted to. But on the other hand, Lelouch was obviously half-Britannian and he looked more Britannian than Japanese. He tried to imagine what it must be like for the younger man to operate here while knowing that he looked like an enemy, or what it would have been like if Naoto had come out looking more Japanese than Britannian. It would have been impossible to accomplish anything.
"I would never talk. I would never betray Japan." He growled through grit teeth. "It's not like I'm trying to run away from my duties. But I have family obligations that need to come first."
"You gave up your obligations to your family when you signed on with me, remember? I told you to abandon them and you did." Lelouch said.
"I can't." He said, voice tight. He hadn't planned for this. He'd known Lelouch wouldn't like it, but he'd never thought that he would actively prevent Naoto from resigning. And it hadn't occurred to him that he'd have hired goons and possible assassins after him if he left.
Lelouch's expression turned hard, eyes narrowing into an icy glare. "If you go back to Tokyo right now, I'll pretend I never saw you and we can continue as we always have."
Naoto let out a frustrated laugh, "And what am I supposed to do with my sister? Send her back to her abuser? Just pretend I don't see it now for the sake of my cover? Or watch helplessly as she runs away and gets brought back time and time again by my father's men? Tell me."
Lelouch was quiet for a moment, a frown pulling at his lips before he answered. "Leave her here."
Naoto laughed again. "So she can be abused by the people in the streets instead? So she can be denied work and her education just because she looks like a Britannian?"
"Leave her with me." Lelouch clarified, hands folded together on the top of the desk as he stared Naoto down.
Naoto felt every muscle in his body tense as his heart leaped into his throat. Oh shit. What had he just done? Stupid, stupid, Naoto. What had he been thinking?
"You're meaning as a hostage?" He hissed, voice rising in anger. "To use as leverage over me? To keep me on my leash?"
"Do I need leverage over you, Naoto?" Lelouch asked harshly. "Do I need it to keep you on track? If I need it, I will use it. But if I don't, then she may live here comfortably under my care, protected by my people, and will have more than even you could offer her."
"You'd take her in?" Naoto laughed mirthlessly. "You're hardly even older than her. She's not just some puppy you can feed twice a day and take for walks every once in a while. She's a grown woman and she has her schooling she needs to finish and dreams she wants to accomplish and fuck, I can't believe you're doing this to me."
Lelouch remained quiet throughout the tirade and the awkward silence that followed. Naoto paced quietly for a moment as he thought through his options, but Lelouch had him by the balls and they both knew it. He sighed and slumped defeatedly into the seat across from Lelouch's.
"If you hurt her . . ." He began, then straightened up and recovered his body language, making himself as imposing as he could. "I don't care who you are, if you hurt Kallen, I'll fucking kill you. You got that?"
"Perfectly." Lelouch replied.
He grit his teeth. He couldn't believe this was happening. The whole god damned day had just gone from bad to worse to fucking hell in a handbasket.
"And I don't want her involved in the war. At all. Okay?"
"Your sister will remain a civilian." Lelouch assured him.
"And she has to finish her schooling." He prompted.
"Obviously." Lelouch said. "Shall I make sure she eats all of her vegetables as well?"
Naoto glared at the sarcasm, but said nothing.
"Will you return to Tokyo and continue your assignment?" Lelouch asked.
He nodded mutely.
"That includes maintaining your cover as the Stadtfeld heir. It includes acting as the beloved scion of the Stadtfeld family; the favoured son of your father and your step-mother. Can you do it?" Lelouch demanded.
Naoto tensed at the thought. Now that he knew what had been happening to Kallen for god knows how long, could he really look that woman in the face and continue with the lie? He'd never liked her, but he'd never loathed her like this before either. Could he pretend he hadn't seen the bruises left on Kallen and keep on like nothing had happened?
He would have to. There were no other options.
Lelouch nodded sharply. "Good."
Kallen fidgeted in the room she'd been left in. She hurt everywhere. It hurt to breath and talk especially, or if she moved the wrong way and twinged her bruised ribs, or if she walked anywhere even despite the pain killers the attendant had given her. The bitch had really gone over the deep end this time. If it hadn't been for Alice hauling the psycho off of her, she might have actually been strangled to death.
She got a bit of vindictive pleasure from the thought of how that would have really ruined the Stadtfeld name. Domestic homicide. That was assuming, of course, that they wouldn't have found some way to sweep it under the rug.
She sighed and leaned back on the couch, closing her eyes. How long had it been since Naoto left? There wasn't a clock in this room that she could see and she'd forgotten her watch and her phone at home.
She frowned at the thought of her brother. She didn't know what to think of him at the moment. She wasn't exactly sure where all of this fraternal protectiveness was coming from, like he could single-handedly save her from all of her troubles. He hadn't given a shit about her in years. He'd given up on her except for the most basic social niceties that were expected.
And she'd just been waiting and longing for the day when he'd give up on those too and forget he had a sister at all. Then she could forget she had such a craven, traitorous sibling and get on with her life.
But he'd rescued her from home and the first place he'd decided to take her was Hokkaido. Not France or Germany or to the Britannian homeland. He'd taken her to the Japanese. For her sake? For his? And apparently he had a friend here.
She jumped when the door to her room suddenly opened, then winced as a lightning strike of pain shot through her. Naoto was back. He looked a little paler than he had going in and was carrying himself rigidly. Not a good meeting then. She glanced to his companion and froze.
Of course. Only Naoto could come all the way to Hokkaido to call upon a fucking Britannian. She should have figured when she'd seen the driver earlier. The boy was probably about the same age as she was, with dark hair and classically Britannian features. This was Naoto's friend?
"Good evening." The Britannian greeted, his gaze roving over her and cataloguing her various injuries in a way that made her feel completely naked.
"Hi." She said awkwardly as she painfully pushed herself to her feet. She shot a glare at Naoto.
The stranger arched an eyebrow at the reaction then smirked. "You haven't told her anything, have you?"
"I told you I'd never talk." Naoto growled.
"Then allow me to talk for you. My name is Kururugi Lelouch. My adopted father is the Prime Minister of Japan." The boy said.
"What?" She blurted in surprise. This was some kind of joke, right?
"Your brother has been working for me for the past two and a half years as an undercover agent for the Japanese Intelligence Agency." Lelouch continued.
"What?" She said again, though it was with an undercurrent of panic and dread. "You're joking, right?" She said, gaze darting to Naoto who was staring at Lelouch in surprise.
"It's not a joke." Naoto said slowly, "But why are you telling her this, Lelouch-sama?"
Not a joke. Naoto had never been a traitor. He'd been working for the Japanese this entire time while it was she that had been living in the lap of Britannian luxury and not doing a single thing to help out the cause. And she'd had the gall to call him a traitor. To call him a coward when he was risking his life every day to bring Britannian secrets to the Japanese.
She felt tears in her eyes as she stared at her brother. "You idiot. What have you been doing? Why didn't you -" Why hadn't he told her? The answer was obvious. He'd been ordered not to. Still, even knowing that, she was more upset with herself than she was with Lelouch. "Why did you put up with it? Why didn't you just tell me to shut up? You stupid, fucking idiot."
Naoto laughed sadly as he watched her fall apart at the seams before pulling her into a tight hug. "Just did what I had to. Sorry I lied, K-chan." He said into her hair, using a pet name she hadn't heard since he'd left to become a spy.
Why hadn't she seen it? Why hadn't she suspected something like this? It had been such a dramatic shift in character when he'd come back to the house. She should have picked up that he was acting. She'd worshipped Naoto. She'd known him better than anyone. She should have seen it.
Instead she'd immediately condemned him as a traitor.
"Is it dangerous?" She asked. She couldn't really picture him out there dodging bullets and explosions like a James Bond film.
"Nah. Pretty tame, actually. Just a lot of talking with politicians and business men, skimming off the top of Stadtfeld Industries profits a bit. You know, boring things that nobles do." He answered, leaning back to send her a small smile.
"So all of Father's lessons are handy for something after all." She mused.
Naoto chuckled. "Yeah."
Kallen smiled slightly before she caught sight of Lelouch who was standing quietly to the side, witnessing as they reconnected for the first time in years. The smile slipped off her face slowly. If he was Naoto's boss, then he had no reason to suddenly tell her Naoto's big secret. So why had he done it?
"So what are we here for, then?" She asked suddenly.
Naoto paused then cleared his throat awkwardly. "Lelouch-sama has agreed to let you say here." Naoto said.
Her gaze darted back to Lelouch, scrutinizing him. Was that the reason why he'd told her? Because he was going to separate them and make sure she wasn't a threat to her brother's cover. "But we've only just reconciled." She protested.
"I know." Naoto said, ruffling her hair lightly. "Trust me, I know. It sucks. But I was in the middle of an important assignment and I have to get back to it."
She swallowed back her counter-argument. How could she hold him back from that after all the criticisms that she'd uttered over the last few years? He was doing something worthwhile and she was just being selfish.
"Okay." She said, nodding sharply. "Just . . . stay safe."
"Always." He promised her with a smile. "Phone me if you need anything, or if anything happens, or just . . . just phone me, okay? If you need me for anything at all."
"Sure." She nodded, wondering what he was being so concerned about. She glanced at Lelouch from the corner of her eye, noting the almost wistful look on his face. "I'm sure I'll be fine."
Naoto nodded in response and stepped back from her.
"Here." Lelouch said, holding out a slip of paper to her brother. "Your travel details. I should have you back in Tokyo before morning, but exercise caution. I'll be sending the agent who drove you here with you for added protection. Maintain your cover at all costs, Naoto, even at the cost of lost grasp on our target. You're too well placed to squander."
Naoto glanced down at the paper and read the details before stuffing it into his pocket and nodding. "Got it."
"Until next time then." Lelouch nodded, shaking hand with Naoto.
"Next time." Naoto agreed before turning back to her again and waving slightly. "Don't forget to call me if you need me, Kallen. I love you. Stay safe. And I'm sorry for leaving you in that hell hole for so long."
"It's okay." She assured him, fighting back the tears that she wanted to let fall. She didn't want him to feel guilty about doing something good. "Go to work."
He nodded, then turned and headed out the door, leaving her alone with Lelouch. They eyed each other awkwardly for a moment before Lelouch sent her a sympathetic smile. "I'm sorry to split you two up, but Naoto does important work for me."
"It's okay." She said again, then shifted and winced at the pain that shot through her ankle. The medic that had looked at it earlier had said that it wasn't broken, just sprained. Even so, it hurt like a bitch.
"You must be exhausted. And let's get you off of that leg." Lelouch said before reaching forward to offer a hand to support her. "Will you allow me to help you to your room, Miss Stadtfeld?"
"Kouzuki." She said quickly instead of answering. "I don't want anything to do with the Stadtfeld name anymore."
Lelouch nodded his head in acquiescence, then effortlessly switched languages to Japanese. "Kouzuki-sama," He said softly and she allowed him to steady some of her weight off of her injured ankle. "Let's see you to your room."
AN: HAPPY HALLOWEEN! (still have 1 hour of spooky goodness left) Did anyone have an awesome costume this year?
Hope you all enjoyed the chapter, let me know what you think, ya?
And thanks to Kasai no Kage for the beta.