C.C. blinked her amber eyes blearily as a few rays from that annoying ball of pestering gas in the sky pierced her eyelids. She rolled over and buried her face into her pillow on the bed she shared with Lelouch in an attempt to escape with minimal effort.
"C.C.-san," the voice of Lelouch's Japanese maid, Sayoko, reached her ears. "It is three in the afternoon. Lelouch-sama insisted you not sleep more than twelve hours a day."
"Is Lulu back yet?" the green-haired woman's voice was muffled by the pillow as she asked.
"Not yet," the maid answered. "Nunnally-sama received a message from Milly-san that the Student Council will be holding a meeting today after school. I believe that he is still there."
C.C. reached her right arm out and gripped her large yellow plush doll before pulling it across the bed and snuggling into its side. "Then I don't see a reason to get up yet," she stubbornly refused to awaken.
A weary but patient sigh came from the other woman before she told her, "Nunnally-sama wishes to speak with you alone while her brother is currently occupied, C.C.-san."
Why? the immortal wondered silently. She let out a large yawn into her pillow before rolling over and slowly sitting up in the bed. Her green locks were a complete mess with strands poking out at random places while she rubbed her eyes with her free hand and asked the maid, "Do you know what for?" And I was having such a nice dream too. One with a lot of black, orange, and crimson too. Wait, she paused as she ran over her last dream in her mind. A perverse grin cracked its way onto her face as she thought, Oh, yes. That is definitely happening one of these days. Too much fun not to.
"I'm afraid not," the Japanese woman answered in the negative with the accompanying shake of her head. "I don't ask questions, C.C.-san."
"You Japanese and your honor," the Code Bearer grumbled without any ill intent present. "Fine," she relented with a sigh after throwing the covers off of her nude form. "I'm coming. Just let me throw on some clothes."
"I already have some prepared for you," Sayoko told her while gesturing to a few folded pieces of clothing atop the woman's dresser. "I will allow you to dress in peace. Nunnally-sama and I await you in the den."
"I'll be there in a few minutes," C.C. mumbled out as the hidden kunoichi gave her a respectful bow before taking her leave. "I guess I should bring the laptop as well," she figured aloud as she began to don a pair of purple sweatpants while foregoing to wear any underwear. "I should probably check up on what we've been setting up. No telling what we'll need to alter around a bit now."
The immortal love of Lelouch finished getting clothed in a purple-and-black sweater combination, grabbed the laptop that was linked with Lelouch's, and left the bedroom without bothering to take a shower or attempt to tame the disheveled mop atop her head.
It didn't hurt her reasoning that Nunnally was blind and that she'd already been accepted by the girl as well, so there wasn't any real need to impress anymore.
The past two months had been refreshing to the immortal woman, she'd admit, but the lack of absolutely anything unexpected had left her rather bored and made for a dull second time through. While it still was amazing beyond words to finally feel true love for once in her seven-hundred some-odd years of life, and she'd never trade Lelouch for anything in the world, the woman was getting exhausted of simply sitting on her hands and waiting for things to progress far enough.
Soon, she reminded herself as she walked down the hallway and covered another yawn with her free hand. Narita is the lynchpin of change should all proceed as planned. Then, I won't need to hide in the room anymore.
Code-R was currently hidden in the Narita area, and thoughts of all those animals of Clovis' ilk forced a small amount of rage to surface on her face before her self-control took back over and she squashed it mercilessly. Lelouch had shared his most recent theories with her and all that was left now was a visual confirmation. She vividly remembered each of their faces.
Revenge would be sweet this time. There would be no bitterness that came with the destruction of the rest of the Order who still wished for her to return and take up the mantle of Director once more. It would come eventually. Lelouch had promised her.
Once Jeremiah reached his peak of usefulness once more, she would strike the very fear of God into those who'd dared to commit such revulsions upon her. It was as soon as Lelouch revealed himself to the world, and it couldn't come soon enough in her eyes.
Admittedly, the immortal woman had never truly cared for vengeance or justice or the like during the last time through. She'd truly been so aloof and detached from the world all-around her that she no longer cared what would happen to her bodily. She'd been tortured, burned at the stake, and beheaded during her time of mere existence on the world, but she'd merely healed any bit of damage and locked away any form of shame that might've been created from her experiences. When all the people who tried to kill her had simply drifted away into the river of Time while she remained a constant on her personal island there was no need to attach herself onto anything in the world. She had literally nothing worth living for.
It is amazing what the heart's desires can do, C.C. thought to herself with a fond smile on her face.
It wasn't until after she'd recovered her memories and her, Lelouch, and Suzaku had left to prepare for the Zero Requiem that her love had asked her what Code-R truly was and all of what it had entailed. The explosion of pure rage from the young man had completely caught her by surprise that day once she'd finished relaying to him all that his deceased half-brother had ordered done to her in his mad quest to obtain the secrets of immortality. It'd taken Suzaku and Jeremiah both to restrain the soon-to-be Emperor and keep him from finding a way back into the World of C so that he could find a way to completely break Clovis for what he'd done to her.
It had been sweet; to finally have someone who wanted to harm someone who'd hurt her. It hadn't mattered to him that the culprit had already been killed for his crimes. Lelouch wanted to kill Clovis all over again for his atrocities, and he got his chance ironically enough.
The door into the live-in suite's living room hissing open broke the gold-eyed woman out of her thoughts as she took in the sight in front of her. Sayoko was currently setting out a few cups of warm, freshly-made tea on the coffee table situated next to the sofa and the armchair. Nunnally was sitting in her automated wheelchair sipping her own cup of tea as she listened to the television set from next to the sofa.
"Is that you, C.C.?"" the auburn-haired girl asked as she turned her head towards the door.
"It's me," C.C. answered her as she walked into the room and made her way over to the crimson sofa. She sat down easily and blew a few stray strands of green hair out ofher eyes. Maybe I should've brushed it, she thought with an annoyed frown as the same strings of green fell back to where they once were.
"Hair trouble?" Nunnally asked with a gentle smile.
"A little," she responded. The woman had long ago lost her surprise at how acute the girl's senses had become since her loss of sight. "Maybe I should've actually showered…"
"Would you like some help brushing it?" the girl to her right asked her kindly. "I know I always need Sayoko's help whenever I get up in the morning."
"Nah, I'll be fine," the green-haired woman replied with a dismissive wave of her hand while she opened the laptop and began to log in. "I'll just make our favorite man do it whenever he gets back later."
The blind girl giggled silently into her hand before pointing out, "You act like you're already married, C.C."
A small hint of red dusted the immortal's cheeks before agreeing in a whisper, "Yeah. I suppose I do."
"Tell me, C.C.," the gentle voice spoke, but had an undercurrent to it that caught the immortal by surprise. "How much has my brother told you about us?"
"Uh…" she started, suddenly feeling like a cat being cornered by a lion. "He's told me a little. He told me that he'll give me the whole story eventually." Damn it, Lelouch! she mentally screamed. Your sister is too much like your mother!
The crippled girl nodded once to her, as if she'd just confirmed her suspicions or something. "Well, I trust Big Brother, C.C., and he seems to trust you a lot." As she spoke, C.C. suddenly felt a shiver travel down her spine that she couldn't explain at all. "I just want to make sure you know I love him dearly, C.C."
"I-I do too," C.C. answered unsteadily, suddenly feeling nervous for some unknown reason. "I'd never try and hurt Lelouch, Nunnally. He's done so much for me that I'll never be able to pay him back for."
"When did you meet him?" the younger one asked, sounding genuinely curious.
"A-A little while ago," she answered vaguely, trying to keep up the story she and Lelouch had come up with. "He saved me from some bad people and took me in so that those bad people wouldn't be able to find me."
Nunnally hummed noncommittally at hearing the re-hashing response. "As I said," she repeated, "I trust Lelouch, C.C. It was just odd how I'd never heard him mention you until I caught him lying to me."
"I asked him not to talk about me," C.C. told her, finally managing to shake herself out of the deceptive aura Nunnally had unsuspectingly trapped her in . She may be gentle, but she's just as dangerous as you, Lelouch, the immortal realized. We'll need to be more careful about the Black Knights around her than we first thought. She's very observant. "You see, I don't want those bad people to find me, Nunnally."
"Why are these 'bad people' after you, then?"
"Because of who I am," she answered in a murmur.
"Did you get my brother involved in something dangerous, C.C.?" the girl's face was pleasant enough to the casual observer's first glance, but C.C. noticed an undercurrent of both worry and concern for her brother.
"No," the amber-eyed woman answered her honestly. "I didn't." It was true enough in her eyes. Lelouch got himself involved and took up Zero's mantle on his own. He could've returned to living his normal, boring life had he chosen to do so. C.C. had absolutely nothing to do with the original creation of Zero in their first life together.
"That's a relief," Nunnally let out a sigh after using her innate ability to determine that she hadn't been lied to, even if what she'd been told wasn't the complete truth. "Now, do you mind if I ask you a personal question, C.C.?" The hidden chilliness had abandoned the girl now and the immortal nearly let out an audible sigh in relief.
"No. Go ahead."
"Am I gonna be an auntie soon?"
C.C. suddenly went as stiff as a board at hearing the girl's seemingly innocent question. She immediately felt her head light up like a Christmas Tree and she creaked her face around to look directly at the crippled girl. The smile the girl wore was slight, but there was definitely a teasing edge to it.
She is exactly like Marianne was! C.C. wanted to shriek to the heavens about the unfairness of it all. I traded one for the other! Damn you, God! The immortal woman eventually managed to reign in the strawberry tint on her cheeks and croaked out unsteadily, "No. There are no current plans."
"Pooh," the blind girl pouted cutely in disappointment, as if she really did want to have Lelouch and C.C. to get started already. "And I wanted a niece to spoil."
The thought of children with Lelouch nearly made the immortal woman swoon right where she sat, but then a harsh thought broke through the pleasant thoughts and caused her chest to tighten painfully.
She didn't know if she could even have kids.
The green-haired woman hadn't lied to Lelouch the other day: Her body has forever remained the same from whence she awoke to becoming an immortal. In every possible way, she was the same. Thus, she had yet to experience a full menstrual cycle in nearly eight centuries.
She'd done her best not to think about that fact ever since they'd both re-awoken in Shinjuku those months ago, but those thoughts continued to persist no matter how much she didn't want them too. Every time she was forced to recall that fact she had to force back tears, and this was no different.
Nunnally must've noticed her shift in mood, because the girl's slightly teasing grin vanished and her features donned a worried look. "Are you okay, C.C.?" she asked with genuine concern in her voice. "Did I say –"
The auburn-haired girl froze mid-question and if they'd have been able to her eyes would've been wide in shock as her face lit up in realization. She is truly her brother's sister, C.C. thought to herself fondly.
"Have…Have you told Lelouch yet, C.C.?" the sister asked in a small whisper.
The green-haired woman shook her head before telling her, "No. I…" She took in a deep breath to help steady her nerves back down before continuing with her forcing herself to show no emotion, "I don't know for certain yet, Nunnally. There's…someone I know who can give me an answer, but I can't speak to them right now. I don't want to tell Lelouch without being certain one way or the other."
"But still…" Nunnally trailed off while she leaned back into her chair. She then thought for a moment before speaking up again, "I think you should tell Brother anyways, C.C. If you're going to be in a relationship with him – even if it's in secret – then he deserves to know. It's just not fair to him to not let him know."
"I know, Nunnally," C.C. answered with a resigned air about her. "I just…don't wanna add on to his already large burden with my own uncertainties."
"I think that you're underestimating him," the crippled girl told her, making the immortal whirl around and stare at her in shock at hearing those words. "My brother's strong, but he needs someone who he can rely on completely, C.C. I know he has his secrets that he keeps from me, and I trust him completely. However, if he doesn't find someone he can lean on for support, then he'll be crushed eventually by everything he takes up on his own. If you want to be that person then you need to tell him everything, C.C. There can't be any secrets between him and his support."
C.C. blinked back tears before wiping her eyes with her wrist. She let out a small chuckle at the irony of what had just happened. I'm the one who's lived through Hell with him, yet I still don't know him as well as you do, Nunnally. "Thanks," she voiced her heartfelt appreciation for the words. "And I'll tell him soon."
"Wonderful!" Nunnally brightly nodded. "And Sayoko won't say a word about anything that just happened, will you?"
"Of course not," the maid assured the two after reappearing from the shadows.
"Oh, before I forget," the auburn-haired girl suddenly remembered something, "are the cookies almost ready yet?"
"I am about to pull them out of the oven right now," Sayoko answered.
"Let me help," Nunnally implored as she wheeled her chair over to Sayoko and the maid escorted her out of the den and into the kitchen.
"Let's see what's on the news," C.C. offered to herself as she opened up a copy of the list of Black Knight applicants. She then turned the television off of the cartoon it was on over to the local Area Eleven news station and turned the volume up so that she could hear while she worked.
" – this broadcast to bring you this announcement from the Imperial Capital City Pendragon," a young blonde woman began to report as C.C. went back to scrolling down the list for any familiar faces. "There has been a change within the Knights of the Round due to the mysterious death of the late Knight of Five and his family."
The green-haired woman listened on half-heartedly. While she didn't remember this happening last time, she failed to see how it truly mattered. The Knight of Five never got involved in any of their affairs previously.
"The late Sir William Wallace, for those who are unfamiliar with him," the reporter continued on, "was a wonderful man who abandoned his Noble Title in favor of joining the military. He elected to start on equal standing with the Commoners and eventually managed to work his way into the Knights of the Round approximately twenty years ago. He was inducted as the Knight of Eleven on his twenty-seventh birthday."
Meanwhile, C.C. simply continued to scroll down the list of faces and names, looking for one that she just might be able to recognize. She'd traveled down so far that she was beginning to grow bored again until she saw a familiar blonde Britannian. Diethard, she recognized the media genius. I wonder if there's any other Britannians this time? With those musings, she delved back into the list.
" – was married to the Earl of Alaska's second daughter two months after his promotion. This is a photograph of Sir Wallace's family, now deceased."
The immortal's golden irises rose from the computer screen in curiosity at what she was hearing about and froze as she saw the family of three dark-haired people: Two parents and a teenaged daughter. I know I just saw… her thoughts trailed off as she rolled the list upwards.
"What…What is going on?" she wondered aloud in shock with her eyes wide. "There's no mistaking it. They're the same person. Lelouch is not going to like this."
C.C. looked back up at the screen before staring down at the laptop in wonder at just what she was seeing. There, next to the very same face as the daughter on the television, was the name: Liliana Stadtfelt.
Lelouch's mind was left reeling in shock as his recent chess opponent stood from her chair and joined her sister. He sent a penetrating stare at the room's sole red-haired occupant and she sent him a piteous look in return.
She knew I'd recognize the code, Lelouch realized as his violet eyes narrowed at the Stadtfelt he'd not know prior to today. Just who is that girl?
Milly then managed to work her magic and get the ball rolling again on Liliana's Student Council Induction Party. Suzaku and Rivalz immediately worked together on cornering the only other human male in the room and were quickly demanding answers about every possible detail on what happened during his date with Shirley the previous evening. Shirley and Milly eventually paired together and went up against the two Stadtfelt sisters in a do-or-die karaoke contest – which Rivalz was quick to volunteer to be the judge of. Either Kallen had adequately prepared her beforehand or she had an indomitable mental fortitude, because Liliana was never swept up in the party's atmosphere at all. In fact, it seemed like she grew even more comfortable in the social gathering than she appeared to be before.
After about an hour, Suzaku rang in the beginning of the end of the celebration by announcing his need to head back to base and return to his already-neglected-enough duties for the day. Curiously, Liliana didn't seem to be taken aback at all when it was revealed the green-eyed youth was an Eleven or that he was already a part of the military at such a young age. Lelouch's profile of her that he'd been building throughout the party frustratingly left him with barely any solid picture of her make-up at all.
Rivalz had followed Shirley out after the olive-eyed girl informed everyone that she had to go meet with the Captain of the Swim Club for a meeting and practice before their next Swim Meet with their local rivals. The blue-haired boy had said that his mom needed to have him visit for some help moving into her new apartment as he energetically waved them all goodbye. And Nina had disappeared sometime during the fray to go and find somewhere somewhat quiet so that she could continue working on her project that she was intending on presenting as her attempt to enter into the Imperial Colchester Institute.
"Alright, Lelouch," Milly managed to corner him while Kallen and the dark-haired woman were conversing quietly across the room about something. "Spill. I saw the looks you were giving Kallen's sister, and they weren't normal for a seventeen-year-old male. Do you recognize her from you-know-where?"
The former prince shook his head and let out a frustrated breath. "No," he answered lowly in order to keep their conversation from the other two occupants of the room. "I don't remember her at all, but I've just got this feeling…"
"Uh huh," the blonde gave him a skeptical glare. "Look, Lulu, I know you've got your secrets, but you do know I'm on your side, right?"
"I know that, Milly," the raven-haired young man assured her. "But I'm being completely honest with you here. I don't remember meeting her back before I came to Japan. However, that doesn't mean she doesn't know me."
"This isn't good, Lelouch," Milly's face was soberly serious, all humor absent from her eyes and facial features. "If she does know…"
"The fact that my sister isn't currently bursting down the door to take us in proves that she hasn't informed anyone even if she does," Lelouch pointed out to her shrewdly. "I know you won't like this –"
"Every time I hear that it's even worse than I thought," Milly grumbled as she interrupted him.
"I know you won't like this," he repeated patiently, "but I want to talk to Liliana and Kallen. Alone."
"I don't think that's a good idea, Lelouch."
"Told you that you wouldn't like it," the violet-eyed youth pointed out with a grin. "But I want to figure out how much she knows, and I don't want anyone finding out about us. I owe it to you to grant you some kind of deniability, Milly."
The blonde obviously wanted to protest, but after looking into his eyes directly she relented. The Ashford heiress let out a frustrated sigh before agreeing, "Fine, but please be careful about this, Lelouch. I swear you're even more stubborn than I am," she added in a mumble under her breath that he managed to overhear.
"I'm always careful, Milly."
The blue-eyed young woman gave him a sad smile as she then said, "I know, and that's what I'm afraid of."
Not quite comprehending what she meant with those words, Lelouch elected to simply give her an uncertain nod in response. Milly returned it with a nod of her own before walking over to where the two other beauties were. The three women shared a brief conversation in low tones that he couldn't quite catch before the Council President gave the other pair a small inclination of the head and took her leave while locking the door behind her.
Thank you for that, Milly, Lelouch thought with a smile. Now only someone who knows that password can open the door from either side. "So," Lelouch began politely after making his way across the room to the two Stadtfelt daughters, "Ms. Stadtfelt –"
"Lily, please," the azure-eyed 'sister' returned with a kindly air that the former prince didn't buy for a single moment.
"Lily then," he conceded with an inclination of his head. The violet-eyed prince then gestured to the table and suggested, "Why don't the three of us get to know one another a little more? Kallen has proven to be invaluable to us, and I must admit I'm rather curious as to why she never mentioned you to all of us before."
"To be fair," Kallen pointed out as she took her seat first, "no one ever asked. Everyone always assumed I'm an only child."
"That's true," Lelouch acknowledged as he sat across form Kallen while Liliana took her seat to her 'sister's' right. However, you only ever mentioned Naoto to me, he silently added in his head while his mind began working on finding a potential identity for the other Stadtfelt. I never heard anything about a sister, especially one so close in age. Your brother was four years older than you.
"It's nice to finally meet you in person, Lelouch Lamperouge," the dark-haired girl spoke, and the fact she used his last name was not lost on Lelouch. "Kallen's told me so much about you I just couldn't wait for today to come around." The beauty's words were finished with a grin that eerily reminded him of a feline that was about to pounce on her prey.
The raven-haired male turned to the sapphire-eyed teenager and simply raised an inquisitive eyebrow her way. That's the second time she's mentioned that, Lelouch recounted. I wonder what all she's been told.
"Screw all this double talk," the half-breed growled with noticeable annoyance bleeding into her tone. "There's no more need to act, Lily. Lelouch no doubt picked up on all your signals. You recognize and know who his parents are. There, that's out of the way."
"My, my," the other woman turned and said teasingly. "Getting defensive are we, Kallen? I only told Shirley I wouldn't interfere with her, and now you think I excluded you because I intend to do just that? You do know that he apparently is already in a relationship, don't you?"
"That's completely beside the point!" Kallen yelped while a little red wormed its way onto her face. "We're not here to discuss that!"
"But then again," Liliana mused absently, like she hadn't heard Kallen at all even though they were less than two feet apart, while putting her elbow on the table and resting her cheek atop her fist, "if he's anything like his father… Well, an Emperor must have his harem, after all," she finished with a dangerous grin flashed the prince's way.
Kallen's face was quickly becoming a similar shade of color to her hair, but Lelouch's amusement at witnessing someone other than C.C. manage to get the Ace flustered vanished entirely at hearing Liliana's last words. "Kallen," he requested of her sternly, "calm down." The girl ceased her flailing about then and wasn't shouting anymore denials, but her face remained crimson as she retreated back into her chair and stared directly at her lap. "Who told you?" he asked the other Stadtfelt.
"You did, actually," the azure-eyed girl answered easily. "At your mother's Villa, about ten years ago now."
"Who are you?" he nearly demanded.
"I am Liliana Stadtfelt," she revealed with a small flash that traveled across her eyes but went away before the prince could manage to recognize it. "I am Kallen's half-sister, and that's really all you need to know."
Lelouch's eyes narrowed at her dangerously at not really getting any information out of the girl. "I'm afraid I must insist," he repeated with a dangerous edge to his words. "Someone who can recognize me by sight is a potential threat to my sister and I, especially if I can't recognize them."
"I didn't," the raven-haired girl admitted with a similar slight to her own tone. "Our father did."
The former prince felt his eyes widen in shock at hearing this admission. His eyes went over to Kallen and she met his gaze directly since she'd finally managed to regain control over herself. "Just how did he?" he asked with a demanding undercurrent.
"A picture," Kallen admitted. "Of us."
What picture? he wondered for a moment before he felt his mind freeze in realization. "That's…not possible," he told the pair. "I made certain that photo never got anywhere."
"You mean this one?" Liliana asked him as she pulled a manila envelope out from her school bag and slid it across the table to him. "Our father, Earl Patrick Stadtfelt, got his hands on this photo the very day of the incident."
The revolutionary felt his stomach drop down into his knees as he opened the envelope with steady hands and pulled out the very photo he feared. It was the one Milly had taken about six-and-a-half weeks ago where he and Kallen looked like they were kissing, but in fact were not. "H-How?" he asked with a gulp.
"Doesn't matter," Liliana answered him. "The leak has been sealed, and you are looking at the only copy of that photograph left. Patrick Stadtfelt was very thorough in removing all trace of your secret existence from Pendragon, Lelouch."
This…is bad. Very bad, Lelouch thought on as he closed the picture back into the envelope and placed it in his own personal bag for him to destroy later. He looked up at the newest Stadtfelt girl and realized, I need to have absolute certainty about this. Looks like I'll need to –
"She's telling the truth, Lelouch," Kallen spoke up after seeing his intense stare. "You can trust me on that."
He closed his eyes and let out a slow breath in response. So she noticed, he realized. It seems informing you of Geass' existence was a double-edged blade, Kallen. At the very least, though, you seem to trust her extensively. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt, for now, but only because of you. "Very well," he then said to the crimson-haired young woman. "How much is known?"
Not needing him to explain, the sapphire-eyed ace replied, "She knows about your origins and that you're connected to the Black Knights, like me."
"That's all?" he asked them both with a skeptical eyebrow arched.
"Our father has shared a few of his suspicions about whom Zero might just be with me," Liliana prodded with a cunning smile, "and Kallen refuses to admit one way or the other. I won't ask nor mention my thought to anyone, but I do have my ideas as to who wears that mask."
"What is it you want?"
"I want in," the raven-haired beauty told him with a chilling seriousness displayed in her eyes and on her face. "I know Kallen's a Black Knight – she told me so herself – and I wish to join as well."
A curious eyebrow rose this time on the man-behind-the-mask's face. "Why?" he asked, genuinely wondering as to her reasons. "I do have the ability to arrange your induction, but I am curious as to why you seem to wish to harm your home."
"A similar reason to yours," the woman admitted in a feral growl, surprising the young man. "I hold no love for Britannia any longer after witnessing certain…events occur."
"Don't ask her, please," Kallen insisted as he began to do just that. "I swear she'll never betray us, Lelouch. Please just…trust me about this. I'll take responsibility for her if needed. Just please let her in, Lelouch. I promise you won't regret it in the slightest."
His violet eyes darted over to the other teen's face and saw her giving him a stony look. In her azure eyes he saw determination, vengeance, and many other emotions and thoughts he'd once and still does see within his own. He gave her a small, respectful, inclination of the head and told them, "Very well. Have her meet the rest tomorrow and get her a uniform. Kallen," he turned back to his Ace, "I leave responsibility for her acclimation to you. You asked me to trust you, and I will. But if she…" he trailed off.
"You don't have to worry about that," Liliana spoke up first. "You have my word upon my honor I won't betray my only family in this world left."
"I see," Lelouch noted calmly as he filed away her last word choice and his gaze panned back to the half-breed. "We are expecting our agent within the Viceroy's office to bring intelligence to us either today or tomorrow. Kallen, Zero will contact you later with your new orders and you can present your recommendations for your sister's position within the ranks."
"I'll do just that," the Ace acknowledged with a nod of her head.
"Good," he spoke as he stood from his chair, signaling an end to any further discussion. He didn't get all of his questions answered, but he trusted Kallen not to ever bring harm to their cause, so he'd trust her judgment for now when come to her 'sister.' "Now, Nunnally is probably beginning to worry, so I must go. As I said, Zero will be in contact soon."
"Very well," the sapphire-eyed beauty agreed while she also stood. "And Lelouch," she called to him gently as he made to take his leave. He turned back to see her eyes soft and her staring at him with a fond expression as she said to him, "Thanks for trusting me on this. You don't have any idea how much this means to me."
No, he silently agreed, but not in the same state of mind or for the same reasons as her. I don't, and that's what I'm worried about.
With that, Lelouch left the room after unlocking the door and went straight to his live-in suite. Once he walked in the den, he noticed C.C. was sitting on the couch mulling about on her laptop without anyone else around.
Noticing her love's entrance, the green-haired immortal looked up from her personal laptop and gave him a small smile. "Nice of you to come back before dark, Lelouch," she greeted in her usual semi-teasing style. "I was so worried you'd gone off and abandoned little old me for someone younger and closer to your age. Granted, there isn't any other woman around even half as old as me."
"Age can equate to experience," he quipped at her, causing the tension he'd just been exposed with to begin to uncoil in him, "and I wouldn't trade all that experience for you being even a single day younger. You're still beautiful to me," he told her with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
As he took his seat on the sofa next to her, C.C.'s face lost its humor once she noticed how tense he still seemed to be and she asked with her concern noticeable in her words, "Lelouch, what happened today?"
"Something neither of us could've planned for," he told her while he attempted to bury his annoyance at being caught so off-guard.
"There's another Stadtfelt in the game now," the revolutionary growled, making the immortal's golden eyes widen a fraction. "And I'm beginning to think the Patriarch of the Stadtfelt family will attempt something eventually as well. He'll probably try to get in touch with me through Kallen or this new girl."
A small look of confusion appeared on the immortal's face before she donned a look of realization. "So that's who I saw," she mumbled as she pulled up a file on her computer screen – Lelouch managed to see that it was the Black Knight Applicants List.
Not quite knowing what the woman to his right meant, he continued to explain what had occurred during the day's course, "Apparently, we are expected to believe Kallen is supposed to have a half-sister. If it were anyone other than us – who know better – than the story they told all of us is actually plausible. However, we never heard anything about any sister last time, only a brother who'd died a year prior to Shinjuku. I can't seem to find any explanation for her presence in Area Eleven now. Her name is –"
"Liliana Stadtfelt," C.C. stated, breaking him out of his rant and shocking him that she'd already known even though he knew for certain that she'd not left the suite during the day.
Lelouch stared at the woman with his eyes widened in surprise while he queried, "H-How do you already know that?"
"Did she look like this?" she asked as she turned the laptop atop her thighs and directed him with her finger to a particular dark-haired woman that had the appropriate name. Lelouch just nodded dumbly in answer and she continued to explain, "I didn't notice her at first because I was only looking for familiar faces, but I saw her photo on the news and found her again to compare."
Why is she on the news? Lelouch pondered as a sinking feeling developed in his gut. He was about to voice the question to his roommate when he was interrupted by his cell phone ringing from his pocket.
"Go ahead," C.C. urged him towards the ringing device. "I'll try to find what I saw earlier on the news' website so I can show you what I saw."
Lelouch nodded at her in acknowledgement before reaching his hand down into his pants' pocket and pulling out his cellular device. He pressed the 'ANSWER' key on the display before placing it to his ear and began, "Hello. This is Lelouch."
"Lelouch," the flustered voice of his best friend came through the line. "I need you to come up onto the Student Council Building's roof alone as soon as possible. The sooner the better."
"Uh…sure," he sent back. "No problem. I'll be up in a minute." I thought he'd gone over to the A.S.E.E.C.'s hanger, the dark-haired youth pondered. And why does he sound so panicky?
"Thanks," Suzaku said with a relieved sigh. "The sooner you can get up here the better for everyone."
"I'm on my way," he assured his friend.
"See you in a sec," Suzaku stated before cutting off the call from his end.
"Odd," Lelouch noted aloud as he stood from the sofa. He then told his roommate, "I'll be back in a bit. Apparently Suzaku wants to talk on the roof for some reason."
C.C. merely shrugged at him in indifference while her eyes continued to bore into the computer monitor searchingly. "Go see what he wants," she instructed. "I'll keep digging for that accursed, elusive story. Honestly," she sighed in annoyance, "you'd think Pendragon News would keep an organized website, but no. I go there and everything's everywhere. No links work, and to make it even worse the search engine's down for some reason!"
"Good luck with your scavenger hunt, C.C.," the young love told her with a slight grin at her expense. C.C. blew a raspberry at him in response and Lelouch left the room laughing while she grumbled about how much she hated modern information gathering.
After a few minutes traversing the Student Council Building's inner halls he reached the door that led to the rooftop. He pulled out his Vice-President Key Card and slid the card into the slot to make the 'Locked' sign go from red to green. He then re-pocketed his clearance ability for Ashford Academy before pushing the door open and stopped dead as he felt cold steel immediately meet the flesh on his neck.
Not fazed in the slightest by the four-inch switchblade his best friend was holding to his jugular, Lelouch simply raised an eyebrow before calmly asking, "Really, Suzaku? If you were planning on betraying me then couldn't you have been a little more dramatic about it? Maybe Nunnally gets abducted and we shoot at each other after a small standoff where you force me to reveal my deepest, darkest secrets?"
"Oh, it's you, Lelouch," Suzaku realized. He let out a small breath in relief before relaxing his body and removing the blade. "Sorry. It's just that I'm a little paranoid right now thinking that we were followed, and that would be really bad. And you know I wouldn't ever betray you, Lelouch."
"And the reason for this paranoia would be…" he prompted the green-eyed youth to explain his words.
"Me," a calm voice came from his right, making the prince's heart clench in pain briefly.
His violet gaze panned over towards the voice's origins and there stood a girl wearing the traditional Ashford female uniform. She wore a dazzling smile as her magenta eyes looked at the dark-haired prince with an affectionate gaze.
"It would be rather disheartening if Sister had me followed here, after all," the visitor informed him while she moved a lock of lengthy pink hair behind her ear. "Nunnally deserves a life of relative peace, wouldn't you say, Lelouch?"
"Indeed she does, Euphy," Lelouch agreed with his half-sister after pushing certain memories out of his mind like he was forced to do every time he saw her face in person. "I admit I'm surprised you decided to come back by so soon. Might I ask why?"
"Is it a crime for a girl to want to see her favorite siblings?" Euphy asked rhetorically with a haughty sniff.
A dark eyebrow rose as the former Royal pointed out, "I believe Cornelia would have a few protests to that."
"She probably would," she admitted with a few giggles into her hand. "But we've still got seven years to catch up on, Lelouch. After all, it's been that long since you were sent away."
"Euphy," Suzaku's worried tone cut in and prevented the two siblings' banter from continuing onwards. "It won't take long for the Viceroy to notice that we're not with Lloyd and Cecile like you're supposed to be."
"You're probably right, Suzaku," Euphemia agreed with a small exhalation of frustrated breath. "I shouldn't dally any longer. Can you please go inside and keep anyone from interrupting our talk, Suzaku? This is private."
The Japanese youth's green eyes flickered over to Lelouch and stared directly at his form from the corner of his eyes. "Uh, sure, Euphy," Suzaku said to her after a small hesitation. "I'll be just inside. Call if you need anything and I'll be at your side immediately."
The magenta-eyed young woman gave Suzaku a heartfelt smile at his words and she told him, "Thank you, Suzaku, but Lelouch should be able to keep me safe while we're up here."
"You don't need to worry, Suzaku," Lelouch promised his friends. "So long as we're quick about this nothing bad should happen. I'll call if you're needed. Agreed?"
The Japanese soldier stared at his friend for a tense moment before giving the former prince a nod. He then took his leave from the pair of half-siblings and closed the door behind him.
Knowing Suzaku's honor wouldn't allow him to eavesdrop on their conversation, Lelouch started the discussion with his sister amicably, "I admit, I'm surprised you came back so soon."
"I guess I just couldn't stay away," she admitted with a small smile in place. Her face then went serious before continuing, "But that's not why I'm here, to be honest. I'm here to bring you this," she informed him before reaching into her purple purse and pulling out a flash drive.
"Just what might that be?" the violet-eyed revolutionary queried while his mind had already guessed the non-mystery.
"Sister's next big plan," she answered while she walked across the roof towards him. "I used my authority as the Sub-Viceroy to gain access to all the details and contingency plans. I figured you and Zero would've liked to know all those details."
"Zero would indeed wish to know those details," the man who played the Mask acknowledged with a nod. "But why come to deliver it in person? Suzaku would follow any order you give him to the letter without hesitation. All you'd need to do is specify for him to not open the files."
"Because it wouldn't have felt right to use Suzaku like that, and also…because I wanted to see you again, Lelouch," Euphy admitted to him with an affectionate smile. She reached her hand out and placed the flash drive in his palm, but she made no move to remove her appendage from his once doing so. Instead, her other hand rose and came to rest on where the two were joined while she said, "Am I not allowed to see someone I love?"
"Euphy…" he trailed off softly at her words.
"You know," she began to tell him with a loving smile that made the princess seem even more beautiful while the sun's dying rays danced over her face, "I really do love you, Lelouch, and not just as a sibling either. I'm not sure when it began, but I remember just how much it hurt when we were told that you and Nunnally had died. Nunnally's apparent death did sting quite a bit, but when I'd heard your name I…I…broke, Lelouch.
"When Sister told me about your death, Lelouch, I couldn't even move. I couldn't feel anything, Lelouch. All I felt that day was a great void right here," she informed him gently as she removed one of her hands from his and placed it over her heart. "I honestly felt like I'd died right alongside you, Lelouch.
"It felt like all the joy in the world had been sucked up that day. No matter where I looked or what I tried to think about to take my mind off of it, I saw your face, Lelouch. I would look in the gardens and I'd see you picking flowers and putting ones in both mine and Nunnally's hair before you escorted us both to one of your mother's balls. I would walk down the halls and I'd feel you holding my hand while you led me along on our newest adventure. I honestly felt like my whole world had crumbled the instant I thought you'd died.
"But Sister then told me about how your bodies had never been found," Euphy told him as she rose her gaze and stared directly into his own eyes with her own magenta orbs beginning to water while the pain she'd felt reflected in those pools of bluish-purple. "I didn't know why, but that news suddenly gave me life again. Hope, I suppose that's what it was. I began to hope that you weren't actually dead and that you'd one day come home – to me.
"It was that hope that kept me going, Lelouch. It was that hope that made me certain that you and Nunnally were still alive out there. It was that hope that brought me here to Area Eleven, not Cornelia becoming the Viceroy. And it was that hope that led me here…to you, Lelouch. It's all thanks to that small, almost feeble, glimmer of hope in my heart that I…that I finally found you, Lelouch!" she finished with a single tear of happiness falling from her right eye.
Lelouch vi Britannia felt his chest twist painfully as tears of complete joy began to make their way down the pink-haired princess' face. He'd be lying if he told her he had never harbored similar affections towards this beautiful woman, but those feelings of love and adoration were mercilessly crushed under the mountain of guilt and shame he always felt whenever he thought of the Third Princess in either of his two lives.
He didn't deserve her love. He didn't want her affections; it would only hurt them both more. He couldn't bring himself to ever return those feelings after that fateful day – the day everything had gone so completely wrong. Lelouch couldn't allow himself to love Euphy the way she now loved him.
He was the reason his power went rogue that day. He was the reason that her legacy was dyed crimson in the blood of the innocent Elevens she'd been trying so hard to save. After that pitiful day, any dreams of a romance died and were to never be resuscitated.
"Euphy –" he tried to speak, but the tearful girl continued on before he could finish.
"Did you know," she asked him with a rueful smile, "that we were already betrothed when you were sent away, Lelouch?" At hearing this, Lelouch stiffened in shock. "I didn't think so. You see, my mother told me after you were pronounced dead. She and Marianne had seen how well we got along and how we seemed to love each other already, so they decided to go ahead and betroth us to one another."
"I…had no idea she'd done that," the raven-haired youth admitted honestly.
"They had planned on telling us on our thirteenth birthdays," Euphemia told him. "It turns out…that… Well… It turns out that our engagement was never canceled, Lelouch," she finally managed to get out in a weak voice.
"So… Hold on here," he requested. This was too much all at once – he needed to slow this down. He took his hand out of Euphemia's, pocketed the flash drive, and took a deep breath to calm himself back down. He then looked directly into her eyes as he asked, "Then the betrothal was never canceled? Even thought I was officially dead?" More proof Marianne and Charles knew I survived the war with Japan, he quietly noted.
Euphy gave him a nod before saying, "Originally, I refused to let it be annulled due to my stubbornness, but, officially, you're dead, Lelouch. I was told a few years ago that the real reason the engagement remained was because our Father insisted. I guess the Emperor didn't think you were dead either, Lelouch!"
"No, he didn't," Lelouch muttered bitterly.
A breeze fluttered over the rooftop and the two members of the Royal Family descended into a small spell of silence. Both of them had locks of hair and pieces of loose clothing get blown across their bodies in the wind. Euphemia's pink locks whispered over her face while she continued to stare at Lelouch with a fond expression.
"Tell me, Lelouch," she requested. "Why did you become Zero?"
"Many reasons, Euphy," he admitted softly to her. "The original goal was to spare Nunnally from that man's games, but it quickly became so much more. Now, the goal is the same in the end, but I have many other reasons to continue wearing Zero's mask until Charles zi Britannia lies dead and his empire is in shambles.
"And it's because of a few of those very reasons that I can't return your affections, Euphy." Her response to his revelation was a sharp intake of breath and a single tear falling from her eyes, and Lelouch was impressed by her strength in how she managed to keep herself from breaking down right there when he noticed just how much pain was present in her eyes from his admission. "I will admit that I did – at one time – feel the same, but now those feelings are gone and can't ever come back."
"Why not?" she asked in a low whisper.
The pain in her voice forced Lelouch to tear his eyes away from the sight of her and he answered, "A few events of happenstance, Euphy. I promise that I'll tell you all about it one day, but I'm afraid I can't say anything more just yet. For now, all I can say is this: I care very deeply for you, Euphy – maybe even as much as Nunnally, but I don't love you in that way any longer.
"I'm truly sorry, Euphy," he apologized in an attempt to let her know how much this pained him to say as well. "However, just because one door has closed doesn't mean another isn't open and waiting eagerly for you to notice it and enter," he told her consolingly as he walked over to the sniffling young woman and placed his hands on her shoulders. "I'm sure there's someone else who's already shown they care about you a great deal, Euphy."
"But…" Euphy tried to speak, but her tearless sobs interrupted her. "But we…we're…"
"Does what our parents decide truly determine our future, Euphy?" Lelouch asked her gently, causing her to freeze under his hands. "We are whom we choose to become, Euphy. No one's futures are ever truly written in stone – believe me, I've seen proof. We are the ones who create our future, no one else has a say.
"I could've been many things up to this point," he reminded her gently. "Had I simply held my tongue that day in the Throne Room I'd have never been sent to Japan. But had I never come to Japan I'd have never met Suzaku. If I'd remained a Prince, then I have no doubt I'd be living in the lap of luxury, but to be honest I have no regrets about what I did.
"Since I came to Japan, I've made something that I'd have never been able to make in the Imperial Court: Friends, and not just any friends – friends who care about me for me, not because I'm a Prince. I can't ever go back to the life we once shared Euphy, and that unfortunately means that you can't either. I have chosen to fight for those who have no voice, and there's no going back for me.
"However, just because I have chosen a path you can't follow doesn't mean you can't find happiness anymore, Euphy," he assured her with a gentle smile. The girl in his arms ceased sniffling then before he continued, "I'm not the one who can give you the happiness you deserve, Euphy. Find the one who can, and you never know…they may be someone you never suspected at first." I know that I never expected it.
Euphemia offered no verbal response to his words. Another small gust of wind came over the pair on the rooftop and blew the strands of hair concealing her face from his eyes out of the way. Two drying tear-tracks made their way down her cheeks from her still-glossy eyes. However, it was what was seen within those beautiful magenta orbs that lifted a burden from Lelouch's shoulders. There was hope in her eyes.
Euphemia then surprised her half-brother by suddenly enveloping him in a tight hug and bringing her face into his chest. His surprise quickly dissipated and he returned the loving, grateful embrace while looking down at her with a small smile on his face.
A few minutes passed by while the two siblings held each other in their embrace with the only sound echoing across the rooftop being the small breeze that blew across their faces.
He knew that his sister had been hurt because of him, but Lelouch allowed himself to feel hope for her and his best friend for the first time in far too long. If there were any two people who deserved happiness this time around then it was them, and Lelouch had every intention of making it happen.
I won't let it happen again, the dark-haired youth swore as his grip around his sister tightened slightly. You will find happiness, Euphy. I swear it.
Kallen let out a long breath as she shut her phone. She leaned back against the rooftop railing and let the cool morning air wash over her weary face.
"This could've gone a whole lot better," she mumbled to herself. "I knew they wouldn't take to Lily immediately, but Tamaki's outright distrust is beginning to get on my nerves. The only one who seems to actually trust she's not really some spy is the only one who knows we're not real sisters." She then looked up into the cloudless sky and stated, "Ohgi's really a Godsend in this group of idiots."
Three days had passed since Liliana 'Stadtfelt's' introduction to the core members of the Black Knights. Just as he'd said, Lelouch had arranged it with Ohgi – who'd been suspicious at first, but quickly came around – for Lily's induction. The Masked Man then really surprised everyone in the ranks when he'd listened to Kallen's recommendations and had placed her 'sister' in with the Knightmare pilots. All Kallen had done was ask and Lelouch had given her what she wanted done, even though Tamaki had been adamantly against trusting a 'full Brit' with a Knightmare.
Ohgi had quickly cornered Kallen that very same day and had all but demanded he know just who Liliana truly was since Naoto had never mentioned another half-sibling. He even pointed out how he knew that her step-mother was infertile and incapable of bearing a child to get what he wanted to know out of her. However, Kallen's stubborn nature and her promise to her 'sister' were on full display then. She'd unintentionally lashed out, but had managed to quickly reign herself back in and ask Ohgi if he truly trusted her at all. He'd admitted that he did and she simply gave him the same thing she gave Lelouch about Lily: Just trust me.
Eventually, the frosty reception managed to thaw out due to Kallen's mediations and Liliana's nature and people began to greet the other Stadtfelt and some even tried to get to know her. Tamaki had kept a not-so-subtle eye on her throughout, but everyone else eventually began to speak cordially with her at the very least – it was much more than either of the sisters expected at the start. Inoue and Lily had even managed to find a kindred spirit in each other due to how both of them admire modern technology and weaponry – those two could go on for hours.
Since then, however, Zero had ordered that there was to be no direct contact between the female students and the rest of the Black Knights. Liliana had accepted the order quickly, but Kallen hadn't understood the reasoning and had asked why since they'd not been able to talk anyway for around a week. Their leader had then simply pulled out a file and explained how the latest intelligence report he'd received from his spy inside the Viceroy's office – she was still flabbergasted at how he'd managed to do that, since he'd sworn up and down when she'd asked him that he hadn't used his Geass on them – told him of a golden opportunity to showcase the Black Knights strength to the two current biggest players in the Area Eleven Theater: The Viceroy herself and the Japanese Liberation Front.
Kallen couldn't keep the small smirk off her face as she absently fingered the newest addition to her key-ring. It looked like a white bird's feather that was painted half-red, but it held the key to something positively powerful: The launch activation key for her newest Knightmare.
The crimson-haired girl had practically squealed in absolute glee when Zero had given her – her – the Guren Mark-Two and began telling all of the assembled Black Knight members about the new Knightmare's capabilities. It had been designed and built personally by one of the foremost minds in the world when it comes to military technology advancement: Rakshata Chawla herself! Her new baby's specs surpassed even the most advanced Gloucester and it even included an experimental weapon known as the Radiant Wave Surger.
If Lelouch hadn't been dressed as Zero and they had been alone, Kallen would've hugged the mysterious young man. With that new Knightmare, she only had to worry about that White Monstrosity – the Lancelot, Lelouch had told her it's name – in direct battle now, and the Ace had every confidence in her ability to beat that thing's pilot.
"There you are," a familiar voice called to her, breaking the young woman from her reverie. "Prez's meeting's about to start."
"I've still got ten minutes," Kallen remarked to the dark-haired beauty. "No need to hurry."
"I suppose not," Liliana agreed with a crooked grin. "What have you been doing up here all by your lonesome?" she asked as she joined Kallen in leaning on the railing with her placing her forearms flat on the round beam and looking out at the Ashford Academy grounds.
"Thinking," the Ace answered.
"I can see the steam coming out from your ears," the azure-eyed woman added with a teasing lilt. "You must've been doing some pretty hard thinking up here."
"Not really," Kallen told her, well-adjusted to Liliana's way of finding some way to lighten the atmosphere with her half-hearted teases. "Just about things recently and what's gonna happen now."
"Thinking about what's gonna happen when we leave today?"
"Partially," she answered. "How about you? Nervous?"
"A little," Liliana admitted hesitantly. "I mean, I know how to pilot and fight. It's just that I've never really fought for real before. I've done sims, but Dad always told me the real thing is completely different."
"It is," Kallen told her. "Sims can really only take you so far, Lily. That being said, you shouldn't forget what you've already learned. It's perfectly normal to be a little nervous the first time."
"Were you? For the first time, I mean."
"A little," she said with a nod. "But the jitters go away after you've made it far enough in the act. It hurts the first time in, but the pain gradually goes away once you get accustomed to the motions."
"Why, Kallen," Liliana spoke up in false shock. "I had no idea you were so experienced in things like this. I'm guessing that your first time was with our darling Lulu. Tell me; did he have the mask on or was he completely nude?"
"Will-Will you stop that!?" the red-head shrieked once she recognized just what her 'sister' was implying and felt her face turn beet-red. "That-That-That's not what I was talking about and you know it!"
"There the two of you are," the very last person Kallen wanted to show up called out to them both. "Meeting's about to start. You'd better hurry up."
"Speak of the devil and he shall come your way," Lily remarked too low for Lelouch to hear, but loud enough to ensure Kallen heard it. She then sent a devilish grin Kallen's way and finished, "In more ways than one."
"Will. You. Quit. It?" Kallen spoke while grinding her teeth. She'd have actually managed to sound somewhat intimidating too if her face hadn't been the same hue as her hair.
"Yeah, sure," she replied, and Kallen got the distinct feeling that her friend was merely patronizing her. The dark-haired young woman then turned and informed Lelouch, "We'll be right behind you."
"Okay," he responded with a small nod of his head. He then turned back around and left the pair and walked down the steps back into the Student Council Building.
"Come on," Liliana said to the crimson-haired student. "Let's go see just what the whole 'surprise' thing Milly's got planned is."
"Sure," Kallen agreed after winning the losing battle of fighting her blush now that Lily had stopped and Lelouch had left. She and the other beauty then made their way down the staircase and began walking towards the Council's office.
"DADDY!" an ear-splitting shriek came from behind the door that was so loud it caused both women bearing the Stadtfelt name to wince in pain.
"Who was that?" Liliana asked rhetorically while she and the other woman both stuck a finger in their ears and twisted it around simultaneously.
"I only know of one person in the Council who can scream that loud," Kallen replied.
"Shirley," both young women outside the office stated at the same time.
They then opened the door into the Council's office and took in the sight that greeted the pair of 'sisters.' Rivalz was currently being embarrassed the ever-living hell out of by a middle-aged woman with long hair the exact same shade of blue as his. Milly and Suzaku were each standing at the head of the table conferring in hushed tones with the green-eyed young man gesturing animatedly with his hands. Nina was nowhere to be seen as usual, and Shirley was currently introducing Lelouch to a man with a familiar shade of orange hair whom Kallen recognized from the news during the Kawaguchi hotel-jacking.
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Fennette," Lelouch greeted cordially with a small smile as he grasped the man's hand with one of his own. "Shirley's told me quite a bit about you."
Kallen's sapphire eyes suddenly shot wide once she realized what Milly and Lelouch had brought back: A relic from her Japanese schooling days. "You brought back Class Observation Day!?" she exclaimed in shock. I'm so grateful Dad's back in Pendragon right now.
"Oh, there the two of you are," Milly said as she separated herself from a sour-looking Suzaku and walked over to the pair of young ladies. "Isn't it amazing? It was actually Lelouch's idea, believe it or not. And is that what it was called back then? We decided to name it Parents' Day."
"This…was Lelouch's idea?" Liliana repeated skeptically.
"Yeah," Kallen agreed with the other person wearing the Stadtfelt name. "I kinda find it hard to believe he would've come up with something like, well…this."
"Yep, this is all little Lulu's idea," Milly confirmed for them both. "He talked to me about seven weeks ago about how the parents and guardians aren't really that involved here at my Academy and presented this little charm to me. Right now we're in the experimentation stage because Gramps refused to sign off on the plan without giving it a test run first, so just us of the Student Council will have to put up with it for the day.
"Unfortunately, only Shirley's dad and Rivalz's mom decided to show up out of everyone we got ahold of. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm glad my parents couldn't make it," she assured the two women giving her a 'are you crazy' look. "However, with only two showing up, it'll be pretty hard to get Gramps to agree to the idea long term."
"This is…crazy," Kallen finally managed to say. "Did Lelouch say why he wanted this to happen?" she probed the blonde.
"Something about wanting to further the Ashfords' ties with Noble Families or something along those lines," the blue-eyed older woman admitted with a shrug. "I'm not sure though. Seven weeks was a long time ago."
"Indeed it was," the red-head agreed with a sober nod. Shinjuku really does feel like it happened a lifetime ago.
"Ooh, looks like Ms. Cardemonde is pulling out the baby photos," Milly noted before growing a dangerous grin that caused a shudder to travel down both Stadtfelts' backs. "I'll leave you two cuties to your thing. I've got blackmail to get my hands on," she added in an ominous tone before scampering over to where a now-panicking Rivalz was chasing after his merrily-laughing mother while begging her to stop.
The sapphire-eyed young woman turned towards the azure-eyed one and saw that Liliana's eyes were beginning to gloss over and a fond smile was growing on her face.
"Nostalgic, isn't it?" Kallen asked quietly.
"It is," she agreed before shutting her eyes tight and taking in a deep breath to calm down. "Makes me think about when Dad and Uncle found your teddy bear stash when we were seven."
A small blush rose in Kallen's cheeks as she recalled that embarrassing moment. "In my defense," she protested as she crossed her arms under her breasts with a small huff, "William was being an even bigger ass than usual that day. He threatened to make me cosplay as a teddy with its fur painted pink. Pink!"
"Ah, there you are, Kallen," Lelouch greeted her as both she and Liliana walked onto the rooftop. "Lock the door behind you. We don't want anyone to walk in on our…discussion."
"Sure," the Ace of the Black Knights acknowledged with a nod before turning around and using her access code to lock the door behind them. Nothing short of Lelouch's Access Card would be able to open the door now.
"I understand why you called Kallen," a woman's voice piped up that she recognized since she'd never be able to forget it, "but why Liliana too?"
"C.C.," Kallen greeted the green-haired woman she'd scarcely even heard news of since they met at Saitama. "Why are you here?"
"Lelouch asked me to...service a need of his," C.C. told her with a slightly perverse gleam in her eyes.
Kallen immediately flushed red while Liliana cocked an eyebrow at the presence she'd not detected prior to her speaking. "As much as I also enjoy teasing Kallen, I must ask just who you might be. You're obviously not a student; that skirt's far too long – no chances for a panty flash. Also, C.C.? Seriously?"
"It's easier than my real name, trust me," the golden-eyed woman answered. "And since we've never met before, I am Zero's Confidante and first partner."
"I see," the dark-haired girl conceded with a nod before sending a glance over to Lelouch.
"You ladies can gossip later," Lelouch's stern voice cut in. "Right now, C.C., I need you to come here so we can take care of what you're here for."
"My, my," C.C. stated airily as she sauntered over to his side with a strut that Kallen knew had to have been intentional. "Out in the open today, Lelouch? And with an audience too? You never know just who might catch us in the act."
Just who does she think she is!? Kallen mentally screamed while her nostrils flared angrily as she glared at the smirking green-haired woman. She's completely indecent. And those…those heels are… Wait. How's she walking in those!?
"It's the thrill of how we might one day be exposed to the public that keeps me going, C.C.," Lelouch shot back comfortably, like he dealt with the woman on a daily basis. "But let's move away from innuendo and double entendre for the sake of Kallen's sanity."
"Oh, don't mind her," Liliana spoke up with a positively evil grin. "I'm getting some good lines to use on her later from watching this."
"Too bad," C.C. fake-pouted at the dark-haired youth. Her playful look then disappeared so quickly that it surprised both other females present as she asked, "Is it time?"
"He's leaving as we speak," the former prince told the woman. He then pointed out across the school grounds and instructed, "Look for yourself."
All three females followed his direction and Kallen's sapphire-blue eyes widened in shock. Why's he telling her to look at Shirley's dad? she wondered while the man made his way down the path towards the Ashford main gate.
Out of the corner of her eye, the Knightmare Ace's sharp eyes caught C.C. freeze at seeing the man for some reason. The golden-eyed woman's head creaked up and down before saying in an unsteady voice, "It's him. He was there, Lelouch."
"I see," the violet-eyed revolutionary spoke evenly. "I'd hoped it was mere coincidence, but I suppose there's truly no such thing." He then pulled out his phone, pressed a button on its display, and brought the device to his ear. He then spoke an order to whoever he had called, "Do it."
As Lelouch put his phone away, Kallen couldn't help but ask him, "What's Shirley's father done, Lelouch?"
Before he could answer her, everyone's gaze was torn back to the front gates of Ashford Academy where the sight they saw made both Kallen and Liliana's eyes both shoot all the way open. A vehicle pulled up right in front of Shirley's father just before he could make his way across the street. One of the blacked-out vehicle's doors opened before a masked man stepped out and shot something at the orange-haired man. Before he could even react, Joseph Fennette slumped over limply and was shoved into the vehicle's back seat before the abductor shut the door and the car sped back off.
Kallen couldn't believe what she'd just witness occur. Lelouch had ordered the kidnapping of Shirley's father right in plain view of the daughter's dorms. And not only that, but he'd had it done right in front of the entire school where there's an audience that all watched it happen.
Liliana was the first to regain her words after a moment of shocked silence, "Wow," she continued to blink disbelievingly. "I always thought you were supposed to get the dad out of the picture by winning him over, but I guess that works too."
Her 'sister's' statement broke Kallen out of her stunned stupor and she whirled around to glare at the young man next to her. He didn't even appear to be fazed in the slightest by what he'd just done and she growled, "What did you just do?"
"Kidnapped Joseph Fennette," he answered her without an emotion in his voice. "He's currently making his way to a secure facility to await Zero's arrival."
"Why?" Kallen demanded in a harsh whisper. "He seemed like a nice man, Lelouch. You had no reason to –"
"Oh, I had every reason to, Kallen," Lelouch interjected with a humorless laugh. "Even the kindest of men are capable of the most deplorable acts. You should know this better than many, Kallen."
"Then what did he do?"
"Code-R," C.C.'s even voice cut through the building tension like a knife. "He was a part of it, Kallen."
"You can't mean…" She suddenly felt like she'd been punched in the gut once she'd been told that. But he seemed like such a wonderful person, she thought on how he'd been so kind to everyone during the day. "But there's no way someone like him would've been a part of creating poison gas willingly."
"Oh, no," Lelouch answered her. "You see, Mister Fennette was a willing participant in something far more despicable than developing mere poison gas, Kallen. Code-R was something much more powerful than a cloud of gas."
"Wait, wait, wait," Liliana cut in with a confused look. "Poison gas? Code-R? Why don't we have a brief history lesson for those of us who are new to this whole terrorism business?"
"Back before the Black Knights were formed," Lelouch began to recite for her, "Kallen and Ohgi's resistance cell managed to gather some intel about a secretive program Prince Clovis was keeping under wraps. All they were able to uncover was that many of the people working on it were leaders in neuroscience and that the Code-R subject was being contained within an airtight, sealed, container. Naturally, they assumed it to be poison gas. However, they were dreadfully wrong in their assumption. They managed to steal the capsule Code-R was sealed in and that was the real reason for the Shinjuku massacre."
"Okay," Liliana nodded her head while Kallen blinked disbelievingly at how simple Lelouch had just made four straight months of planning seem so simple. "I think I've got it now."
"If not poison gas, then what was Code-R?" Kallen requested after regaining herself. "What could've been worse than poison gas?"
"I never said that it was worse," the dark-haired prince reminded her with a shrewd grin, "only that it was far more powerful than poison gas."
The crimson-haired pilot pondered on his words for a moment before her eyes went wide in realization of his meaning. Geass, she mouthed silently, and Lelouch nodded in response to her.
"Correct, Kallen," he congratulated. "Now do you understand why Shirley's father was taken?"
"I do," she acknowledged bitterly, leading to Liliana staring at her with befuddlement written all over her face. "But that doesn't mean I have to like it."
"I'd be more worried if you said you did," the violet-eyed young man told her with a pained smile, and for the first time Kallen was able to notice how much it had hurt him to order such an action. "Come," he then directed to the two young women after concealing his emotional pain once more. "We have much to do before we make for the Narita mountains tonight. Kallen, make sure you're familiar with all the Guren's systems intimately. I get the feeling you and the Lancelot will be dueling soon."
A/N: I take back what I said in that last Naruto Note.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce to all of you dripley11's longest chapter to date! This one chapter wasn't meant to reach this monstrous length, but things just kept on piling on top of each other and I never could find a decent place to end it until just where I did.
Also, apologies profound for the lateness of the chapter, yadda, yadda, yadda... You know the rest of that spiel I feel like I use too much of.
Whelp, I hope you all enjoyed the newest installment. For all of those who've been yammering about wanting a CC POV, well, there you go.
I'm not going to bother summarizing just what all happened in the chapter, because I really do need to cut back on the word count in my Notes.
Narita is the next little arc in this large over-arc titled Guren and Geass. There will be a few details altered and things will occur differently on numerous occasions, so look forward to what's on its way.
P.S. In the near future, look for another fic of mine to be posted. I've got the first four over-arcs planned out extensively. Don't fret though, I'm not abandoning any of my current stories either.