Disclaimer: Code Geass is not mine.
Summary: Sequel to The Emperor´s Waltz. Lelouch’s house of mirrors hurts that much because their distorted images are too real. But they don’t hurt half as badly as the truths Lelouch refrains from reflecting on him. Suzaku Lelouch. Suzalulu. Yaoi.
posted on 8-28-07
SPOILERS: YES (24-25)
A/N: Happens about three years after The Emperor´s Waltz.
Better read that first otherwise you might get really, really confused. This fic is so AU I should be ashamed. Alas, I’m not. You will notice there is a bit of the story missing. That’s because there will be a tiny little sequel. :-)
Like a ghost of his own past, he walks alone through the many rooms of the old Kururugi household. He blends with his own shadows, the soft ruffling of maps, the unremitting beeping of computer screens and the multiple demands of the cell phone. He descends to the kitchen now and then, where he makes tea for both Nunally and himself. Whenever Sayoko-san checks on him, she discreetly empties Nunally’s cups on the daisy beds outside. Whenever Suzaku comes back from the war front, Lelouch makes tea for him instead.
They sit outside on the porch, watching the fireflies zoom like bullets past the unkempt gardens, the scent of cardamom lingering between them as they drink their tea quietly. Staring down at the sunflower fields, Lelouch pushes the file with this week’s battle plans in Suzaku’s direction. Then he pretends he is not listening to Suzaku’s red pen rushing furiously on the very white paper, his qualms voiced with each nervous stroke of crimson ink over the neat handwriting.
This can’t be done, this is too cruel, this is too risky, this is too insane, too many causalities, against the rules of engagement, against international law…
Outside in the real world, Zero doesn’t need a face. He is a voice on the phone, a graphic on the computer screen, bombs and pamphlets falling from the night sky. Outside, beyond those very mountains, Zero is a disembodied god looming over the struggling powers like a suffocating cloud, waking up the oppressed people of the globe from their submissive slumber, the stuff of myths and legends, as immortal as war itself.
Outside in the real world, Emperor Lelouch doesn’t need an epitaph. Diethard says he has been brought back safely and without incident by Prime Minister Kururugi, and what Diethard says is as good as the truth. Memory is ever frail, history is ever so pliant and Britannia is completely defunct. It’s no surprise that even Zero’s twin is dragged into oblivion, obfuscated by the raging typhoon that Zero is.
Inside, in his own world of dormant furniture and white blankets, Lelouch lives truthfully between those two monumental lies. A quiet young man with decaying health, a little gray hair and violet eyes – one real, the other not – the fake so perfect it is almost impossible to tell them apart.
Just like everything about his life.
Apparently Suzaku has finished butchering his masterpiece, because now he is fussing over his fever or something like that.
"What is the point," he mutters unconcernedly as he turns to refill Suzaku´s china cup, catching a complex shadow on Suzaku´s expression he cannot quite grasp. "I’m always catching colds no matter what. Why don’t you just live with it."
Why don’t you just live.
His health is not the only sensitive issue between them. Lelouch is an autocrat, not a politician. He is never sure why Suzaku keeps compromising with political groups he doesn’t quite believe in. Perhaps it is his nature to search for a middle ground, to favour reform over revolution, to cooperate with anything that becomes a government. Or perhaps he truly believes that he can make a hell of a difference. He probably does, or at least that’s what Toudo and Kirihara keep telling both of them, like wise old men chanting a mantra in their ears, their twin monks of salvation:
Work together, work together, work together…
It’s not as bad as it sounds, really. Lelouch is much stronger with Suzaku on his side, but he sort of misses the good old days when he could detonate his Sakuradite missiles without having to listen to people.
Always compromising and being hated by all sides. Perhaps Suzaku thinks that by not making any real choices, he won’t have to take responsibility for them. Lelouch smiles at that. His conclusions about his only friend are never flattering, but are always made with love. Suzaku will be always Suzaku, even with seven different freedom fighter groups and an interim cabinet just waiting for him to make a mistake.
He is so lost in thought that he barely notices when the other man draws closer and kisses his eyelid, the one with the cold, unfeeling glass eye behind it. Suzaku leaves his warm lips pressed to the thin, fluttering skin for a while, as if he could kiss it good.
“Gomen ne, Lelouch.”
Ah, Lelouch thinks as he tenses a little at the sudden contact. He can’t help but laugh at that, sharp teeth rattling against the china cup’s rim.
“No, Suzaku, that won’t do. You can’t go about poking out people’s eyes and then saying ‘gomen ne’. This is just too messed up. Even for us.”
Suzaku gives him a sad smile, tapping the thick file on his lap with his red pen of hell. And for a moment there, he looks as wild as Lelouch remembers him, and almost as cruel, and almost as desperate.
“Should I poke my own eye out in atonement, then? But Lelouch, I don’t feel like apologizing to you that much. Or is our need of mutual apologies a can of worms you would like to open right now?”
Lelouch stares at him calmly as he considers the matter for a while.
“I guess ‘gomen ne’ will have to do for the time being.”
Grinning like a little boy at his puny victory, Suzaku helps him up with a strong arm around his waist and guides him gently to what used to be Genbu’s bedroom. The symbolism of that never escapes Lelouch. And if he could ever give Suzaku another command it would be “don’t punish yourself so hard”. But he obviously can’t, so he compensates by allowing Suzaku to treat him like the invalid he really is. To Lelouch, the ever so proud Lelouch, that is a big compensation indeed and one of the few he still can give.
Maybe one day Suzaku will see that even Lelouch is capable of compromising.
There is just one thing I still can’t understand. I have no idea why with so many options available you had to take the worst route. Maybe you thought that being shot in front of your children would be character building.
Lelouch stretches his sore limbs slowly, grimacing soundlessly now and then when the pain is just too uncomfortable. He doesn’t seem to notice the scratches or the broken nails and doesn’t question about them. Suzaku knows he doesn’t remember anything about last night or how he got ill all over again. Suzaku knows many things Lelouch doesn’t. Like the fact that he has spent most part of last night in the woods, the fact that there is a straight jacket under his bed, and the fact that today half of his battle plans have been nothing but kanji and romanji gibberish.
Or so everybody else believes - including his precious Black Knights - but Suzaku knows better and knows Lelouch better. It took him six months to break the highly elaborated code. Sometimes he wishes he didn’t.
He had expected to find the usual high treason. Instead, he found letters to the dead. Letters to Nunally, to Euphemia, to Clovis, to Marianne, letters to the late Emperor with desperate, angry words. Letters to Lelouch himself, as if he already considered himself part of the long gone. Suzaku doesn’t know when they have started and he doesn’t know if they will ever stop. He doesn’t know why Lelouch always scribbles them amidst his battle plans, as if they were the two sides of the same coin. They are bizarre and poignant, they are made with intent, and yet Lelouch doesn’t know about them, no more than Nunally could remember who kept destroying her bedroom.
Suzaku is not that surprised. All his life Lelouch has consistently overlooked the universal truth that if you keep ignoring your heart to move ahead, it will inevitably catch up with you in the worst possible way.
And Lelouch calls him the idiot.
My Dear Nunally,
Still, Zero is as functional and focused as on the first day he was born and Lelouch looks much saner than when they brought him back from Britannia. He can go weeks by himself, even if those weeks grow shorter and shorter. Maybe that’s because he has been cursed with the best survival instincts the Britannian royal family has ever begotten. Maybe that’s because neither his parents ever taught him how to give up. All the things they should have taught Lelouch they seem to have taught Nunally instead.
Thus they go about their day like a peaceful old couple. Lelouch cleans after him, grumbles like he has since he was ten and tries to persuade him to get rid of Arthur III and Arthur IV. Suzaku insists that taking care of the cats is good for him, gives him a healthy sense of routine. Irritated, Lelouch plays chess with himself because his only friend in the whole world refuses to learn the damn game. As he moves the black and white pieces in incomprehensible patterns, Suzaku babbles news about Kallen, Milly, Rivalz and everybody who is still around. Leouch tells him Shirley has visited him last week, which is odd because Shirley is one of those crazy, lovely people who are trying to put Britannia back on her feet. But he guesses he can always check with the shrine’s security. When Lelouch asks him if they have found C.C. already he carefully dodges the question. He did, in fact, shot an Indian Geass user in the head last week, but even the Black Knights agree that this is far more information than Lelouch needs and it has been kept way beyond his hacker skills, or so Suzaku hopes.
Now and then, people are saved or killed with a phone call. Those long-distant call battles are all so very Lelouch and Suzaku hates them, will never get used to them. He would much rather be in the front right now. If it was not for last night’s emergency, he probably would.
Cornelia kept telling me I had no right to do what I did. She kept telling me we were in the same situation, protecting our young siblings fiercely. She kept telling me my excuses were poor. What a hypocrite. You could see and you could walk. You could play runaway princess and still be received back in the fold with open arms. You were not hiding from possible murderers. Cornelia didn’t have to learn how to dress, wash, feed, clean, heal, listen, fret, talk, carry, nurse, mother, smile, lie, cut, love, push, protect, pull, teach, kiss, tend, brush, please, trust, play, hold, praise, hide…
But now everything is fine. Now Cornelia and I are really equals. We both had to learn how to bury.
By now Suzaku is proficient in the language of Lelouch’s broken soul. And as he moves his eyes over the uneven lines, he tells himself he is not probing, not probing at all.
Sister, you must understand. Sister with so much blood on your hands. Pretty and loving and tainted and screaming to break free until the very end. Sister, you must understand. Love and good intentions can’t compensate for terrible acts. Not even if they are accidental. In the end, we are all judged by the results we have provoked - willingly or not. So there is no point in asking your forgiveness for what can’t be forgiven. Why should I? Nobody has forgiven you, Euphemia. Even if I’m the one who…
Suzaku lifts his gaze from the paper sheet and looks at the man lying in his father’s bed. The pale cheeks, the detached violet eyes veiled by black hair as he answers yet another phone call. Where is all this going now? What would Euphie do if she were in Suzaku’s place? But then again, Suzaku is not like Euphie, will never be like Euphie. Lelouch himself has made sure that would never happen.
Maybe it is Euphie’s hand – not his, never his – that reaches out to stroke Lelouch’s hair off his face, extracting from Zero himself a very human, embarrassed smile. Maybe it is Euphie’s lips - not his, never his – that press on the feverish, pale neck so he will have no choice but give up on the damn phone. Euphie has been in love with Lelouch once, or so those disjointed letters imply. Euphie and Lelouch have been childhood sweethearts in that convoluted, twisted way their family seems to favour so much. And knowing that makes him jealous of both of them, makes him feel like he has been left out. Knowing that makes him hate Britannia on a level even Lelouch himself will never understand. Britannia which keeps offering him everything he craves. Britannia which keeps letting him down, over and over again.
It just sucks to be so mature and tamed. Sometimes, Suzaku just wants to run wild, to claim that fundamental fierceness that is completely his to claim. Sometimes he wants to explode in the same way Lelouch has been imploding right in front of his eyes, one demented letter at a time. And maybe, if he really does that, they might meet each other in the middle of the road, and be crazy and happy together, alone at last.
“You never tell me anything, do you?”
Lelouch, blinks his violet eyes at him and distractedly places his hand on Suzaku’s arm. So light and delicate. Suzaku could have crushed it easily. Instead, he takes it in his own hands and looks down at him.
“Why haven’t you told me? Why do you have to hide the few miserable good qualities you have? When I was a child I thought it was just modesty or pride. But now I know better. You hide them because you hate looking weak.”
Lelouch blinks again and tilts his head attentively. He smiles and knits his eyebrows in confusion and Suzaku wonders if he understands what he is saying right now. Whenever he is not in full Zero mode, Lelouch has been unconsciously relapsing into his harsh mother tongue more and more frequently, sometimes confusing poor Sayoko-san to the verge of tears.
Suzaku just looks down at Lelouch’s feverish face, fingers to his dry lips, fingers to his frail neck. Lelouch doesn’t doubt his touch for a second, doesn’t fear it, as he presses his brow to Suzaku’s shoulder with a heavy, satisfied sigh.
Suzaku has no idea where this trust comes from. How many times have they failed each other? How many times before they call their failed friendship quits? Tiredly, he does something he knows Lelouch will understand. He wraps him with his arms and keeps him there, close to him, their hearts resounding against each other, mismatched and steady beats rising to their ears as he remove their cloths carefully. Lelouch is his friend. His only friend. Lelouch is the only tie to humanity he has left. Lelouch is also the most dangerous, destructive person he has ever known. He wants to keep him locked in this minute, contained in his arms, so he will never do harm to others or himself again.
And yet, just beyond the mountains the toddling government of United Japan waits for a miracle to happen. To Suzaku the only miracle is that he has not broken his friend’s neck and forced him to rest in peace. Zero is not a miracle. He is a curse in disguise.
It’s really embarrassing that he is winning the war.
You liked being killed, you bastard. You liked it. You were expecting it. Maybe instead of stabbing you to death I should have informed you I intended to be royally fucked by an Eleven and walked away.
That would change world history for sure.
“Stop.” Lelouch mutters as his slow, feverish body presses instinctively to his, leeching warmth, nails digging deep on Suzaku’s cheeks, scratching and demanding attention as narrow violet eyes glare at him. “I can practically hear you angsting inside my head.”
“I’m not angsting. I-“
When Lelouch silences him with a rough kiss, he wonders if those are Euphie’s lips on Lelouch’s lips, if he can taste murderer and murdered at the same time in their mingled breath. They actually taste like each other, the two siblings, and that should be enough to drive him insane. Soon he will run out of excuses, but not yet, not yet, not yet. Not so soon after last night. Instead, he focus on Lelouch’s surprised face as he pushes him hard to the mattress, taking him up on his challenge without finesse, teeth on his bottom lip, callused fingers pinching a hard nipple to hurt, the arching body under him making him aroused and revengeful.
He slides his muscular thigh between Lelouch’s legs and is rewarded with a true schoolgirl’s blush. That, and nothing else, brings the first genuine smile to his lips in the whole day. If he can keep him like that, if he can keep him for this moment, maybe next time instead of forgetting about the letters Lelouch might forget about Zero. And life will be just perfect.
Ever so easy despite his resistance, Lelouch melts completely under Suzaku’s touch, fitting perfectly along his flesh and limbs, his very nerves. Their breaths hasten together, growing loud in their ears as they move in the shadows. Lelouch’s hair is slick and nice on Suzaku’s cheek as he pants raggedly on the hollow of his collarbone, waiting with half-lidded eyes. His body won’t allow him anything elaborate when Suzaku is in this ravenous, frustrated mood. Lelouch, being the genius that he is, has taken years to learn that. Still he still writhes and undulates with burning intensity when Suzaku can’t help but claim him, every part of him, every part of him that has no choice but feel extremely and never forget. When Lelouch is like that, he is always noisy, free and without control. His freedom, his brutal life, is a contagious thing, and Suzaku always finds himself wild and untamed, disgraceful and happy, transfixed by the indomitable fondness in violet eyes that reassure him everything is fine, everything is fine, everything is fine, until shattering climax makes them both blind and senseless.
For a few seconds, neither of them cares if everything is fine or not.
Truly, old brother. One day the scholars of the world will debate which heritage was the most damaging to humankind. My wars made with hatred or your paintings made with love.
I know, old brother. I know they were made with love.
Suzaku likes to believe he is the anchor that will keep Lelouch from blowing up them all to the skies. Suzaku likes to believe. He believes so hard he can almost respect himself when he looks at his own ragged face in the bathroom mirror.
Behind him, Lelouch is curled up like a small boy under sweaty bed sheets, lost in a Dipyrone swoon that hopefully will make his temperature retreat. A pale arm has fallen limply over the side of the bed, his father’s bed, he remembers with something very close to his own version of madness, and even by the flimsy bathroom light he can see the marks of his teeth and blunt nails, claiming every bit of Lelouch the woods have not claimed before.
He likes to believe his time with Lelouch is nothing but a rightful sacrifice in the name of a more peaceful world. He believes it hard enough, but it is always Lelouch who shatters his carefully woven lies and shows him this has nothing to do with sacrifice and everything to do with selfishness. A selfish love of two lost children who have nothing else to cling to but each other. Lelouch, who even in his deepest raving madness seems to get some perverse pleasure in showing him his worst side, the side which is still capable of loving him.
Lelouch’s house of mirrors hurts that much because their distorted images are too real. But they don’t hurt half as badly as the truths Lelouch refrains from reflecting on him. Lelouch never tells him that, now that Nunally is gone, he is doing all that because of him, and only because of him. It is for Suzaku that Zero kills and destroys. It is for Suzaku that Zero architects his new world of graveyard peace. Lelouch never tells him so. He is not that cruel. But the veiled truth is there for everybody to see and that is why the cabinet, the Black Knights, the whole bloody United Japan wants him here. They are like libertines with their greedy ears pressed to an alcove’s thin wall. Lelouch’s love is like a twisted knife in Suzaku’s guts. One Suzaku has unlearned to live without.
And how couldn’t he? Both of them were brought up with no self-worth. Lelouch is like a poet who can’t write without a muse. Suzaku is like a priest who can’t preach without a religion. Right now Suzaku’s is Zero’s inspiration. Right now, those strange letters are Suzaku’s holy scriptures. Between them holy empires are crumbling from sheer terror. The body count is mounting to unheard-of proportions at their very doorstep as every established or aspirant power in the world wants a slice of Britannia’s former colonies.
And yet he can’t stop this anymore. Not without facing the consequences. Not without facing real, cataclysmic change. The only time he managed to make respected doctors discreetly probe Lelouch they lost Zero for one week, Hokkaidou for nine months and three thousand souls for good.
The ancient Chinese used to say that he who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount.
How appropriate. thinks Suzaku hysterically as he watches Lelouch open his sleepy violet eyes and stretch lazily in his father’s bed.
Nunally, I lied to you. C.C. was really my girlfriend. As proof of that she ruined me, then left without a word like girlfriends do. So there it is, I lied to you. But I hope you don’t make me swallow needles for that.
It is always hard to leave because Lelouch tries so hard to pretend he doesn’t care and always fails miserably. It’s all about the way he doesn’t stare and the words he doesn’t say. The way His Majesty looks so personally affronted as he clutches his left elbow and leans on the doorframe, glaring down murderously at the two kitties playing by his feet. Lelouch hates being dependent of Suzaku as much as Suzaku hates being dependent of him. But Suzaku is the one who is always leaving so it is his job to make things better.
He smiles guiltily and speaks with a glee he doesn’t feel.
"I’ll come back as soon as possible. You know I will."
He turns around to leave but is stopped by what Lelouch mutters behind his back.
"You’d better do that. You sort of keep me sane."
Startled, he turns around again and takes a few seconds to realize Lelouch didn’t mean that literally. He is met with a freezing violet glare and steps back just in time to avoid having the door slammed in his face.
Secretly, he wonders about the fate of the poor kitties.
Everybody kept saying Schneizel would be Emperor and of course they were right. But it’s always awkward to be an Emperor without an Empire.
Under the rotting, pealing torii of Kururugi’s Shrine, Kallen Stadtfeld is waiting for him in a mood no better than Lelouch´s. She has taken up smoking again and Suzaku counts seven very tiny cigarette butts in the overgrown grass. One day that woman will set his family’s property on fire, he can tell.
"Have you found out what triggered him?"
He shrugs petulantly, snatching the cigarette from her lips and taking a drag himself.
"How the hell should I know? Just write to his family and ask about any childhood trauma. Oh, wait a minute. His childhood was a trauma." He arches an eyebrow at Kallen and grins sympathetically. You are just being jealous, aren’t you? The poor girl always tries to look so tough and professional. Stupid Black Knights are like a Zero’s fascist fan club. He takes another drag on her cigarette and offers it back. Kallen takes the half-smoked cylinder between her fingertips with a grimace and drops it in the grass without comment.
"Maybe it was the storm." He concedes after a while, a little more seriously because Kallen looks so cute when she is being harsh. "It rained a lot last night."
"That..." observes Kallen, igniting another cigarette with a flick of her copperish lighter. "...would be really bad, considering we are two weeks away from Typhoon season."
"Is it a problem?" he asks, unable to hide the malice in his voice. "Can’t you guys fight for yourselves for a couple of days?"
She gives him a cold glare, cigarette tip rising as she takes a deep, angry breath of nicotine into her delicate nostrils.
"With all due respect, Mr. Prime Minister. You know very well the answer for that question."
He rubs the bridge of his nose, missing Lelouch already. How his father went through three terms of this is beyond him.
"I give up, Kallen. Just tell the security personnel to drag him to the basement and keep him there when it starts raining. This way we will be on the safe side."
Kallen gives him a surprised look.
"Isn’t that a little rough?"
"Drag him gently. Give him some very good excuse because he is too smart for his own good. Fix the bloody basement so he won’t feel like a prisoner."
"It’s still rough."
He waves his hands exasperatedly, crossing the torii and descending the long flights of stairs with his fists clutched inside his pockets, metallic blue butterflies flying fearfully at his passage.
"Yeah, of course it’s rough.” He answers without looking up at her, fighting the lump in his throat. “What did you expect? I’ve learned that from you guys."
Seriously. He misses Lelouch already.
My Dear Nunally,
I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather lately, so Sayoko-san brought me fortune cookies to cheer me up. I’m afraid the poor woman finds me much harder to please than you, but that doesn’t keep her from trying. Anyway, I really wanted to share with you the fortune I got:
“The most precious gift of the Dead is to constantly remind us that we are alive.”
I would love to show this one to Suzaku too, but he would probably call it selfish.
Sometimes, when he is allowed, Suzaku sneaks him outside, hoping that a direct contact with the results of Zero’s work will make Lelouch give up, hoping that that will make him embrace the decision Suzaku can’t take responsibility for anymore.
One week later, Suzaku thinks that Lelouch is healthy enough for another macabre sightseeing, which he passes as “field assessment”. Evening is falling and Lelouch is sitting quietly on a beach crammed with seven different nations’ bodies, the groaning, salty water and white sand stained with red. Suzaku leans over him and cleans his face with a shaking hand, the poor handkerchief no longer white, no longer civilized. Lelouch looks up at him with his violet eyes – one real, the other not - and a soft, slow smile curls up his pale lips.
“One day”, Suzaku tells him, “This will be all over. One day”, Suzaku promises him, “There will be only the two of us at the Kururugi’s Shrine and not a single worry in the world.” But those are empty words, in perfect harmony with Lelouch’s empty eyes, so Suzaku forces himself to shut up and just sits very still by Lelouch’s side, holding his warm, soft hand as they watch the sun set behind a sea of blood.