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Fic: The Lady of the Lake
Rate: T
Pairings: Suzalulu, a little C.C./Lulu
Disclaimer: Code Geass is not mine.
Summary: Stripped of his past at a very early age, Lelouch is fiercely protective of his future and the people he wants to see in it. Suzalulu. yaoi. Some LelouchCC as well. Sequel to the Emperor's Waltz and the Path of Carnage.
Posted on 09-08-07
A/N - Sequel to The Emperor's Waltz and The Path of Carnage. Read them first otherwise you will be really, really confused. This one happens some hours before the events of The Path of Carnage and sort of explains what happened "last night". (yup, I do enjoy my non-linear narratives. :-D )
SPOILERS: Yes (24-25)




----

"I can see a sheet of water;

White and tranquil sleeping water.

What is this mysterious water?

Tears, my Judith, tears, tears.”

----

I

The lady of the lake, his dead sister in the mirror of the waters, calls to him with an urgent song -her liquid hair, her lucid hands, her forgotten face of love evading completely his eager efforts to seize them. And yet he tries, and tries again, because he feels with every beat of his hammering heart that he lives to be there, rescuing her from her underworld prison. He lives to be there, with his terror in check, because she needs him and their love can’t ever be replaced. He lives to be there, so they can rehearsal their tragic myth, over and over again.

From above the skies, thunder and rain plummet as if the Gods were holding a personal grudge. And they probably are. Spinning on his heels, he slips and falls deeper in the dark lake, her beautiful hair rushing to embrace him in the darkness, her little hands reaching for his through the flashes of thunderbolts. Her face, her beautiful face, is a reflection of his own, eyes that can’t see or be seen, whispering lips that can’t be heard. Don’t leave me, don’t leave me, don’t leave me. Both siblings demand earnestly, and they are happy to comply.

Under the chilly surface of the lake, he curls around her, fiercely sheltering her like a wild, changed beast. He is dragged deeper and deeper, swirling around her impossible, untouchable reflection, spiraling to the silent tune of a stifling dance, his lungs empty, his heart breaking, his mind gone.He feels the warmth of her fingertips on his, at last. A touch, a blessing, a happiness, a reunion, at last. He smiles his victory and she smiles back at him. He has completely forgotten he cannot swim.

The sudden flash of hard, obfuscating light sets him off screaming to a brand new level of insanity. He squirms and fights blindingly as he is dragged out of the cold water. He loses balance in the firm arms of his captor, his lungs working painfully to push out murky water so he will breathe and fight some more.

"Nuna-Nuna-Nuna-" he hiccups blindly against a slender shoulder. His nails dig deep, tearing at white fabric, trying to pierce those uninterested eyes for good.

"There you go again." The woman says evenly as a curtain of humid green hair blinds him for a moment. "You and your looping, selective memory. Ten years of this, Lelouch. Ten years. And you wonder why I left."

He doesn’t know that woman. He has known her all his life. He whispers her real name in recognition and shouts angrily, “I don’t have time for that!” But she holds him tightly in the wet cold darkness of the raging gale. They are evenly matched and it is a gruesome, desperate fight. “I don’t have time for that.” He coughs, both irritated and imperious. He falls back in the mud and she slaps his face like an aggravated mother, leaving nothing but whiteness, nothing but absolute whiteness, no rain, no cold, no feeling, just the sound of his own screaming voice as he demands to be let go. "I don't have time for that!" He repeats, but she won't obey his orders. She never did.

Reality check, Lelouch.

---

II

In the depths of Aries Palace, Nunally was destroying her pretty room. When her blind eyes were open, she looked quite insane.

Had she been on fire, he would have embraced her. Had she been made of glass shards, he would have kissed her. But she was a forceful wave repelling him just to drag him back, because she needed him, because she didn’t want to. Gentle fingers in his hair, sorrowful blind eyes on his shaking hands, she embraced him at last with her ever ready forgiveness.

It doesn’t matter. It’s in the past. Onii-sama won’t have to do bad things for me anymore.

He was so happy to have her back he forgot that she was a vie Britannia just like him. He forgot that she knew how to choose between two evils

----

III

She is his secret queen, guardian of his dreams and sorrows. Everywhere, nowhere, the woman is lying on top of him, stroking his arching body with lazy hands, long green hair tickling his naked back as she whispers evenly in his ear.

Do you remember, Lelouch? You said you could stop the Geass from controlling you, but you couldn’t. You said you could remain unaffected by the bloodbath, but I could hear you screaming in your dreams. You said you could escape the madness of kings, but you were born in it. You said you could keep sane to perform the contract, but you completely forgot about it. You said you could heal from your sister’s death, but look at you.

She pauses and his demoralized laugher is all he can hear for a long while. She turns him around, intimate and vital on top of him, her legs entwined with his legs, her breasts heaving down on his chest. Her expressionless eyes are older than time, stationary in a perfect void. Snow that has forgotten its color, he remembers with an unknown pang in his chest. What if she can’t cry, he thinks. If she can’t cry, then where do her tears go?

He can’t avoid a lump of panic in his throat when she holds his chin and forces him to look up at her.She sighs deeply, her blank face hovering over his as her hard eyes soften just a little.

You should stop that. I’m not your guardian, you know.

The lips on his lips are scary, but right, so very right. He manages to pull away, his heart pounding fast under her cold hand.

I don’t have time for that. He is pleading now, and she knows it.

Nunally is dead, Lelouch. The woman whispers ever so patiently, merciless and always so close, her fingers in his hair, her forehead on his forehead, her strange breath on his face, her hair on his cheeks as she kisses his neck, his eyelids, his gasping mouth. Drowned in another lake .Killed by her own hands. Buried in Aries Palace. I ushered you to her tomb myself. I helped you arrange the flowers. I held your hand when you didn’t cry. So there you are, Lelouch son of Marianne. There is nothing in that lake for you but your own death. And you still have something to live for.

The lips are gone. The time of clocks and mortals is back. He feels empty, bereaved, meaningless. His head aches so badly his eyes are tearing up with the pressure. Do you remember, Lelouch? He truly doesn’t, so he opens his eyes instead.

He finds himself in the darkness, lying awkwardly on rotten but dry floorboards, the familiar windows of the abandoned storage house flapping nosily with the rain and wind outside. Dizzy and cold, he hears a familiar voice far away.

"The footprints are heading for the lake! Please God, don’t let he be in the lake!"

-----

IV

There is a confusion of splashing water and Lelouch, drenched and covered with mud and grass, staggers out of the storage house into the rain, heading for the commotion through wind and storm. He is freezing cold as he walks slowly to the margin of the lake and watches in confusion as Suzaku and others go about and dive into the waters with flashlights and lanterns.

"Hey." He calls in a hoarse voice, trembling from head to foot in the windy rain as he clutches the collar of his jacket up to his chin. He clears his throat and tries again. "Hey."

He is immediately blinded by a dozen painful light beams, and almost chocked to death by vice-like arms. A callused hand grips the back of his neck as he slips in the mud, his nose hitting a strong shoulder as he fumbles to stand up again.

"Some idiot…” Suzaku gasps with a strangled voice, not letting him go. ”Some idiot hacked the security, went missing for seven hours and fell in the lake." Lelouch stands very still, drenched to his bones and petrified at the avid contact. Suzaku is all arms and warmth. All green eyes and subsiding panic like a retreating tide. He can’t help but remain stiffly in his embrace even as the security personnel cast strange glances in their direction. How humiliating. How idiotic. How utterly necessary.

"I don’t understand." He mutters, as if testing the words. And he really doesn’t. Suzaku’s vocabulary is unrecognizable, the idiom lost to him in a stream of soft vowels.

He tries to look over his shoulder through the rain but Suzaku clutches the back of his neck tightly, not allowing him to look up.

"I don’t understand." He repeats perplexedly at the shorter man in the mingling softness of their breathing. "What are you doing here?"

Suzaku, who he has not seen in two months, heaves a deep sigh, his warm breath on his neck as he holds him even tighter.

"Holding on to you, obviously."

In the myriad of lights, shouts and running people, in the middle of that horrible sensation of misplacement that makes his head ache, the only thing that really makes a way into his disoriented mind is Suzaku´s misery. Suzaku who is clutching him like he could vanish at any second and seems to be crying discreetly against his cheek. Relief? Relief for what? He recognizes the feelings but they are unattached to meaning, like a foreign tongue full of familiar sounds. He collects the tiny drops on his cheek with the tip of his aristocratic fingers. Mesmerized, he watches with his good eye as Suzaku’s tears shine like stars on the harsh glare of the flashlights. Or is it rain? Or is it nothing? Sometimes Suzaku likes to pretend he still hates him, sometimes he really does, but not tonight. Tonight Suzaku can't afford to let go of him and Lelouch doesn't even know why.

Stripped of his own past at a very early age, Lelouch is fiercely protective of his future and the people he wants to see in it. He places a shielding hand on the wet, messy hair and whispers in the shell of his warm ear, the rain all but carrying his words away.

"I'm here." He reassures in the sparse language of his parents. "I'll make everything right."

Suzaku chuckles on his shoulder. It's a pity he has learned self-derision too. The next word he does understand:

"Promise?"

Giving him a wry smile, Lelouch answers very seriously.

"I promise."

It is easy for Lelouch to take charge of a few things. Suzaku clutches his sleeve cuff under the clean towels and looks baffled when he places a warm glass of milk in his hands, never, ever taking his green eyes off his face, which is just a little embarrassing. If he focus on taking care of his friend's needs and nothing but that, the confusion and utter sensation of wrongness subsides. It is not that Lelouch doesn't notices there is something wrong with him. He has noticed that for a while. But he doesn’t think that is important, at least not as important as Suzaku looking like he is about to start sobbing in front of his subordinates. At least not as important as Suzaku giving him a tiny smile when he fights an annoying blush, taking his clothes off in the darkness of the master bedroom. Certainly not as important as Suzaku’s hands all over him when they shower together, the warm water making their skin nice and pink as they exchange slow, breathless kisses.

Whatever is wrong with Lelouch, he doesn’t have time for that.

---

V

When Sayoko-san greets him at the living room, he gives her a civil smile behind damp black hair and asks for cold medicine, because all that rain will probably make Suzaku ill.

He is wrong, of course. When the fever hits him instead he deeply resents Suzaku for being a sturdy bastard.

----

VI

"It's the cats." He says grumpily between wet coughs as Suzaku takes his temperature. "We should get rid of them immediately. I'm allergic to them."

"No, you're not." is Suzaku's mild reply. And as to prove his point, Arthur III- or is it Arthur IV? - anyway, the female one, pounces on the mattress and lodges herself happily under Lelouch’s armpit. Purring softly, she ignores him completely when he orders her to get out.

To Lelouch it is incomprehensible that a simple household feline will not follow his orders when an entire army of humans do. Since pushing her away is like admitting defeat and Suzaku doesn’t want to be bitten right now, the kitty dozes off unperturbedly in her new found warmth.

He is starting to drift off himself when he notices a line of concern on Suzaku’s brow as he stares down at him. He raises his eyes sleepily, tenaciously managing a majestically offended glare in spite of the stupid sensation of endearment in the pit of his stomach.

“It’s just a cold, Suzaku. I’m not going to die or anything.”

Suzaku's smiles ironically and Lelouch feels like he is missing the joke.

"What?"

"You've had a hard life, Lelouch." Suzaku says with unusual gentleness, stroking his black hair off his face as he heaves a deep sigh.

"You've had a hard life too, but you're not the one coughing your lungs out while some misnamed female cat invades your personal space."

"Ah." Suzaku nods wisely, a silly smirk on his face. "But I’m a proud Japanese warrior, while you are just a Buriki weakli-"

He opens his mouth to protest, but Suzaku sneakily seizes the opportunity to push a spoon with a horrible green infusion down his throat. Some Kururugi home made disaster, he can tell.

"I missed you. I truly missed you." And he sounds really happy as he is trying to poison him to death with that disgusting beverage.

Self-conscious and hating himself for that, Lelouch turns his face away immediately and mutters "Don't say embar-." But when Suzaku silences him with an unbreakable kiss to his medicine tasting lips he can’t help but smile just a little, a tension at the base of his spine he has not even noticed before dissolving nicely as he falls asleep, kitty tail waging lazily under his nose.

He has uneventful, white dreams, of water and mist and whispering trees. As much as he wishes, he has never dreamed of her.

----

VII

Dawn finds him open-eyed, his feverish skin drenched with sweat. For a few moments, he can’t tell Suzaku’s arms from his arms, or Suzaku’s legs from his legs. They have clung to each other during sleep, and when he turns his face, just a little, their noses meet and Suzaku smiles like a child. Instinctively, Lelouch draws back a little so he won’t wake him up, thus getting a full view of all those worry lines he doesn’t like. They remind him of the few things he can’t afford to lose. When Nunally died…

He winces, closing his eyes at the weak sunlight. When Nunallly died then what? He forces himself to kill the thought before it’s fully born. Dwelling on that won’t bring her back, won’t make his pain any easier to deal with. When Nunally died then nothing. Lelouch must focus on the things he can change.

He takes Suzaku’s hands in his own, noticing they are full of brand-new kitty bites. He can’t help but smile tenderly at that. The silly man has taken the kitty out of the bed after all.

-----

VIII

The next morning, when Suzaku comments he is having the huge lake near the Shrine eradicated he thinks nothing of it. The black mirror of water has been dead since the bombing of 2010 and is nothing compared to the vastness of the sea to the west side of the Shrine. Always fascinated with destruction, he suggests they take a walk along the margin while it’s still there, which Suzaku agrees to when he sees he is going anyway, fever be damned. Thus they start the day discussing the future of United Japan as workers go through the mud and debris with shovels and bulldozers. Scared birds, dislodged from their homes, flap their wings in desolation and fly towards the rising sun, leaving nothing behind but abandoned nests and dirty feathers.

It’s not Suzaku’s nature to be nasty for extended periods of time. And Lelouch, more than anybody else, has no problem about taking advantage of that. Still, he can’t quite grasp why Suzaku is being so nice since yesterday. He wonders if there is something going on in Tokyo he doesn’t know about. But that is very unlikely and easy to check. Maybe Suzaku just missed him as he says. Maybe Suzaku is starting to learn how to forgive the unforgivable because really, does any of them have a better choice?

Their friendship is this broken, abortive thing, but Lelouch has always been able to make do with what he has and he has Suzaku. Neither of them has any high moral ground to demand more from the other and maybe that’s what love is all about. Besides, if all conditions are met, soon the remaining powers will be too busy with their own colonies to mind United Japan. Pariahs will cease to be pariahs when they start making the rules and Diethard will have many pretty words to add to his book. Then Suzaku will have some time to rest before the next stage. Then Suzaku will have some time to fully dedicate himself to building the fair society both of them are too old to hope for, but still too young to give up. Then Suzaku will have some time to blame him as much as he pleases while Lelouch holds his hand and pretends to take his accusations more seriously than he must.

That, Lelouch thinks with an exhausted smile as he checks the cell phone in his pocket for calls, will feel almost like happiness.

This whole business is harder for Suzaku, he thinks. Suzaku has always had such high hopes about humanity. Lelouch has only had high hopes about himself and he is far more used to disappointment. To Lelouch, disappointment has been an opportunity to create realistic expectations, to survive and aim at much more. He doesn’t fear disappointment as much as he fears bereavement, and you can only be bereaved if you let yourself love, and then fail to protect what you love.

Suzaku, on the other hand, doesn’t fear bereavement. He lives it, holds to it like some sort of religious conviction. Stealing an ironic glance at his friend, Lelouch can’t help but think that they make a lovely, healthy pair.

He is about to tell him about the seven possible ways to secure Tokyo Bay for good when Suzaku shouts and pushes him aside like a true hero, thus saving him from being buried under a pile of decomposing matter and forgotten things.

The bulldozer driver apologizes profusely for his blunder, bowing many, many times as Suzaku seems to hesitate between outrage and pity. The driver leaves quickly after, but Lelouch pays no attention. He is too occupied staring fixedly at the mountain of lake dirt that has almost finished him off for good.

Twisted like a severed ear, a child’s wheelchair points silently at the blue sky, its old fashioned wheels contorted and disfigured.

“Lelouch?” Suzaku demands apprehensively, placing a hand on his back.

Lelouch can't move, his violet eyes locked on the misshapen wheelchair.

"Lelouch?” Suzaku pleads again, this time placing both hands on the other man’s shoulders and turning him around to face him. Lelouch gives him a quiet smile and shrugs.

“Yes, Suzaku?”

“Maybe we should go back inside.”

“Maybe we should.” Lelouch agrees as he realizes Suzaku has released his shoulders and is tugging at his sleeve cuff again. “Maybe I should make some tea.” He adds with a mellow turn to his lips, thinking that warm tea by the porch will do some good to his friend's wrecked nerves. If he can persuade him, he will pull Suzaku out of the war front for a few weeks. The poor man really could use some rest. And he could use his company. Suzaku might be a nuisance sometimes, but he is still much better than the cats.

He doesn’t complain when Suzaku holds his wrist firmly and practically drags him back to the main house. It is, in fact, a beautiful day. Completely relaxed, Lelouch breathes in the gentle morning breeze and thinks that maybe it’s going to rain.

Owari

--

---

----

-----

-------

Some completely unnecessary A/Ns:

the opening quote comes from the Bluebeard’s Castle by Bela Bartók. One of my fav librettos ever. It was written by Béla Balázs.* is a nerd*

footprints: at that moment they are only heading to the lake, but not coming back. No C.C.'s footprints. Now, she might have pulled him out from the opposite margin or she was never there to start with. It really doesn’t matter at this point. Either way, by morning the storm had washed all footprints away.

"...has never dreamed of her." was left ambiguous on purpose. You choose who "her" is. I have my personal favourite. The same can be said about the title. :-)

The wheelchair is Nunally´s first wheelchair. Not the more modern one you see in Ashford Academy. The boys probably left it behind when they were escaping the Britannian attack in 2010. Did Lelouch know the wheelchair was in the lake? Beats me. :-D

water: since this fic is all about feelings, the past, hallucinations and unconsciousness, I had shameless fun flooding paragraphs with all kinds of liquids. But Suzaku is the only one who gets to cry (maybe). That's because he is my sweet little Cancer.

Stage 0 - I can't read Japanese, so only the translated bits of the Stage 0 novel were taken in consideration here.

the author's brain: should be checked. I truly love writing this arc. Lelouch's psychosis is my friend. Go figure.

Thanks a lot to whoever was kind enough to read this far.

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