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The House of Mirrors: Stage 4 - The Book of Hours
by G.
pairings: Suzalulu, a little C.C./Lulu.
rate: T to be safe
Disclaimer: Code Geass is not mine.
Summary: Anyone can see he is a master of warlocks who reeks of his beloved ones' blood.
Spoilers: YES (24-25)
A/N: Part four of The House of Mirror arc. Read the first three parts otherwise you will be completely lost.




I

The stars envelop him like a shelter, a motherly veil falling over the world from high above. They reassure him with their silent brightness, always gentle, always reliable, shining down on him even when they have been dead for centuries. In his cocoon of black night and soft grass, little Kururugi Suzaku knows he was born to fly.

----

II

Sometimes, when he thinks nobody is near, the Buriki prince caves in to his little sister's gentle pleas and sings with her some old Britannian hymn. They make a lovely, subdued sound, the kind of sound children would make if they were pretty caged birds too shy to sing along with their peers. Together, they chant the miracle of angels and their warm light, the hungry sea and widows left behind. Suzaku loves to hear them in the shadows, pacified by their hopeful melody. And the way the little girl claps her hands and giggles at the end always makes him wish he could, one day, sing with them too.


---

III

The uninvited guest heaves a deep sigh by his side. The sound is carried away by the soft breeze, leaving no trace behind. Never tearing his eyes from the sky, Suzaku wonders if he misses his land, he wonders if he has left somebody behind. Maybe the skies of Britannia are no different from the skies of Japan. Maybe people over there lie on the grass just to watch the stars. And if they do, if they really do, then little Kururugi Suzaku will be in big trouble, because it's very hard to grown up into the man he dreams to be when there are no dragons to slay.

"I don't want you to be a person." Suzaku says truthfully, and flinches a little when a blur of girlish black hair and violet eyes eclipses his familiar moon. "I really don't." He repeats challengingly, for a man must stick to his words and a boy must stick to his whims.

The other boy is all tightly closed lips and wary sunset eyes, his hair a mess of dry grass and sunflower seeds. Suzaku is reminded of a very ugly porcupine baby, and would have laughed if the Britannian prince didn't look so damn serious.

"Your personal wishes are beside the point." He says haughtily. "The real issue here is: if I were a person what would you do?"

This, unfortunately, is not a rhetorical question. This is one of those pitfalling, adult questions the horrible boy always throws in his direction whenever Suzaku aims too low. He shifts a little under the other's proud gaze and strengths his will, for the heir of the Kururugi must not look stupid, let alone weak.

"Well." He says irritably, thinking about angels, and stars, and the song of birds and children who can't fly. "If you were a person I would have to be your friend, wouldn't I?"

The shock in those strange eyes makes him feel bad. What if he has said something really cruel? The Buriki is so frail, his heart always so exposed and raw. He would be better off if he kept his annoying difficult words to himself, but he is always talking and acting like an adult, thus bringing very adult troubles upon his head. And most of them Suzaku sincerely doesn't even understand. Doesn't even want to think about. He would feel sorrier for him if he were not so irritating, if he acted a little bit more like the helpless hostage he is.

He is about to apologize with honor when the moon comes back and the silence of the stars is broken by pearly, slightly high-pitched laugher.

As a worthy Kururugi, Suzaku pulls the Buriki's hair hard to teach him respect and is rewarded with a satisfactory cry. But by now he knows Lelouch rarely smiles and Lelouch never laughs, so Suzaku is left with the impression he has said the right thing.

In spite of his better judgment, Suzaku hopes so.


----

IV

Not for the first time, Suzaku wishes he could wish to die. It seems unfair, considering his whole squadron exploded in the skies in one thousand comets. It seems unfair, considering that Lelouch, of all people, was the one who abandoned his bunker in Kururugi Shrine and flew to Tokyo to search him up and down through the molten debris, because nobody would believe him when he said there were two chances in seven that Suzaku was still alive. It seems unfair, considering how he has to lie down with too many broken bones and damaged organs to even ponder about the unfairness of it all, his heart rising to his throat with the pressure of that old commandment as Lelouch stares down at him with his accusing violet eyes.

"He will live." Kallen says dryly, stating the obvious. "I've never seen somebody fight so hard to live in my whole life."

Lelouch and Suzaku exchange a careful glance at Kallen's comment, then avert their eyes and say nothing.

The poor girl leaves with a quick salute, probably feeling guilty like hell for ever doubting the judgment of her precious Zero in a battle field. Suzaku wants to tell her that it is really okay to have second thoughts about your general when he spends increasing amounts of time being completely out of his mind, but he can't do that until Lelouch leaves his side, which by the look of things will be in three hundred years or so.

He talks to the doctors on the same breath he orders a massive attack on a Chinese Federation's fleet. He feeds the kittens with a hand, the other slashing the air theatrically as he delivers a compelling speech on the radio. Yet another typhoon is going to hit them. The basement has become this strange mix of infirmary and war room and Lelouch moves about it in furious speed and scary efficiency as if competing with Mother Nature for causalities. Suzaku is sure that somewhere, somehow, Rivalz is making bets about who is going to win.

But most of all, he takes care of Suzaku like the dedicated nurse he has been most of his life. It's a motherly, obsessive attention that Suzaku, being an orphan and a soldier, has never been submitted to and is a little frightened of. It's very embarrassing, but not unpleasant at all. There is this immense sense of comfort and safety in the way Lelouch's pianist hands bend and move his broken body, in the way he is always there sitting by his side when the time to take the analgesics has come, in the way the soup never fails to be neither too hot or too cold, in the way he is always leaning over him, ear pressed to his mouth, when Suzaku has barely open his lips to say something.

He does everything to soothe the pain away and when that fails, he pleasures to make up for it, his black hair tickling Suzaku's inner thighs as he carefully brings him to necessary completion. Then he lies beside him, taking his time to steady his breathing, eyes half-closed, long fingers trembling in unfulfilled need, and Suzaku is almost glad he has never managed to kill him.

"Aren't you going to yell at me and call me a baka for this?" He asks tentatively as Lelouch wets his dry lips with a piece of cloth.

"Later." He says simply, grave eyes resting on Suzaku's face as he kisses the corner of his mouth, tasting of Euphie, tasting of Lelouch and tasting of Suzaku himself. And Suzaku has no choice but turn his head to kiss him full on the lips, craving so badly the depraved sacredness of all this.

He is true to his word, but only when Suzaku is strong enough to yell back, their powerful wills clashing like a train accident, horrible, painful and unavoidable. There is no real point to their arguments except their need to tear each other apart, to deny the blatant symbiosis that keeps both of them going. But at the end of the day neither of them leaves, and not only because they are either too injured or too crazy, not only because they are locked in a basement ten feet in the ground with winds of one hundred and thirty knots raging over their heads.

They don't leave because they can't.



-----

V

He feels like a docile old dog with a few old tricks. A whole childhood under Clovis' yoke conditioned Lelouch to hold still whenever somebody fetches a sketchbook. It's really unfortunate that Suzaku has chosen this hobby over all possible others, but Lelouch knows there are worse fates such as rape, decapitation and regicide. So he submits with condescending majesty, as Suzaku draws him sleeping, thinking, working, secretly smiling at the stupidity of the playing kittens. Suzaku draws him even at times with no name, sketchbook positioned precariously on his bandaged legs, pencil flying fast on white paper, adding a new rhythm to the eternal humming of computers and ringing of cell phones. He has to admit it's a very comforting sound. Sometimes, it even lulls him to sleep, his head on Suzaku's shoulder, his warm hand on Suzaku's chest. When he dreams so peacefully he is almost glad Suzaku is too injured to leave him.

Curiously, Suzaku always tucks those sketches between random pages of his battle plans when he finishes them. When Lelouch asks him why, Suzaku tells him he wants to remember Lelouch exactly how he is.

"This is my book of hours." Suzaku declares with a guarded smile, pressing samples of Lelouch's writing to his chest. He puts so much love in what he is doing that Lelouch doesn't have the heart to tell him how bizarre his behavior is. Shellshock, he hypothesizes in a discreet corner of his mind. Or maybe he is just pulling his leg and Lelouch is too smart to follow his sense of humor.

He nods, says yes Suzaku, smiles indulgently and checks for fever. Sometimes Suzaku talks too much nonsense even for his standards and that worries Lelouch. A little. But he seems happy, he is healing fast, and he is getting better at his art. Lelouch would like to say there is some geniality there, but of course there is not. Suzaku is not particularly talented, except when it comes to kicking, punching, shooting or zooming across battle fields with that old Britannian relic. Also, his pasta is reasonably eatable. And he usually cleans after himself like a good boy.

No, definitively not a Van Dyck. But he has this way of drawing without hiding that Lelouch really adores. Unlike Clovis, he doesn't embellishes or flatters. He makes Lelouch bare and pulsating, naked even when clothed, gentle even when murderous, sexual even when inhibited, despicable even when loving. Suzaku draws him as if actually wanted to know him, and in his hands pages become mirrors, mirrors, mirrors…

They are beautiful in their own awkward way, as if the hand which draws them were trying to apologize for its complete perplexity over the subject. Sometimes Lelouch blushes just at looking at those drawings as he falls in love with himself through Suzaku's eyes. Then he clears his throat and looks away, the force of his own eclipsed sun almost blinding him.


------

VI

The typhoon has passed and Lelouch is left with a field of uprooted sunflowers. Irrationally, he goes about the chaotic sea of yellow petals, using his bare hands to replant those which seem more likely to survive. It's a mindless job and a very useless one at that. But if Suzaku could come up, he would certainly try to rescue every little doomed flower planted by his proud ancestors even before Lelouch's proud ancestors had invented well poisoning. And that settles the question as far as Lelouch is concerned.

Positive he can accomplish such a simple menial task, he bends down and works diligently under the sun until he is too tired and grumpy to bother. Cursing his sore back and the fact that emperors are rarely gardeners, he finds shelter under a tree nearby and ends up meditating about the principles of witchcraft with no little trepidation.

Witchcraft is a dangerous business, a cosmic application of they that sow wind shall reap the whirlwind. But Lelouch has never bothered to sow wind at all: he has gone straight to sowing hurricanes. And now that the sword is over his head once again, he must make the due sacrifices, summon his allied demons, renegotiate his blood pacts, cast dark spells with the same hand he has cast white charms. It has been a dark, Faustian night and Lelouch has been warned that the price will be the loneliness of graveyards. Suzaku's heroic exploit in Tokyo has harshly reminded him of that supreme downside of his trade. But he can make it different this time. He can crush the portents in a way that Suzaku will sail safely to whatever port he wants to be when reaping time is over. And he knows there is even a small chance Suzaku will choose to remain by his side, thus breaking the curse that was laid upon Lelouch when he was nothing but a naive sorcerer squinting at the rotting entrails of his own past.

Maybe.

Then again Lelouch has never believed in fairy tales and he knows most happy endings are modern adaptations of wiser, more terrifying closings. He does believe in his witchcraft, tho. He has perfected it over the years to a point it has become something worth selling his soul for. Long gone are the days he could plead ignorance to his inquisitors. Anyone can see he is a master of warlocks who reeks of his beloved ones' blood.

It's not a simple spell, not an endeavor for mere apprentices. His sorcery has backfired twice and he can't allow it to backfire a third time. Suzaku is all he has left. He must redo his schedule to reduce his chances of getting killed. Finish this war as soon as possible. Start the next under circumstances that Suzaku won't take a leading part. He closes his eyes, focusing on his own version of a seething cauldron: the chessboard of his imagination, pieces being rearranged, movements skipped, retreated, reinvented. They used to be people, those pieces, now they are whole countries, powers and colonies that rise and fall at his self-fulfilling prophecies. One move, then the next, the next, the next. A bishop is sacrificed here, a queen is taken there. If he corners Schneizel into asking help from India, then the EU will be crippled at no cost, and then…He opens his eyes and glimpses green hair flowing in the wind.

He turns around with a furious remark on the tip of his tongue, but there is nobody there. His mind, derailed from its spellcraft, goes through all possibilities: optic illusion, she has come back and spying on him, he is still being affected by the Geass, he is imagining things, he has been awake taking care of Suzaku for too long, under the sun for too long and now his mind is showing him exactly what he wants to see.

There, he pinpoints with a cynical jerk to his lips. He does want to see her, doesn't he? He wants to ask her why she left when he needed her the most and make sure she is not locked in some laboratory, going through ordeals like a witch, like a guinea pig. Every single day Lelouch has to hold his breath and wonder where hacking will take him. They all think he is after the Geass and of course he is, but that's not the whole story by far. Sometimes he wonders if really talking about this with Suzaku would make matters better or worse. Would he feel insecure? Jealous? Relieved that Lelouch is only human? With Suzaku is always hard to tell, logic fails at the most unexpected crossroads and the truth is, Lelouch wouldn't dare.

But in the end it's not relevant how Suzaku would feel about him, is it. There is no doubt he would shoot C.C. on spot if she ever returned. Suzaku can't help being Suzaku. Lelouch, knowing very well that every great magician needs his Vivian, is resigned to the irony that Suzaku wouldn't hesitate in betraying him – or anybody - out of love.

“I don’t care.” He says loudly, irritated, to unlikely ears. “Find yourself another pathetic orphan if you haven’t already. I’m telling you I don’t care.”

Thus he is left with glimpsing green hair out of the corner of his eyes, grasping empty air, wondering if all this is about C.C. at all.

It would be quaint, for instance, if his survival instincts were personified by the girl who never dies. Or if his concern about others' safety took the shape of the girl who grants godly powers. Lelouch shakes his head and chuckles at the idea. He is not crazy, he tells himself. He knows who he is, he knows what he needs and he knows how to get it. He is not, by any relevant standards, crazy or even close to that. But then again that's what all crazy people think. And, he reminds himself with no small contempt, his bloodline is not an epitome of stability. So to dispel this unlikely possibility and go back as soon as possible to the hard task of saving his friend's life, he picks some loose sunflower stems, descends into the shadows of the basement, stands by Suzaku's bed and asks him with a casual smile while arranging the flowers in a glass vase.

"Tell me Suzaku, have I ever presented any psychiatric conditions that you are aware of?"

He expects sarcasm at most, something that could prompt a conversation along the lines of I think my eye is broken or maybe I'm more stressed than I thought. He doesn't expect the completely deflowered look on Suzaku's face. Or the tiny panicky scream from Sayoko-san at the doorstep. He gives Suzaku a puzzled look, and he is aware that his friend is saying something. And he is aware that Sayoko-san is running in his direction. And he is aware that there is an important lesson to learn from this. But that is just before everything fades out.

----

VII

Lelouch is getting worse. Lelouch is trying too hard, running out of breathe like a drowning man banging against the thick layer of a frozen lake. It's the town bullies all over again except that this time they won't back off at Suzaku's command. And of course Lelouch can't do this all by himself, and of course the fact that Suzaku almost got killed trying to save the people Lelouch didn't mind letting die is not helping at all. And Suzaku knows that. Suzaku knows he is not being mature. Suzaku knows he is not being fair. And Suzaku knows he shouldn't have smashed the fucking cell phone against the wall when it started ringing inside Lelouch's pocket. Suzaku knows that.

---

VIII

Lelouch can't comprehend how Ougi failed so badly in Narita of all places, but he can make up for it. The war is almost over, dragging to an exhausted, bleeding halt just like he has foreseen. Soon the Chinese Federation and the EU will fall spectacularly and with them all the powers which relied on their umbrellas to keep going. New Japan will be the only viable state standing. It's not even truce, but tolerable conflict. Being a Britannian, Lelouch has never expected anything different because has never known anything different. As far as New Japan is concerned, tolerable conflict will do.

The cabinet will prefer the word peace – it is fancy and catchy – it gives the population a well-deserved sense of safety. But Lelouch knows that this is not over until somebody truly wins. Under his chessboard - the non-imaginary one - he has an electronic file with a whole fifteen years schedule he has not shown anybody. It's useless to discuss those things when all conditions have yet to arise.

"If the Japanese don't come after us with torches and pitchforks I guess we will be alright." is his simplified verdict as he tells Suzaku what is going on.

Peace is an empty, but powerful word. Suzaku is excitedly talking about elections and reconstruction as Lelouch helps him bathe and changes his bandages. He is not angry, he is not depressed. He is light as a feather as Lelouch carefully forces his limbs to exercise. He is smiling like a little boy, newborn hopes in his green eyes.

Lelouch circumspectly thinks about all the people who have died - will die - to put that smile on Suzaku's face, the real, genuine smile of a Suzaku who proudly calls himself "ore" as he makes thousands of phone calls to spread the good news, a Suzaku who has been freed with his motherland, and doesn't even notice he has stopped being a respectful slave.

Tadaima, Kururugi Suzaku.

Seeing that happen so suddenly before his very eyes, Lelouch is assailed by a happiness of his own and he has to check himself so he won't cry like an idiot. He smiles sardonically and salutes Suzaku with a very Japanese bow instead - and is rewarded with laugher and kisses and unrealistic, but cute promises he accepts without consequence. The best revolutions are those which can't be heard or seen. And a change of pronoun is worth a thousand bombs.

Far too many bombs, perhaps. And certainly too many deaths. From Clovis to Shirley's father, from Euphemia to Nunally. So many others, people he has not even known and killed with a flick of a chess piece. The path of carnage indeed. Longer and nastier than he could have ever guessed at seventeen. How unfair hindsight is.

His little secret is that he has never become used to it.

So as Suzaku enjoys a few minutes of rare guiltless happiness, he goes outside and enters the abandoned shrine, paper streamers and tiny bells moving softly around him as he walks under the tree shadows. To no god, to no soul, he mechanically lights incense and takes one minute's silence to honor the dead who can't witness the lie of his act anyway. That's the best he can do since apologizing would be even more pointless.


---

IX

Peace is not quiet. Peace is noisy, frantic, with the sound of a zillion firecrackers and people flooding into the house to shake Zero and Kururugi's hands. Peace is tacky, horridly played music on tv, with housewives crying the memory of their lost sons. Peace is Suzaku smiling so much Lelouch fears he might dislocate his jaw. Peace is Suzaku molesting him every five seconds. Peace is trying to hide from the endless parties in the kitchen, in the basement, in the forest, in the storage house. Peace is Ougi and Toudou presenting him to far too many politicians, reporters, scientists and even doctors. Peace is collapsing in bed late at night, just to find Suzaku already there, in bad need of clean bandages, comforting him, saying everything will calm down in a few weeks, saying there is no reason to be so scared.

"The Japanese have gone mad." Lelouch concludes dramatically, draping an arm across his eyes.

It's a moment for celebration, but there is a tricky question there: if Suzaku has been freed with his motherland, then what happens to a man who has dedicated his life to tear his own apart? Lelouch waves that off as excessively emotive and completely inaccurate, since Britannia has not been his homeland in years and he has envisioned, of course, a future for it too.

----

X

The next week another storm washes away the sunflowers Lelouch has replanted, then yet another storm comes, leaving nothing behind but a bare, muddy field. During the night, he tosses and clutches the bed sheets, the thunders outside, muffled by the basement's solid walls, sending ripples of shudders down his spine as he dreams repeatedly about the moment Suzaku's screaming voice became gruesome static and nothing more.

Startled, he wakes up many times during the night, to the point he is not sure anymore whether he is awake or dreaming he is awake. Yawning tiredly, he forces himself to stand up and walk around the basement so he won't disturb Suzaku's rest, telling himself everything has been taken care of, revising each move on the chessboard of his imagination, reassuring his nerves that Suzaku will live, has to live. Around three in the morning, he collapses exhaustedly in the nearest armchair, reaches for his glasses and looks for something to read. Allowing himself a sly, tired smile, he finds Suzaku's book of hours precisely where Suzaku thinks he has hidden it so well.

There is so much love in there Lelouch can fool himself a little and pretend that old curse might be one day broken after all. Suzaku has gone to the lengths of creating an illustrated cover for it - a sea of reds, violets and greens. Skimming through his neat handwriting, he lingers on the drawings. They are even more beautiful now and the weak light of the computer screens doesn't do them any justice. Illuminations, portrays, margin decorations and fast sketches of Suzaku himself, the kittens, Saoyko-san, sometimes Kallen, but mostly Lelouch. Smiling privately, he slides his fingers along the lines of his graphite twins, half-pitying Suzaku for having nothing better to do the last few months but portraying him over and over again.

He is startled by a strong thunder and something that brushes on his left hand. Bloody cats, he thinks distractedly as he turns around to tell it off just to come face to face with empty darkness. That's when his eyes fall on the left corner of a page, on what he clearly recognizes as his little sister's name.

Frowning his puzzlement, he reads further.

And he reads.

And he reads.

And he reads.

He reads the whole thing until the last page - then he closes it carefully, pressing a hand to his mouth so he won't scream with terror, wide violet eyes gaping in the darkness as he desperately searches for another possibility but the obvious option.

And he searches as hard as he can. With mounting desperation, he searches. But no other answer is found. No answer that can account for all variables. No answer as logical as lack of logic itself.
Beaten at his own game, letting his hands drop on his lap, he chuckles uncontrollably, sadly, finally catching up with Suzaku's joke. A book of hours indeed – the hours he has missed and the hours he will miss. The real Lelouch talking nonsense to the Lelouch he dreams about, using a silly code he created to amuse his little sister back when she could see.

"Nunally." He whimpers in agony, resting his head back on the armchair as he massages his temples, his head aching so much his vision is blurred, futile. "Nunally, I think I might have overlooked something really, really important."

---

XI

Three years ago when they bring him back from Britannia, Lelouch is just a rocking buddle of malnourished and poisoned madness. Apparently his fearful siblings have tried to kill him with neglect when everything else failed - as if such a ploy would ever work with Lelouch. Even so, everybody thinks he is too far gone to be Zero, Suzaku's antics with the knife being the last nail that ceiled Zero's coffin. The terrorist is mourned and Lelouch is forgotten, just like he should be.

Except that one day he sits by Suzaku's side, and smiles his sly smile, and asks very precise question about their mutual friends, the war and Suzaku himself. He asks for a glass of water, which he drinks carefully, like a traveler who has been in a long journey and seen a lot. He is so charming and smart, so entirely Lelouch, that Suzaku can't help but hate him for still being his old self. He hates him so completely that, when Lelouch opens his mouth just a little over the rim of the cold glass, and rubs under his new eye with the knuckles of his index finger, black hair curtaining his pale face, Suzaku presses his lips to his out of unadulterated spite and wonders in astonishment why he has never done this before.

The glass shatters on the infirmary floor and Lelouch, completely out of his depth, becomes a fumbling, inelegant mess of birdlike inadequacy, covering his lips with both hands, his wide violet eyes gaping at Suzaku as if he were about to explode on him, his whole face red because he has completely forgotten how to breathe.

Suzaku expects him to forget that kiss like he does everything else. He pictures himself torturing Lelouch one day at a time, using his bad memory to cause him eternal brand new embarrassment, disappointment and pain. He can do that to Lelouch. He hates him enough. He can crush him with the very same hands that one day sought to protect him.

He doesn't expect Lelouch to remember. Or kiss him shyly on the next day, or tug him to the infirmary’s couch on the next, his warm hands holding Suzaku's hands. He is obviously not very sure about where they should go even when he pretends he is. Slowly, tentatively, he presses Suzaku's head to his chest, his beating heart. Then he whispers resignedly, his mouth pressed to Suzaku's unruly hair as he holds the back of his neck with unsteady fingers, his smart eyes asking a silent question while his lips ask another:

"If I were a person what would you do?"

But Suzaku already knows. It's hard to not fall in love with somebody when you are the sole constant in their world. He had intended to hurt Lelouch, but it was Lelouch who has hurt him instead. With his innocence, of all things. Letting out a painful groan, he pushes Lelouch away and runs, too terrified to look back and acknowledge the wounded shock in those violet eyes.

But he comes back. He always does.


---

XII

He wakes up in a lonely bed. There is no sign, no trace of Lelouch in the basement. He shouts for Sayoko-san, who comes downstairs in a disarray of baby blue robe and night gown. She helps him out of the basement and he is about to call the security when he notices Lelouch sitting all by himself on the porch, a vastness of empty fields and mountains before him, the abode of starry sky framing his disheveled hair as a strong wind blows the long black and grey strands off his pale face.

Clutching a plastered arm against his chest, Suzaku bids Sayoko-san to search for Kallen immediately and sits with half-mended bones by Lelouch's side. The other man doesn't notice his arrival, Suzaku's book of hours and a pack of sunflower seeds on his lap, long dirty fingers caressing them as if they were some hurt wild animal about to die.

Suzaku calls his name, but Lelouch doesn't respond. Suzaku hugs him, but Lelouch doesn't move. He is like a frail, soulless shell, filled with nothing but raw pain. Suzaku, hopeless, terrified, finds himself screaming, furious at Lelouch and himself, shaking him so roughly he knows there will be bruises, but Lelouch doesn't even stare at him with his blank eyes, one real the other not. There is nothing there, nothing to remember him by, as if Lelouch had never lived.

Numbly, half demented himself, he rocks Lelouch in his arms as he sings tunelessly in his cold ear about the miracle of angels and their warm light, the hungry sea and the widows left behind. And he finally understands the hymn is not about hope at all. It's about failure, and loss, and precious things that will never come back. It had been Lelouch, all the time, who had placed the hope there, soothing the cruel melody to Nunally's ears, lulling Suzaku with dreams in the shadows, beautiful, childlike dreams.

"I was trying to make the sunflowers grow back in time before you came up." Lelouch interrupts with a quiet voice. "But the rain always washes everything away. It was just now that I've finally realized I was not trying to bring them back for you. I was trying to bring them back for myself." He shrugs a little and doesn't pull away when Suzaku presses his face to his chest, not letting go. "I guess I'm as selfish as you say."

Suzaku buttons up his pajamas up to his chin, his face freezing on the late hours' wind, still wet from the rain. Suzaku doesn't think he has ever been so frightened in his whole life.

"You silly Buriki." He says with his eyes tightly closed. "If you had asked me before I would have told you it happens now and then. But they always come back. We just need to wait until the storms are gone."

Lelouch heaves a deep sigh, raising his eyes to the stars and the moon and the running grey clouds, which have not changed that much since the world was a completely different place.

"And then what do we do?"

Suzaku smiles uncertainly, forcing his hurting neck to arch back so he can look up at the sky as well. Even now, he wishes he could fly, bend the gravity of facts to his dreams. But that is Lelouch's specialty, not his. The best he can do is lie.

"We plant them together, of course."

When they exchange weary glances and embrace, the sunflower seeds fall from Lelouch's lap and Suzaku's book of hours is scattered by the wind on the porch and the dead sunflower field. The paper leaves swirl away like misshapen birds as Lelouch and Suzaku continue an old kiss that has never truly ended, pressing to each other's lips as if they were clinging to the last safety line.

The truth is that both of them know the storm has been too strong and the sunflowers will never be back to their shrine, but there is a chance they will manage without them.



Owari


---


Oh the uselessness of A/Ns:

Sunflowers: In this verse the Kuruguri's sunflowers are a yellow variety of Helianthus Annuus, otherwise my timelines will be really messed up. Not sure how frequent this species is in Japan, but since this is science fiction, I don't mind bending the rules a little. Helianthus Annus is a hybrid anyway. It blooms during both Summer and Autumn. It figures that Kururugi Shrine's sunflowers would be late bloomers. XD And I totally couldn't resist my Van Gogh moment. Madness is better with sunflowers, after all.

Air is the main element here. You get typhoons, wind storms, fights, angels, drawing, writing, singing, dialogues, papers, discoveries and pretty bells that connect you to the world of spirits.

130 knots typhoon: It seems the Japan Meteorological Agency doesn't use the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. Typhoon Vera (Isewan Typhoon), the strongest typhoon to hit Japan, reached winds of 165 knots - that would be the equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane.

Reading glasses: Since he has lost an eye, I just figured Lelouch would need reading glasses at some point. Also, you get Lelouch with glasses in canon art, which is just too cute to ignore.

Lelouch was too embarrassed to mention that peace is also Kallen having wild sex with Zero in the bathroom. Just letting you know. :-) There is, after all, a reason why the most “descriptive” sex scenes always end up as Suzaku's POVs.

A Book of Hours is, of course, a prayer book, so Lelouch's letters to the dead have quite literally become Suzaku's "holy scriptures". I'm easily amused.

Suzaku, the Artist and Lelouch, the Singing Boy were inspired by my enquire on the code_geass community and some random chats with [personal profile] runesque and her own post on her journal. I figured out Nunally, being blind, would enjoy her brother's voice. Thanks [personal profile] runesque for being a classic music nazy.

This one is slow-paced, I know, but in the end I prefered it this way. I will write an epilogue for this arc, and then we wait for season 2.

Thanks everybody who read this far. You are my heroes. :-)
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