Chapter 1: Abduction
Lelouch fidgeted, feeling restless. The book in his hand refused to hold his attention, despite the sunny weather and relative quiet of the park. Suzaku was playing with Gino, a short distance away, allowing Lelouch to work on some of his school work in peace without ‘turning into a ghost,’ as Suzaku put it. Lelouch had argued being out in the sun wouldn’t make a difference to his ability to study, but Suzaku hadn’t listened. In the end, the real concern in Suzaku’s eyes had convinced Lelouch that a study session in the park wouldn’t kill him.
Now, however, he couldn’t sit still. The oddest feeling of violence spread through him, the urge to rip the ground, to bellow defiance into the air, to launch himself upward and -
What was wrong with him? He was acting as if someone was challenging him. Lelouch did the math quickly in his head. No, even when allowing for the time differences between Overhill and Underhill, he shouldn’t be going into cycle yet. He had no idea how he was going to deal with that without letting all the other Britannias know where he was. Not to mention that Suzaku wouldn’t understand it. The boy was only mortal. He couldn’t expect everything.
“Mr. Lamperouge!” Gino came pelting across the grass, eyes wide in terror. “Some lady came up to Suzaku and talked to him. He tried to leave and then she did something weird with her eyes and suddenly he just followed her into her car!”
“What?” Lelouch growled. His hands clenched into fists, tremors running down his body. Gino shrunk back, fear in his eyes. Lelouch closed his eyes and forced himself to be still. “What did she look like?”
“Uh - brownish hair, kind of tall. She was wearing a low-cut purple shirt - oh, and she had a tattoo here!” Gino pointed at the left side of his chest.
Guinevere, of the Su clan. Lelouch mentally cursed. “Gino, you need to go home and not tell anyone about this.”
“But - shouldn’t we tell the police?”
“Suzaku isn’t Britannian,” Lelouch replied. Prejudice was occasionally useful for something, though honestly, the police wouldn’t be able to do anything in this case anyway. Knowing Guinevere, she’d already be Underhill. “I’m going to look for him myself.”
Gino hesitated, then finally nodded. “All right, Mr. Lamperouge. Do you want my help?”
Lelouch shook his head. “Go home, Gino. I’ll let you know when Suzaku is safe.”
He saw Suzaku’s playmate home, then headed back to his apartment. As he neared the building, he stiffened a bit as he sensed a familiar aura. Sure enough, as he turned the corner he saw Euphemia, of the Li clan. The pink-haired young woman was talking to Genbu - God, he was going to have to explain things to Suzaku’s father - but stopped and turned to look at him the minute he turned the corner. “Lelouch! Something just crossed over that had your aura all over it!”
Genbu looked at Lelouch, noting the absence of his son immediately. “Where’s Suzaku?”
“Guinevere Britannia kidnapped him.” Again, Lelouch had to restrain himself as the urge to strike nearly overwhelmed him. “I’m going to get him back.”
“I’m going with you.”
“You need to stay here. This is too dangerous. ” A stupid thing to say to a full-grown man, but even if Genbu was older than them, he was still mortal. The council would have a fit if they brought a human Underhill.
“If his son has been taken, he has the right to search for him,” Euphemia interjected. “I think he should come with us.”
He didn’t have time for an argument. “Fine. Give me a minute and then we’ll be ready to leave.” Lelouch entered his apartment and headed directly for his bedroom. He removed a box from beneath his bed, ripping off the top. Within lay a black cape, lined with a dark purple material. On top of the cape rested a silver key on a long chain. He pulled the chain over his head and fastened the cape about his shoulders. It didn’t go with his current clothing, but that was only to be expected. The cape was elven made. Trying to convince them to make something like a long coat was an exercise in futility.
Lelouch quickly strode back out into the hallway, locking the door behind him. Genbu raised his eyes when he saw Lelouch’s new attire. “That’s going to draw some eyes.”
“Not where we’re going,” Euphemia replied. She removed a key of her own from around her neck - Lelouch noted she was wearing her own cape as well, but her long hair distracted from it, as they were nearly the same color - before placing it into the lock of Lelouch’s door. The world seemed to shiver for a second, as if it shrugged, and then Euphemia opened the door-
-into a meadow, with grass greener than anything in the mortal world. Genbu’s eyes widened in shock. “Let’s go.”
They walked through the door, Euphemia bringing up the rear. As she passed through, the door vanished, leaving only an empty archway made from a pair of living trees with entwined branches. “Hold on one second.” Euphemia went over to the meadow. “Here, I brought this with me.”
Lelouch nodded when he saw what the other Britannia had. “That should help. You or me?”
“Me. I’m bigger, and you’ve been ground-bound too long anyway.” Euphemia dropped the mass of leather.
“What is that?” Genbu asked, looking at the pile of straps and buckles.
“Carrying pouch. We use it to carry things or people. It’s safer than letting them try to ride or holding them in our claws,” Euphemia replied. She walked further into the field.
Euphemia just grinned at Genbu’s disbelieving tone. She gathered the edges of her cape and swirled them closed, posing for a moment-
And then blurred, growing larger and larger, until a dragon sat in the middle of the meadow. “Beautiful as ever, Euphie,” Lelouch observed with admiration. The baby pink of her early years had darkened into the color of dawn clouds, with touches of gold and darker red on her extremities.
Genbu was just staring. “Dra- she’s a-”
“A dragon,” Euphemia said cheerfully. Lelouch started to buckle on the carrying pouch to the front of her chest, just beneath her neck, as she continued to speak. “So’s the woman who took your son. Guinevere’s from the Su clan. They break the rules all the time. Wait until I tell Cornelia - she’s wanted to have a reason to smack her for decades.”
“But you were human,” Genbu protested as Lelouch gestured for him to come closer. Lelouch carefully buckled him into the pouch, which was cut in such a way he could see outward. Straps not unlike those on some of the more complicated roller coaster harnesses kept passengers safe even if a dragon had to make complicated aerial maneuvers. The entire thing was enchanted to keep it from ripping, tearing, or stretching.
“We can transform back and forth. Otherwise we’d never be able to hide from human science. Our capes allow us to keep our clothes intact. It’d be a bit telling if we showed up naked every time we went Overhill,” Euphemia replied. “Ready, Lelouch?”
“Yes. We’ll explain more on the way,” Lelouch added. Genbu had stepped into a completely different world. The least they could do was get him ready for what he was about to encounter. He stepped back from Euphemia until he had enough space, then pulled his own cloak about him, reaching first inward, then out-
Changing into his dragon form always felt as if he were stretching muscles that had been cramped for too long. It had been so long since the last time it was painful to shift. Opening black wings - he had always been black from the moment of his first change, unlike most dragons who darkened in color as they aged - he lumbered into the sky, running awkwardly to gain momentum. A moment later, Euphemia joined him in flight, though with much more grace. He was really out of practice. He would need to sharpen his skills as they flew. Guinevere wasn’t the type to give up something she wanted without a fight.
Hold on, Suzaku. We’re coming!
Chapter 2: Fall
Suzaku woke up to the feeling of air whistling through his hair, while something warm grasped him tightly about the torso. He opened his eyes and found himself high in the sky, the ground so far away that the trees looked like toys. He instinctively began to struggle against the - hand? - holding him. Lelouch was going to be so mad at him. He had no idea how he had gotten here! The last thing he could remember was being in the park with Gino while Lelouch was studying...
“If you don’t stop, you’ll fall and die.”
Suzaku froze when the voice spoke. It was definitely female, but much deeper than he was used to. “Who...?”
The hand around him tightened to the point that he could barely breathe. Suddenly the shape looming over him that had been blocking out the sun shifted, bending in a way that allowed Suzaku to see what it was.
His eyes got very wide as he stared at the creature. “Wh-wha-”
“Cease struggling. I have not carried you this far to drop you now.”
Suzaku swallowed hard. A real dragon! Gino, Tamaki and Rivalz are never going to believe this. He did stop moving, however, as he had no desire to plummet down to the earth below. Maybe he wasn’t in trouble. Not all dragons were bad - at least, he didn’t think so. He didn’t know much about them.
The sun vanished as they entered a cave. The claw around him let him go. Suzaku gasped as he hit the cave floor hard enough to black out.
He woke up to the feeling of a brush moving over his back. To his embarrassment, Suzaku realized he was naked, and tied to a pole propped horizontally a few feet from the ground. A woman - who he remembered now seeing in the park - was standing over him with a bowl in her hand, spreading some mixture over his body. “I see you’re awake. You’re very well built.” She squeezed his butt.
“What are you doing?!” Suzaku yelped, squirming at the touch.
“Adding a little flavor.” She continued to paint him with the liquid for a moment or two more. “I can see why Lelouch was saving you for himself. You’ll be delicious.”
She’s going to eat me! Suzaku realized suddenly. “Lelouch wouldn’t eat me! And he won’t let you do it either!” Though what Lelouch could do against a dragon...
The woman laughed. “You poor, ignorant thing. You really don’t know anything, do you? What other use would he have for you? I suppose his mother’s blood might give him urges to look after a human child... but you’ll be dead before he’s even an adult.” Suzaku stiffened. “Oh, you didn’t know that, did you? Lelouch is a dragon, just as I am. At least, he’s a half dragon.”
Suzaku could help but feel betrayed at the thought. Maybe the woman was lying, but why would she? What if Lelouch really had been a dragon all of this time and had never told him? They were going to get married some day; they shouldn’t keep such important secrets from each other!
The woman tilted her head as if listening to something. “Visitors already. I suppose that was only to be expected.” She put down her implements and snapped her fingers. Suzaku’s eyes widened as flames came to life beneath him. “Why don’t you roast a bit to deepen the flavor? I’ll be back in a bit.”
Suzaku only waited until the woman vanished from his sight before he started struggling with his bonds. Unfortunately, whatever it was she had used to ‘flavor’ him was slippery and kept him from getting much of a hold. He continued to struggle, however, unwilling to give up. He had to get away-
“I know you have him in here somewhere! Give him back now, Guinevere, or else - ”
That was Lelouch’s voice! Suzaku struggled harder, making the stick bounce as he tried to successfully free himself. If he could get down they could get out of here together!
“You’ll challenge me?” Guinevere laughed. “You’re barely two decades old. You wouldn’t even be bonded if you weren’t a freak.”
Suzaku’s eyes narrowed at that, and he resolved to look into ways to kill dragons. No one got to call Lelouch a freak. He managed to shift his weight enough to move a couple of inches towards the wall. Grinning, he repeated the motion, setting the stick shaking -
Only to feel it begin to slip as the far end bounced free of its support. Suzaku barely had time to realize what was happening before he hit the flames, a scream ripping free from his throat.
:Don’t fear it. Embrace it.: Eyes as green as his own peered at him through the flames, framed by black hair. The ghostly figure of a Japanese woman held out her hand. :Take it, Suzaku.:
It hurt to breathe, even, but somehow he managed to move one of his hands forward, touching the fingers outstretched towards him. The pain vanished, a deep warmth flowing through him in its place.
Suzaku smiled, and let go.
Chapter 3: Fight
The fighting in here sucks. But I refuse to turn this little universe into work. This is just relatively mindless entertainment. XD;;
Lelouch landed somewhat clumsily, while Euphemia managed a graceful landing that left him jealous. He really did need to practice more.
“I would say this is an unexpected surprise, but I’d be lying.” Guinevere approached the cave’s entrance in her human form, looking nonchalant. “You aren’t welcome here, Lelouch, Euphemia. I forbid you entrance.”
“You’ve broken the law and have forfeited all your rights to stop us,” Euphemia countered. “Where is the human child?”
“What human child? I’m hurt, Euphemia. You can’t throw accusations like that around without proof.”
Lelouch was not about to let stupid hearth laws keep him from Suzaku. “I know you have him in here somewhere! Give him back now, Guinevere, or else - ”
“You’ll challenge me?” Guinevere laughed, mockingly. “You’re barely two decades old. You wouldn’t even be bonded if you weren’t a freak.”
Lelouch growled low in his throat. “Guinevere - “
“Leave, Lelouch. I’m sure your father is looking for you as we speak. You wouldn’t want him be successful, would you?” She sneered. “I hear he’s found some delightful new mind manipulation spells. It might be a change to see an obedient Black Dragon.”
Once upon a time, this had been his greatest fear. He had done everything to keep his father from his thoughts, and to protect Nunnally. Now he didn’t care. He was not going to let Suzaku be eaten.
Suddenly a scream split the air. Before Lelouch could move, Guinevere transformed, shoving him back. Lelouch snapped at her neck before twisting to avoid being pinned. He bellowed a challenge and leaped into the air, barely avoiding Guinevere’s attack aimed at his right wing. He flew higher and higher, wings straining. Guinevere labored after him, managing to get close enough to snap at his tail. He turned and dove, smacking into the larger dragon before sliding past her, turning to gain altitude again.
Normally, challenging someone so much older than he was, especially a female, would be suicide, but he did have one advantage most dragons didn’t have. He was a water dragon, unlike Guinevere, who was an air dragon, or Euphemia, who was aligned with fire. Water was the second rarest of the elements, and one of the most dangerous, particularly in the cold weather -
When he was finally high enough, Lelouch turned to lead Guinevere on a merry chase, all the while gathering the moisture in the atmosphere.
On her wings.
Dragons were made to shed water; that was only natural. But not water that froze instantly. Guinevere continued to chase him, wings laboring as a thick layer of ice formed on her wings. She finally realized what was happening and flipped over, heading down to warmer air, where she could melt the ice off. Lelouch dove, claws fisted. He crashed into her back, sending her tumbling down to the earth. She hit it with a gratifying smack. Lelouch noted that she still breathed with disgust, though she had had manged to mangle her wings quite nicely in her landing. If he was lucky, she would heal badly and never be able to fly again.
Lelouch dismissed the other dragon’s state from his mind and headed back to the cave. He landed just inside the entrance, looking inside. His heart all but stopped when he saw Euphemia standing in Guinevere's hearth, her expression grave. Genbu stood beside her, but Suzaku was -
“I’m sorry, Lelouch.”
The black dragon threw back his head and keened in sorrow, collapsing to the ground.
Suzaku was gone.
Chapter 4: Egg
Euphemia slipped into her human form and untangled herself from the carrying pouch as Lelouch took off towards the sky, Guinevere one beat behind him. She nearly stepped on Genbu as he attempted to free himself from the carrying pouch, but she couldn’t wait. Ducking into the cave, Euphemia could see that Guinevere had a fire in her hearth. She ran to it, cancelling the fire with ease. Whoever had made the hearth spell for Guinevere wasn’t very good. Wading into the coals without fear - her own affinity for fire would protect her - she searched the ashes for any sign of a body.
“Anything?” Genbu asked, finally free of the pouch.
“Nothing yet. Look around. Maybe he’s somewhere, hidden.” Euphemia replied, though she thought the scream had come from this part of the cave. Genbu nodded and moved to look elsewhere. Euphemia returned to searching through the fire. It was odd that she hadn’t found a corpse yet. The fire hadn’t been nearly warm enough to consume a body that quickly.
Her hands found something different amongst the coals. She pulled it up to stare at it. A golden egg, warm in her hands. Could it be....? Euphemia turned the egg over in her hands. She had never seen a legendary phoenix, much less an egg, but she had heard about them, as all dragons did. Legends about their abilities to affect dragonkind were mixed. Some said they made the perfect balance for a dragon, while others said that a phoenix could drive a dragon into an endless rage, inspiring great wars among both those mortal and not.
Could Suzaku have been a phoenix, now awaiting rebirth? That didn’t make a lot of sense to her, since Genbu had clearly not known about Underhill. But did it work the same way in the East? Maybe they called it something else, or immortals hid in plain sight.
Maybe this wasn’t Suzaku’s egg at all. Guinevere was known for collecting various rarities, particularly ones she shouldn’t have. It would be like her to keep an phoenix egg for her own amusement, and it wouldn’t have been harmed by remaining in the hearth’s flames. Euphemia shoved it into one of the pockets on the inner side of her cape, made to carry small items when she was a dragon. She would have to investigate it.
“I can’t find anything,” Genbu said, face carefully blank.
“I’m afraid - ” A heavy landing outside the cave warned her of Lelouch’s approach. She swallowed hard as the black dragon entered. “I’m sorry, Lelouch.”
Lelouch threw his head back in a death cry before crumbling to the ground. Dragons were not gifted with tears, but Euphemia knew that his heart was broken, and his mind possibly as well. She turned to Genbu, whose face was as expressionless as only a mask could be. “You must get him out of here. They’ll shackle his mind, make him a slave. Guinevere was serious about that. He won’t leave on his own.”
Her words seemed to wake something in the mortal. He shook his head, eyes sharpening as if coming awake again. “I have lost one son today. I will not lose them both.”
Euphemia was heartened by his response. She couldn’t go with Lelouch right now. The others would feel the Lelouch’s magic and be drawn to it. It had been a long time since an ice spell of that complexity and magnitude had been cast in the Dragonlands of Underhill. Someone would have to stay here to answer questions. “Lelouch, you have to get Genbu out of here. If they find him, they’ll kill him.”
Lelouch raised a weary head, looking at his bonded. He finally nodded, heaving to his feet. Genbu helped Euphemia buckle on the carrying pouch while she told Lelouch directions to the nearest transfer point. They left a few moments later. Euphemia watched Lelouch fly with a heavy heart, one hand going to the egg in her cape’s pocket. She wanted to tell him, she really did. But until she knew for certain she wouldn’t dare get his hopes up. What if the the phoenix inside wasn’t Suzaku, or worse, he didn’t remember any of his previous life? Euphemia caressed the egg’s smooth gently. Hopefully it would hatch soon and reveal its secrets. And hopefully Genbu can keep Lelouch alive long enough for him to heal.
Chapter 5: Reunion
Pretty much all my knowledge of phoenixes comes from Harry Potter and Big Bird in China, so there may be some inaccuracies here.
Lelouch’s day went the same way every day.
Wake at the alarm. Immediately get out of bed and ready for the day. Eat breakfast. Feed Arthur. Dust the green and purple cranes next to Suzaku’s picture in the tiny shrine Genbu had helped him set up. Take care of household chores, work on school work, or attend class. Eat dinner. Practice his magic, as much as he could Overhill without transforming. Keep himself busy until it was time for bed. Shield his mind to keep the other Suzaku out.
His friends were worried. Milly in particular watched him carefully. Lelouch didn’t doubt that she thought he might be suicidal. She didn’t know what kept him here, rather than escaping Underhill to the Sea, to join those already sleeping until the world ended. He couldn’t leave Nunnally in Cornelia’s protection forever. Euphemia would go mad without her mate to join with her when the time came. And Genbu... Genbu carried on because Lelouch needed him. Suzaku’s father was a daily presence in his life. Together they kept each other holding on, keeping Suzaku’s memory alive, and going through the motions of living. Once he has finished his exams in the weeks following Suzaku’s death, Lelouch had chosen a closer university rather than a more prestigious one so that he could keep an eye on Genbu. He owned Suzaku that much.
He owed Suzaku much more.
Lelouch looked at the time and saved his paper, closing his laptop. It was time to start making dinner. He pulled together his materials, deciding in a stir fry. He had just finished chopping the vegetables when a knock at the door interrupted him. Frowning - it was too early for Genbu - Lelouch opened the door.
Lelouch stared. Suzaku was there, in the hall, a sheepish smile on his face. “How - ?”
Suzaku apparently decided that standing in the doorway and staring wasn’t an appropriate welcome. He stepped forward and pulled Lelouch’s head down, kissing him deeply. Lelouch wrapped his arms around Suzaku, pulling him closer still. He had missed him so much -
Clarity of thought returned. Suzaku was back, yes, but he was only thirteen. He yanked free from the kiss, breathing a bit heavy. Just then he noted what Suzaku was wearing - elven clothing, complete with a red cape, lined in gold. Not the sort of thing that you could walk around in Overhill without attracting a lot of attention. “Come inside.”
“Gladly.” Lelouch stepped out of the doorway and let Suzaku in, closing the door behind him. The next thing he knew, he was pushed up against the wall, Suzaku pressing up against him, claiming another kiss, his tongue sliding against Lelouch’s. Lelouch fought, and lost, the urge to let out a moan as Suzaku’s body warmed his own. “Missed you so much.”
“Suzaku, we can’t - you’re a child-”
Suzaku snorted, but stepped back a bit. “Do I look like a child to you?”
Lelouch looked, really looked, at Suzaku for the first time since his return. He had grown; he was only about five inches shorter than Lelouch. He had more muscle on him as well, as the well-tailored shirt displayed. He has lost some of the baby fat in his cheeks as well, and there was a level of maturity in his expression that was out of sync with the child Lelouch had lost. In summary, he looked at least sixteen, except for his eyes. His eyes had changed, gaining sharper angles in depths, like the living gems growing in dwarf mines. Immortal eyes. “No,” Lelouch admitted reluctantly.
“There there’s no problem,” Suzaku answered. He pressed close again.
“What’s this for?” Lelouch asked, tugging on Suzaku’s red cape - he didn’t want to let this get out of hand. The material felt warm in his hand.
Suzaku rolled his eyes in a very teenage way at Lelouch’s less than subtle change in subject. “You know what it’s for.”
“I didn’t know you were a dragon.”
“I’m not.” Suzaku’s face lit up. “Do you want to see?”
“We’ll need to go Underhill -”
“Nope! I’m small enough to fit in the apartment.” Suzaku stepped away from Lelouch, and pulled his cape closed in front of him. There was a small flash of flame, and then the most beautiful bird Lelouch had ever seen appeared. Large enough that his wing span was over six feet, his gold and red plumage brought to mind fantastic works of art. “Do you like it?”
Forget his appearance; Suzaku’s voice in this form made Lelouch shiver. It brought to mind legends he had heard of the sirens. “You’re amazing.” He frowned, thinking about the mythical creatures he had studied. “Phoenix?”
Abruptly the smoke detector went off. Suzaku let out a squawk, flapping his wings in alarm. Lelouch strode over to the kitchen quickly, before removing the battery from the device. “Does your transformation back include fire as well?”
“Not sure. I’ve never seen it from the outside.” Suzaku flew over to Lelouch’s side, then settled on his shoulder. He was lighter than Lelouch expected, but still heavy enough that he didn’t want to support him long. He headed over to the couch, Suzaku accompanying him, eventually settling on Lelouch’s knee. Lelouch gave into temptation and reached out to scratch the back of Suzaku’s neck, digging his fingers into the thick feathers. “Ooh - do that all day. I won’t even move,” Suzaku moaned.
Lelouch chuckled at the expression. He knew the feeling. That was always the worst spot when he was shedding scales; it made perfect sense that Suzaku had difficulties preening it. He scratched a bit more, then decided that he needed to distract Suzaku. The phoenix's moans went right to his hormones, and he was determined not to give into Suzaku so easily. “Fire, Suzaku?”
“What? Oh yeah.” Suzaku shook his head. “I could ask Euphie, but I’d have to go Underhill for that.”
“Euphie?” What did his bonded have to do with this?
“Yes. She hatched me, and raised me.” Lelouch frowned. Why hadn’t she said anything? Before he could begin to feel angry, however, Suzaku continued. “I didn’t remember a lot at first, but my memories came back in time. Then I needed to have my cape made, and I couldn’t successfully shift for a while.” His turned his head to nibble on Lelouch’s finger’s lightly. “I didn’t want to stay away any longer than I had to but..”
Lelouch had managed to shift shortly before he turned nine, but most dragons couldn’t shift until almost their second century, which was roughly analogous to the teenage years of a human. Lelouch was a rarity because he was half human and being raised in the human world. Suzaku clearly aged faster in his phoenix form, likely until he was fully mature, but even that took time. Shifting when you weren’t ready was dangerous. So was traveling from Overhill to Underhill, at least not without an elven key. The capes themselves offered some protection, but making one could take a while. Lelouch’s had required some of his shed scales. Suzaku’s probably used his feathers, hence the feeling of warmth in the material.
Suzaku shifted his weight, making Lelouch pull back his fingers. A flash of light - no fire - appeared and suddenly he had his lap full of human Suzaku. He kissed Lelouch again. “So. When can we get married?”
“Suzaku! You know that’s not legal. Besides...” How could he explain that he was essentially engaged?
“I know all about you and Euphie,” Suzaku replied. “And... I’m okay with it, really. You have to be bonded, and you and Euphie will end up having children, because otherwise you’ll end up going crazy. Besides, I always wanted kids, and Euphie doesn’t have a problem with sharing. She thinks I’ll make a good dad.”
“Or one and a half as a phoenix. Which is almost fully grown. You, on the other hand, aren’t even a century old. Euphie’s almost a hundred years older than you are! You’re a baby by dragon standards. I’m practically robbing the cradle.”
“No more kisses for a week.”
“Aww, come on, Lelouch! Don’t be like that.” Suzaku pouted. Lelouch refused to think how cute it looked. “I just got back.” And damned if the boy didn’t look amazing like that, his lip protruding just a bit, asking to be kissed -
The striking of the hour shook Lelouch from his thoughts. “I need to go cook.”
“You’re changing the subject again!”
Lelouch glanced at the clock. “You father is due for dinner in half an hour. Unless you want to explain your reappearance to him over takeout, you’d best let me up.”
Suzaku looked nervous. “My father?”
“Over for dinner every night he’s home,” Lelouch replied. He gently shoved Suzaku off his lap. “Watch some TV while I cook. The news should be on soon. You can get started on getting caught up.” Not that Lelouch thought Suzaku was going to really pay attention to it. Chances were that he’d spend the time worrying about his father’s impending visit.
Lelouch couldn’t blame him. How were they going to explain this?
Chapter 6: Homecoming
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Suzaku flicked through the TV channels without paying attention to what was actually on. It felt distinctly odd to be back Overhill. Everything was much more noisy here. The air was more polluted too. When he had first stepped through the doorway he had nearly choked. It had taken him a few minutes just to be able to breathe properly.
The TV regained his attention for a moment as the newest KMF commercial came on. Suzaku watched it intently, noting the new Conquista design. He really wanted to go down to the store and look to see what else had come out while he was gone. He was so far behind. Maybe Lelouch would take him after dinner.
Then Suzaku shook his head. First of all, Lelouch didn’t need to take him anywhere anymore. He wasn’t a child. And secondly, he was trying to convince Lelouch he was as old as he looked. Babbling on about toys, models, and video games wouldn’t help with that.
Though he had to admit he would miss it.
KMFs always made him think of his friends. He wondered how Tamaki, Rivalz, and Gino were doing. Suzaku wished he could visit them, but that wasn’t going to be possible until they worked out their cover story. He couldn’t think of a way to explain leaving as a twelve-year-old and returning looking like he was sixteen.
Suzaku tilted his head as he heard Lelouch removing plates from the cabinet. It must almost be time for dinner. He moved into the kitchen to watch. Just looking at him brought up the memory of how Lelouch’s body had felt pressed against his own as they kissed.
Suzaku considered himself lucky that Lelouch was half human. Most dragons didn’t feel sexual desire until they went into their first cycle. While he understood the necessity of sharing Lelouch with Euphemia - unpaired dragons in cycle were known for doing things like rampaging across the countryside and eating virgins until they found a mate - he still wanted to be Lelouch’s first.
Suzaku firmly shook himself out of his thoughts. “Want some help with that?”
“Sure.” Lelouch passed him the plates. Suzaku finished setting the table just as there was a knock at the door. Lelouch touched his shoulder lightly. “Stay here. I’ll get it.” He walked over and opened the door. “Genbu. There’s someone I want you to see.”
Lelouch moved out of the way so Genbu could see Suzaku. His eyes went wide with shock. “Hi Dad,” Suzaku finally managed. “I’m back.”
“We’ll explain over dinner,” Lelouch answered. He gestured for Genbu to take his seat. He did, still staring at his son. Suzaku took his place as well, while Lelouch brought out the meal to the table. Suzaku beamed at him when he saw that Lelouch had prepared. Becoming a phoenix had changed his appetites. Lelouch had somehow known that, and provided Suzaku with a salad heaped with fruit as well as vegetables. Around bites of food, Suzaku explained his new nature and its resurrection ability. Lelouch added a few things along the way to clarify details, but let Suzaku do most of the talking.
Genbu shook his head. “I don’t know of any phoenixes in the family. Your mother...” He paused. “Your mother had ties to a clan in Japan known for their abilities in onmyodo. It’s possible this gift comes from her.”
“What do you plan to do now, Suzaku?” Lelouch asked. “You can’t return to school like this.”
“Not yet. I’ll need to stay out of sight for a few more years, but I don’t want to spend all of my time Underhill. Schneizel had some ideas - “
“Schneizel?” Lelouch literally growled. Suzaku had to wonder if he sounded like that when he was a dragon. “When did you meet him?”
“He was visiting Cornelia, who was with Euphie,” Suzaku replied. He didn’t know why Lelouch didn’t like him. The two brothers were very similar in nature. “He pretty much guessed who had fought Guinevere - that was really nasty, by the way. She still hasn’t managed to sort her wings out, according to Cornelia - and more or less extended an invitation for you to meet with him.” Well, he had told Euphemia, figuring sooner or later she would see her bonded, when they mated if not before. Lelouch visibly brooded. Suzaku continued, “He seemed to want to...” He paused, trying to come up with the words.
“Collect me? Convince me to join him?” Lelouch’s tone was still dark. Suzaku watched his eyes in amazement. The normally vivid violet irises had developed gemlike qualities in shine and shape. Suzaku recognized it, of course. He saw it every time he looked in the mirror nowadays. Euphemia’s eyes were much the same, but he had never seen it in Lelouch’s eyes. The dragon took a deep breath, closing his eyes. When he opened them, they were fully human again. “What did he suggest?”
“Private teaching in what I’m missing in school. If I stay human most of the time, I should stay about the same age, maybe get a bit older. I can ‘reappear’ once it’s time for sophomore year.” He looked at Lelouch. “I thought you could teach me. I can go Underhill when I have to hide.”
“There’s illusions, as well. Magic is difficult to do in the human world, but not impossible.” Lelouch nodded thoughtfully. “We’ll still need a proper cover story for your disappearance.”
Schneizel had said the same thing. Something about his manner had indicated that the air dragon might actually take care of it himself, as a favor to Suzaku. He decided not to tell Lelouch that. Euphemia had explained that phoenixes were rare enough that many Underhill would want to do him favors in hope of earning one in return. Not to mention dragons’ natural pull towards his kind made him a much-wanted visitor at just about every dragon occasion.
Lelouch continued to think for a long moment, then nodded. “We might be able to make this work.” Then he chuckled. “Only for you, Suzaku, would I go back to the high school curriculum.” Suzaku met Lelouch’s gaze, a warm smile forming on his lips. Lelouch’s eyes softened as he returned the look, and Suzaku felt warmth flooding up inside of him at the sight.
Lelouch looked away quickly before the moment could linger, and they finished their meal discussing various reasons Suzaku could have gone missing. Genbu rose to his feet. “Help Lelouch with the dishes, Suzaku, then come back home. We need to get your room ready.”
“Couldn’t I stay?” Suzaku begged. “I won’t get in the way.”
Lelouch gave him a disapproving look. “You just got back, Suzaku. Go home tonight.”
Suzaku sighed, but nodded. After Genbu left, the pair tackled packing up the leftovers and washing the dishes together. “I don’t know why I can’t stay,” Suzaku grumbled. “It was never a problem before.”
“Your father missed you, Suzaku. We thought you were dead.”
“I know, but...” He wanted to stay with Lelouch. He had missed him so much - and now they were older... well, he’d had several dreams he’d like to put into practice.
Lelouch lightly kissed him on the forehead. “We’ll have all of eternity, Suzaku. Your father is mortal. Never forget that someday you’ll lose him.”
The thought shook Suzaku a bit. He had forgotten - or preferred not to remember - that his dad would die. Euphemia and Lelouch, along with all those he had met Underhill, would live until they were killed. His father, though, would someday fade as all mortals did. “...fine. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Get up early enough and we can have breakfast together,” Lelouch promised.
Suzaku smiled at the thought and left Lelouch’s apartment, entering his own next door. “Tadaima!”
“Okaeri,” Genbu replied with a smile, stepping aside to let his son in. Suzaku smiled back at him. Even with the problems explaining his reappearance and Lelouch’s issues with his own family, it was good to be home.
- This is the last part of this series I'm committed to. That being said, if the bunny bites (or Snapshots throws something I really want to try), I may revisit it. There are some 'potential' bunnies as a list on this document.
- This originally had Genbu Finding Out but he wasn't being upset enough about things. I didn't want it to turn into an angst fest either, so I cut it.
- Lelouch is cloaking his eyes with an illusion, constantly. That's why his aren't showing the immortal aspect - but it slips sometimes when he's ticked.
- What is going on with Lelouch's family? No. Freaking. Clue. I need more 'canon' to work on that.
Chapter 7: Visitor
I was inspired after going back over Dragonprints while posting on ff.net. :)
Suzaku woke up at three am.
He wasn’t exactly sure what had woken him, really. All he knew was something felt off. Sliding out of his bed, he walked over to his door, not opening it just yet. He closed his eyes, tried to calm himself, and listened, just like Lelouch had taught him. Then he heard it, the unmistakable sound of footsteps. Someone was moving around in the living room. Suzaku eased the door open, allowing himself to look through the opening.
The light by the front door went on.
Suzaku blinked against the sudden brightness, then opened the door all the way, feeling a little silly for skulking around his own apartment. He walked out into the living room. Maybe his father had woken up early? It seemed unlikely that a burglar would turn on a light. The phoenix stopped when he spotted the person who had awoke him.
She looked just like a little princess.
She wore a gown with so many ruffles that Suzaku couldn’t count them, lace so delicate he was afraid it would break if he looked at it, and a crown of flowers on her long brown hair, falling loose over her shoulders. One look at it told Suzaku she had to be from Underhill. He could recognize Elven work when he saw it. Some things were beyond mortal creation. “Hello?”
The girl, who couldn’t have been more than maybe seven, turned to look at Suzaku. “Oh! Hello.”
Violet eyes. Violet immortal eyes. “Are you a Britannia?”
“Yes! I’m Nunnally, from the Vi clan, but I can’t shift yet because I’m too young. I’m looking for my brother. Do you know where he is, Mr. Phoenix?”
Suzaku just blinked at her for a moment, not quite sure how to respond. What, did he have his immortal shape tattooed on his forehead or something? Admittedly, dragons were very sensitive to his presence, but this was a bit ridiculous. “I’m Suzaku Kururugi, but you can just call me Suzaku. I know where Lelouch is, but it’s the middle of the night - ”
“But I have to find him now, before Euphie finds out I - ” Nunnally snapped her mouth shut.
Suzaku stared at the girl, getting suspicious. It wasn’t easy to move between Overhill and Underhill - the elves made sure of that - and this girl said she couldn’t shift. So she shouldn’t have a key of her own yet, meaning she had likely taken someone else’s. “Nunnally, did you take Euphie’s key?”
The girl hung her head. “Yes, but... please, I need to see Lelouch! I haven’t seen him since he left and I’m worried about him.” Tears started to gather in her eyes. Suzaku quietly began to panic. He had no idea how to deal with a crying girl.
The sound of a door opening distracted them both. Genbu came into the room, looking at the pair with curiosity. “What’s going on?”
“This is Nunnally. She appears to be Lelouch’s sister.”
Genbu gave Suzaku a look of resignation that Suzaku was beginning to become quite familiar with. It usually followed Suzaku demonstrating one of his more... unusual quirks. “I suggest you call him, then.”
Nunnally practically vibrated on her feet as Suzaku picked up his cell phone from the counter where it had been charging, hitting Lelouch’s number via speed dial. Lelouch picked it up on the first ring, surprising him. Lelouch tended to be a pretty heavy sleeper, from what he remembered. “Suzaku? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong.” Suzaku took a step back from Nunnally, who was edging closer and closer to the phone. “We had an unexpected visitor stop by.”
“...I’ll be right there.” Lelouch’s end went silent, and Suzaku put the phone back down. Lelouch had probably correctly predicted that the visitor had be be from Underhill. He might even have felt the energies shift when Nunnally had passed over; that would explain why he was awake.
Genbu answered the door a moment later. Suzaku stepped forward to tell Lelouch what had happened - only to watch as Nunnally sped past him to her brother’s side, latching onto him with strength born of pure emotion. “Lelouch!”
“Nunnally?” Lelouch looked surprised, then carefully picked her up, allowing Nunnally to bury her head in her brother’s shoulder as she started to cry. “It’s dangerous for you to be here.” Despite the anger - or maybe it was only worry - coloring his tone, his hands were gentle as he rubbed Nunnally’s back. “I’m sorry for the disturbance, Genbu. I’ll take her next door.”
“I’m coming too,” Suzaku said firmly. “You can’t take her back Underhill.”
Genbu shook his head, looking back and forth between the pair. “Take the time you need. I’ll be fine managing breakfast for myself, Lelouch.”
“Thank you.” Suzaku sped ahead of Lelouch, opening the door so Lelouch wouldn’t have to drop his sister. He fished Lelouch’s keys out of his pockets to open his beloved’s apartment before turning on the lights. “You shouldn’t be here, you know that,” Lelouch chided his sister again as they settled onto the couch.
“Please let me stay.” Nunnally clung even tighter to her brother. “It’s been so long. You’ve gotten so old, and if you stay Overhill you’ll get older and I’ll never be able to catch up unless I stay here too - ”
“How old are you?” Suzaku asked when Nunnally paused to breathe.
“Nineteen,” Lelouch replied. Suzaku stared. “Nunnally has lived Underhill most of her life. Remember, you aged faster because you were a phoenix. For mortals, or those in mortal form, the process is reversed. For that matter, had you been Overhill you may also have aged faster. My understanding is most phoenixes don’t have a caretaker after a Burning, so it would be important for them to recover their memories and independence as quickly as possible.”
Suzaku blinked. That would make sense, and explain the way phoenixes aged compare to the other immortal races. Sill, It was one thing to hear about delayed aging and another to see it firsthand. The idea such a young child could be older than him was mindboggling. “Um, should I make some tea?” Lelouch was always making tea when he was upset.
“That sounds like a good idea. Nunnally, Suzaku and I will go to the kitchen and make a snack. I want you to stay right here. Do you understand?”
“But - ”
“I promise we won’t go anywhere.” Lelouch brushed her forehead with a kiss, then wrapped Nunnally in the blanket he usually left on the back of the couch. “We’ll talk, all right?” Nunnally nodded. Lelouch gestured and Suzaku followed the dragon into the kitchen. Lelouch promptly began to assemble small bowls of pudding, crowning them with whipped cream. “Nunnally was nearly killed in the attack that took my mother’s life. She only survived because we got her Underhill. The elves managed to heal her injuries, but it’s a delicate thing. She needs to be in a magic-rich environment for the healing to continue. It’ll take several decades until her own abilities can erase the damage.”
“...I thought elves could heal just about anything?”
“Not those caused by mortal bullets containing iron.”
“Oh.” Suzaku looked over his shoulder, looking at the little girl who only wanted to see her brother so badly. “And you can’t stay Underhill.”
Lelouch said nothing more, but Suzaku could hear the pain in his voice, the pain and the anger at his father, who had forced Lelouch to run when he couldn’t accomplish an impossible task. Suzaku didn’t know the whole story yet; Lelouch only told him a bit at a time, and Suzaku was trying to be patient; he could tell the memory hurt Lelouch deeply. He took Lelouch’s hand, lacing their fingers together, squeezing in reassurance. Lelouch smiled at him, leaning over to capture a kiss. Suzaku kissed him back sweetly. “It’ll be okay.”
“You’ll take her back in the morning?”
The kettle whistled. Lelouch swiftly made tea, before making up a tray and carrying it out to the couch. He settled on one side of Nunnally, leaving Suzaku to settle on her other side. It felt strange, being away from Lelouch - much less not being the center of his attention - but Suzaku tried to focus on supporting his beloved. Nunnally latched onto her brother again for a few minutes before digging into the pudding. Her face lit up at her first experience with Lelouch’s culinary work, and Suzaku chuckled a bit before taking a bite of his own sweet. Lelouch’s cooking was second to none.
“Nunnally, you have to go home in the morning.”
Nunnally immedately put her pudding down. “But, Lelouch - ”
“Nunnally. It isn’t safe for you to be here.” Lelouch captured her hands, looking earnestly into her eyes. “If the healing fails you could be crippled or worse.”
“Won’t you come back Underhill? Euphie said that you’d be coming down to mate soon.”
“How soon?” Suzaku asked, his voice catching in his throat. He wanted Lelouch first. Lelouch hadn’t exactly been cooperative in the month or so since his return.
“Within the next decade.”
Suzaku relaxed. Dragon definition of ‘soon’, then.
“I’m not strong enough yet, Nunnally. Until I have the power to protect you and Suzaku, I can’t stay Underhill.”
Nunnally deflated, her shoulders slumping. “I miss you.”
“I miss you too. But I need you to go back.” Lelouch held her tightly. “Besides, the Queen would be most upset if you left. I believe she likes dress you up.”
“She likes dressing any child up.”
“But you’re the cutest model she’s ever had.” Lelouch smiled.
“I’ll go. But - I want to visit. I know I can’t stay here for a long period of time, but when Euphie comes...” Nunnally looked up at her brother with bright eyes.
“All right. But you have to let her know.”
“Yes!” Nunnally smiled brilliantly.
Lelouch kissed her forehead again. “Now finish your pudding, and we’ll get some sleep.”
Suzaku watched the siblings, a soft smile on his face. With the difference in their ages (or apparent ages, anyway), Nunnally looked more like Lelouch’s daughter than his sister. He had to wonder if Lelouch would be like that with their children some day. He certainly hoped so. Lelouch seemed to catch his pensive state, raising an eyebrow in silent inquiry. Suzaku just shook his head, returning to finish his own dessert.
They could talk in the morning.
Chapter 8: Power Imbalance
I hear Snapshots has been depressing. (Can't read it until after Easter. I am going to be so backlogged. XD)
....this is not exactly a fix for that.
Lelouch woke up feeling incredibly comfortable. He pulled the blanket about his shoulders tighter, snuggling into the warmth, his thoughts numb. Maybe he should just go back to sleep...
Laughter caught his attention. He blinked, then realized Suzaku was leaning over his shoulder, looking incredibly pleased with himself. “Hmm?”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so relaxed.”
Lelouch lifted his head sluggishly. “How did things go with Nunnally?”
“Absolutely fine. Euphie kept apologizing. I told her it was okay but I don’t think she believed me. Are you okay? You usually don’t sleep at your desk.”
Lelouch rolled back his shoulders, trying to shake off the last of his nap. He had settled down to try and do some research when Suzaku had left to return Nunnally Underhill. It seemed between awakening in the middle of the night and the emotional turmoil his sister’s presence had caused, he had been more tired than he realized. “I think I’m fine now.” He smiled at Suzaku. “You did a good job this morning.” Suzaku had been incredibly mature, really. Not that long ago he would have been arguing about Nunnally taking Lelouch’s attention away from him, but he’d been well behaved and let Lelouch get the extra sleep - even covering him with a blanket. Not for the first time, Lelouch wondered if Suzaku’s aging really had slowed down now he was back in to mortal world.
Suzaku preened at Lelouch’s praise. “It wasn’t hard.”
“Hmmm. I don’t know about that.” Lelouch let Suzaku pull him from his chair, the pair walking over to the couch together. “I seem to remember a little boy running off and demanding all my attention so I couldn’t focus on Shirley - ”
Suzaku groaned. “I was like, six!”
“I believe you were actually seven.”
“Anyway, that was a long time ago.” Suzaku paused, then looked horrified as they settled on the couch.
Lelouch laughed. “Oh yes, Suzaku. I will have those stories for all of eternity. And probably more, next time you go into a burning, unless you plan to always be raised by someone else.” Not that Lelouch had any intention of letting anyone else raise Suzaku. He had plenty of experience, though he supposed he could share the job with Euphemia since she seemed to be just as smitten as he had been when he first met Suzaku.
“...maybe I need to start looking into memory charms.” Suzaku moved into Lelouch’s arms, leaning against him. He tugged on the blanket around Lelouch. “I think this does good things to you. You seem happier, too.” Lelouch saw the fabric in Suzaku’s hand and only then realized that it was Suzaku’s cape. No wonder he felt so warm - giddy, even. If there was anything he could become addicted to, it had to be Suzaku’s aura. Having Suzaku in his arms was bad enough; to be bracketed by it made his head spin. He could almost taste Suzaku’s emotions - his pleasure at Lelouch’s relaxed state, his pride at seeing Lelouch in his clothes, more than a bit of possessiveness...
Lelouch shook his head, trying to ignore those seductive feelings. “You shouldn’t give your cape away so easily.” In the hands of a dark path practitioner, a cape could be used against its owner because it was a part of their power.
“I know you wouldn’t abuse it.” Suzaku kissed him, pressing him into the couch. “It looks good on you.”
“Hmm.” Part of Lelouch pointed out he shouldn’t just leave it at that; the rest of him was distracted by a very warm Suzaku kissing his way down Lelouch’s neck.
“I think you’re wearing too much.” Lelouch laughed at the classic pick-up line; Suzaku didn’t manage to say it without blushing, which only made it funnier. “...this went better in my head.”
“Let’s just see how it goes, hmm?” Lelouch asked, nuzzling as his hands slipped under the hem of Suzaku’s shirt. Suzaku’s skin felt amazing, and the phoenix's eyes practically glowed with pleasure at his touch. Lelouch abruptly shivered, feeling cold despite the warmth surrounding him.
“Lelouch?” Suzaku pulled away a bit. Lelouch made a sound of protest, reaching for him. He needed him. “You’re really flushed - are you sick?”
“I don’t get sick. It’s just cold in here.” And he wanted Suzaku back in his arms. That would make everything better. He reached out and pulled him closer, nuzzling. “Just need you.”
“It isn’t cold in here.” Suzaku touched Lelouch’s forehead. Lelouch let out a moan at the touch, both wanting it and oddly pained by it. “You’re burning up!”
“You’re the fire spirit,” Lelouch protested.
Without any warning Suzaku jumped up and ran into the kitchen. Lelouch rose unsteadily to his feet, then felt his legs give out as he lost his balance, falling gracelessly to the floor. He pulled the cloak tighter about him, feeling colder by the moment. Suzaku’s footsteps returned a moment later, and suddenly Lelouch was soaked.
The dragon shook his head, all at once able to think again. “What happened?”
Suzaku grabbed his cloak, pulling it away. Lelouch noticed it was steaming where the water had hit it. “You were burning up.”
Lelouch tried to remember exactly what had happened. The warmth had crept up on him, muddling this thoughts, Suzaku’s emotions pounding at him as they had touched - and then - “Too much fire.”
“Dousing me was the best thing you could have done. Good thinking.” Lelouch started to rise, only to find himself firmly pushed back down to the floor. “I’m just going to get more water.”
“I’ll get it. You say put.”
Lelouch capitulated, settling back down on the carpet. Suzaku returned with a new glass of water, which Lelouch drank carefully. Suzaku kept a close eye on him, nearly hovering. “I’m all right now.”
“But what was that?”
“How much did Euphemia teach you about power types?” Lelouch rolled the glass between his hands. He really wanted a dip in a lake, or at least a pool. He felt vaguely... evaporated, for lack of a better term... yet at the same time he desperately wanted to go back into Suzaku’s arms, danger or not. He hadn’t realized how dangerous Suzaku’s aura could be, but when he took into account the fact that they were opposite elements...
“Not much, then.” Lelouch moved a bit so he was leaning against the front of the couch. As much as he’d rather have this conversation on the couch, he had a feeling Suzaku wasn’t going to let him move an inch. Not to mention he wasn’t sure he could withstand the temptation not to curl up with him again. “Most magical creatures are associated with different elements. You know phoenixes are fire-oriented.” Suzaku nodded. “It’s possible that some exist with a different element, but I’ve never heard of them. Dragons, on the other hand, vary in their powers.”
“But Euphie and Cornelia both use fire magic.”
“That’s a trait common to their clan. Schneizel is an air dragon - and I’m aligned with water. Fire and air are the most common. Water and earth are nearly extinct.” Lelouch squeezed Suzaku’s hand. “Dumping water on me was the best thing you could do. It helped restore my strength.” He patted the damp carpet. Suzaku’s eyes went wide as the water vanished, surging towards Lelouch’s fingertips.
“Okay. But why did you get sick?”
“Overheated,” Lelouch corrected. He paused, trying to figure out how to explain the problem. He needed to somehow convey the feeling he had. Unfortunately he wasn’t very well versed in magic, certainly not as much as he should be, and Suzaku had even less training. He would have to go with an analogy. “Imagine my power as water in a pot on the stove. When you put your cape on me you turned the burner on under the pot. But your cape is nothing compared to you. Together it was too much for me.”
Suzaku went very, very still. Lelouch looked at him in concern, then widened his eyes as he realized that Suzaku was fighting tears. “Lelouch - I could have killed you. Fire and water - we’re opposites. I wish I had never - ”
“Hold it!” Lelouch snapped, cutting off Suzaku’s uninformed conclusions. “It’s okay. It’s only because you boxed me in with your power.” He paused, and added, not quite able to keep the bitterness out of his tone, “and because I’m too weak to match you when you’re at your strongest.”
That shocked Suzaku out of tragic thoughts. “What?”
“Phoenix powers appear to come from the heart.” Lelouch hadn’t known that for sure until a few minutes ago, but Suzaku’s emotions had flowed into him with his power. “Dragon powers are a bit more complicated. There’s a certain amount of ambient power Underhill we can use. There are also reservoirs associated with our elements. For Britannias, however, there’s another option - attention from humanity.” He shifted so he was closer to Suzaku, wrapping one arm around him, both because he wanted to reassure Suzaku that he was alright and because he wanted to touch that aura again.
Suzaku tensed, as if expecting Lelouch to collapse again. Lelouch didn’t let go, but continued his explanation. “When humanity became too powerful for us to protect ourselves - when they began to poison the earth, waters and sky beyond what nature could safely heal - we all went Underhill. The natural entrances, places of great power, were sealed. But because of that, the power humans generate with their dreams and desires wasn’t able to filter through as easily. So they chose a breed of dragon that had a particularly strong ability to withstand human toxins. We also happen to be able to shapeshift, a gift from Merlin as a thank you for our work in Avalon.
“As a result we’re living conduits between Overhill and Underhill. That means we can tap the power that filters through us. Now, if that power is personally focused on us, it becomes even easier. In fact, there are a few members of my clan who live Underhill now, but were famous as humans, whose names are still spoken to this day. That’s good - it actually allows them to continue to act as a living channel, even though they’re no longer on this side.”
“Like who?” Suzaku asked.
“Benjamin Franklin, for one.”
The phoenix's’ eyes went wide. “Seriously?”
“Yes. So I just need to become a little better known, then I’ll have more power. Either that, or just wait. Dragons get better at that sort of thing as they age.” Lelouch didn’t particularly want to wait - Suzaku became more tempting every day - but he could.
“Shouldn’t you be trying to be an actor or something like that?” Suzaku asked.
“Many lawyers go into politics.”
“Doesn’t sound like a way to become famous.”
“Even excluding the more... eccentric figures in politics, if you become a governor or a senator your name is on thousands of pieces of paper. Literally a thousand people may see it a day.”
“All it takes.”
Suzaku shook his head. “I still think you’d be better off trying to become the next Justin Bieber or something. That sounds like it would take forever.”
“You’d want all of those girls shouting after me?” Lelouch teased. Suzaku bristled. “Besides, you’re the one with the singing voice.”
Suzaku blushed. Clearly he didn’t know that Lelouch had heard him singing in the morning - though being a phoenix, it was a given he could sing. He tilted his head, eyes going serious. Lelouch was reminded yet again how much Suzaku had matured since he had returned from Euphemia’s care. “Are you really going to be all right?”
“I’ll be fine,” Lelouch assured him. “In fact, I’ll go take a shower right now. Best thing to do is to be surrounded by my own element.” He leaned over and kissed Suzaku, whose response was light, almost hesitant. Lelouch pulled away. “I’m not going to burst into flames.” Suzaku didn’t look convinced; Lelouch sighed and rose to his feet. “And I’ll think of things that will help balance our power levels. Maybe I’ll start a blog or something.”
Suzaku nodded. “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”
“I will.” Lelouch left the room, pausing just outside the door. Suzaku’s face fell, despair overtaking him. Lelouch closed his eyes. He knew, even without being able to feel it, that Suzaku was worried what had happened today could happen again. Apparently the part about the problem resulting from being bracketed by Suzaku’s power hadn’t sunk in. Lelouch needed to come up with a way to make him see that it wouldn’t be a problem before Suzaku did drastic, like run Underhill or move across the country.
Lelouch had lost Suzaku once. He wouldn’t lose him again.
It was time to make some plans.