Chapter 1: Chapter 1: Amnesia
When they first met, the exiled prince and princess stared up warily at the cocky Prime Minister's son who gleamed at them with unsuppressed hatred for hostilities that ran deeper than their own short lifetimes. The prince and princess were tired from their long journey and the hells that they had already seen together in their homeland, scarred both mentally and physically forever.
Gently, the prince put a protective arm on his sister's shoulders, shielding her from the hostility which seemed to burn from the Japanese boy's eyes.
The words 'leave us alone, we haven't done anything to you yet' were threatening to spill from the young prince's throat, but for some reason he didn't speak. Instead, he felt the anger that had been accumulating for the past few days from his mother's death and his father's actions bubbling out, wishing to scapegoat this boy who was staring at them with such furious animosity for no reason at all…
But before anyone spoke, the Japanese Prime Minister's son sneered at them.
And then he spat at Prince Lelouch's feet, breathing low in the pretty boy's face, "I hate Brits like you."
Lelouch heard his innocent sister gasp inaudibly, with fright, and then unspeakable rage filled him for the unsanitary words that had been spoken in her presence.
Without thinking, even though he knew he had no strength to really hurt the other boy, Lelouch punched him in the face. His own fist cracked from impact with the boy's jaw in pain, because of the delicacy of the prince's fingers. It didn't seem to matter as the unrelenting anger within the prince spoke for itself and merely overflowed at the impudence of this boy who dared to say such things in front of his precious sister.
He watched with quiet satisfaction as he noticed the boy fall to the ground, though the prince's punch had not been strong enough to leave any physical marks. It was enough to know that he could catch the other boy off guard and make him fall, at least once, because the impulsive prince knew that this small victory would soon be crushed by the other boy.
The other boy's green eyes glinted up at him hatefully, as he recovered from Lelouch's punch right away, and then as predicted, gave a roar and brought a blow to the prince's face.
But before that, the prince managed to hiss out, "I hate people who are rude to little girls…"
Then his face met the smashing surface known as the ground, and the last he heard, was his sister's shrieks of worry.
Seven years later… nothing had really changed.
And over the last seven years… Suzaku Kururugi and Lelouch Lamperouge still hated each other beyond anything else.
"What is the first law of thermodynamics?" The 17-year old boy softly whispered to himself.
Sitting on the front steps of Ashford Academy's main building, the Britannian student had a chemistry textbook lying neatly on his lap, accompanied by a notebook in which neat equations were written neatly across the lines in perfect strokes. A mechanical pencil lay gently between two long pale fingers before being put to work to etch lightly across the paper, the answer appearing just seconds after the boy had spoken quietly to himself in a detailed paragraph. The steps were empty, save for the boy in his black and gold uniform, neat black hair slightly ruffled from the wind. A pair of thick-framed plastic glasses lay on the bridge of his nose, sliding just below his violet eyes.
In a few more seconds, filled with quick scribbling and the occasional chirping of the birds above, the textbook was shut in a loud snap and then the notebook accompanied it back into the student's school bag. He was done the day's homework, with about half an-hour to spare in his free period. The student continued to linger on the steps for a few minutes more, just staring aimlessly at the campus sidewalk and the squirrels that scurried across it to the trees shadowing the old institution.
Lelouch Lamperouge preferred days like this, perfectly uneventful and with plenty of free time to spare. He really had no care for subjects such as Chemistry or Biology in particular, but nevertheless, he completed all of his work during school hours so that he'd have time to spend with Nunnally and for the household chores. Besides, Lelouch didn't know if he could take another scolding from his trustful maid (more like a guardian) Sayoko if he neglected his assignments again. It wasn't as if Lelouch was academically challenged. On the contrary, he was quite ahead of his classmates in every subject. Sayoko just insisted that the ex-prince learn some more responsibility for his actions.
Well, it least it was something to pass the time in this horrid place called school.
He pushed his glasses up his nose, squinted up at the sun. It was partially a habitual gesture. His vision had gotten worse over the years, causing him to become ridiculously near-sighted… in a bad way. C.C. and Sayoko insisted that it was because he spent too many nights huddled under the covers with a flashlight reading books. Nunnally just liked buying him new pairs of glasses. Lelouch thought it was too annoying not being able to see two inches from his face without everything going blurry. Thank goodness for glasses.
Any minute, Milly and Rivalz would show up to goad him into heading to Language class, and then they'd spend it playing hangman and bingo instead of copying notes. In the last fifteen minutes before the bell rang, Lelouch would speed-write that day's Language homework and then breathe in relief at the end of another day.
However, such a peaceful day was only wishful thinking, and too good to be true.
It wasn't long before Lelouch felt someone shove his head down the steps, his body sprawling against the cement like tumbleweed and his book bag cluttered down to join him. Hissing from the pain against his joints and the raw contact of sharp cement against skin, Lelouch glared up at the perpetrator and then scowled.
"Don't you have anything better to do, Kururugi?" Lelouch spat at him, hiding his wobbling as he got up to his feet, as if nothing had happened, and picked up his book bag.
Emerald eyes burned into his, smoldering with such passionate hatred that sometimes Lelouch felt as if he would be devoured by such green, and never know his last breath. Suzaku Kururugi stood at the top of the steps, his trademark demonic glare boring into Lelouch. The Prime Minister's son wore Ashford Academy's Uniform sloppily, showing off a shirt that had graphics of chains and flames on it. His tousled caramel curls darkened his scowling face, outlining the pure animosity that Suzaku flaunted towards him.
Suzaku's lips twitched upwards into what could've been a snarl, but instead it made for a very threatening (and sad attempt) at a grin, "Brits shouldn't be sprawling themselves along the steps, now should they? It's public property. Someone could trip," He paused, drawing out the last syllable of the word in a menacing whisper, "…like you."
Really, could this boy do no better?
Lelouch scoffed, straightening his collar and readjusting his glasses, "Well if someone didn't take up so much room, I wouldn't have tripped."
Those green eyes flashed dangerously. Lelouch inwardly flinched.
"You accusing me of pushing you, Lamperouge?"
It wasn't a good idea to rile Kururugi up more than necessary. He didn't need Sayoko and Nunnally fussing over yet another set of 'accidental' injuries of his again. But his pride refused to let this stupid idiot get the last word or give him the satisfaction of knowing that he had sent Lelouch crawling away from yet another 'fight.' There was only so much abuse Lelouch could take in a year.
Today, he decided that it wasn't worth his effort to deal with Suzaku. So Lelouch quickly shook his head, though (for pride's sake) he did not let any hint of fear flood to his face. Instead, he smiled thinly at Suzaku, as if he were something sour.
"No. Of course not," said Lelouch crisply, eyes narrowing at the oppressing student, while his voice spoke volumes of false joy and crisp sweetness. "That would be illogical, wouldn't it? Now, as much as I love indulging your horrid sense of humour, I believe that the next bell is about to ring so and I have a Language class to attend, so please, enjoy your day."
Suzaku looked as if Lelouch had thrown mud on him and then told him to roll on the grass to get clean. He was furious from Lelouch's rather obvious display of sarcasm and growled, "You—"
"Hey Kururugi! The Vice-principal wants to see you in his office," someone called from the doors.
With that distraction, Lelouch quickly turned away and headed towards the other side of the school, which held an entirely different entrance to the classrooms than the one that Suzaku was currently blocking at the stairs. He did not check to see Suzaku's reaction, but he knew that the other boy was probably storming his way to the Vice-principal's office at this moment. That was a relief. Lelouch had been quite close to losing his temper and just shouting obscenities at the other (again), only to get beaten up (again) or to be saved by Milly or Rivalz (again).
Lelouch scowled to himself, readjusting his glassed once more. He hated having to rely on others about his not-bullying problem (denial, much?).
If there was a reason for Lelouch's lack of peace at school it would be named Suzaku Kururugi. The Prime Minister's son and himself had never been on good terms, they had hated each other upon first meeting. It didn't help when Suzaku had put worms and spiders into his home when they were kids, or pushed him multiple times down hills and in the mud. It also didn't erase the fact that Lelouch found revenge by making Suzaku drink prune juice (He hated it as a kid) and then embarrassing him in front of his friends with sarcastic comments.
Their childhood animosity seemed to have gotten worse over the years, rather than better. It soon became clear as the boys grew up together (Suzaku, as the Prime Minister's son and Lelouch as the ex-prince and hostage) that Suzaku had grown into the bigger of the two, and the stronger.
The little pranks… soon became beatings and public humiliation. Lelouch still remembered the fateful day of his thirteenth birthday quite clearly… when Suzaku had beaten him black and blue, for some reason that Lelouch didn't know. Sporting a scar, still, from that incident, Lelouch had learned from that day on not to incur the boy's wrath. There were never any encounters more serious than that one, but that was probably because Lelouch and Nunnally had soon been taken into the care of Guildroy Ashford, a close friend of Genbu Kururugi.
Genbu had figured out that Lelouch and Nunnally held no value to Charles Vi Britannia as hostages, and seeing them as normal children, decided to let them go free and live a normal life in Japan. He had made sure to get someone he trusted to take care of them, and then proceeded to make arrangements for the two children's new lives, starting with a name change. Lelouch and Nunally Vi Britannia became Lelouch and Nunally Lamperouge, after their late mother, who had died of cancer.
After that, the prince and his sister had moved out of the Kururugi estate and into Ashford land to attend school there. Lelouch had gained a haven away from Suzaku and his racist jeers, and had even made (reluctantly) a new friend by the name of Milly Ashford who thrived in Japanese culture. Ashford Academy was a unique school, mostly Japanese in population with a few Britannians attending it.
Three years later, Suzaku Kururugi enrolled into the Academy. Needless to say, the Prime Minister's son gained huge popularity within the school and successfully turned the student population (save for Lelouch's few friends) against Lelouch Lamperouge. There were mixed feelings about this, as many girls still secretly chased after Lelouch (much to his annoyance, you'd think that after becoming the social outcast you'd get rid of some pests…). Most students didn't care about the issue at all and still treated Lelouch normally in class.
But no one ever intervened when Suzaku pushed Lelouch into a locker or made him trip purposefully down the stairs. Milly and Rivalz would always stand up for Lelouch, of course. But they were the only ones. Plus, Lelouch found it to be an insult to his pride when they did so and he threatened them not to (of course, they did so anyways).
He could handle Kururugi. He wasn't scared of this stupid racist numbskull at all. It was worth a few (ok, maybe more than a few) bruises every week for every insult Lelouch could spring on him.
Besides, this time he was lucky. He had gotten out of yet another 'Kururugi-Lamperouge spat' (as Milly had named it) without a scratch and with any more luck, he would not be seeing head or tail of that boy until next week.
Life was good.
"Guess who owes me lunch tomorrow, my dear Lulu?" A voice interrupted his thoughts, its very cheerfulness and mischief making Lelouch flinch upon hearing it.
It could only be none other than Milly Ashford. Joy. Please note the sarcasm.
"Let me guess… I do?" Lelouch replied dryly as arms encircled his shoulders in a playful hug.
"That's right!" Milly chuckled, "I have trained you well, my pet! After all, who just saved your lovely ass from getting mauled by Kururugi again with that Vice-principal excuse but moi?"
His eye began to twitch from annoyance and from her close proximity, but as usual Milly chose not to notice. Instead she began to hum to herself, letting her arms dangle around her (self-proclaimed toy) best friend. She waited for Lelouch's temperament to simmer down as she knew it soon would (she hadn't been friends with him for all these years for nothing).
Sometimes Lelouch questioned his own sanity when he realized that this type of witch was his so-called best friend. She knew him too well, using all the knowledge that she accumulated about him to annoy him to death with elaborate schemes which seemed too impossible to be real. But this was Ashford, and this was Milly. Lelouch couldn't imagine the school without her extravagant festivals—it just wouldn't be Ashford Academy without them.
Smiling enigmatically to himself, Lelouch replied smoothly, "Milly, you are a thorn in my side."
Of course, she beamed back. She knew it meant, thank you.
The bell rang, signaling the cue to pack up and leave the school grounds. The teacher nodded to his students, reminding them of the day's homework and then proceeded to get ready to go home himself. By the back of the classroom, past rows of parallel desks of polished oak, Rivalz and Milly were hovering over the hurried ex-prince who was busy shoving books into his bag. His glasses dangled on the edge of his nose, as Lelouch was too absorbed in his task to push them up, and he had finally packed his last notebook.
"Better hurry on home to Nunnally, Lulu," Milly chirped, slapping him heartily on the back. "Another epic journey for the valiant Lelouch Lamperouge as he braves the Tokyo streets and traffic to get to his poor frail sister who he loves so much! It brings tears my eyes!"
Rivalz sniggered lightheartedly at the student council president's dramatic portrayal of the Lamperouge siblings, "You up for another match, tomorrow, Lelouch? I can schedule it whenever you want. There's this Britannian Noble visiting Japan who's all full of himself… it'd bring him to his knees to see one of his own kind, a student, mop the floor with him!"
"Sure," Lelouch said smoothly, walking out of the classroom with his friends, "how does 3 o' clock sound? Sayoko-san will murder me if I skip any more classes this month."
"Perfect! Can't wait to see the looks on the aristocrat's face!"
"Lulu's so naughty and sweet," Milly joined in on Rivalz's enthusiastic mood, "punishing the big bad nobles while gaining riches to pay for his sweet sister's health expenses."
Twitching again, as they turned another corner in the hallway towards the school exit, Lelouch scowled once more, "Stop dramatizing everything I do, Milly. You make me sound like a tragic hero from some Shakespearean play."
"Hm. That could work. I wonder who your Romeo would be?"
"Milly!" The ex-prince flushed red as Milly and Rivalz burst into simultaneous fits of laughter.
"Le…Lelouch as Juliet… Oh my god, my ribs hurt… Can you see him in a dress?" Rivalz clutched his stomach, holding on to Milly's shoulder.
"He'd look totally hot!" Milly chortled.
Simmering (and no, Lelouch did not huff) he quickened his pace and walked right out of the school, stomping down the steps towards the path. He knew that Milly and Rivalz meant well, he really did, but there was only so much teasing he could take about his figure. It wasn't his fault that he was thinner than most males his age with more slender limbs and delicate looking fingers. It certainly wasn't his fault that he had been labeled as a 'pretty' boy by many (even from the same sex, Lelouch was loathe to admit) and had an obsession with making his clothes look pristine and immaculate. That didn't make him a damn female (not that he had anything against women… just Milly and his fangirls).
Such remarks also brought up some buried memories of his childhood. He recalled Suzaku sneering about his weak-looking physique when they were twelve, and then having a shovel thrown at his face. That had been one of the bad days, and he had never been able to look at himself without remembering how correct Suzaku was. He did look weak—like a normal little boy. It frustrated him sometimes. How would people take him seriously in the future if they were busy laughing at his body? How would he be able to take care of Nunnally properly?
He would work out… if he had had enough stamina or motivation to do so… or free time. But he didn't have any. So he was out of luck.
"Lelouch! Wait up!" Rivalz called after him, Milly walking up behind him.
Irritated, he was about to retort that he would not slow down for the two traitors when there was a sudden smashing sound outside the school grounds. Lelouch whirled around, jaw dropping at the site of a disastrous car crash in front of Ashford Academy's main gates.
A small produce truck had smashed into the side of a red van, which seemed to have been attempting to turn left in the confusion. From his view, Lelouch could see that several mirrors and windows were smashed, and the side doors of the van seemed to have been torn off from the front of the truck.
A car crash.
As he ran closer to take a look at the scene, after shouting at Milly and Rivalz to call for an ambulance and the headmaster, he was relieved to see that there had only been a single passenger in the van. She was now crawling out of her van through the broken door, with only a few scratches. The truck driver, on the other hand, had already stepped out of his truck to apologize vehemently to the woman, promising to cover all of the costs for the repairs.
Letting out a sigh that Lelouch hadn't even been aware that he had been holding in the first place, he surveyed the disarray with a sweeping gaze.
Wait. What was that?
Stepping closer, past the woman and the truck driver, Lelouch spotted a mangled bicycle that had clearly run into the truck upon the crash, and then rebounded towards the streetlamp. That meant that someone else had been involved in this crash, and Lelouch had seen no one else walk out unharmed which meant... they could be seriously injured.
His heart quickened as calm took over.
"Hey!" Lelouch called over to the woman and truck driver, "I think someone else got hit too! Help me look!"
Startled, the two others ran immediately to his side, faces going into surprise as they spotted the twisted bicycle frame, reaching quick conclusions as Lelouch had. All three of them began to search around the two destroyed vehicles for any sign of another body, fearing for the worst. They were careful not to step on any shards of glass, but also careless enough in their desperation, to accidentally let their skin get scathed with a mild brush in a hurried step.
It wasn't long before Lelouch spotted a limp hand, poking from under the truck. He shouted automatically, "Over here!"
The woman and truck driver scurried to where they heard him, spotting the hand where Lelouch was standing. They worked together to drag the body out from under the truck. When the bicycle had hit the truck, the body had probably fallen off and slipped right beneath. Lelouch shuddered to think what might have happened if the truck hadn't stopped…
This hand… Lelouch noted, as he pulled with all his might alongside the woman and truck driver. It felt familiar to him. It couldn't be…?
More and more, the body was successfully dragged out. The woman noted the body's pulse only to tell the truck driver and Lelouch in relief that the person was alive. There was a heartbeat. Soon they managed to get the person's legs out, and the rest of his body. For some reason, his head remained last, as they didn't want to cause a concussion of any sort if the person's skull hit the bottom of the truck in their attempts to pull him or her out…
This boy was wearing the Ashford Academy uniform, and Lelouch recognized the way the uniform jacket was sprawled messily to show off a flaming chained shirt…
His eyes widened as he saw auburn curls and a tanned, normally scowling face, emerge from beneath the truck, as he felt his heart swirl into an unexplainable depth of darkness. He couldn't quite breathe, yet somehow he managed to voice out a harsh yet inaudible whisper.
This was wrong. Lelouch didn't know why he was sitting here, waiting in the hospital halls for some stuck-up Japanese boy who knew nothing but how to hate him. If anything, Lelouch should've been laughing in Suzaku's unconscious face, walked away after the ambulance had pulled up and then sat at home happily with his sister Nunnally.
Yet here he was.
The woman involved in the car crash was named Viletta Nu. Luckily enough it seemed as though she was a nurse and she had been able to check for Kururugi's condition. Confirming that it seemed as though Suzaku had only suffered from a bump on the head, she had informed Lelouch and Ohgi (the truck driver) that he would need to go to a hospital and get several scans to check for any internal bleeding of the sort. Not long after, the ambulance showed up and then Lelouch got a ride from a distressed Ohgi (who was still extremely guilty about the crash and convinced it was his fault) and Viletta in a taxi to the Emergency room.
Now, all three of them were sitting awkwardly in the waiting room while Ohgi paced nervously back and forth. The truck driver (though Lelouch learned that he was also an elementary teacher) jumped when Viletta snapped at him to stop fretting like a mother hen and sit down. Sheepishly, after hearing Viletta hiss that it wasn't his fault, he complied. Sitting across from the two, Lelouch felt even more out of place.
When his cell phone rang, signaling an overprotective Sayoko's call, Lelouch had excused himself to speak with her, reassuring the maid that he had not been kidnapped by stalkers and telling her that he was merely waiting in a hospital.
"What do you mean you're in a hospital? Did you get your legs broken?"
Lelouch could just picture Sayoko sharpening her katana, prepared to slice anyone who touched her charge. He shook his head (despite the fact that Sayoko would not be able to see this on the phone) and replied hastily, "No, I'm waiting to see the condition of my… classmate. He was in a car crash and I got dragged out here."
"Oh my… Is it Rivalz?" Her voice lowered into a hushed whisper of shock.
"Excuse me," a nurse walked out of the swinging doors, holding a clipboard in her hands, "the father of Mr. Suzaku Kururugi has requested to see you all at this moment."
Ohgi got to his feet instantly, bumbling, "Is he alright? How's his condition?"
"Sorry Sayoko-san, I have to go, the nurse is calling us," Lelouch told her quickly, "I'll be home soon, give Nunnally all my love."
He hung up and followed and anxious Ohgi and worried Viletta into another pristine white room. He couldn't help but feel uncomfortable in hospitals. They all looked the same on the inside, always so…white. His stomach clenched tightly as he recalled all of the memories that accompanied him whenever he stepped into one. For Lelouch, hospitals would never cease to remind him of death.
When the nurse led them into a waiting room, where a glass window separated them from another room, Lelouch spotted someone he had never expected to see again. Genbu Kururugi sat across from them, leaning on a plastic chair against a long smooth table. The nurse nodded to him and then excused herself from the room. Viletta and Ohgi's eyes widened in recognition of the Japanese Prime Minister and then lowered their eyes in respect, inwardly panicking at the thought of the consequences that the Prime Minister could punish them with for harming his son (even if it was an accident).
Genbu Kururugi had not changed at all. There were a few barely visible wrinkles on his face, but other than that, the politician looked as stern and foreboding as ever. He still towered over Lelouch, reminding him of his own bastard father, and still wore neat business suits as stiffly as ever. His beady eyes glinted at Lelouch in recognition. Then he motioned for the three of them to sit.
It was quiet, for more reasons than one. Ohgi and Viletta shuffled nervously.
"I don't think there is any need for introductions. I know all about you, and you, obviously, know me," Genbu boomed suddenly, in that low (calm) voice of his.
Beside him, Lelouch felt Ohgi tense.
"My son," Genbu pointed to the glass window, for the three of them to direct their attention to.
Beyond the glass window, sat Suzaku Kururugi, unaware of the four occupants on the other side of the wall watching him. But this wasn't the same Suzaku Kururugi that Lelouch was familiar with… There was something off about him. Lelouch noticed right away that Suzaku was lacking his usual cocky attitude and that nasty sneer of his. Something seemed… more innocent about this Suzaku. His eyes were wide and apprehensive, nervous, as if he didn't know what to do.
He looked like a lost child.
"The bump that he suffered in the crash has triggered a memory loss. My son remembers nothing—he won't even come near me," Genbu continued on, as if they were discussing business. But Lelouch caught the slight tremors by the end of his words. "I wonder who I should punish for this…"
"No! Please, it's my fault, sir. I apologize deeply; I'll do anything to pay for my crime. Please leave Ms. Nu and Lelouch-san out of this!" Ohgi bowed his head, cracking from the pressure.
But he was silenced as Genbu raised his hand, he eyed them all intently, "I have no intention of punishing either of you. Obviously, Lelouch-kun wasn't involved at all… I merely brought you all here in attempt to revive some of my son's memories. Right now, he's unstable… he doesn't trust anyone and doesn't even remember his own name. I was…hoping … that if he saw someone from the accident, maybe something in his memories would return."
Lelouch raised an eyebrow. He knew that Genbu Kururugi had a soft side, proven when he allowed Lelouch and Nunnally to fall under the care of Guildroy Ashford, but this seemed a bit far-fetched. No one would be sued or thrown in jail? Was Genbu really going through some change of heart? Lelouch had always thought that the Prime Minister was a little more fatherly towards his son. Something didn't fit…
"Yes, of course…," Ohgi nodded, calming down considerably, "we'd be happy to help…"
Viletta got up to follow Ohgi into the other room where Suzaku was, Lelouch was about to leave the room entirely when Genbu clasped his shoulder, "I didn't say you could leave."
"I wasn't involved in the crash, so it's pointless for me to be here also…," Lelouch told him.
"But you were childhood friends—" Lelouch scoffed at Genbu's words, "—and you came all this way to check on my son's condition. I think you'll have a better chance of reawakening any of his memories."
Right… thought Lelouch, memories of violence.
He didn't fancy the idea of Suzaku seeing him and then triggering a memory of some kind of suppressed hatred, only to get punched in the face in the middle of the hospital. It just wasn't Lelouch's idea of fun.
But Genbu's imploring, almost desperate, look made Lelouch give in.
"Fine," he muttered, "It can't hurt to try. But don't blame me when he starts clawing at my face in a fit of who-knows-what."
They told him that his name was Suzaku Kururugi. He was seventeen. He attended Ashford Academy. His mother had died at childbirth. His father was the Prime Minister of this country that they called Japan. He had been in a car crash, but only suffered a minor bump on the head. They gave him a list of names of those who were supposedly his friends, reciting stories with mirth that didn't quite meet their eyes.
But he didn't remember any of this.
He jerked backwards nervously whenever a nurse came to touch him. For some reason, he only felt afraid and lost, as if he were a ship without an anchor on a rocky sea. It was as if someone had sent him to an unknown planet. Everyone felt alien to him, like an enemy. He didn't want to be near any other human being, without flinching or lashing out. Paranoia filled his mind, whispering for him to get out and find some place safe to hide.
They told him that complete amnesia was extremely rare. It would only be a matter of time before he started to remember things. It wasn't going to be permanent. His father would come to take him home in an instant. He was in good hands—safe.
He didn't believe them.
Noticing the wariness of which he had given them, they had locked him into this room to 'prevent injury'. Suzaku (if that was even his name) wondered if they feared injury that he might inflict upon himself, or injury that he might inflict onto them out of spite. Eventually, Suzaku had settled for rocking back and forth, fidgeting on the seat of his bed. His mind raced with possibilities as he thought like a trapped animal—how to escape, how to get out.
Some time later they had let his apparent father come to see him. But as soon as Suzaku had set eyes upon the gaunt man standing stiffly before him, he had felt nothing but an utter revulsion (of which he had no idea where it came) and snarled at the man to get the hell away from him. If that man was really his father and his name was really Suzaku, then why did he feel such disgust towards this man? He had wanted nothing to do with him and with some violent fits that he didn't know he was capable of; he had managed to coerce the hospital staff to pull his not-father out of the room.
Now? Well, now Suzaku bided his time, swinging his feet back and forth under the bed frame, breathing in and out as much as he could manage.
Two new intruders entered into his space. One was a tall tanned woman with silver hair, who had several scratches on her body. The other was an average looking man who looked as if he had just met the devil.
They both seemed cautious of him—it made Suzaku want to laugh. Why were they being wary of him? He was the only one with reason to be wary.
Unlike his earlier visitor who had claimed to be his father, it was clear from the way these two acted that this was their first time meeting him. Suzaku felt a little bit better, knowing that there was no expected reaction from him. Still, he kept his guard up. You never knew what tricks these strangers had up their sleeves.
"Ah… Suzaku-san, is it? You probably don't know me, but I was the truck driver in the crash… your bicycle collided into the side of my truck when my truck swerved into Ms. Nu's van here. My name is Kaname Ohgi," said the man carefully, guilt written all over his face, "I'm truly sorry about what happened. I don't blame you if you never forgave me."
The Ms. Nu person put her hands on her hips and scoffed, "I thought I told you it wasn't all your fault. If it makes you feel better, I was talking on my cell phone while driving dropped it accidentally and then my hand slipped and I ended swerving my car into yours. We're both to blame."
They continued to argue together like a married couple. Suzaku raised an eyebrow, still apprehensive of these unknown people. Why were they apologizing to him? It wasn't as if he remembered the so-called accident anyways. He only knew what others had told him—that hadn't been much. He only eyed them suspiciously, saying nothing as they continued to bicker amongst themselves.
Shuffling sounds redirected his attention to the doorway, where he saw the man, who had claimed to be his father, enter. Reacting instinctively, Suzaku shot up on his bed and shuffled as to the farthest corner of it, creating as much of a distance between himself and the man as possible. His mouth had opened before he knew it, forming a low growl-like noise. He didn't know what made him react in such a way, but he could only trust his instincts right now, his instincts told him that his man was to be hated. So Suzaku (as this was all he knew so far out of his amnesiac state) listened.
The man—Suzaku recalled the nurse telling him that he was Genbu Kururugi—frowned at him, disapprovingly, "Are you still acting so immaturely to your own father, Suzaku?"
Ms. Nu and Ohgi paused in their argument, glancing nervously between him and Genbu. They were like startled rabbits in crossfire. Suzaku didn't blame them for feeling out of place. He would to, in their position.
"Shut up," Suzaku said lowly, eyes narrowed, "I don't know you."
To this, Genbu only gave an exasperated sigh.
From behind Genbu, a melodic voice scoffed, making Suzaku lower his guard, "Didn't I tell you, Genbu-san? Kururugi's just as charming as ever."
That was when Suzaku saw him and he knew that he was safe.
A boy his age with pale skin and slender limbs, delicate jaw and hard violet eyes which made Suzaku's heart twist in triple somersaults. Sleek ebony locks of hair were combed neatly on his head while bangs just nearly complimenting his eyes. The boy wore the same school uniform as him and had a frown on his pretty features. His glasses flashed at Suzaku, but somehow enhanced the boy's beauty in a way Suzaku couldn't describe and when Suzaku looked directly at him…
…He knew that he had been connected to this boy somehow.
Without a word, Suzaku broke into a huge smile, as if he had just found his long-lost friend, and (following his instincts) crossed the room in two huge steps to throw his arms around the boy in an engulfing embrace. The boy's name entered into his mind as soon as he inhaled his lavender scent…
Fate had a very twisted sense of humour when it landed Lelouch into this position.
If anything, Lelouch had expected to be throttled, kicked in the stomach and then thrown out the window (maybe that was a slight exaggeration of Suzaku's behaviour towards him, but it was pretty damn close to the real thing). Instead, he had found himself locked in a bone-crushing hug which seemed to crush his lungs and ability to breathe. All Lelouch could feel was an unsettling warmth as comforting arms seemed to wrap around him, as if afraid to let him go.
Now Lelouch wasn't a huggable person. Sure, he would embrace Nunnally from time to time and Milly made it her mission to do everything possible to vex him (which included throwing her arms around him when he clearly hated physical touch of any kind), but most of the time he tolerated zero physical touch. Period.
Which was why, at this moment, Lelouch was (attempting) to pry himself from this iron grip, "Let go of me, damn it!"
That had worked wonders. Instead of jumping back like Lelouch wanted him too, Kururugi was actually tightening his hold around Lelouch's waist, burying his nose in Lelouch's hair. And wait… was Kururugi actually sniffing his hair?
Lelouch snapped, "I said, get the hell off of me!"
The other occupants of the room watched with amusement as Suzaku clung to Lelouch's arm, as if Lelouch were a precious plushie of his. To Lelouch's growing annoyance, Suzaku actually smirked at him.
No, it wasn't a hateful, dark smirk that Suzaku usually bore when he was about to shove the ex-prince into a pole or kick him into the mud. It was a… a bright smirk, playful, which erased all of the harsh features that Lelouch was used to seeing on Suzaku's face. It made Suzaku look brighter, happier… much kinder.
It was shocking how different Suzaku could look with just a plain smile on his face—and Lelouch couldn't help but stare oddly.
"What?" Suzaku asked, innocently (No, his mind interjected, the Suzaku he knew could never pull off a playful innocent glance!), "Is there something on my face?"
Realizing his mistake, Lelouch tore his gaze away. This Suzaku, so… so… he couldn't quite put it into words but this Suzaku unsettled him, made him uncomfortable. He tried being aloof, glaring daggers at this unperturbed and perky (Again, the Suzaku he knew could never be this annoyingly cheery) Japanese boy hanging off his arm.
"No," he snapped, "but there is an extremely stupid smile there. Now would you do me the kind favor of relinquishing your hold on my arm?"
"Mm…," this new Suzaku pretended to be thoughtful, "I don't wanna."
To add to Lelouch's list of burdens, he seemed to snuggle (yes, Lelouch had just used the world snuggle) even closer against Lelouch's shoulder.
"Genbu-san, I demand that you remove your son from me at once!" Lelouch barked at the intimidating man, who seemed to be trying to hide a very rare smile from his face. It didn't help that Ohgi and Viletta were giggling together in the background. Damn them.
The effect of Lelouch speaking to someone other than him was instantaneously. Suzaku yanked poor Lelouch even closer to him, away from Genbu, while glowering darkly at the man, as if he had tried to take his Lelouch away from him. Lelouch had yelped at the possessive treatment, wondering what he had done in his past life to deserve this.
"Stay away from him," Suzaku growled at Genbu, or anyone else who dared to get near his (captive) Lelouch for that matter.
The words he's mine seemed to slip into the air, but Lelouch sorely hoped that he was imagining this.
Honestly. What happened here? Suzaku Kururugi, the boy who had hated his guts from day one, got into an accident, loses his memories and then latches on to Lelouch like a leech? Not good.
He could feel himself turning blue already.
"Suzaku!" Lelouch hissed out at him, "I'm not going anywhere, so stop behaving like a child! You could at least have the decency of lowering your voice to your father—though I can understand the underlying nerve and desire to do so—this is not the time for your family soap opera!"
Genbu's eyes widened considerably when Suzaku said his name, but Lelouch was too irritated with the Japanese Prime Minister's son to process this.
"I told you to behave, Suzaku. The sooner you start remembering and what-not, the sooner we can all go home and get back to our lives. Obviously you don't remember anything from seeing any of us so—"
Suzaku stared imploringly at him (honestly, this alien Suzaku was the equivalent of an adorable puppy of some kind) while Genbu smiled in an I-know-something-you-don't-and-now-I'm-going-to-ruin-your-day kind of way.
"You… said my name, didn't you…?" The former Britannian prince said dryly, though he knew the answer already.
However, Suzaku had the infuriating nerve to nod happily at him.
His irritancy rose by at least fifty degrees. He could feel the complications coming as he seethed out scathingly, "So… that means you actually do remember something about your life. You remember me."
Oh god this couldn't be good…
"Well," Suzaku chirped, "just your name. It's a nice one. Lelouch. I could say it all day."
Was it possible for Genbu's evil smirk of doom to rise even higher? Oh please, Lelouch groaned, he really hoped that it wasn't going to come to this…
"Lelouch… I have a request," said Genbu, though it was more like an order.
Adopting a growl and a protective stance in front of Lelouch once more, Suzaku glowered at him. Lelouch wanted to punch something to his own dismay and panic. Genbu merely smiled enigmatically to them both, making Lelouch's senses scream for him to run as far away as he could from this room…
"I would be pleased if you would let my son live with you for the next couple of weeks, at least until most of his memories come back. Obviously, from the slip of your name, you must have something to do with triggering back his sense of self… What do you think about that, Suzaku, my son?"
Dear Lord in heaven, please, God, no.
It was amazing how quickly this freakishly bright new Suzaku beamed out of happiness (the first emotion other than animosity directed towards his father) like a child at Christmas.
"Yes, I'd love to spend more time with Lelouch!"
The two responses formulated at the exact same time. Off to the side, Viletta and Ohgi exchanged amused glances.
Both Genbu and Suzaku gave Lelouch a mix between mortified and confused gapes. Lelouch turned his head, adopting a persona of indifference, "Why should I take him in? In case you haven't been made aware of this already, Genbu Kururugi, your son has shown me nothing but loathing since the first day I met him," He cast a dark look at amnesic Suzaku, who seemed to cringe when he did so (the Suzaku he knew would never have cringed), "I don't see the point of us being in the same household together. We're nothing close to being friends, as far as I'm concerned."
The Japanese Prime Minister frowned at him, tone rising, "Now listen here, I've been nothing but kind to you and your sister yet you—"
"Is that true?"
If it weren't for the sharp hitch of the question, Lelouch doubted that anyone would've heard it, for Suzaku's voice was small and timid, hurt and wounded in a way that Lelouch would never have dreamed possible.
Opening his mouth, about to criticize the boy once more, Lelouch found himself trapped under a truly pitiful yet piercing green gaze, which seemed to be filled with… with something Lelouch couldn't even begin to describe. But the emotion, there in Suzaku's eyes, cut Lelouch's voice into a deafening hiss of air.
"Is it true that I treated you with loathing?" Suzaku asked innocently, eyes wide with horror that Lelouch couldn't understand.
He frowned, "If you want me to be blunt, you hated my guts indubitably and never let me forget it."
Suzaku's jaw dropped, as if he'd been told that there was no such thing as a happy ending. He looked so devastated with himself, that even Lelouch wanted to go over and said a comforting word or to. However, the ex-prince restrained himself. This was Suzaku for goodness' sake, no matter what form of personality he seemed to have taken. He knew that there was no sympathy needed with this boy.
"I can't believe that… surely… surely I'd remember such a thing…," Suzaku said imploringly, gripping harder against Lelouch's body.
This reminded Lelouch that he really didn't like physical touch, especially from people who, he knew, hated him.
"Judging from the multiple occurrences involving my face meeting the floor courtesy of your fist, I would assume that, yes, it is true," Lelouch said dryly.
"No!" Suzaku shouted, making all occupants in the room jump slightly, "I know I wouldn't hurt you. This can't be right! How could I remember your name, remember that I… that I'm…," he caught himself, unsure of how to word his thoughts, sneaking glances at Lelouch and his so-called father before continuing, "that I'm fond of you if what you say is true?"
The Japanese Prime Minister's lips curled upwards once more, as if in victory.
Lelouch did not cease his cold air, "Maybe its brain damage."
Insulted, Suzaku puffed up his cheeks, "It is not brain damage. Its how I… how I feel about you."
"Really?" came the sarcastic remark.
"Yes, really," Suzaku seemed to grow taller in confidence, filled with mad emotions that Lelouch would never associate with the real Suzaku.
The challenge was there.
Violet eyes burned into green and vice versa. It seemed as though Genbu, Ohgi and Viletta were too nervous to break the spell, the standstill between the two boys.
Then, Suzaku, after looking as if he were battling an internal conflict with himself, let go of Lelouch, a determined gaze firing up within him. His eyes stayed glued to Lelouch's, and he took a deep breath, deciding that he was going to make this decision no matter what. Then he said those three dreaded words with such seriousness, conviction and a bubbling pride...
"I love you, Lelouch Lamperouge."
…and moved forward to give a messy kiss on the lips against the shocked Britannian boy's face.
Ohgi blushed, Viletta gave a wolfish grin at the sight of boy-on-boy action while Genbu didn't know if he should look pleased (that he was right about all of his guesses) or scandalized (that his son was assaulting his former hostage).
As Lelouch spluttered and shoved the grinning idiot off of him with a bright cherry hue on his face, he was induced into a state of speechlessness and soundless catlike hisses, while Suzaku looked like he had gone to heaven and back.
"So," Suzaku said cheerfully, licking his lips, "when do I move in?"
"What? You—I—this isn't…! I'm calling my lawyer! I'm not going to let you near fifty meters of me, you vile impudent—"
"Well, I think this confirms that Suzaku's recovery lies with you, Lelouch Lamperouge," Genbu interrupted diplomatically, "I'll go call your maid Sayoko-san and your guardian Guildroy-kun to arrange the living quarters for my son, let's not cause any trouble now…"
"But Kururugi-san, surely you won't—"
"I think I can decide what's best for my son, thank you. Besides, I didn't see you arguing with that kiss," Genbu said, purposefully not playing fair.
Suzaku grinned deviously at Lelouch, who paled considerably.
After that display, Genbu was not going to let the chance for Suzaku's memories to return pass, even if he had to sacrifice Lelouch's prude decency.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2: Second Chances
Winter in Japan wasn't nearly as cold as in Britannia, but if you were a child living in a small storage house with little heat or blankets, that was a different issue.
The young prince had gone out to fetch more firewood, all of his own blankets given to his dear sister. She was so cocooned in so much warmth that she resembled a giant marshmallow, buried in quilts. He had even given her the precious blanket that his mother had gave him for his fifth birthday. Normally the princess would argue against it but she had been asleep when he had draped it over her so she couldn't protest.
Luckily the young prince was a resourceful boy and had come up with a crude fireplace. When he had made sure that his sister was as comfortable as possible and couldn't possibly catch a cold from the temperature, he snuck out into the night, wearing only his trousers and a light shirt. They alone provided his defense against winter and they were poor shields.
Yet the prince continued to search for wood. They would need it in the coming days, if none of the servants would deliver his message to Prime Minister Kururugi for firewood. He wasn't blind, he knew that the Prime Minister was kinder than most. It was merely the servants, prejudiced in their views that prevented their stay from being bearable.
Whispers ran through the trees and the prince shivered, his fingers feeling numb around the considerable amount of wood he had scavenged for.
Then came the snap of a branch and the prince jumped, turning around wildly. "Who's there? I'm warning you, right now, I—"
Hands clamped around the prince's mouth before he could speak further and suddenly he found himself at the end of a wooden katana and sprawled against the dirt and dead leaves. The prince scowled, the pain mixing with his numb skin, and he raised his hands in both panic and blind fury. Swatting wildly at the unseen predator, Lelouch cried out, "take this, you loaf!" before his hands slammed against skin and the intruder was knocked back, but only barely.
The prince got up quickly, about to run. The shadow moved faster though and grabbed his wrist, preventing the prince's movement. Reacting instinctively, the prince pulled back, as far as possible, but ended up in a strange wrestle with the other figure—something, no, someone his size—and then tumbling backwards.
The last the prince remembered was seeing a pair of wild green eyes, full of hate and loathing and the words—
"You filthy Brit monster!"
They fell into nothing, an abyss of nothing.
-2- Second Chances
The two guardians of the Lamperouge siblings stood dumbfounded at the door. One—a maid trained in the top martial arts—had a dangerous glint in her eyes; her aura showing absolute contempt, after she recognized her guest. And the other—a former knight of the rounds who had traveled to Japan to find his beloved Marianne's children—was cracking his knuckles slowly. They were like twin gods of thunder, waiting to storm upon their unfortunate victim, who, in their opinion, deserved every bit of vengeance they could bestow upon him.
Opposite of them stood three figures, glued to the pavement of the steps below—whether it was from fear or foolhardiness was yet to be determined. In front of the pair of teenagers, the Prime Minister of Japan was in a rare state of apprehension, subtle fear glinting in his eyes. Nevertheless, he stood straight and proud, as an esteemed politician should, ready to face the storm. Behind him, Lelouch was more worried about the lethal grip around his waist by his self-proclaimed lover (who was, by the way, not).
If anything, Lelouch was more afraid of the relentless protective gaze which emerged once the shock of seeing who was at the door dissipated.
"So… Kururugi, what have you done to our Lelouch-sama this time?" The threat, layered with promises of eternal pain and suffering, was said with a face of absolute politeness and a chilling smile. Oh dear, Lelouch hoped that Sayoko hadn't been sharpening her kunai this morning.
Suzaku blinked, clueless to the death rays being directed towards him. But his next actions proved him to be more self-aware of the threatening auras than suggested.
"Why," he pulled Lelouch (who was protesting, mind you) much closer to his side, "I'm going to be living with Lelouch now. You see, I don't remember anything but him."
Uh oh, Sayoko was turning pale while Jeremiah was slowly becoming purple. Where was the bomb shelter? He needed to run as fast as he could… now.
"…So my," insert evil dark glare to Prime Minister Kururugi before shifting to that very scary (and not like the Old Suzaku's) smile, "father suggested that the best way to cure my amnesia is to live with Lelouch."
Did the idiot have to smirk? Sayoko was going to go for his throat, or worse!
Lelouch struggled out of Suzaku's hold. "It's not like I want him to be here, Sayoko-san, Jeremiah-kun. You know how I detest him and that the feelings are mutual. Kururugi—"
"—It's Suzaku, Lu—" The idiot interrupted, making both guardians glare at him, especially for the pet name. The killing intent had just risen off the charts.
Lelouch struggled to regain control of the situation while that damn Prime Minister Kururugi just stood there smirking that smug I-know-everything grin. It was official, Lelouch put him on the hate list after Emperor Charles, arrogant prejudiced idiots and Suzaku Kururugi.
"—is just… delusional, he's—"
"No I am not, I'm in love with Lelouch, I know I am!" The moron exclaimed loudly.
The temperature dropped several degrees as Lelouch froze in terror.
Knuckles cracked dangerously and Lelouch could have sworn he saw the glint of a knife (or maybe that was the kind grim reaper here to take Lelouch as far, far away from this world and ridiculousness as possible) before his guardians exploded.
"What did you just say, Kururugi?"
His peaceful days were over. Hello chaos and misery, it's (not) very nice to meet you.
Peace and quiet permeated the room like a warm comforting hug and Lelouch reveled in it. He lay back against his bed, content to stay still under the covers. At last, after a long and exhausting day, he could relax. If springs felt like this, all winded up under pressure for eons, then Lelouch didn't fancy being one.
It had taken what seemed like ages for Sayoko and Jeremiah to relent on their interrogations. Suzaku's blunt responses to their questions about his perceived feelings for their male charge had not helped matters, neither had Prime Minister Kururugi's annoying smug presence. Lelouch had no doubts now that the two were related.
In the end, the Prime Minister had pulled Lelouch's guardians aside for a 'private' conversation and they had returned, unpleased and reluctant to take in that (quote from Sayoko) unyielding, demon delinquent. Suzaku had not been happy with the comment and had pulled Lelouch towards him as a toddler would take comfort from his teddy bear, a very unhappy teddy bear.
Prime Minister Kururugi even had the audacity to give Lelouch another superior grin, and then the I-know-where-you-and-your-little-sister-live-so-don't-you-dare-harm-my-son-or-you-will-cease-to-exist look. Lelouch had been impressed that the man cared to do so and also a bit freaked out. Just a bit. The good thing about the amnesic Suzaku was that he was pretty good at warding his father off with a few snarls and, oh dear lord, was that another look from hell? Was it a Kururugi family thing?
By then, it was late and much past the hour of dinner. Lelouch hadn't the appetite to stomach any of Sayoko's superb cooking so he turned in early, leaving Suzaku to the glaring oppressive presence of his guardians. Nunnally was fast asleep already and Lelouch was glad to put off the meeting between Suzaku and his sister until then. One dramatic confrontation was enough for the day.
The wind trickled through the curtains, brushing back the fabric and Lelouch's face. He sighed deeply and closed his eyes. He always slept better when the window was slightly open. Since an incident (there were many, and at the source of them, was him) in his childhood, he hadn't done well with closed spaces and still possessed that sense of claustrophobia, even in this house.
I bet Kururugi (an image of his sneering face appeared in Lelouch's mind) doesn't suffer claustrophobia from that. If he knew, he'd probably jeer and use it to his advantage. Lelouch shivered at the thought. If it came to that, he knew that Kururugi would win since he had the physical advantage over Lelouch in everything from sprinting to weightlifting. It was a surprise that Kururugi hadn't throttled him to death yet, over the past few years, considering his power.
But this Kururugi (Suzaku, his mind whispered, Suzaku. The old Suzaku can be called Kururugi) was like an alien parasite from outer space, leeching onto his victim with a stubbornness that could move mountains. He was up to something, planning something cruel with his lies of self-proclaiming love. It had to be part of Kururugi's subconscious scheme to humiliate him.
(…or maybe… maybe…. Images of fireflies and a rich laugh fill his mind. Maybe this is the real Suzaku. Maybe he's back and he won't leave and maybe—)
(Stop, another voice says, don't be stupid. It's a trick. It's a scheme.)
Once Kururugi remembered everything about Lelouch, he would remember how much he hated him and then he'd turn the tables around to his advantage.
Luckily Lelouch didn't have to worry about the leech tonight. Sayoko had threatened Suzaku with a kitchen knife, not to go near Lelouch's bedroom and now the exiled prince could sleep in peace, or at least as peacefully as he could, knowing his childhood terrorizer was sleeping across the hall.
Of all things, thought Lelouch before his eyes lowered to sleep, why such an absurd claim as love?
When he opened his eyes wearily, shaking off the veil of dreams, he found himself staring into the most peaceful and comforting shade of green. For a moment, he merely stared drowsily at the green, reminded of fresh grass and pine.
Then it occurred to him that he didn't possess a single thing in his room that was the colour green.
Lelouch blinked, clearing his blurry vision, and realized that he was staring at a pair of green eyes. In fact, the owner of said eyes, was staring at him, nose-to-nose, and sitting cross-legged on the bed, practically straddling him.
Needless to say, Lelouch let out an undignified yelp which Suzaku silenced with a sloppy kiss against the lips, callused hands running over the contours of Lelouch's face and sneaking down to his shoulders, pinning him to the bed.
"Mmmf!" He struggled to breathe—oh god, why did Kururugi feel the need to shove his tongue in there, get it out!—and push the other boy away. Yet his arms were weak against Suzaku's chest and would probably never gain the strength to physically harm him.
So Lelouch opted to the next best thing, he kicked Suzaku in the family jewels and watched in satisfaction as Suzaku lay moaning on the floor. Serves the arrogant loaf right for abusing Lelouch's mouth. Where was the toothpaste when you needed it?
"I hope you never try to do that again, or I won't just kick, I'll cut them off," he threatened. He did, after all, sleep with a knife under his pillow, just in case of assassins. Sayoko had always been paranoid and told her charges to be armed at all times (though that would be of little use if Lelouch and Nunnally had no training). At times it was an aggravating and corrupting influence, but this time it had served its purpose.
"But Lelouch," the bugger followed him (he had recovered very quickly, so much for that idea…), "I just wanted to wake you up. I thought it would be a good surprise."
"Oh, well, I thought it was. Maybe you're just not used to it. Or maybe you're just shy." The idiot paused. Lelouch took this opportunity to brush his teeth. Ah, beautiful mint. "OH… you're shy!" At this point, the Britannian began twitching slightly, but opted to continue on with his morning routine.
"Don't worry, Lu, I promise I won't do that again, without your permission. Just tiny kisses, is that ok? Hey, Lelouch? Lulu?" Hands waved in front of the mirror.
He slammed the toothbrush down on the counter and gave Suzaku his grumpiest glare, speaking volumes about what he thought about the moron's babbling.
Instantly, the chatterbox shut up, looking downwards at his feet like a kicked puppy. Lelouch groaned to himself. Now he felt guilty for this… this… imposter! The old Suzaku would have never looked that… that… well, dejected. It had to be a ploy, a guise to gain Lelouch's trust so that he could beat him up later. Yes.
After Lelouch finished washing up, he went to his closet to fetch a clean uniform while Suzaku trailed behind him like a sad duckling.
Lelouch wanted to tear his hair out because of the damn guilt bubbling in his chest. This new Suzaku was a complete stranger to him and yet, when he looked at him, he couldn't help but see the old one, the one who had made his life miserable and had hated him.
But at least this Suzaku hadn't tried to strangle him in his sleep. Unless you counted kissing until you couldn't breathe a method of strangulation.
Right. Positive thoughts. This Suzaku wasn't the same, he was just plain crazy. Therefore Lelouch didn't need to treat him so cruelly for something he didn't even remember yet. As soon as Suzaku showed signs of regaining his memory, Lelouch could just return to treating him as normal.
"Here," Lelouch shoved one of his spare uniforms at Suzaku, determined not to look at him, lest he feel extremely spiteful again, "yours got ruined in the accident, right? You can wear mine… it was a bit big on me so Sayoko bought me a better fitting one. I could tailor it to your size after school, if you want."
There were no further declarations of love (thank goodness), in fact, there were no words spoken at all. Suzaku just stood there, and Lelouch, who was busy trying not to look at the other boy, did not notice the very soft look in his eyes.
The quiet words made Lelouch pause in shock. He suddenly found himself meeting grateful eyes, soft eyes that held no malice or trace of the Old Kururugi at all…
(He remembered harsh words, things like 'bastard' and 'monster' but never a 'thank you,' not from him…)
Lelouch shook his head, disgruntled. He shouldn't have let such trivial details bother him. So what if this new Suzaku seemed to be the old Kururugi's opposite? It wasn't as if he hadn't heard a proper thank you before.
"Whatever," he said, "let's just head out to breakfast."
This time, he made sure to avoid Kururugi's eyes. He wouldn't be prepared for the differences he saw there.
"Hurry up, we don't want to be late," Lelouch said irritably, after a very long morning. School hadn't even started yet and he already wanted to stab his eyes out with a pen, preferably a pointy one.
Needless to say, his guardians had not warmed up to Suzaku's presence yet (not that Lelouch blamed them, the old Suzaku had left a large number of injuries on him over the years). Things had gotten worse when Suzaku met Nunnally (again, technically) when he finished eating his toast.
His poor sister hadn't known who was there, but when Suzaku asked Lelouch who she was, she recognized his voice. Nunnally had rushed forward to the source of Suzaku's voice in her wheelchair and with a strength that Lelouch didn't even know she possessed, yanked him down by the wrist to slap the Prime Minister's son across the face.
That the innocent and quiet sister of his could do such a thing still traumatized Lelouch, but not so much as the conversation which ensued afterwards.
("That was for bullying my Onii-sama! What are you doing here anyways? You're not welcome here," Nunnally frowned at him, her cheeks puffed up in annoyance. "Get out before I call Sayoko-san or Jeremiah-kun over to give you what you deserve!"
Lelouch was still in shock. Where had his soft, delicate sister gone (though the assertive one was just as adorable)?
Sporting the red mark on his cheek well, Suzaku retorted, "I've never bullied him—"
"—I love him!"
Nunnally's jaw dropped in shock and Lelouch took that moment to try and salvage what he could of her poor scarred mind, "Pay no attention to that idiot, Nunnally. He got into a car accident and got amnesia. He really has no idea what he's talking about, having delusions of—"
"—They are not delusions. I'm telling the truth, I love—"
"—and should really stop proclaiming such things to everyone he meets!"
Out of breath from his outburst, Lelouch gave Suzaku his best glare and then crouched down to look at Nunnally. The poor girl was trembling in her wheelchair. "Oh Nunnally, do you need anything?"
"I… I… I won't give my Onii-sama to someone like you!" Nunnally proclaimed loudly, "If you want Onii-sama, you must gain my approval first, Suzaku-san! Onii-sama might be willing to forget about your crimes against him for now, but I know who you are. I know what you want. And I will never forgive you for the methods you used to try and get it."
Then his sister turned swiftly in her wheelchair, leaving the two boys speechless, each for reasons unto his own.)
Suzaku was being irritably quiet now, after that confrontation with Nunnally and Lelouch couldn't figure out why this bothered him so much. He had always wished for silence from the old Suzaku. Anything had been better than the racial slurs and jeers. But now, the air felt empty.
The walk from the Lamperouge household to Ashford Academy was not long, less than a few minutes away, in fact. But with the tension in the air, it felt as if it had been half an hour and they were barely there yet. Lelouch swallowed and pressed his glasses up against his nose, frowning a bit at the sweat he felt against the plastic frames. He really hated when that happened.
"What are you nervous about?"
Lelouch nearly jumped a foot in the air. Spinning around to glare at the cause, Lelouch grumbled, "Nothing that concerns you, Kururugi."
The person in question frowned, "its Suzaku. Not Kururugi. That name is my father's." He spat the word out so bitterly that Lelouch briefly wondered if this was the old Suzaku after all, but then his face was curious again (such an alien expression on Suzaku's face) and he said, "You are nervous, Lelouch. No, I'm serious. When you push your glasses up in that way, after you swallow, it's because you're nervous."
Lelouch paused in his steps, swallowing again and was about to push up his glasses. Stubbornly he stopped the gesture, settling for not-gaping at the boy and wondering when Suzaku had noticed this.
Suzaku grinned, somewhat smugly. It made Lelouch want to wipe it off with a baseball bat. "So do you want to tell me about it, Lu?"
"No. And don't call me that."
But Suzaku was persistent. "Why not?"
"Don't you trust me?"
Again, Lelouch made no answer, but gritted his teeth in frustration. Suzaku watched this action and lowered his head.
"Ah… you don't."
The disappointment in that voice irked Lelouch so much that he snapped, "Of course I don't trust you. How can you expect me, or any of my friends and family, to trust you after you've made every possible effort to ensure that I be as miserable as possible? God, Suzaku, we weren't friends. We hated each other ever since we were children. I would play pranks on you as revenge for jeers you made at me and my sister and we one-upped each other each time. Then I turned thirteen and you took that day to beat me black and blue and everything changed. It wasn't just childish dislike anymore; it was you and me, tormenter and victim.
"You transferred to Ashford and went out of your way to turn the student body against me. You beat me for trivial things and I don't even understand it. Maybe you have a sick need to show off power and I happen to be an outlet? Maybe you just enjoy watching me squirm for your sadistic needs or maybe, maybe you really do hate me. I opt for the last one, but hey, I'll never know now because you don't remember any of it and you think you're in love with me. It's pathetic, that someone I detest and fear so much can't even remember why I hate him.
"No… you don't remember anything but my name, and I can't look at you without seeing my Suzaku, the one who always scowled, always pushed me around, who betrayed me, in your face."
He stood there, feeling a great weight lifted off of his chest now that he had finally told Kururugi exactly what he thought of him but… looking at this version of Kururugi, with stiff in shock, did not give Lelouch the satisfaction he thought it would. Instead, Lelouch felt only the stab of pain and regret in his chest. He gripped his fists tightly in frustration.
"…But I do remember some things, Lelouch."
His throat tightened and Lelouch struggled not to swallow or look at those eyes.
"…I remember… watching you smile with your friends and wanting to stand next to you..." said the wistful amnesiac, "that's all I recall. And then I just wonder… why didn't I, back then? Why?"
There was no answer.
It was cold again, too cold for the young prince to be back at the storage house with his sister. His fingers had barely any feeling left in them and when he opened his eyes, he found that his body was already curled up into a ball, trying to conserve warmth for his core.
He had fallen into a pit of some sort, a rather deep one which he had no hope of being able to climb out of, not with his weak and numb limbs. The prince frowned, shifting his arms closer. For now, he could only wait.
The prince looked to his side, and found his attacker staring at him, sitting as far away as possible in the pit, which wasn't very far. Their shoes were almost touching, and this was with the prince and his attacker scrunched up like anchovies in a can.
"…Kururugi," said the young prince stiffly.
He wondered why the Japanese boy had been lurking in the woods in the first place. Perhaps it was to ambush him, after all they had done nothing but aggravate each other over the past few months.
When the Kururugi got the chance he would shove the young Prince down hills or in the mud, throw him in closets or chase him with his sword for target practice. Several bruises made their way to the prince's skin because of that. In retaliation the young prince made as many snarky remarks as possible. Though he could not repay Kururugi in physical pain, sometimes he succeeded with other methods, such as setting snakes and insects in Kururugi's pants. Unfortunately, after the initial shock, it turned out Kururugi was fond of such creatures and kept them as weapons against the young prince.
The young prince would have come up with more plans for vengeance, but with priority being his sister's wellbeing which only he took care of, he just didn't give it time. There was shopping, sewing, cooking and many more chores to do, things that would only get done on the prince's own time. As such, he didn't see Kururugi very often for revenge, but only when they ran in to each other, which usually ended up in the prince being pummeled.
Now the prince stared in wonder at the usually strong-willed Kururugi, shivering uncontrollably in the pit. The other boy was only wearing a hakama, hardly ideal clothing for the cool night.
Kururugi snarled at him, "S-s-stop staring, you b-bastard. L-l-leave me be!"
"I have no reason to look at you at all, don't flatter yourself," the prince replied with poison. The other boy retorted back with an even cruder statement but couldn't finish, the stutters taking over his speech. Kururugi huffed in frustration, squeezing his arms closer.
The prince frowned, huddling his arms around himself as well. He wasn't in as bad shape as Kururugi, surprisingly enough. It was most likely because he was used to going without extra layers during the night, preferring to give his extra clothing to Nunnally. The first few nights had been bad and the prince had found it difficult to hide his sniffling nose from her, but eventually he had built up a resistance to such things.
Not Kururugi though.
The boy was like a withered up, broken thing, left to die on the streets. When the prince peeked up a glance, he saw tints of blue beginning to form in the hues of Kururugi's skin and the red tips at his fingertips. Kururugi's body shook more than the sea during a storm and while the prince felt a small bit of vindictive pleasure that the prejudiced boy was getting his just desserts, that soon vanished…
Arms wrapped around the other boy as the prince leaned his forehead against Kururugi's so that their skin was in contact and they slipped together like lock and key. Kururugi jerked back, as if to push away the 'Britannian vermin' in shock, but the prince put his hands over Suzaku and began rubbing them back and forth, trying to make friction.
"Wh-what… are you d-doing?" Kururugi half chattered and half hissed.
The prince didn't answer, but continued to rub their hands back and forth. He had his arms around Kururugi's waist, so that they could share more body heat. Kururugi was trying to squirm away.
"Hey! Stop that, stop touching me with your filthy hands—"
"I need to get warm, and you're the nearest heat source. Now shut up, and scoot over, or do you want to freeze to death?"
Kururugi snapped his mouth shut and then opened it again to say, "Why?"
(Why are you doing this? Why are you helping me? Why are you saving me? Why?)
"Because I'm cold."
(Because you're cold. Because you're shivering there, alone, and it reminds me of unspoken things…)
For a moment, Kururugi was as still as stone, and then, he wrapped his arms around the young prince in turn, and breathed against his neck, sharing the warmth.
Can you believe that it was the first time you called by my name, Suzaku?
Thank you, Lelouch, you said.
But what happened to you after that? What happened to us after that?
Suzaku was lost again. From an amnesiac, it was to be expected. He couldn't recall where any of his classrooms were and in the crowded hallways, he had lost side of Lelouch. Granted, Lelouch did inform him of his schedule as well as where his locker was and had even written down the location on a spare piece of paper. But in all the rushed explanations and the fear of being late to class, Suzaku had dropped it somewhere. He figured the paper to be a poor victim of the janitor's mop by now and lamented its loss.
If only someone could point him out to Lelouch's history class. (If Suzaku found it odd that he knew Lelouch's entire schedule by heart, as well as the room numbers, without anyone telling him, he didn't quite notice.) Ashford Academy seemed a mindless maze of crisscrossed hallways and rooms, all the same save for the golden plated numbers above the doors. He spent all period wandering around, trying to pinpoint his Lelouch, but to no avail.
The bell ran then, cuing a flood of students to overfill the halls and nearly trample Suzaku. When he was nearly mauled in the head by someone's textbook bag, Suzaku scowled at the offender, murmuring, "Watch it," in a tone unfamiliar to him so far, yet it slipped off his tongue habitually, as if it were normal to be there.
Said-offender, a blond senior who looked to be a wrestler of some kind, glowered at Suzaku ominously. But when he really looked at Suzaku, it seemed like he recognized him and backed away to the other side of the hall in fear.
"S-sorry, I'll be more careful next time, boss. Please e-excuse my actions," the senior bowed, he actually bowed at him, before rushing off as far away as possible in the other direction.
It would have been the strangest encounter ever, had he not had more of them.
Everyone, it seemed, knew who he was, even though he had no idea who they were. They backed away from him, like he had the plague. If anyone met his eye by chance they would bow their heads and stammer, much like the senior from before or freeze in silent prayer that he would just ignore them (which he did, after seeing that talking proved to do nothing for the poor person's nerves). Even the teachers seemed somewhat wary of him, avoiding him in the halls only to give stiff nods or pretend he didn't exist, all together.
The whole thing screamed of suspicion. He felt like he was in a play where everyone knew their lines but him and he was standing uselessly on the stage in front of a jeering audience that knew quite well, what he was supposed to be.
But that was the problem… wasn't it? Everyone Suzaku met seemed to know him when he barely knew himself. Who was he? Who had Suzaku Kururugi been a few days ago and what did it mean for the Suzaku Kururugi now?
Suzaku wrinkled his nose in distaste, recalling the colorful descriptions of his previous self from Sayoko, Jeremiah and even Nunnally. The previous him, from what others had said, was a bully, plain and simple. He wasn't sure what his motives had been, prior to the accident, nor could he think of any logical reason that his previous self could have had to hurt Lelouch.
Did I really hate Lelouch, after all? Suzaku thought back to Lelouch's harsh words. His body felt cold, as soon as Suzaku thought of this, and that cold seeped through his veins, a slowly crawling drug in his veins. No… I couldn't have… what I feel now just isn't—but what if…?
It didn't make sense. They all said that he hated him. The evidence pointed towards that conclusion. But Suzaku did not feel that way. He felt that he was staring at his reflection in the mirror, seeing someone who looked and sounded exactly like him but behaved as his polar opposite. His doppelganger, the previous him, was like a separate person, a long lost twin he had never heard of until now, one that did inexplicable things and left the blame on this Suzaku.
His previous self left a bitter taste in his mouth, made Suzaku want to punch something badly. But he couldn't very well start punching himself, for that would be ridiculous. His enemy was someone whose memories had vanished from his head, leaving Suzaku as the sole occupant, someone invisible, someone who had once been him, but was no longer.
But he had been a part of Suzaku and he had been Suzaku, so what did that leave the real Suzaku now?
No where really. For what was a man without memories, but a blank canvas?
I love him. Those three words echoed in his mind over and over again, the mantra that kept him sane and whole. Without them, Suzaku felt that he might drown and never surface again. They gripped him to reality because he felt that they were the truth, something true about himself that could never be erased.
The words were linked to Lelouch and with Lelouch came many warm memories… and some cold ones too, cold ones where Suzaku received flashes of himself, watching Lelouch from a distance. Fool, Suzaku jeered at his previous self, why are you watching him, when you caused him so much pain?
I won't be like him. I am not that Suzaku. I'm just… me.
When he found Lelouch again, he would show him that.
"He's over here," Lelouch spotted the Prime Minister's son standing in the middle of the chemistry wing, staring at nothing in particular. A wide berth had been spread between Kururugi and the walls, as students made sure not to step within the bubble of Suzaku's personal space.
This made the hallways more confining than usual. Lelouch had to wiggle through many people before he finally reached Suzaku's little 'island' of hallway. His friends had been no help, content to let Lelouch tackle the sea of shifting students by himself, using him a shield from jabbing elbows and heavy backpacks. Next time, Milly and Rivalz wanted Lelouch to brave the halls alone, he'd let the couple fend for themselves.
Milly and Rivalz had taken the news of Suzaku's amnesia with amused expressions. They were convinced that Lelouch was playing a bad prank on them, refusing to acknowledge that Lelouch would never use such obvious tactics if he were. Besides, what sort of prank involved Kururugi falling in love with him? (Milly had suggested suppressed emotions and an inner masochistic side, Lelouch told her to shove it). After much teasing (since Suzaku hadn't been by his side, Lelouch began to panic when he realized that he had misplaced the boy) Lelouch decided to drag his friends off to search for his missing amnesiac.
If anyone found it strange that Lelouch was out of the classroom five minutes before the bell rang and that he had forgotten his writing utensils, they did not mention it. Rivalz did make sure to pick up the forgotten pencil case, knowing that Lelouch would thank him later in language class… if he even bothered taking notes that is. Milly had a feeling that the ex-prince would be either too distracted or lazy.
Lelouch 'led' the way through the wave of people, scanning every face they encountered through the lenses of his glasses for familiar chocolate curls. His friends almost felt sorry for him but they held their amusement behind concealed grins, unable to stop their source of entertainment. Oh if only he knew…
"Finally! Kururugi, where have you been? I've been worried sick. Don't go wandering off on your own!" Lelouch scolded the other much like a mother would to her wandering child. He had grabbed the edge of Suzaku's sleeve, to Rivalz's horror ("Oh my god, Kururugi is going to punch him through the wall, for that!") Milly raised an eyebrow in a rare mood of serious calculation, her expression darkening.
To her knowledge, Lelouch never willingly touched anyone (save for Nunnally on occasion and even rarer, his guardians), much less Kururugi. It was suicide for Lelouch to approach the other boy, knowing the extreme animosity that Kururugi held for him. Lelouch spent most of his high school career actively avoiding Kururugi like the plague while Milly and Rivals aided the ex-prince however they could.
A flicker of contempt seeped through Milly's mind but she quickly masked it with her signature smile. There was no need to tip off Rivalz of her suspicions or cause her Lulu to worry. She watched the Prime Minister's son carefully, as if eyeing potential predators that might hurt her cubs.
"Lelouch!" Kururugi exclaimed in an uncharacteristic tone of relief and delight, positive emotions that Milly would have never associated with him before.
She saw Lelouch's resigned expression and knew that her friend was used to this strange behavior. "Kururugi, did you even listen to what I just said?"
Suddenly, Kururugi had his arms around Lelouch's waist in a protective embrace. He even snuggled his cheek against the side of Lelouch's head, looking content with his human teddy bear. "Call me Suzaku…" the boy whispered into Lelouch's ear.
What little students left in the hallway began to pause, watching the embraced two with mixtures of curiosity, disgust (from the homophobic) and even undisguised delight (the boy-on-boy fan girls were not going to pass up a lovely chance like this to finish some well-needed documenting).
Fortunately (or unfortunately for the leering few), Suzaku's hands did not stray any further, but seemed fixed upon Lelouch's back, rubbing circles in a lull of comfort. But Lelouch tensed nevertheless, unused to such intimate gestures. It was no surprise when he began thrashing against the strong hold.
"Let me go, you stupid bastard! How dare you touch me in public without permission?"
"Then can I touch you when we're alone?" The other responded with a mischievous air.
Poor Lelouch turned crimson red, spluttering with indignation. He wasn't the only one who was lost for words.
Rivalz had begun choking on the spot while Milly was fighting the urge to do the same. They had seen it and they had heard it but they still didn't quite believe it. Was this even the same Suzaku Kururugi who had threatened to beat Lelouch to a pulp the other day? Milly felt like she was looking at Suzaku's long-lost, over affectionate twin from another dimension.
And he was now kissing Lelouch's temple gently, like a lover would—wait, kissing?
She watched as Lelouch's spluttering transformed into subtle trembling that only Milly could notice. The control that she had over her temper broke and Milly marched forward to push the other boy away.
But Rivalz reached the pair first.
"Stop molesting him! Can't you see he doesn't want you?" Rivalz shouted, pulling their friend behind him protectively. Lelouch looked pale and flustered—proof that he was uncomfortable with the intimate gestures after all. But then Milly frowned, seeing the hint of red in his cheeks, the whirlwind of emotion…
Kururugi snarled, in that one moment, looking exactly like the Kururugi that they were used to. If she had doubted it before, now Milly knew that remnants of the old Kururugi lay dormant within this new one.
"I wasn't molesting him, I would not do that! I promised that I wouldn't try and kiss him anymore. I never said anything about hugging or kissing on the forehead, nothing illegal about that!"
"Don't be stupid, Lelouch asked you to stop!" Rivalz retaliated, backing up to create more distance between himself, Lelouch and Kururugi. But Kururugi prowled closer, his wild and familiar aura returning.
"It wasn't hurting him; I was only trying to prove a point!"
"What?" Rivalz would not let Kururugi scare him away, "Trying to mess with his mind, are you, Kururugi?"
(At this point, Lelouch was trying to inform the bickering two that he was quite capable of handling his own problems, thank you very much. However, they were too preoccupied in their testosterone match to notice. Lelouch wondered if he needed to revert to screaming. The students—still in the hallways—were watching the exchange intently as devoted fans would watch a football match. Lelouch ordered them to 'piss off' using all of malice he was capable of.)
The Prime Minister's son curled up his fists and shook his head violently.
"No, to show him that I sincerely love him and that I am nothing like the person you all remember me to be!"
Milly's eyes widened. Lelouch went quiet.
Rivalz laughed, somewhat cynically, which was unlike him. Perhaps Lelouch's demeanor was rubbing off on him. Lelouch did gain his love of gambling from the one and only after all.
"So you really are an amnesiac? And you really think you're in love with him? Bullshit. If you were in love with him you wouldn't have done all those terrible things to him last year or any year. If you were in love with him, even now, you'd know that Lelouch hates being touched and you'd respect his personal space. No, even if you are in love with him, you're forcing your feelings upon him. You're being nothing more than a bully, and in that sense, you're the same as the old Kururugi."
Three things happened upon Rivalz's declaration. One, Milly gasped with all of the satisfaction of one who had solved a complicated puzzle. Two, Lelouch seemed to realize something, murmuring "…the same… then…" And three, Suzaku went white, all breath knocked out of him as he stumbled backwards.
"…I… I hadn't… I hadn't thought of that…"
"Obviously," Rivalz responded mercilessly.
Kururugi was shaking now, moving back towards the end of the hall, his footsteps making hollow echoes.
"…I didn't mean… I'm not like… I'm not like him, I'm not… I…"
Before Rivalz could open his mouth to save more unwanted truths (or were they lies, according to Kururugi?) when Lelouch put his hand on Rivalz's shoulder. Rivalz seemed to protest, but when he was granted a hard look, he sighed and gave a wary smile. "Fine man, it's your move."
Kururugi was still shaking.
And Lelouch knelt down to look at him. "…Suzaku, I—"
He did not get the chance to finish his sentence. Kururugi bolted up, as soon as their eyes met, and ran off as far as possible, out of the halls and out of sight.
"Suzaku!" Lelouch shouted, "Wait! Come back!"
When the Japanese boy did not, Lelouch growled in frustration ("That idiot!") and ran after him.
Rivalz and Milly remained in the hallway, quite lost on what to do. Frowning, Rivalz turned to Milly, "Ok, explain. Why is Kururugi acting as if I punched him in the gut, when he deserved it and why is Lelouch going after him?"
Milly merely smiled enigmatically, leaning against him. "The personalities may be different… but the feelings will always remain the same, right?"
This only made Rivalz more confused (and slightly worried for Lelouch, maybe he should have punched Kururugi instead, rather than provoke him.) But he welcomed the feel of the student president leaning against him. It was nice.
She laughed quietly and intertwined their fingers together. "You'll see. This might be a good thing after all. Kururugi is rather endearing without his memories. I think Lelouch is fond of him. This might bring them closer together."
"…Or it might tear them apart even further," Rivalz warned, "once Kururugi remembers who he is."
In the morning, some servants from the palace found them and rescued them from the pit. Kururugi was strangely polite around the prince. It was odd, but not unwelcome. The prince felt his heart soften when it concerned the other boy, remembering how fragile and how like Nunnally he had been in the cold. He offered a tentative smile back and at that point, the way Kururugi regarded him was changed forever.
For the next few weeks, the young prince found small gifts laid out in front of the storage house—blankets, sweaters, fruit. There was never a card to indicate a sender but the young prince would hope…
The young prince stopped seeking revenge with petty pranks. If Kururugi did anything to offend him in that time, he ignored it and pretended that it had never happened. In turn, Kururugi stopped being so malicious to him and putting on an icy front of cold instead (much better than fists and injuries). Occasionally the young prince and Kururugi would meet eyes when the young prince went to the village to collect food.
The village boys stopped ganging up on the prince when he went out for errands. When the young prince saw the bruises on Kururugi, that were not present from before, he suspected and he hoped again. The next days followed with the young prince sneaking medicine to the outside of Kururugi's window.
They ran into each other more, but they didn't speak. At night, when the prince gathered firewood, sometimes Kururugi would be there and throw wood at him, but it would never hit the prince. It would land at his feet, perhaps intended all along. When Kururugi ran off on his kendo lessons, frustrated and angry, the young prince would pass by, a cup of water just happening to be at hand…
He caught Kururugi glancing at him heatedly more than enough times. The boy would always turn his gaze away once the young prince looked up to meet him, a scowl present.
Yet sometimes the young prince liked to think that the glances were more than that. He liked to think that Kururugi and he had reached a truce or even a strained form of camaraderie. It was stupid to even consider, but the young prince felt that the night in the pit, in the cold, had connected them in ways they could not explain. For the first time, the young prince wondered if they could be friends.
But that really was stupid to think.
Because one day, the young prince turned thirteen and on that day, Kururugi changed.
All of the gifts, all of the glances and all of the secret and silent exchanges, were erased, as if they had never happened and the young prince, Lelouch, couldn't help but ask why, why did you betray me?
Suzaku did not care where he was going as long as it brought him as far away from Lelouch as possible. He couldn't think, didn't want to think.
Was he like his old self after all? Was he capable of inflicting pain on Lelouch because of mere whims and a desire to see him hurt? His heart screamed no but his mind was telling him that he really had no idea, the evidence was looking convincing.
His feet seemed to have wills of their own, leading him to an isolated area of Ashford academy where grass was not as well kept. It was wild and uneven with patches of varying green yellow shades unlike the vibrant uniform green in the front grounds. Quite a bit of litter was scattered in the shadows of this space, which was hidden behind a row of trimmed trees. The pop cans and cigarette butts were odd as well, but Suzaku did not feel disgusted by it, as if he was already used to such things.
There were two other standing in the patch of uneven grass, people that sparked a tiny bout of recognition in Suzaku's stomach but other than that, they remained strangers to him (just like the rest of the world, everything but Lelouch.)
"Kururugi?" The boy moved towards him, looking at him with disbelief, "Where were you? I thought you weren't going to skip class today, man…"
The other, a girl with red hair, rolled her eyes, "His highness probably thinks he's too good to go to class. Nothing new."
An uncomfortable feeling rose in his stomach but Suzaku ignored it, in favor for looking for a place to hide and avoid Lelouch. He darted past them, saying nothing, just as he had earlier when students had been avoiding him.
One of them yanked him back. It was the girl. She looked angry. "And where do you think you're going? You're ignoring us too, Kururugi? That's just cold."
"Look just leave me alone," he snapped, "I don't know you."
"What?" The girl shoved him to the ground while the guy stood over him menacingly, "Don't tell me that you forgot our deal!"
The alarms began rising in his head, but Suzaku held his ground, growling at them. "I told you, I don't know you, now shove off."
"Nice try, Kururugi. Like you don't recognize me or Tamaki," the girl spat. "What's the matter with you? This isn't funny. You disappeared yesterday too, why didn't you come to the meeting?"
"Our esteemed leader is being an asshole again, Kallen. Maybe we should slap him and he'll come back to his senses?" suggested Tamaki with a disturbing calm.
Kallen smirked, "Maybe."
Suzaku shot up, kicking Kallen in the jaw with his leg, before any of them could back up their words. Taking Kallen off guard managed to temporarily stun Tamaki enough for Suzaku to spin backwards and punch Tamaki in the stomach and then kick him in the knees.
The Prime Minister's son ran off towards the trees when he saw his opponents on the ground. He wasn't going to stand around for confrontation. He had enough to deal with.
"Kururugi, you ass!" came the shouts of Tamaki and Kallen after him (suddenly he recalled hazy scenes of the three of them smoking together, talking together, and discussing things… planning… "Lelouch is mine, no one in this school touches him but me…")
Fear flooded his body. They were connected to the old Suzaku. They knew the old Suzaku. They knew what things he had done and oh-god if he stuck around them long enough would he revert back to his old self? If so, he didn't want anything to do with them.
He ran faster, so much that he couldn't see where he was going, only that he wanted to be elsewhere, anywhere.
He was unaware of what happened next.
In hindsight, it was rather laughable that he should run into a wall and fall unconscious right after.
"Suzaku? Suzaku! Suzaku, where are you?" Lelouch called out desperately. The glass of his frames was getting foggy and he couldn't quite distinguish the finer outlines of some of the buildings. He found it distracting and it added to his distress.
What if Suzaku did something extremely imbecilic because he didn't have his memories? What if he got hit by a truck again? It would all be Lelouch's fault, for not speaking up in the first place, for not explaining things properly.
Lelouch went to the courtyard, the one he knew that the old Suzaku (stop that, there is only one Suzaku, dividing him into two personalities will not help) frequented with his 'friends.' Perhaps Suzaku had run there unconsciously, seeking familiarity, no matter how harsh it was.
He didn't need to run far. Kallen and Tamaki found him first.
"Lamperouge, what are you doing?" Kallen blurted as soon as she saw him. Blunt as always. Lelouch didn't have much of an opinion of Suzaku's… friends. They had never laid a hand of him and yet they had never interfered or protested against Suzaku's behavior. He felt neutrally about them and didn't mind when they conversed with him, like so.
"Have you seen Suzaku?" Lelouch asked urgently.
"Speak of the devil, we're looking for him too. He tried to hit us and then he took off," Tamaki scowled. "That ass, I didn't think he would ever do that to us, after everything we've done for him…"
Lelouch raised an eyebrow, storing the information for later. What mattered now was locating the missing Japanese boy and then having a long and honest discussion with him.
"Well if you find him, let me know. We need to talk. It's a matter of great importance. Suzaku has amnesia so his actions aren't made from his best judgment."
Their reactions were almost comical.
"Amnesia?" they shouted, as if they had learned that Suzaku had contracted a horrible, life-threatening disease.
"How?" Kallen demanded.
"Car crash, yesterday. He hasn't any major injuries but a bump on his head, now I have to find him—"
"We'll help. Tamaki you search the east end. I'll take the west. Lelouch can check the rest of the grounds," said the girl abruptly. "Meet back here in an hour if you can't find him."
Blinking, for he hadn't been expecting allies in his search, Lelouch gave one nod before he continued on his task. They split up, resolving to find the Prime Minister's son, one way or another.
It was one of those days where Lelouch cursed his low stamina. Already he was slowing to a trot, feeling fatigue weaken him and take away all motivation to move his legs forward. Lactic acid was probably forming in his muscles, aiding the conspiracy to slow him from his run. It was cutting his time… the longer Lelouch spent dallying because he felt tired and unable, the longer it would take to find Suzaku and set things right.
(…"You're the same as the Old Kururugi…" Rivalz's words echoed and Lelouch couldn't help but realize. Yes. This was true. And if this was true… then perhaps… this wasn't an act. Perhaps this was real. And perhaps…)
He felt more determined to him, so that he could tell him…
There was a groan to Lelouch's left. He turned around suddenly, recognizing the voice, his heart skipping a beat…
Then Lelouch saw that Suzaku was crumple on the ground, his forehead bleeding slightly. Panic overrode all other emotions.
The infirmary. He needed to take Suzaku to the infirmary.
Surprisingly it was Nurse Viletta in the nurse's office. She was substituting for Cecile, who was on maternity leave starting today. When she saw Suzaku's condition (and how haggard Lelouch looked from dragging the boy all the way here, damn muscle mass for being so heavy) she went straight to work, no questions asked.
Minutes later Viletta told Lelouch that she had phoned the hospital and Genbu Kururugi for precautions, but other than the bump, Suzaku seemed physically fine, on the outside at least.
There was no telling what the second bump on Suzaku's head might do to his already traumatized brain. Possibly, it might bring memories back… or it could make things worse. They wouldn't know until Suzaku woke up.
Lelouch sat by Suzaku's chair, feeling fearful for the boy's health.
He stared at Suzaku's sleeping face. "Memories or not, you make me think about you all the time, damn Suzaku," a frustrated sigh escaped him before he relaxed his shoulders. "Please be ok. Please wake up. Please be alright. If you do… I'll tell you a secret, Suzaku."
For the first time since Suzaku had lost his memories, since they had been thirteen and twelve, Lelouch smiled gently at him.
"…I'll tell it to you right now, as a rehearsal for the real thing."
I'll tell you a secret, Suzaku.
I like to think that we were friends, once, before I turned thirteen. I like to think that we were best friends, even. I was lonely, you see, all alone save for Nunnally in a foreign land I didn't know. And I could see you were lonely too, the precious heir of the Japanese leader, groomed to be a leader just as I was in Britannia.
We were so similar and yet we couldn't stand each other, or at least we acted as if this was so.
This is the secret.
We're twelve. It's July and it's nighttime. I'm sitting in the grass, in a clearing hidden in the forest, for no reason other than habit. I need the firewood, just in case we get a cold night after all.
You enter, or maybe you were always there, I'm not sure. But you enter and you sit beside me and even though it's dark, I know it's you by the shape of your shadow and the smell of fresh linen and bamboo wood that follows you.
We don't say a word. In those days, we didn't talk much. We don't need to. I like to think that we understood each other, even without words.
The stars are bright, more beautiful than anything I could see back in the homeland. In Britannia the palace lights in the garden block out the beauty of the stars, blinding nature with extravagance. There are crickets too, lulling their usual lullabies.
And then there are fireflies.
I had never seen fireflies before this so I back away in wonder and you laugh.
That's it. You laugh. And I am even more amazed, because you're laughing and I decide right then… that it's the best thing I have seen since I came to Japan and then I decide, this person is my friend and I will never let any force on earth change that.
You don't know what I'm thinking, of course, and you're staring at me oddly now. But it's dark and I can't tell.
And then… and then… Gods, I'm embarrassed that this happened, but I don't quite regret it… not anymore, not if you really return my feelings…
…Then our lips touch.
But you vanish, or maybe you ran away. I don't know. The next day, you don't look at me and it's awkward. We return to glances, silence, our game of tip toe and I wonder if this really happened.
It's crazy, right? Maybe you don't remember. You did beat me up on my thirteenth birthday, made my life miserable and I do not forgive you for that. (I won't even begin to tell you how betrayed I felt because of that.) How could you ever want to kiss me, especially with your prejudiced views?
So I tried not to think about it, try to deny it and act as normal as possible. When you bullied me, I did nothing. I didn't want to face the possibilities.
Can you blame me for being afraid, for being in denial, when you claim to love me, now that you are without memories?
I don't want to be hurt again.
But… but Suzaku… I still remember that laugh and now it's back because you… well, you aren't bitter or angry or the old Suzaku anymore. I'm still afraid, you see, afraid that you'll turn back and abandon me again.
But if it's to hear that laugh again, to hope again…
Then I don't think I mind taking this second chance.
"…and that's it," he finished.
Lelouch sat back against the chair, looking down at the head of chocolate curls. He put his hand over Suzaku's, memorizing the lines there and the calluses. When he looked at this Suzaku, he could almost forget what the old one did to him in the past.
(And if the old one came back?)
There's no reason I can't be here for this Suzaku though… they're the same person, more or less. Maybe I'll learn the reason why later.
For now he had to wait, wait and see what would happen when Suzaku awoke, see what damange the bump had done. Then he'd continue. Both of them would.
And in his sleep, Suzaku smiled.