As with most of the student council's "business trips" (though they were clearly field trips), the members of the council were none the wiser until a couple hours beforehand. Excluding Milly from her subordinates, of course. Who else could have planned the outing weeks in advance and kept it a secret until she could herd her precious sheep onto a bus?
As student council president, Milly decided that she was long overdue for a vacation. Sure, her family went on vacations quite often but the stuffy, pretentious air of her parents often choked her when she was forced to spend long amounts of time with them in close proximity. That was the main reason she had always preferred her grandfather's company. This was the very same grandfather that was the chairman of Ashford Academy and her beloved cohort on many a scheme. Naturally, he had agreed when his favorite granddaughter had mentioned wanting to take the entire student council on a trip to a hot spring. Truthfully, the hard part had been finding a date that she could wrangle all of her subordinates into coming.
Unfortunately, her two newest additions, Suzaku and Kallen, were unable to come along. Suzaku was apparently on-call for the army and had to stay in the event that they needed him. Kallen was in the middle of another bout of sickness. Worst of all, the middle schoolers had midterms around the corner and Lelouch wouldn't allow Nunally to tag along so she could study. He looked crushed when he told her she couldn't go even though he was. Milly felt slightly bad for badgering him until he conceded but then she thought that Lelouch clearly needed to relax. He looked paler and he was even more winded after climbing a flight of stairs than usual. He brushed off her concern every time she asked but she couldn't help feeling that something in him had changed.
The only ones who had been thrilled at the idea had been Rivalz and surprisingly enough, Shirley. Well, perhaps Shirley wasn't quite a surprise. She was indignant until Lelouch announced that he was going, then she was more than happy to go along with Milly's plans. Milly had half a mind to call her out on that but she refused to give Lelouch the opportunity to slink away with a flustered Shirley as his distraction. Milly decided to wait until a later date to act on her observation.
Once she finally got them all the bus, the student council behaved as it usually did. Shirley flocked to Lelouch and was trying to comfort the melodramatic pretty boy that missed his sister. Rivalz was attempting to impress Milly with anything he could think of. Finally, Nina quietly sat in her seat and stared out the window. The bus was just about to leave when another person stepped onto the bus.
The stranger had long, beautiful lime green hair and striking golden eyes. She was composed and moved with what seemed to be effortless grace. She paid no mind to the student council's astonished stares and made herself comfortable in her plush seat. If the bus hadn't been chartered by the Ashford family, the stranger's entrance and confident stride wouldn't have garnered much attention. However it was and it had, and Milly, being the eccentric noblewoman she was, was about to invite the girl on the trip with them.
"Hey, what's your name-"
"What do you think you're doing here?!" Before Milly could finish her sentence, Lelouch had interrupted her with an angry shout. It was so out of character for the usually composed boy, that even Milly turned to look at him. He paid none of them any heed and continued to glare at the girl. She turned to meet his eye and somehow, she conveyed her exasperation with the slightest downward motion of her eyebrows. "I'm taking the bus," she deadpanned.
Lelouch actually approached her then. He grabbed her arm and brought her close to him. In any other situation, Milly would have teased Lelouch for his sudden forwardness but she had to strain her ears to catch even bits of their hushed conversation. The conversation was over relatively fast and Lelouch looked all the more disgruntled for it. The girl turned away from him and he made himself comfortable in the seat next to hers. She didn't seem to care though.
Shirley, however, minded quite a bit. She had been looking forward to having Lelouch mostly to herself on this trip and it had been such a rare opportunity to get him alone! Away from Nunally even! She hadn't been able to hear their whispers between each other but they had gotten too close for her comfort.
"Sooo, who's your friend?" Milly's teasing voice was a lot less worrying when it wasn't directed at her and she always admired how Lelouch didn't let her get to him.
"Everyone, this is...Chane." The girl didn't even flinch at the sound of her name and Lelouch didn't prod her like he expected her to take an interest in the other passengers. It seemed awfully intimate in Shirley's opinion and also Milly's if the president's intense eyebrow waggling in her direction was any indication.
Shirley spent the rest of the bus ride sulking but her spirits lifted when the stranger and Lelouch began arguing as soon as they got off the bus. Well, Lelouch was the only one that seemed angry. Chane seemed not to care. He seemed pretty upset with her and only seemed to glare or frown in her direction. Shirley felt relief wash over her. This Chane person wasn't going to be much competition for Shirley if she kept irritating Lelouch!
Any normal person would avoid something that angers them but for some inexplicable reason, Lelouch followed Chane wherever she went. Sure, it appeared that it was mostly to keep her from getting into trouble, but Shirley couldn't help feeling frustrated that the perfect opportunity to progress her and Lelouch's relationship by spending copious amounts of time together had been effectively sabotaged by a childish woman that couldn't care less that Lelouch doted on her almost as much as he did Nunally.
She really doesn't understand their relationship. Watching them interact just raises more questions than it answers.
"Where do you think you're going?"
His brow twitched in the early stages of irritation, "I gathered that. I was referring to your wardrobe choice."
She pretended to think it about it and give herself a once over. After an almost awkward amount of time passed, she eventually said, "Your point?"
Lelouch looked ready to smack his hand against his forehead and she didn't blame him in the least. He sighed and tried to reason with her, "You're not dressed for the weather. You'll get sick."
Without missing a beat, she confidently declared, "I won't get sick." She was wearing fashion boots, leggings, a pleated white skirt and long-sleeved top. Shirley could admit that she was dressed well but she wasn't prepared for the winter wonderland outside their inn.
Lelouch was at the end of his rope and he looked as if he was considering trying to shake the sense into her. He turned away from her and it seemed as if he had given up but then he started to rifle through his suitcase. He brought out an extra change of clothes and began DRESSING her.
C.C. continued to sass him while he put a hat, coat, gloves and a scarf around her neck. He just let her talk down to him! She couldn't believe Lelouch would waste his kindness (the very same she tries so hard to be on the receiving end of) on someone so ungrateful.
That had only been the beginning though.