Also, fight scenes are Xp, so I really must apologize for my pathetic attempt at one. That is all.
The flight suit was too tight, hugging his muscles and every curve, so much so that a few of the lab techs seemed to get flustered, and it took everything Suzaku had to stop himself from covering his crotch with his hands and slinking away to wallow in humiliation. He wasn’t uncomfortable with his body per se, but that didn’t mean he enjoyed walking around in glorified fetish wear.
“We can’t officially acknowledge your existence,” Cecile explained. Since Suzaku had displayed an alarming lack of concern for his own life, Cecile had fallen into a strictly business-like manner, which was occasionally broken by the long, morose looks she sent his way when she thought he wasn’t looking. “To acknowledge you would mean admitting that we allowed a civilian into the front lines. Eventually, you will be integrated into the military as a member of A.S.E.E.C., but the facility is on red alert. The Angel could attack us at any moment, and we don’t have the time for that kind of paperwork.”
Meaning that if he defeated the Angel, his efforts would go unrewarded, and if he died in battle his sacrifice would be unobserved. All the better. “I understand.”
Another sad gaze, but Cecile let him go with no comment as he rode the cable line into the cockpit. The hatch door closed, momentarily enveloping him in darkness, but then he inserted the key into the slot and Lancelot came alive. Warmth spread throughout Suzaku’s body as he watched screens light up, illuminating controls and panels, and he felt strangely as if he was coming home.
Voices filtered through the com-link, meaningless words about synapse relays, synchro rates and Yggdrasil Drives, but Suzaku paid them no heed, sitting and waiting for his orders. But internally, he was pulling against the bit, every cell in his body begging to just gogogo.
“Hatch doors 1 through 22 opening,” a voice, young and male, not one Suzaku recognized, informed him. “Preparing for launch.”
“Suzaku Kururugi launching,” Suzaku announced, and even though his only knowledge of piloting stemmed from a cursory glance at the manual and he had only been put in the machine about five minutes ago, he somehow knew exactly what to do. He envisioned himself moving, leaping forward into the unknown—
Suzaku flushed as laughter filtered through the com-link.
“I don’t know what you were expecting,” a voice remarked scathingly. “Our best pilots couldn’t even get it to move, and you expect an Eleven—“
“That’s it!” Lloyd shrieked, making Suzaku wince. “Kururugi, do you usually think in Japanese?”
“Well… it was my first language, sir,” Suzaku admitted reluctantly. He hadn’t spoken it aloud in years, but no matter how fluent he became in Britannian, his brain couldn’t seem to make the switch.
“Then all we have to do is reprogram the neural settings.” There was a pause, and faint clicking. “Try it now.”
Iku, Suzaku’s mind whispered. Go, go, go.
The machine lurched forward, sparks flying and wheels squealing as he surged out of Mt. Fuji.
He could hear Lloyd laughing through his com-link. “Full throttle right out of the gate! I love it!”
Suzaku grinned, enjoying the thrum of the engine against his skin, almost indistinguishable from the shot of adrenaline singing in his veins. He felt lighter than he had in years, as if his body had previously been on standby, a tightly coiled spring that had finally been released.
It felt like freedom.
“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” the boy’s voice, the one who had prepared him for launch, reprimanded him. “You don’t know even know where you’re going.”
“What’s to know?” Suzaku asked, eyeing the trail of debris the Angel had left in its wake. “It’s not being particularly inconspicuous.”
“It’s still better to have a lock on the target. You don’t want to be blindsided, do you?”
Suzaku rolled his eyes. “And what are you, my babysitter?” He must have gone insane, talking to someone who was likely his superior officer this way, but it was so hard to care about that with the whisper of machinery singing in the back of his mind, warm and comforting (and somewhere deep down, Suzaku realized that there was something wrong here, that something so dangerous shouldn’t feel so familiar and alive). It had been so long since he had felt like this, happy and lighthearted, almost like that little boy he had been before the world had ended.
There was something very wrong with him if he only felt like himself when encased in layers of steel.
“A guide,” the voice corrected, amused. “I’m here to relay strategy and make sure you don’t do something stupid.”
“A babysitter,” Suzaku repeated with a snort.
There was a moment’s pause.
“Perhaps,” his guide assented finally.
“All right then, Nanny, where am I going then?” Suzaku asked.
“I’ll send a map to your screen.”
Suzaku smiled at the glowing square of landscape, defined by a straight red line and a blinking X. Not far at all. It was almost as if the Angel was calling to him, begging him to come out and play. Excellent.
“I’m going in,” Suzaku said, already preparing the mental commands.
“Wait!” the voice protested. “Don’t just charge in without—”
Suzaku lurched forward, marveling at the responsiveness of the Knightmare. It was like an extension of his body, as if he had suddenly regained a long lost limb. Maybe a little too responsive, he realized as his speed sent him careening past the Angel.
“Shit!” Suzaku cried, slamming on the brakes (Lancelot was mostly run on neural commands, but there were still a few basic controls), creating a head splitting screeching noise as the machine protested the sudden stop.
“Shut up!” Suzaku snapped. He hurried to turn around, not about to show his back to an enemy… and came face to face with the astonishing piece of weaponry for the first time.
It was one thing to look at the Angel from a distance, another to stand at its eye level in the heat of battle. It was a monster of machine and man, and it looked at Suzaku with an intelligence that hadn’t been evident from the ground. A shiver ran up his spine as Suzaku felt as if it was looking into his very soul, and, despite its lack of the proper facial structures to do so, he could have sworn that it smiled.
Rather than fear, the sensation filled him with a trill of anticipation that cut through Suzaku like a finely honed knife. “What weapons do I have on this thing?”
“The Lancelot is still experimental, so not everything works yet. The MVS swords should be online, but—“
Suzaku was charging forward, glowing red swords in hand. He could hear the scream of splitting metal, sparks flying as his swords cut through the Angel’s torso like butter.
The monster let out an inhuman scream as wires streamed out of the wound like bloody innards, mechanical and biological at once, and Suzaku smiled grimly, almost disappointed at how easy it had all been.
The counterattack hit him in that moment, and he would have wondered how the Angel could have possibly been moving, but he was too buy screaming, because oh God, his arm, his arm. He could feel it separate from his shoulder, feel skin split and tendons snap, and it didn’t matter that he could see that it was still there, could hear a frantic voice yelling it’s not real, not real, because his arm had been cut off.
Lancelot was going crazy, as if it too could feel the pain, and not even Suzaku was certain how he summoned the strength to charge forward, to hit the monster that should have been dead again and again. Red lights flashed before his eyes, and he thought that this was probably a bad thing, but who could even tell anymore? So he focused his entire will into Lancelot’s sword, and dimly he was surprised on how human the Angel looked, crumpled up and covered in its own facsimile of blood. And it reminded him so much of another day, another body, that he finally realized that it was no longer moving, finally registered that voice screaming in his ear.
“That’s enough! Stop! STOP!”
He doesn’t understand how the sunflowers are still standing. Everything else has turned to rubble, toppled and reclaimed by the
earth’s mighty fury. Millions of years of evolution and progress destroyed in a matter of minutes, and what had once seemed infallible, invincible, had proven their fragility.
(He had reached towards him, begging for help, for salvation and…)
And yet, the sunflowers are still here, still yellow and bright, and it seems so strange against the brown, gray and red of apocalypse that it burns Suzaku’s eyes.
A boy stands in the center of the field, and Suzaku runs towards him, because no child should be alone now. He forgets that he himself is still a child, probably no older than the boy.
Then the boy turns to him. His eyes are ancient, and Suzaku realizes that he isn’t a child either. Maybe, there are no children in the face of tragedy. Maybe childhood had been stripped away the same way the land had been stripped of buildings, leaving only rubble, corpses, and jaded adults that are far too young.
The boy smiles brightly; holds out his hand, and it is odd how untouched he seems by it all. He stands, strange and perfect, juxtaposed against the very landscape, just like the sunflowers.
It is only when Suzaku steps forward, into the impossible field, that he realizes that the boy is completely naked, yet that isn’t as strange as it should be because he too feels naked under the boy’s gaze. And the gaze terrifies him, because he is unshakably certain that the boy knows. He knows Suzaku’s secrets; his dreams and nightmares, hopes and fears. And yet, knowing what he does, the boy still smiles gently, and that is the strangest thing of all.
It is only when the boy wraps him in an embrace that Suzaku realizes that he is crying, and he knows that he should shrug off the comfort because he doesn’t deserve it, but he finds himself unable to, and the boy is whispering in his ear.
“It’s all right. You’re here, you’re alive. It’s not wrong to live. You’re allowed.”
“Why?” Suzaku asks, voice cracking, and he knows he shouldn’t, because being allowed to live is not something one should question, but he has to know. Why should he, a traitor, a killer, live when everyone else is dead?
The boy smiles. “Because I love you.”
And then the boy kisses him, a sweet little peck on the lips that under any other circumstances, with anyone else, Suzaku would have questioned. Instead he just sighs, closes his eyes and rests in the boy’s arms.
Suzaku opened his eyes expecting to see a hospital ceiling, plain tiles, stiff white sheets and air that smelled of medicine. What he found instead was a tiny apartment, clean, but not sterile. It had the personal touches, dishes in the sink, paintings on the wall, distant music playing that Suzaku couldn’t identify, and a boy sitting at his bedside, violet eyes staring at him intently.
“You’re an idiot,” the boy told him, voice flat (the same voice, Suzaku's mind supplied, that had been with him in the cockpit) as he handed him a bottle of water.
This was not particularly new information for Suzaku, and he had neither the energy nor the conviction to refute it, so instead he quietly sipped his water as the boy went on to explain exactly why he was an idiot.
“You’re foolish, reckless and clearly place absolutely no value in your own life. You are a liability to both yourself and this team, and if I had my way you would never step foot in the Lancelot’s cockpit ever again,” the boy snapped.
Suzaku’s eyes widened, stomach sinking with dread. Never pilot again? Never get that rush, that split second of utter freedom and belonging (the first time he had felt like he belonged anywhere). No, that couldn’t happen. No.
The panic must have shown on his face, for the boy softened slightly. “But, unfortunately, Lloyd tells me that your synch rates are in the eightieth percentile and your performance dispatching that Angel was unparalleled. Which is why you will be staying with me from now on.”
Suzaku blinked, uncertain on how these two statements fit together. “…Why?”
The boy rolled his eyes. “Not very bright, are you? Someone has to take care of you, since it’s obvious you’ll just end up killing yourself on your own, intentionally or otherwise.”
The implications of those words (and the fact that they were true) made Suzaku wince.
“Cecile volunteered, but a week of her cooking would undoubtedly end you as effectively as any enemy unit, and obviously the goal is to avoid such risk. I don’t currently have a roommate, and I don’t have the same… reservations” (at this the boy’s lips curled in disgust) “with having you as a roommate as some of the others did, so I volunteered.”
Suzaku stared at him for a moment; speechless, unable to comprehend the simple (if somewhat brusque) kindness of this complete stranger, and the boy seemed to misinterpret the silence.
“…I assumed you wouldn’t want to room with your father, judging by your… conversation in the hangar. Was that wrong?” he asked.
Dark eyes, once ablaze with contempt and jealousy. Long silences at the dinner table, with the unspoken accusation: It’s your fault. You’re the reason she’s not here.
A hand, an inflictor of hurt, reaching for him, and Suzaku--
“No!” Suzaku assured him quickly (far too quickly. The boy raised a brow, but thankfully didn’t comment). “No… I… we don’t… we’re not close.”
The boy nodded. “I understand. I don’t care much for my father either.” And the way he spoke the words, thin scowl on his lips not unlike the one he’d expressed for his apparently racist coworkers, Suzaku suspected that this was quite the understatement.
“I’m Lelouch, by the way,” he added, somewhat belatedly. “Lelouch Lamperouge.”
Oh, right. Introductions. They hadn’t done that yet, had they? “Suzaku Kururugi,” Suzaku replied dutifully.
Something flashed in Lelouch’s gaze, his lips turning up into a tiny smile. “I know you, Suzaku.” He said his name as if it was candy on Lelouch’s tongue, almost purring out the syllables, and Suzaku felt the gooseflesh raise inexplicably on his arms.
“O-of course,” Suzaku said, flushing. Of course Lelouch would know who he was. The whole of A.S.E.E.C. probably knew his name. But something about the words, or maybe the look in Lelouch’s eyes, made Suzaku feel as if he truly knew him, had always known him, had been waiting for him—
But that was ridiculous. Wasn’t it?
“It’s nice to meet you, Lelouch,” Suzaku said, his voice loud in his own ears as he forced his strange train of thought to halt.
Lelouch continued to contemplate him with that mysterious little smile, and for a moment, Suzaku wondered if he had done something wrong. Was calling him Lelouch okay? Did he prefer Mr. Lamperouge? He was never certain of Britannian formalities.
Lelouch reached out, clasping Suzaku’s hand. Not a handshake, as he had learned was common for Britannians, just holding it gently, and it struck Suzaku on how cool the skin was. Smooth, pale and perfect, Lelouch’s hand almost didn’t look real, as if it had been crafted from porcelain or some other pretty, fragile material.
“The pleasure is all mine, Suzaku,” Lelouch answered, and to Suzaku’s ears he sounded almost unnervingly sincere.
So, I'm kinda trying to merge Knightmare and Eva, so some things are going to be different here. Like, for example, no LCL, if you've noticed. There are similarities of course, by my Knightmare Eva creations also have secrets all their on (that promise to be equally horrifying, or I'm not doing my job right). Look forward to it, and feel free to kick me in the ass every once in a while if you like this and want to see more. I need reminders of old works existence at times for motivation.
And if anyone out there could be so kind as to drop me a comment, I would very much appreciate it.