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Fanfic: A Matter of Punctuality (Schneizel/Suzaku)

Title: A Matter of Punctuality (Infinity Interlude I)
Fandom: Code GEASS
Characters/Pairing: Schneizel el Britannia x Kururugi Suzaku
Rating: PG-13, for two guys naked in bed together
Warning: Lots of fluff, lots of kissing, but total lack of plot development
Word Count: 2487
Challenge: 30_romances #09. Rush
Summary: Suzaku is late and his subordinates decide to go look for him.

A/N: Just something short and fluffy because Suzaku needs it after drowning in so much angst in the previous chapters. An interlude because it signifies a change between what’s before and after. Enjoy, folks.

Previous installation: Mire
See the complete list of stories

-----

Claire Barton was anxious.

In fact, Claire Barton was currently fighting against a severe case of panic attack. Not only that it was already seven-thirty in the morning, the final preparation for their departure had been supposed to begin about half-an-hour ago. She had done everything she could to get things in motion, but without the person who was officially responsible for the entire business actually present, the results so far had been lacking at best.

So where the hell was he?

“Lady Barton,” a soldier approached her, an anxious look on his face, “it is time to contact the California Base, as well as the Camulos Knight in Area 11 to coordinate the final escort plan.”

Claire stopped her restless pacing and glared at the unsuspecting soldier. “I have no authority to make the call,” she replied tersely. These plain, white walls surrounding this office were driving her mad.

“But Lord Kururugi…”

“I know,” she hissed, stomping an urge to tear her hair out. Where the hell was he? They only had two more hours before the departure and she didn’t have the barest idea what to do in this kind of situation. Suzaku had never been late – he was always punctual if not early. In the very rare, very extraordinary occasions when he did have to run in late, he would always inform the parties involved and leave proper instructions which would serve to relieve them from any trouble caused by his momentary absence.

But not on this occasion. There was no word at all, not in writing, in words, in whisper, or in any manner at all for that matter. And to promote bad to worse, his cell phone was also currently unreachable. Claire had seriously considered barging into his room at least fifty times, but still had enough common sense to remind herself that it was wrong, not to mention inappropriate on so many levels. And it wasn’t as if she could just enter the Imperial Palace anytime she wanted to, a commoner that she was. But at this rate…

“What are you doing?”

Claire whirled around quickly, almost sobbing in relief when she recognised who had just walked into the room. “Jacques!”

“I thought we should have started half-an-hour ago,” he said, barely noticing the distress and frustration on her face, and proceeded to deposit his bags onto the couch. “Where is Suzaku?”

“He hasn’t arrived,” she answered flatly.

It took Jacques a few blank seconds to fully process the sentence. And then he looked up, staring at her with a strange expression on his face. “What do you mean ‘he hasn’t arrived’?”

She gave him a scathing look. “What do you think?”

A few more blank seconds. Claire decided that she could have gotten along really well with blankness and its equally silent siblings if the situation had been a little different. Jacques, who seemed every bit as lost as she was, finally opened his mouth again. “But that’s impossible,” he said, sounding incredulous. “Have you tried to contact him?”

Claire threw him a glare. “Of course I have! I’ve been trying for at least five-hundred times in the last half-an-hour, but his cell phone is off and I don’t have any idea where he is and it’s already–”

“Okay, all right,” Jacques interrupted her hastily. “I didn’t mean anything by that.”

“I know,” she sighed and spread her arms in a helpless gesture. “I’ve sent a word through the palace guard, but it isn’t as if I have lots of connections in there. There is a fair chance that the message won’t be passed along at all – you know what they are like.”

“I’ll take care of it,” he quickly said before she could plunge into another frenzied rant. But when he was just about to explain how, another soldier entered the room and gave them both a perfect salute.

“A message from the Imperial Guard, my lady,” he addressed her in a clipped, precise military tone. “Lord Kururugi is not in his chamber.”

Claire wasn’t sure if she should feel better or worse after the news. Suzaku would have called if he was already on his way, or had something else more important to attend first. But there had been no call whatsoever so far, and yet, he was not in his room.

“I don’t understand.” She finally turned toward her friend, looking for any kind of explanation. “Does that mean he’s already on his way?”

Unlike a few minutes prior, the look Jacques was giving her in return was anything but puzzled. “I think that means we have a very big problem,” he told her calmly, a barely suppressed smirk on the curve of his lips.

-----

When the noise first arrived in his ears, it jerked him out of his sleep. Suzaku blinked, several times to clear the heavy fog in his eyes, and tried to place the day, hour, location, et cetera.

The second time it did, he shot up to a sitting position, but only succeeded halfway because the top of his head collided against something. Tears sprang to his eyes as he sank to one hand, the pain raw and sharp on his new, muddled consciousness. It took him a few long minutes to get everything straight again, and then his world lurched to a stop, when he looked up and came to the sight of his lord with a hand clasped to his left cheek.

“Oh god,” Suzaku whispered – working out one plus one equalled he had hurt a prince – and then panicked. “I’m so sorry, Your Highness, I didn’t– oh, I’m sorry, I’m–“

The thoroughly familiar feeling of being robbed of the power of speech ambushed him. He fell back to the bed with the older man’s weight on top of him, lips completely sealed by another mouth. This he couldn’t figure out. Since when had a kiss been a punishment?

“From now on, I will take your ‘I’m sorry’ as an invitation to kiss you,” Schneizel said once he had let go of his mouth, a little smile on his lips. “I am fine, so don’t fuss.”

“But…” Suzaku faltered, at a loss of words. There was a reddening spot on the older man’s upper cheek and his hand reached up, but had stopped before it could make any real contact. It was the prince who lowered his head and bridged the distance, until his left cheek touched recoiling, timid fingers. Suzaku bit his lips, heart hammering in his chest, when he gingerly touched the warm skin, painfully aware that this was another first of many things he had yet to discover.

“It may leave a bruise,” he finally found his voice, small though it was.

“Accidents do happen now and then,” the prince replied placidly and kissed the tip of his fingers. It was hard to believe that his face still couldn’t hold off a blush when his lord did something like this to him. Suzaku couldn’t help but wonder if he would ever grow out of it.

“Still, Your Highness, I’m so–” he stopped himself short, remembering the earlier threat. “I mean, I sincerely apologise.”

Schneizel chuckled. “I think we need to add a few more rules to that game,” he said in mock sombreness and leant down to capture his lips once more.

And then the noise came again. This time, a part of his mind quickly identified it as the sound of someone knocking at the door – and much, much closer at that. He broke away from the kiss with a start and turned toward the source of the sound. An Imperial Guard was standing in front of the widely open connecting door, wearing a very guilty, very uncomfortable look on his face.

Suzaku felt like he could die from embarrassment alone. There was no masking his position right now other than that of the prince’s lover. Not that he harboured any illusion that it could still be masked in any way, but at least no one had ever discovered them in this fashion before. Until this morning.

“I apologise for intruding, Your Highness,” the guard began with a voice that sounded more like a terrified squeak, “but a Lord Sedgwick insists on meeting with Lord Kururugi in a matter of utmost importance.”

He paled. Oh shit.

Schneizel looked down at him with arched eyebrows when he started to squirm. “Lord Sedgwick?”

“The departure,” he breathed out. “Your Highness, perhaps I should–“

“Go,” the prince concluded, but still hadn’t moved away. “Only first forgive the selfishness I asked of you last night.”

Suzaku blinked. Did he ever have the right to call it selfishness when the fault had been his from the beginning? There was something seriously wrong here.

“But I dare not, my lord,” he replied, eyes downcast, voice only a little above a whisper.

“Then I shall be guilty of this offence forever?”

“No,” he said hurriedly, grasping the prince’s arms on pure impulse. “That isn’t what I mean at all. If it was a fault, then it was deservedly mine.”

Schneizel gave him a solemn look, a hint of disapproval in his expression. “You’ll do well to remember that to desire blame more than what is yours to claim is also greed,” he said and finally moved away from above him. “We shall talk later. You need to hurry now.”

Suzaku didn’t quite understand how, perhaps the heavens had granted him courage – the kind of courage that usually killed a man – because at that moment he found himself reaching for the prince’s face and kissing him. Mere pressing of lips, a feather-light touch, no longer than two seconds or so, but it felt like he had just thrown himself to the front line without Lancelot, practically unarmed. The quiet amusement in his lord’s expression barely helped if at all.

“I…” he muttered, cheeks burning, “I really should go now.”

“Indeed,” the prince nodded, a smile flitting across his lips. Suzaku quickly climbed down from the bed before he could do anything stupider, and noted, with a strange mix of relief and despair, that the guard had vanished. He picked up his clothes, put them on as fast as he could while all the way aware that his prince was still watching him. This day seemed to be his highlight in many things – lateness, imprudence, and boldness so far, and he had been up for less than five minutes.

Uniform far from impeccable, he rushed out from the prince’s quarters and noticed Jacques who was waiting just in front of the door. A grin split up his face when he saw his superior officer in this somewhat less-than-presentable appearance.

“Well, it wasn’t that hard to figure out.”

“Jacques, I’m so sorry,” Suzaku said in a low voice, trying to ignore the inscrutable looks he was getting from the rest of the guards.

“No alarm clock in there?”

“Drop it,” he muttered as they started to walk down the corridor, to the direction of his room.

“I will, if you answer me this one question,” the other man replied, assuming a serious tone. “How was it possible that you were summoned by the emperor last night but ended up in the prince’s bed this morning?”

Suzaku sent him a glare. “You want to mock me right now?”

“No, not at all,” was the innocent reply, complete with a suspiciously harmless smile. “I’m genuinely curious. You have to admit that it’s a problem that defies logic.”

Suzaku snorted but said nothing. Jacques went on, “You have no idea the length of the trouble I must go into to convince the guards that this is a perfectly serious problem. Difficult cannot even begin to describe it. And then of course no one wanted to do it, because there’s this inviolable rule that a prince in his bedroom must never be disturbed except in a case of fire.” He paused, glancing at Suzaku’s wrinkled clothes, and added with a wide smirk hovering over his face, “But I guess it’s worth it in the end.”

“I’m glad I could be a source of your amusement,” Suzaku said dryly. Jacques grinned at him.

“A fair return, after what I had risked,” he said mildly. “Now I only hope that His Highness is willing to show mercy to the poor man who only carried out his duty.”

Suzaku decided to ignore him. They had arrived to one of the smaller guest bedrooms he had been assigned to for the duration of his stay in the palace, and then he remembered that he hadn’t done any packing yesterday.

Great. Just perfect.

It was Jacques who solved the problem for him. “Go straight to bath,” he said, his voice taking on a more business-like fashion. “I’ll take care of your clothes.”

Suzaku nodded gratefully at him and rushed toward the bathroom. A tiny part of him was secretly grateful for all this haste and hurry because he didn’t exactly have time to reflect on what had happened last night. And this morning, yes. Later perhaps. Right now, it was still too much for him.

After the fastest shower he had ever taken, he pulled two clean towels from a rack near the stall, one to wrap his dirty clothes in and the other to dry himself and then present some kind of modesty around his waist. Jacques was tossing his clothes into a bag when he walked out.

“Do you know what you really need?” the other man was saying. “Clothes. Many, many clothes. All you have are these two identical knight uniforms, one full ceremonial attire, and really, you shouldn’t even keep this anymore,” he dropped the russet-coloured standard military outfit to the floor.

“Jacques!” Suzaku hissed and picked up the clothes, cramming them inside the bag. “Can we not have this discussion right now?”

“It will come up sooner or later,” Jacques pointed out. “You’re now His Highness’s personal knight. Don’t you think it’s–”

“Not now,” Suzaku cut him off irritably and started to dress himself up. Jacques stared at him.

“Your prince is a very fashionable man–”

“Okay, now you’re only doing this to irritate me, aren’t you?”

"That is the most unfounded accusation I've ever heard," Jacques said indignantly, quick to defend his virtue and yet unable to hold back a grin.

Suzaku fixed him a glare but abandoned the subject. “How much more time do we have?” he asked, fastening some of the obligatory decorations on his uniform.

The other man consulted his watch. “Well, it’s exactly twenty minutes past eight, so one hour and ten minutes.” He glanced up at his superior officer. “You think we can do it?”

“Let’s find out,” Suzaku said grimly and grabbed his bag.

But when it turned out that the prince appeared one hour late, a few minutes just after the preparation had finished, Suzaku wondered if he should be at all surprised.

End

-----

Notes: Like I said, total fluff.

Next installation: As Shadow Stirs
Tags: !series: infinity, fandom: code geass, pairing: schneizel/suzaku
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