Prompt: Sunshine (Code Geass, Gino/Suzaku)
Rating: G, because this is one of the very few prompts I can avoid turning into smut…
Warning: SPOILERS for the end of R2.
Word Count: 986
Notes: To clair3, I was very tempted to make this a death fic but you mentioned that you wanted a happy one :D
His cape was not black. It was a deep, broken colour of blue that shied away from the sun, and it felt soft even in the fierce grasp of his fingers. Zero turned around, alarmed, and Gino knew any other person would have ended up face-first on the pavement by now.
“Lord Weinberg,” he hissed, too upset to modulate his voice into its usual – false – deeper timbre. Gino revelled in this small slip of control, lips curling into a smile, and did not let go. There was no one but the two of them in the garden. The Empress had gone back into the palace to attend to a matter of imperial importance which had suddenly arose and would not return for at least half an hour – that much she had made clear with a giggle and a graceful hand over her mouth before she had left.
“Why did you agree to meet me today?” Gino asked, diving straight to the point. There would be no dancing around unasked questions today; he had had enough of that in the last few months, with Zero’s endless supply of excuses to postpone a meeting between them. He understood the need of circumspection, but this was getting ridiculous.
“Her Majesty agreed to meet you today,” the masked man growled his reply – evasion, just as he himself knew too well. He tried to tug his cape free, but Gino’s grip remained firm.
“So it has nothing to do with you,” he said, quiet, but unable to keep the smile away from his face.
There was a pause, easily filled in by the mournful sigh of the wind. It was a cold day at the end of November, but he minded little of the weather.
“It’s your birthday,” Zero, Suzaku finally answered, his voice faint enough to be inaudible. Except Gino caught it and he sighed happily, the sound floating gently in the air, in the thick, hollow space between them – and, he hoped, into that mask which both concealed and confined.
“Thought so,” he hummed to himself and released the fabric between his fingers. It fluttered back to where it should be, around a smaller body that hid behind it, using it as a shield and a clamp both. Gino smothered the beginning a frown by asking, “So where is my present?”
“I don’t bring any,” the other man answered tersely, hands gloved in black clenched on his cape.
Gino refused to be discouraged. “There is no one around,” he pointed out, and then added, very softly, “Suzaku.”
Even the mask could not hide the sudden tension which slipped into his posture. He wondered then, how long had it been since Suzaku had heard his own name whispered to him, particularly in such a way. After the death of Emperor Lelouch, it had taken Gino six months to come to the conclusion that ‘Zero’ was actually a certain friend-sometimes-lover of his – who had never bothered to tell him about his fake death – and then another two months to convince himself that he cared. He had been angry, and for all that he knew, the other knight didn’t care that much about him either.
Sometimes, pride was a wall that towered and blinded, and good things came from tearing it down.
“That doesn’t mean there is no one watching,” the other man answered stiffly, and his voice was different, Gino reflected, almost like someone in his memory who used to look at him with a pair of green eyes that kept too much suppressed inside. This was not Zero - Gino allowed himself a small grin.
“I’m sure Her Majesty has done everything within her power to ensure our privacy,” he reasoned cheerfully.
“We are outside,” Suzaku said stubbornly, and the hint of steel in his voice did not belong to the hero of the new world. “You know I can’t afford the risk.”
“Even on my birthday?”
Suzaku did not answer and the stony silence set in like a guest unpleasant and unwelcome. Gino realised that he was really pushing his luck now. Even after he had made Zero admit the name hidden behind the mask, it had taken him almost two years to convince the other that redemption did not come in any act of self-sacrifice. Suzaku kept singing the same song – Zero must be above reproach, Zero must have no weakness, Zero did not exist to be happy. But no one should ever be denied the pleasure of loving and being loved in return, and no one had the right to take it away, especially from a friend who deserved to be happy. Whatever curse had been put on Suzaku, Gino was determined to get rid of it, even if only a portion, even if only a tiny slice of its edge.
But Suzaku, as always, was nothing if not stubborn.
“Even on your birthday,” he answered, steady enough although he probably did not look into Gino’s eyes while he said that.
“That’s mean,” Gino pouted – and hoped that Suzaku caught the slight hurt in the undertone of his voice, despite his smiles. And perhaps he did, because even with the mask he looked away.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured.
Gino decided to smile then, even though it was nowhere as bright and honest as it should be. “This isn’t over, you know,” he said, promised. They were older now, wiser, perhaps not happier, but he had learnt much about patience. There would be a day, he vowed there would be a day when Suzaku was able to stand under the sun again. Perhaps he wouldn’t be Kururugi Suzaku – because a deceased man must stay deceased despite everything – but at least he could be his Suzaku and once more the smiles could be smiles.
Gino discovered that he was just as stubborn, if not more. And he had the aid of time. There was no way he could lose.