Jusrecht (jusrecht) wrote,
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Fic: Gambits Within Gambits (Schneizel x Suzaku)

Title: Gambits Within Gambits (Infinity Part 2)
Fandom: Code GEASS: Lelouch of The Rebellion
Pairing: Schneizel el Britannia x Kururugi Suzaku
Rating: PG-13 at most
Warnings: Insinuations to male/male relationship and confusions abound.
Disclaimer: Code GEASS belongs to Sunrise
Challenge: 30_romances #11. Mission Impossible
Word Count: 2988
Summary: 'However, it was also the beginning of everything.'

Notes: The second of Infinity series. Basically, this is Fairy Tale from Schneizel’s side, but I’ve decided not to write another long one-shot because it will cost me a lot more than I dare to pay. Imagining the whole work already daunts me so much that I just decide to run away and make a series of ficlets instead. Granted, they will be rather disjointed compared to Fairy Tale but I hope no one would mind terribly. And once I’m done with this ‘from Schneizel’s side’ thing, I’ll write the continuation of the story, still as a series of ficlets. All updates will be put here, as a part of the ‘Infinity’ series. That said, enjoy the read.

To rkold, again, this is for you. I hope it'll give you more patience to wait for your request XD

Previous Installation: Infinity
See the complete list of stories

-----

It was a bet.

Not the cheap kind one has with a friend for the sake of frivolity, nor with an opposing party in lieu of the more conventional, possibly dangerous method to settle differences, such as the crossing of blades. It was an interesting one, as far as the subject went, but also a dangerous one. After all, the object put at stake was the interest of an empire – the empire he aimed to lead someday. It was imperative that he played his moves right, in the most careful manner, and lost not even the slightest chance to secure every drop of victory.

Involving himself in this bet was probably not the wisest decision he had ever made. That it dealt with too many risks which might permanently damage his chances was a knowledge not unfamiliar to him, but risk was a thoroughly well-known acquaintance for a prince who had every intention to usurp his eldest brother.

No, not usurp. Such coarse language. It spoke of mindless force and desecration of rights. What he was trying to do was best described as a subtle manipulation, the most discrete and cunning of stratagem known to mankind.

As to how the young man had come into the equation, Schneizel el Britannia had the most infallible excuse. An opportunity had presented itself, and he was not one to waste a moment, a move, a piece which might just be the determinative of the game. Sacrifices were necessary, a good strategy even more so, but there was a reason why a determinative was called a determinative.

Kururugi Suzaku was in no way a determinative. That he stood out amongst the crowd of otherwise nondescript creatures was true, but a mere display of bravery could only do so much. Without shrewdness and detailed planning, one could only attain certain mediocre heights. Euphie was only a girl, too young to want more than what her surface emotions dictated. She fell in love, and therefore she chose him – a simple, honest decision, impervious to any deceitful scheme.

Innocence was not a sin. Neither was it a flaw, although it could be an obvious hindrance at times. In her, innocence was something he could enjoy, something he could bear to indulge every now and then, to remind him of those innocent days when siblings had yet to be anything else but a blessing.

It all began with her innocence.

He understood the way the world turned, the way day-to-day life unfolded. Cause-and-effect had never been about one cause and one effect. Innumerable begot countless. Her untimely death was a result to a constellation of factors, each no less important than the other, and to think that his decision to endorse one of her impulsive ideas was solely to blame for her death was a foolishness so entirely beneath his person that he must be either fully intoxicated or barely conscious for even considering the issue.

It still did not stop the thought from festering in his mind. More than once he had found himself wondering what could have happened if he had said no to her, or if he had been there, at her side when death had offered her its cold, shrunken hand. Would it end differently? Or would it be just another dance in the deepening night, wishing that the clock would not struck midnight?

And then of course, Cornelia.

Still, regrets were regrets because they changed nothing. The past would remain a broken mirror, hidden in the darkest corner of one's closet as it could only offer an ugly reflection to anyone who dared to peer into its depth. Utterly beyond repair. But then again, it was exactly why he had bought the new one.

Future.

Never linger on past failures. His call was to decide the next course of action, one which would benefit him the most. And so he did.

Instead of punishing Kururugi Suzaku for being alive, he took the Eleven under his wing.

-----

“He is an Eleven.”

Kneeling in front of the screen where his father was visibly frowning down at him, the Second Prince found himself facing the inevitable. Long before the summon order came, he had known that at some point in the future, there would be questions he had to provide answers for, and that the emperor himself would be the deliverer of some of those questions. Considering what he had just done, it was to be expected.

“Yes, Your Majesty,” he replied, eyes still carefully directed at the carpeted floor just under the screen – humbleness was a virtue when it was due. “And it is exactly why I offer him to stay.”

There were many words which could describe the 98th Emperor of Britannia, but ‘unintelligent’ had never been one of them. This was a simple equation, one a man of his eminence could not possibly fail to decipher. Schneizel knew that his motives were straightforward enough as they were – at least the ones he cared to show the rest of the world.

While the political reasons he had told Suzaku were true to some extent, they were not the only reasons. Britannia’s interests played a larger part in this, more than he had let the younger man know. With the Chinese Federation steadily building its army behind the proverbial bamboo curtain, Japan ended up playing a role far more important than a mere subjugated area. And if their future plans were to be carried out as intended, the Land of the Rising Sun had to remain a part of their territory no matter what.

And his father, the powerful ruler who had conquered many countries, undoubtedly knew this.

“What about his failure?”

“His failure was due to the unfavourable circumstances and not exclusively his fault,” the prince replied, his level voice reciting the answer from a mental note he had appropriately armed himself with. “It was her who ordered him to stay behind.”

“As far as I’m concerned, it only demonstrates inability to deal with volatile situations,” the Emperor said, condescension apparent in his voice. Schneizel resisted a frown. As it turned out, to overcome the wall of prejudice was not as easy as he had thought.

“Be that as it may, his characters should not be determined by one failure only,” he continued to reason. “Your Majesty, Area 11 is an extremely unstable place. At this moment in time, when our forces are spread thin and wide across the borders, a peaceful solution is preferable to opening another front of war which, given our current situation, we most likely would not be able to win. I have plans concerning Major Kururugi. If Your Majesty allows me to follow them through, we might be able to avoid the calamity caused by the incident in the Special Area.”

The ensuing silence was heavy with unvoiced questions and their subsequent evasions. Only one cause could never put anything in motion. He knew this. His Majesty knew this. What prevented them to be in an equal footing in this subject was only a certain design which he had in mind – and which he counted on his father to remain unaware of.

That he had his eyes set on the throne was not quite a secret, at least not to the emperor, and it was an issue far from simple when you were only the second son of the family. His mask of amiability might be able to fool most people, but it was not good enough when his main contender proved to suffer a glaring lack of necessary qualities to be a decent ruler. It was not that he disliked his elder brother, who despite lacking any strength of character was not a disagreeable man. It was the nobles surrounding the Crown Prince he had a problem with – their ambitions, hidden agenda, and audacity to take advantage of the weaknesses of the very person they should have served.

And the fact that Odysseus could not see beyond the high praises and sugary words did not exactly make Schneizel sympathise with him. The way his mind worked was simple. If he could not have an empire which suited his purposes, then it was time to take matters into his own hand.

And Kururugi Suzaku was one of the central actors in this play he was orchestrating.

The prince knew he was not only imagining the voices of disagreement pervading his father’s court. Subjugation was one thing, but mistreatment often bred disapproval, not only from the subjugated party but also from the more benign circles of aristocracy. The ruling sovereign might be notorious for his condemnation to equality, but when the time came, people would remember about the Second Prince and this young Eleven whom he had given a second chance.

A daring plan, yes, but Britannia had always valued courage more than apathy.

And of course anger played a part in it too, which he had to admit. Euphie was one of the very few people in this world who actually mattered to him and despite the bizarre circumstances of her death, he found himself holding her knight responsible for his inability to protect her. A small retribution of some kind. He knew very well how much the young Eleven hated his choice to stay.

Killing three birds with one stone. Not a poor achievement, even to his standard.

“What exactly are you planning?” His Majesty suddenly asked, the heavy timbre of his voice reverberating in the room. Schneizel realised that it wasn’t out of curiosity as much as vanity – the need to show his son that he knew there was something more, lying quietly beneath layers of ingenious proposals.

The prince smiled noncommittally and bowed his head. “I serve only for the glory of the empire.”

And he did not need to look up to see the amusement on his father’s face. “You are the temporary Governor-General of Area 11,” the emperor said, sounding surprisingly indifferent after the earlier display of interest. “Do as you wish.”

His smile might broaden a little, but then again, it was a victory well justified.

-----

“Kururugi Suzaku.”

It started with a deathly silence, humming in the air like the whistle of the void. And then, as if a conductor had raised his baton to commence the orchestra, everyone in the room began speaking at once – or shouting, seeing how they had gone fortissimo since the beginning. One timbre encouraged the other and soon the meeting room was a theatre of phonic war.

Sitting at the head of the long table, the prince raised a hand to cease the unpleasant cacophony before it could get any worse.. The voices gradually died down, leaving only a smattering of whispers across the room as all eyes focused in his direction.

“I do not see what the problem is,” he said, earning himself a shower of incredulous looks from his officers. “The commander of the vanguard has always been chosen from the most able officers in the entire division. Surely all of you realise how qualified he is?”

Another torrent of passionate responses flooded the room. Schneizel looked at General Bartley who was sitting on his left and let the good general take care of the commotion before speaking again, “If it is possible for only two or three of you to be speaking at the same time, I will appreciate it.”

An uncomfortable silence occurred, and then General Alston, the first to recover from his reprimand, opened her mouth.

“We do not think that it is the issue, Your Highness.”

“Then what is exactly the issue?”

The female general looked slightly uncomfortable under his penetrating gaze, but her voice was steady enough when she answered, “In a crisis of a magnitude as great as this, it would be unwise to trust anyone but our own people.”

After sharing a glance with Earl Asplund who was sitting at other end of the table without seemingly the slightest care in the world, the prince leant back to his seat and said flatly, “He is a Britannian.”

“He is an honorary Britannian.”

“And such status apparently speaks of disloyalty?”

Her uneasiness noticeably increased and some of its effects began to trickle into her voice. “No, Your Highness, but to exercise the utmost caution is never wrong, particularly when the situation involves individuals who have turned their back on their country.”

Something, pity perhaps, stirred inside him at the argument. The road was long and hard, and Suzaku had shown nothing but faith. Perseverance. Determination not to surrender. It was admirable, the way he refused to acknowledge the cruel treatment and rounds of incontrovertible malice directed at him in what seemed to be an hourly basis. The journey was long still – the prince only hoped that this determination could last through the next storm.

And the next.

And the next one after that, as long as the show still went on.

“Major Kururugi is an extraordinary soldier,” he heard himself saying impassively. “In fact, he is better than every other name on that list which you have supplied me with.”

“But being an extraordinary soldier does not necessarily mean that he is also a good commander,” the General persisted. “And Your Highness must have known that this will be his first time leading a regiment of such scale. His leadership skill has been so far untested.”

“Then we shall have it tested.”

“Sire, with all due respect–“

“I understand your concerns,” he calmly interpolated her. “These possibilities have not escaped me, General, but this is more than just about defending a part of our territory from foreign invasion. If misgivings are the grounds of your objection, then I shall take sole responsibilities on the matter regardless of the outcome. Is there any other objection in regard of this subject?”

His decisive manner seemed to put a damp on his generals’ will to argue. They were glancing at each other, restlessness all but concealed, and yet none rose to his challenge. At the other side of the room, Lloyd was smiling noncommittally.

“Then this discussion is over,” the prince stated, leaning back to his seat with an air of finality. “Good day, Generals.”

Recognising dismissal when they saw one, the officers filed out of the room quickly but quietly. Their point was not wholly without merit, the prince acknowledged, but there were times when prudence had to be forfeited in favor of success itself. No half-and-half. It was all or nothing.

The next thing was to make sure that his newly appointed commander-of-the-vanguard did not back down from the fight, in which he had only the smallest doubt. Overconfidence might be the pitfalls of many greater schemes, but the prince had reasons to believe that his was not completely unwarranted. And it had very little to do with the fact that it was his long-time friend who had suggested the young man in the first place.

“That went pretty well,” Lloyd cheerfully said once the door had closed behind the last officer, leaving only the two of them in the meeting room.

“I suppose it could be worse,” Schneizel agreed mildly and rose to his feet. “I’ll leave it to you to inform him. Do it as soon as possible. He is going to need quite a preparation on this.”

“You should be the one who breaks the news to him,” the earl said, tone easily neutral, a sliver of calmness in the wake of a passing storm. The prince only raised his eyebrows.

“Well, there is no harm in making him feel more… respected.” Again it was the utter nonchalance which stood out the most. Lloyd made a careless gesture with one hand and added, “I don’t want to lose him either. He’s perfect.”

Schneizel found himself smiling at the word. “Indeed.”

-----

Respect, as it turned out, was a fairly straightforward issue when it came to Suzaku. In fact, it was almost impossible not to respect him when he evidently had managed to win his share from the entire battalion – and more importantly, made them admit it.

Attraction, on the other hand, was a completely different matter.

Was it even an attraction? The prince reflected on this question with certain amount of – possibly misplaced – amusement, silently taking in all the details laid before his eyes. He had a very inebriated major sleeping on his couch and it might or might not be his fault. After all, getting a kiss from a prince was clearly not one of the best things which could happen to someone who wasn’t in full possession of their wits. As a result, the young man had simply passed out and the other came to a decision that attraction or not, amusement still ought to be enjoyed to its fullest.

It was certainly an interesting situation. There were many scenarios he could develop from this, all to his advantages, but they would ultimately come down to one point. Devotion – the most powerful, the most useful of tools, and if he could own it…

The sharp, intoxicating scent of sweet, sweet denial reached his nose. He acknowledged it with a faint smile. Denial never suited him. He had been watching Suzaku too closely, perhaps much too closely than he should, but given the circumstances of the observation and its subject, it was inevitable. Attraction was the result – probably another of the inevitables – and his only choice was to accept.

Other than twisting it to suit his own purposes, of course.

And accept it he did. With the calmest manner. Amusement and business should not go hand-in-hand, they said, but an extraordinary situation merited an extraordinary solution. And challenges, those wisps of fresh air in an otherwise tedious reality, were always welcome.

Besides, the prince smiled, the tip of his fingers brushing the younger man’s left cheek, if he played his pieces right, he might just be able to kill another bird.

End

-----

Notes: Writing Schneizel is… hell. I can’t quite determine his character, and seeing that the anime hasn’t shown us much, I have lots of gaping holes to fill. So if my writing style seems strange in this fic, you know what caused it.

In term of address to the Emperor, I’m not sure if it’s ‘Your Majesty’ or ‘Your Excellency’, but I choose to go with the former. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Thank you for reading and please comment.

Next installation: Set To Pieces
Tags: !series: infinity, fandom: code geass, pairing: schneizel/suzaku
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