Fandom: Code GEASS: Lelouch of The Rebellion
Pairing: Schneizel el Britannia x Kururugi Suzaku
Rating: PG-13 at most. Only some insinuations present.
Warnings: None as far as I recall. Oh, except for SPOILER of season 2 in the A/N. Don’t read the A/N if you don’t want any.
Disclaimer: Code GEASS belongs to Sunrise.
Challenge: 30_nights #06. Stolen heart
Word Count: 1890
Summary: Schneizel and Lloyd engage each other in a game of chess and a little evening conversation.
Notes: I have this chess theme going on when I’m writing Schneizel. I don’t know why, but it’s just so fitting for him. Actually, a particular R2 SPOILER urges me to finish this: “Britannia is currently in a rough situation with the EU. The Emperor put Schneizel in charge of the invasion. Britannia has been fighting Euro Universe for a long, long time now; the El Alamein front is an especially large spot of bother for Britannia because apparently a legendary commander is stationed there, keeping the Britannian forces at bay. Schneizel has been sent to try and break this deadlock, and for that purpose he’s “borrowing” Suzaku.”
That got me screaming for about five minutes.
And El Alamein? A legendary commander? Deadlock? Does this mean Schneizel is Montgomery? *can’t stop laughing*
Uh, anyway, the timeline for this ficlet is near the end of Fairy Tale. That means after the… ehm, proposal. Enjoy everyone.
Previous Installation: Set To Pieces
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“It was a bad move.”
“No, it was the only move.”
Schneizel glanced up from the chess board, finding his opponent’s face drawn into a frown. Lloyd had his entire concentration focused on the ongoing game which, the prince had to admit, was only fitting since black was steadily overwhelming white. He had won all five fronts of battle scattered all over the board, four of which occurring at the opposite side. Checkmate, he predicted, was only twelve moves away. The final countdown had begun, and it was time for the White king to bring the last few tactics in his arsenal into play.
“Will you stop looking at me like that?” Lloyd finally looked up from his falling formation and pinned a glare at the prince. Schneizel found himself smiling innocuously.
“It was not the only move,” he pointed out, his tone perfectly unassuming. “You could have withdrawn the bishop to A-6.”
“And let you prey on my queen?” There was a hint of a sneer in the other man’s voice, half-lidded eyes heavy with accusation behind a pair of glinting spectacles. “My skill at chess may be mediocre at best and I am certainly not a grand master like Your Imperial Highness, but I do understand how to play the game.”
“And then your knight will be free to corner my king,” the prince continued, completely unperturbed by the volley of sarcasm ruthlessly hurled at him.
This possibility of tactic obviously had not occurred to the earl. His face darkened, mouth twisting into an involuntary grimace as his eyes scanned the battlefield once more.
“As brilliant as it may sound, there’s no point to using that strategy if you've known about it all the same, is it?” he accused caustically.
“No, but at least it will let me know that you are capable of such strategy.” Schneizel leant back to his armchair with a complacent air and reclaimed the glass of brandy he had previously abandoned in the heat of battle. “And it may be able to prolong the game for a few turns,” he added with a subdued smile.
“Which, of course, serves no other purpose but to stroke His Highness’s inflated ego,” Lloyd said dryly and moved his queen away to G-7. When he spoke again, there were traces of frustration in his voice. “What exactly am I doing here? I mean, why am I here at all?”
“To play chess, of course.”
“Because you ordered me to.”
“Because I asked you to,” the prince corrected, positioning his knight to launch another sequence of attacks. “Do you not find this an enjoyable pastime?”
“To be thoroughly crushed at chess by you? I can hardly think of anything more enjoyable,” the other man muttered with unconcealed petulance and organized the remaining of his pieces to withstand the upcoming onslaught.
“I am certain the future Countess Asplund will be able to change your opinion in little to no time,” Schneizel responded placidly, careful to keep only the slightest hint of amusement on his countenance as the remark inflicted its intended effect on his friend’s mood. Lloyd was rarely a victim to a game of meandrous words, but the prince prided himself as one of the very few people who could always gain the upper hand in such situation. “And how is the lovely lady who is working for you, Lloyd?”
This sudden leap of topic seemed to catch his friend off guard. “Why is it that you always move from one subject to another so fast?” the earl demanded with a renewed set of glare.
“Dealing with thirty, forty things at once on daily basis conditions me to be flexible all the time,” he replied easily. It was not curiosity as much as an impulse to tease an old friend, a habit, Schneizel realised, which he had embraced to practice with alarming faithfulness since a certain young man had come into his life. “Has the lovely lady finally made her move? Last time I heard, you two were discovered in a fairly compromising situation.”
A small glint appeared in the other man’s eyes. “Which ‘she’ are we talking about?”
The prince allowed himself an amused chuckle, much less reserved than it should have probably been. “There is more than one? Why, Earl Asplund, you certainly know how to conceal an affair from the prying eyes of our public.”
“I did no such thing,” Lloyd protested. “Concealing my affairs from your prying eyes was the only objective I had in mind.”
Slyly mocking remarks and double-edged words, weapon of choice in his circle of society. There could never be enough practice to defend oneself against them, but standing there at the receiving end of his friend’s fine verbal sword, the Second Prince was once again reminded why he repeatedly found himself intrigued by the new candidate of his knight, someone who wielded sheer determination instead of coils of elaborate schemes. It was an incontestable law, that opposites attract, and he was only a mortal not immune to its encompassing lure.
“Well, I am certainly flattered to be held in such high regard,” he replied calmly and completed his trap with his remaining bishop marching to F-3 before glancing up to his opponent’s frowning face. “Check.”
“Not yet.” Lloyd quickly blocked the black bishop’s path with a rook. Schneizel felt a smile chasing the curve of his lips. The last few desperate breaths of a dying empire, but he knew better than to mock valor and dutifully set another trap. The chase had begun. Check here. Escape there. Ambush here. Retreat there. Black and white pieces performed their deadly dance in silence, baiting and striking and fleeing until Lloyd finally picked up their discarded conversation once more.
“She is working for me,” he said slowly, the slightest hint of curiosity in his voice as half of his concentration remained on the board. “Should there be more?”
Schneizel met the other man’s wary gaze with a half-lidded look. “What about the fascinating details behind doors?”
Lloyd chuckled, interest in yet another match flickering to life. “Unless there is an equivalent trade, Your Highness shall find my lips sealed on this subject,” the earl said cheerfully. “It is only fair, after all.”
“But what other details do you want to know, Lloyd? Surely your curiosity has been satisfied by bits of information you have undoubtedly managed to glean from my unsuspecting knight? And I know you have broken into his computer only for that purpose.”
“Since I gained the access by myself, it isn’t on the bargain table,” the earl smoothly retaliated.
“Not even for a longtime friend?”
“Especially not for this longtime friend. I know you and your methods too well.”
The prince sighed deeply. “I profess myself saddened by the lack of faith in our friendship,” he said solemnly and lowered a hand to move his rook to H-3, once more trapping the white king. “Check again.”
This new development returned Lloyd’s full attention to the checkered battlefield. Several minutes of uninterrupted silence and a few sips of brandy later, he threw his hands up to the air, declaring loudly, “I give up.”
Schneizel felt the beginning of a frown on his temple. “Not yet. This is not a checkmate. There is still a chance for white to turn the table.”
“But I give up,” the earl said stubbornly and pushed the small white crown carved on top of his king lightly, causing the piece to tip over. “See? He’s dead. And the rule is when one of the kings dies, the game ends.”
“What if we switch sides? I’d like to try yours and see if I still can win in such condition.”
“No, I won’t give you the pleasure to humiliate me and my inferiority in chess further, Your Highness,” Lloyd said with what seemed to be a misplaced satisfaction, once again proving to the world that the only service his imperial title provided to this particular friend of his was to be an instrument of oblique mocking. “Why can’t we just sit here and talk if you just want to pass the time?”
“Since your interest lies solely on Lancelot and uranium and mine on far less esoteric subjects, I doubt we have much common ground available,” Schneizel informed him with a matter-of-fact tone.
“What about him?”
A pale eyebrow arched inquiringly. “What about him?”
The earl leant back to his own seat, curiosity etched deep on his features. “You’re serious, aren’t you? About taking him as your knight.”
“Why else do you think I am proceeding with this complicated journey to accolade?” Schneizel replied, swirling the dark liquid in his glass in a slow circular motion.
“You’re planning something.”
The prince acknowledged this accusation with a noncommittal smile. “I am always planning something, Lloyd. Why would this be any different?”
The earl frowned, although the expression appeared more thoughtful than reproving on his visage. “All I ask is don’t destroy him,” he said with a degree of seriousness which could only come from years of loving Knightmares and no other. “As painful as it is for me to admit this, he’s irreplaceable when it concerns Lancelot.”
“I’m afraid that it isn’t entirely up to me,” Schneizel answered, his voice devoid of any emotion save for its typical placidity.
Lloyd looked at him in surprise and, if his eyes did not deceive him, uncontainable horror. “He fell in love with you?”
The prince did not answer, white-gloved fingers silently toying with a captured piece. A white knight, he realised, and almost smiled at the irony.
“That is not for me to say,” he settled with a diplomatic answer.
“You knew this would happen, didn’t you?” A touch of accusation.
“Perhaps,” he replied mildly, careful to keep any inflection out of his voice. Lloyd’s eyes were studying him closely, as if trying to decipher the torturous labyrinth of his mind, and it made the prince wonder if it was really that difficult to fathom.
“Well, as long as you don’t destroy him too badly,” the other man finally said with a shrug, apparently finding the task too numbing for a mind of his calibre.
Schneizel only smiled.
He still remembered. It was a half confession, whispered amidst hundreds of gleaming candlelight. Whether it had indeed come from the heart or merely a method to persuade him as the Governor-General of Area 11 he could never know for certain, but the look on Suzaku’s face had spoken volumes. And if it wasn’t love, then perhaps something close enough. Like desperation.
Confidence was an innate part of him. He enjoyed to connive and then to watch the unfolding result of said connivance, but this one was different. For once, he was not only an orchestrator, but also an actor, and actors were those whose future was still impossible to untangle while they were still on the stage. They could only walk blindly on, swept by the rising and falling waves and colliding against each other, slowly traveling in the ocean of time.
Of course there was still a fair chance that everything would turn out as he had expected, but the other possibility, unlikely though it might seem, was not lost to him. That in the end, it was not about him destroying Suzaku.
It was the other way around.
Notes: This is the last one, a very, very pointless fic which for some reasons I have the urge to write. The next installation will be the sequel to Fairy Tale. Thank you for reading and please comment.
Next Installation: Palace of Illusions