Warning: Excessive stupidity for the first drabble and excessive angst for the second. Read at your own risk.
A World of Schemes
Request: Gino and Arthur, by dreamzworld; prompt: bribe
Word Count: 601
There is nothing Gino hates more in the world than felines – particularly smug, dark-furred felines with certain physical similarities to panda bears.
Yes, he admits to being more of a dog person himself, although he has nothing in particular against the opposite species. In the fine, colourful world of Gino Weinberg, everything – including dogs, cats, fangs and nails and long-standing enmity and all other whatnots – should coexist peacefully in full toleration of each other’s less amiable qualities. This notion has, in fact, managed to prevail throughout eighteen years of his life, until Suzaku introduces that bloody cat into their…relationship.
Which is budding very slowly, and at this rate, it will forever remain a bud and never bloom into something more. Gino can hear blood boiling in his ears every time he sees that I’m-the-king-of-England of a cat sits on Suzaku’s lap and blocks any access to–
Well, the point is that his current situation demands for immediate action. Toleration can go to hell. He’s through with waiting and pretending that it’s okay for a cat to destroy every possible opportunity of romantic development between him and his love interest. Day and night, the Knight of Round thinks and plots and connives, and one morning, somewhere between shaving and brushing his teeth, the sleeping genius within him awakens and he remembers old Aunt Margareta.
Yes, old Aunt Margareta. And dear Marie Antoinette III with her white fluffball of an offspring, Princess Josephine.
Which is why the following afternoon finds him pacing around the Rounds’s common room anxiously, waiting for Suzaku to arrive. The plan isn’t difficult, he convinces himself, and it will get rid of the cat, which makes it worth just about anything.
“I’m borrowing Arthur for a while,” he announces when the Knight of Seven walks in, and takes Arthur away from the cradle of his arm. Before Suzaku can voice any kind of protest, he has dumped the cat into the broom closet and secured the lock.
“Don’t worry, Princess Josephine is in there,” he explains, and when Suzaku doesn’t lose the murderous look on his face, quickly adds, “Princess Josephine is my aunt’s cat. She’s a real beauty, pure breed and all. I’m sure Arthur won’t mind.”
“But why did you…?” Suzaku gestures toward the closet, losing the power of speech before this display of…some retarded lunacy perhaps.
“Well, who knows if they want to, you know, do things to each other.” Gino saunters back to where the other knight is still standing speechless. “Which reminds me to my point. Now that he’s out of the way, we need to set several things straight.”
He corners the younger boy to the wall and has just started to kiss him when a well-aimed kick is placed on his stomach. Suzaku is livid, he manages to surmise through the tears of pain hazing his eyes.
“You lock him in there only because– give me the key!”
“No,” Gino slips the key into his back pocket and catches Suzaku’s hand in his. “Not yet. Not until you promise me that things are going to be fair between–“
And that is about when Suzaku pushes him flat against the wall and kisses him long and hard and proper until any other thought irrelevant to how damn good it feels abandons his pathetic excuse of a brain. It leaves him in such a state of bliss that he forgets to protest when the younger knight pulls away.
Which also explains why it takes him almost ten minutes later to realize that Suzaku has taken the key from his back pocket.
Request: Gino/Suzaku, by clown_donkey; prompt: pizza
Word Count: 1490
There is rain in the air, the scent of earth and water like lovers with their fingers intertwined. It has rained all morning, through long, dreary hours that left the sky a pale shade of grey and the sun shining shakily through strips of cloud heavy still with raindrops. Noon comes as quietly as the flapping of butterfly’s wings as it flutters past him, drawn by the scent of spring and life.
Suzaku keeps his gaze straight ahead, along stone steps and cobblestone path that curved and disappeared into a sea of green foliage and brightly coloured ripples. He hears the distant murmur of conversation, how it echoes along with his slow, deliberate footsteps in the quiet expanse. He hears the wind sigh softly, and then his heart beat loudly, and finds himself dreading the moment as it draws closer, pulling the weight on his arm, a flat box precariously balanced and the warmth seeping through layers of black and white and black fabrics.
The wind stutters and the air stills. It is three, two, and then one step away from a smile and a voice so familiar to him that they stop him in his track.
“…and then he said ‘kill him!’ and I jumped right in front of–“
They look up at his entrance, the blonde man, pausing in his animated narration, and the dark-haired woman in a white, stiff uniform. One recognizes him and her indulging smile settles into a more subdued expression. Suzaku waits silently as she goes into a length of quiet, practiced explanation, her soothing voice only a paltry encouragement because Gino’s blue eyes remain dark and bemused on him.
She retreats quietly a few minutes later and he sets the box down on the picnic table. “It’s pepperoni with extra cheese,” he says, absentmindedly shrugging his cape off and leaving it on the bench. “Just the way you like it.”
Gino’s face lights up, suspicion completely washed away by the thought of his favourite food as he opens the carton. Suzaku sits down next to him, as closely as possible without touching the other man, and wonders how many more times they will have to repeat this ritual. The thought quickly turns into waves of guilt. Worse thing could have happened, though sometimes it isn’t clear to him which is which.
Kill him, Lelouch said, and it was Lelouch because Suzaku wouldn’t pretend that they were different anymore, Zero and him – couldn’t, because Gino scrambled to his feet and pulled him close against his chest and before he knew what, why, or how, he found Gino looking at him through red-rimmed eyes and a gloved hand strangling his neck.
Things change every day, hour, minute, dying and disappearing to make ways for new, younger things. They died that day, Lelouch pointing his gun and screaming to let him go or he’ll shoot, and Gino, Gino looking like he doesn’t care and wordlessly tightening his fingers. But Suzaku heard his name, three broken syllables through the haze and the voice screaming ‘survive, survive, survive’ in his head, and he knew who it was because Gino never, ever said it right.
They died, in a way less than all mortals would but more than any mortal should. It took Gino two years to stop trying to break free from his straps whenever he saw him. It took Suzaku the exact span of time to look at his best friend’s face again and it took Lelouch even longer to return any. New, younger things are born, but the old never returns and things cannot return to what they once were.
It wasn’t unlike a disease, the doctors said solemnly as he listened, biting his lips until they bled. Two concepts, both overpowering in their own conviction, tried to destroy each other and the brain couldn’t take it. That could be it, but they were not sure, as it often was with brain damage problems, or if something could or could not be done. It might take years. It might take lifetimes.
There is no word from the Weinberg family. They don’t need a son who can’t make the family proud. Suzaku cannot help but wonder that if he died, if he let Gino kill him that day, then perhaps he could prevent everything. Perhaps things will still be all right. But then he remembers Japan, things unpaid and things unfinished, and knows that it’s an endless circle of regrets. The rule of the world – sacrifice one to have the other.
He hates that tone of voice, so unlike a man who unconditionally loves and protects the very person he loves to the point where sanity no longer matters. He hates that unrecognizing eyes, He hates that purposeless smile, on a pair of lips that used to make love to him, with words, touches, whispers.
And now they say, “You want the pizza?”
“No,” he has to force himself not to scream. “It’s all yours. I bought it for you.”
Relief washes over Gino’s face and Suzaku wants to yell at him for caring over something so unbelievably petty and stupid and how can’t he see that the person talking to him – the person he used to love more than life itself – is dying inside. But Suzaku lacks eloquence, so he pulls his gaze away from the other man and lets the wind, leaves and flowers listen to what he keeps locked inside.
“You’re still crying,” Gino points out, and puts down a half-eaten slice to get a better look at him. “If you really want the pizza…“
“No, it isn’t that,” he pushes the tremor under his timbre, and listens to it shaking still. “I’m just–“
God must think that it’s funny, Suzaku reflects bitterly, to make him want and want and then give him something which is just a little less, a little different. But he doesn’t care, and when Gino pulls him into his arms, he learns to forget that there is a line between illusion and reality. It’s frighteningly easy, to fool himself when his arms come around familiar curves and hard angles, and find exactly what he remembers.
Gino, and even now it’s still Gino.
“Is it better?”
Maybe he chokes a ‘yes’, or a ‘no’, but between wishing that hell is heaven and lies are truths, Suzaku buries his face deeper into the crook of Gino’s neck and sobs. When the arms pull him tighter, he feels his heart break, so slowly and exquisitely that it is almost painless.
Seconds, and then minutes trickle away in silence. It’s an eternity and yet it’s fleeting, but Gino is still absentmindedly stroking his arm, humming quietly to the whisper of the wind and it’s the odd, flimsy balance that keeps Suzaku sane.
“You cut your hair,” he hears himself murmur, finger ghosting over shorn ends where familiar braids once were.
“Everyone cuts their hair,” the other man answers, his voice drifting, and Suzaku closes his eyes because he loves how it rumbles low in his ear. He lets Gino take his hand, pulling his glove off and examining the fingers, but he shivers at the touch, at the feeling of skin against skin and the memory it drags to the surface.
“Why do you wear this thing?”
Duty. Debt. Burden.
“To protect,” he whispers, and his voice cracks.
It’s my turn to protect you.
He didn’t say so many things so many times, only because the time wasn’t right, or he was too much of a coward. So he wraps his fingers around Gino’s hand, kisses the hard knuckles, and says, “I love you.”
Gino looks thoughtful, and Suzaku hates himself for wishing for a glimmer of something in his eyes. “Is it better than pizza?” he then asks, and for once sounds truly curious.
Suzaku almost smiles – or almost cries, it’s hard to tell the difference now. “I don’t know.”
Gino continues to hold him in thoughtful silence, but a delicate cough ends the moment. Suzaku pulls away reluctantly and looks up to the vaguely apologetic face of his assistant. “Lord Kururugi,” he says, eyes modestly directed to the ground, “it’s time.”
The feeling is familiar, when he stands up and chooses Japan over everything once more. Gino has returned to his pizza and now is busy picking a slice of mushroom with his forefinger. Suzaku looks away to put his white cape on – although maybe it’s also to spare him the guilt.
“I’ll come again,” he promises and Gino smiles. Suzaku turns around before his patched-up composure falters and walks away, as slowly as possible because somehow, even though he’s Kururugi Suzaku and Knight of One and Lord Protector of Area 11, he is still wishing for another miracle – that someday Gino will call his name with a voice that remembers instead of forgets and everything will be right once more.
Even if it never happens.
To clown_donkey: And that, my friend, is how I turn your pizza prompt into angst.