They were very, very discreet and quiet. Neither were inclined to make a show out of their private lives, and with C.C.’s…past relationships that had once been so well-publicized in the office no thanks to the director, they took extra pre-cautions to ensure that their new relationship was off the radars as much as possible. Even Milly, who loved a good piece of gossip more than anybody, kept her lips tightly sealed with the exception of the rare tease passed on under her breath. So when they were at the laundromat together, taking care of their clothes with Lelouch stealing a kiss every now and then, and Kallen walked in, a problem that C.C. had very easily forgotten in her newfound happiness resurfaced with such speed that she felt as if she had been smacked in the face.
The woman in question, who had been trying her best not to smile at another one of the successful thefts, immediately dropped her mirth as her old friend came into view.
“Oh, my God, it’s been forever. How have you, um, how have things been? Everything alright?”
She saw her do a double take as she noticed Lelouch, who had stepped away so as to clear the path between them. C.C. half-wished he hadn’t; Kallen had been there at the funeral. In fact, she had been more Suzaku’s friend than hers, and seeing her was just… Not to say that she was ashamed of Lelouch. It just brought up a lot of questions, none of which she really wanted to answer. She didn’t want people to think that he was just some rebound. She didn’t see him in that way, and she hoped to God that wasn’t how he viewed himself, but more than anything, she didn’t want those who had known her when she had been Mrs. Kururugi to see him and think the worst. Not that she usually cared what people thought, but people and “people who had known Suzaku” were completely different. “People who had known Suzaku” talked to each other. “People who had known Suzaku” could have different ideas and opinions on just what and how widows were supposed to act and conduct their lives. And Kallen Kozuki counted as one of those “people who had known Suzaku.”
“Everything’s been fine,” she said, the calmness of her reply belying her frantic mental back-pedaling. “Money’s been a little tight, but it’s nothing I can’t survive.”
“Yeah, right…” Kallen laughed weakly. “I guess that could be said for everyone…”
The conversation tapered off prematurely, and the trio stood in silence to the syncopated percussions of several washers and dryers cycling around them. C.C. watched Kallen glance repeatedly at Lelouch, wondering if she should introduce him, and if she did, what she would say. This is Lelouch Lamperouge, my…? My what? Boyfriend? Post-widowhood lover?
“Hey, Kallen, didn’t you say you didn’t want to put these in the wash?”
All three pairs of eyes snapped to a young blond who materialized besides them while holding up a string of fabric that only just barely passed for underwear. Kallen turned as red as her hair. Snatching it out of his hands, she hissed, “What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t know you were talking to people. I was too busy noticing how pretty you were.”
C.C. and Lelouch had the grace to be embarrassed for Kallen as her cheeks, if even possible, turned even darker.
“Hiya,” he said cheerfully. Extending his hand, he said, “Gino Weinberg. Otherwise known as Kallen Kozuki’s true love.”
“Lelouch. C.C.,” he breezily greeted. “Isn’t it a great day to do the laundry?” Grinning, he stretched up; his fingertips brushed the ceiling tile. “Well, it’s a great day in general, but you get what I’m saying. Right?”
The couple nodded. Of course they got what he was saying. They’d get everything he was saying, whether they really understood it or not, so long as they could just avoid that awkward stand-off they had been suffering through just seconds before. Gino Weinberg crossed his arms with a satisfied smile.
“See, now we’ve finally found some reasonable people. See, Kallen? I told you that today was a good day to do the laundry.”
“Yeah, whatever,” she growled. Tightly grabbing the hem of his shirt, she stiffly said, “Well, I got to go because I just remembered I forgot something. I’ll see you guys around?”
“Sure.” C.C. looked up at Lelouch, who had since stepped closer to her and was now holding her waist. “We’ll see you around.”
“Okay, great. Come on, Gino.”
“Bye! It was great meeting you guys!”
They watched them through the window of the laundromat until they were out of sight. When their shadows were finally gone, Lelouch sighed. Running a hand through his hair, he said, “Those are quite some friends you’ve got there.”
“It’d be difficult to say that she was my friend.”
Leaning on the counter, he held his chin as he smiled at her. “Hmm. Still. She had pretty interesting taste in underwear. Maybe we should get you a pair.”
C.C. scoffed as he wrapped his arms round her waist and smiled at her. Unable to stop herself, she smiled too as he raised a brow. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
“You make the worst jokes. Honestly, you really ought to just…” But the rest of the sentence was muffled by his lips. Her heart exploding in her chest, she slowly leaned in as she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him closer.
It was true they were discreet and quiet about their relationship. Prying eyes meant nothing but trouble for even affection inspired under ‘normal’ circumstances, and the last thing she wanted was anything with even a slight chance of ruining the laughter and smiling and even his God-awful, absolutely abysmal, shitty, shitty jokes. But there were also times when even her fear was overruled by this insatiable hunger she had for his person, when she didn’t mind flaunting all that much the effect he had on her.
A time like now, for instance, as he held her close and kissed her no matter who was looking and what questions were being raised. A time when she was able to forget and be happy.