Shirley waited for the door to open. Looking out to her right, she peered through the window of the 19th floor of the building. The view overlooked the wide river that ran through the city, and its necklaces of lights glittered at her from the height she stood at. Humming to herself, she watched the tiny cars inch by as she tried to imagine just how many zeros were attached at the end of his take-home pay if he could afford such a beautiful view. A lot, apparently. Or way more than there was on hers anyway.
She turned away. She hadn’t even noticed the door opening, she had been so preoccupied with guessing how much rent he had to pay every month.
When Shirley saw him, she couldn’t help but stare. She hadn’t really been sure what to expect, but now that he was standing in front of her, she couldn’t help but feel a smidge disappointed. She had thought that maybe since he was sick, he’d have been delirious with a fever or something of the sort that would give her the opportunity to nurse him back to health, during which he would inexplicably fall in love with her. It seemed to happen in the movies all the time, so why not in real life? But he seemed perfectly fine, except for mussed hair, watery eyes, and the occasional cough. He wasn’t even in his pajamas like a normal person would be if they were home sick. He was wearing that same outfit that he usually always wore: black slacks and a crisp dress-shirt. Unless he slept in those clothes too…?
“I brought you the files you asked for,” she explained. Slipping off her shoes, she looked around the apartment: it was clean and modern; everything she had expected it to be with nothing that so much as suggested he was a father to a small, whimsical child with an odd penchant for caramels and buttons. “Oh, and C.C. wanted me to ask you how you were feeling.”
“Did she really?” His voice was nasally, and he coughed. Setting the box down next to a sleek coffee table, he sighed. “Or did she say something along the lines of ‘Make sure the idiot doesn’t kill himself’?”
He rolled his eyes (or tried to, anyway). Sniffling, he closed his eyes for a moment or two. Shirley nervously shifted from side to side. Was she supposed to say something…? An apology maybe…? In all honesty, C.C. hadn’t quite said something along those lines, but she had of course paraphrased her in order to be more polite. Maybe she should clarify; their relationship worsening would be the death of them all, and Shirley didn’t particularly feel like being the cause of such mass tragedy.
“Can I offer you something to drink? I assume I live out of your way. I was just about to have a cup of tea.”
The girl nearly fainted. A cup of tea? With Lelouch Lamperouge? Just the two of them? Yes, please.
“If it’s not too much trouble…” She tried not to stammer.
“It’s nothing,” he sniffled. She followed him to the kitchen, when he suddenly leaned on the counter and sneezed. Shirley flushed; never before had she thought of sneezing so intimately, but as she stood there, she realized that no one else who worked with them had probably heard him sneeze, and she couldn’t help but feel a little giddy from the little secret. No one knew except for her. It was like a secret – kind of.
He washed his hands at the kitchen sink while she took the seat at the bar he gestured towards. Sitting her purse in her lap, she hummed lightly to herself, wondering what an interesting conversation starter would be. Hmm…
“Oh, Shirley. Could you do me a favor?”
“I’m sorry to ask so much of you. If you go down that hallway, there’s going to be a door at the very end. Go in and get the blue folders on my desk. I’m going to need you to take those to C.C. They’re for tomorrow’s lunch reservation. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can be there tomorrow either.”
Nodding, she slid off her chair. Tentatively going down the hallway he had pointed to, she passed by 2 doors before reaching the end of the hall: her destination. Turning the cool handle, she poked her head inside to find some bookshelves and a black desk with a computer. Off in the corner there was a small stand where award after award lined its shelves. Curiosity getting the better of her, Shirley leaned forward to read some of them off, only to be thrilled to learn that Lelouch Lamperouge had graduated magna cum laude at the Imperial University of Pendragon.
Which made sense; she’d figured he was one of those hyper-intelligent people. You just kind of knew with some people, and Lelouch Lamperouge was “one of those people.” Straightening up, Shirley wandered her way to the desk, when she tripped on a rug she hadn’t really noticed and bumped into the desk. Thankfully avoiding the corner, she doubled over as she clutched her side but successfully bit back any yelps of pain. It wouldn’t do to have him running in here now, would it? Though it would be pretty nice to see him all worried over her. Like one of those movies.
Hastily she straightened everything again. She must have knocked the desk harder than she had thought though because there were some picture frames lying face down. She only hoped the glass was still intact; she’d hit the desk pretty hard.
Standing them up, she first saw a framed picture of a little boy whose name she vaguely recalled to be Leopold, and then another framed picture of him (this time proudly brandishing a small umbrella as he leapt boot-first into a huge puddle. The third picture though wasn’t of the boy, surprisingly. In fact, Shirley hadn’t even needed to set that one right side up because it had been face down since her trespassing. The owner of the picture had set it face down the night before after studying it for an extensive amount of time. But Shirley of course didn’t know any better, so she picked up the third frame, only to see C.C. in a beautiful veil and dress cutting a shining white cake. Next to her, helping her cut the cake stood Lelouch in a sharp tux and a smile so wide and so genuine, she mistook him for someone else at first. She hadn’t known he had been capable of such a feat, but apparently he was – or had been at one point anyway – as evident from the picture.
A strange lump forming in her throat, Shirley quickly gathered up the blue files she had been sent to fetch before hurrying out of the room. Hugging them close to her chest, she did all she could not to run down the hall and out into the kitchen. Speeding past her boss, she quickly said something along the lines of: “I’m sorry, it’s getting late, I should go. I hope you get better soon!” before bolting out. She ran, her stomach feeling more and more upset with each passing second. She stood impatiently in front of the elevator, but when it took forever, she headed into the emergency stairwell. Panicking, she tried to calm herself.
It couldn’t be true. It just couldn’t. There was no way they were married, she had never seen a ring, no one had said anything about him being married. Everyone knew that all of those women were flirting with him all the time. True no one had ever seen him reciprocate beyond friendliness extended from a business owner to his client, but they had all just assumed it was just because he was such a straight arrow! No one had so much as thought that he was… Oh, but Milly had. Milly Ashford? The landlady and self-proclaimed close friend? She had known. Rivalz had been spouting something about her saying that Lelouch would never date in spite of that early morning surprise he had witnessed. Shirley hadn’t really believed him; even with her recent induction, there had been too many times when Milly had made far too many jokes about Lelouch, all of which Rivalz had been prone to believing. So was this why she had said that he would never date? Because he was married?!