“C.C., there’s something I need to tell you.”
She looked up from the flute she had been listlessly swirling around for the past few minutes. Her friend pulled her away from the crowd of women gathered on the sofa and into a dark, secluded corner far from any curious ears and loose lips.
“Milly, if this is about Suzaku, he’s-”
“Lelouch is coming.”
At the mention of his name, her heart shattered and her stomach dropped away. Feeling sick and dizzy all of a sudden, she desperately strangled the neck of the champagne glass. Her friend reached for her with misery gleaming in her eyes.
“I’m sorry, C.C., I wouldn’t have- Rivalz invited him without thinking, he thought that since he and I were friends, I would want him here. I’m sorry, C.C. I’m so sorry.”
She looked up at her friend. Struggling to smile, she waved her away. “It’s fine. It’s not your fault, Milly. Besides,” she added coolly. “It’s been a year since he left. I seriously doubt- It’s okay.” She cursed her stammering. “Don’t worry about it.”
“C.C., if you want, I can… I can try to figure something out so that he doesn’t come or something. I can talk to him if you-”
“It’s fine,” she said firmly. “Don’t worry about it, Milly. Enjoy yourself. It’s your party. Tonight’s yours. Make sure to enjoy it to your fullest. It only happens once in your life – hopefully.”
She studied her for some time but finally relented. Milly knew how stubborn she could be; C.C. would continue to deny, deny, deny until both of them were exhausted and had confused which was the truth and which was the lie. It would just be better if they went their separate ways for now; she would come to her after she had sorted out her thoughts. C.C. always did. So Milly hugged her maid of honor before returning to her tipsy entourage.
Left alone, she stood by herself for a while before slipping out of the room. Unsteadily making her way down the hall, she barely made it to the elevator. Afraid of running into him at any moment – it was stupid to worry, but she couldn’t help herself; even with the year that had passed, she could still feel the familiar ache as if it had all happened yesterday – she impatiently called for the elevator over and over. The button cheerfully glowed at her no matter how hard or often she pressed until she couldn’t take it anymore. There had been more and more tears with every passing second until she was left crouching on the ground with tears streaming down her cheeks. Maybe it was the alcohol or maybe it was just a year’s worth of repression, a year’s worth of having to deal with the stress that was her husband, a year’s worth of having to pretend as if his absence meant nothing to her, but whatever it was, she continued to recklessly cry at the end of the hall. Biting her knuckle, she squeezed her eyes shut as hot tears slid down. The ache in her chest growing larger and sharper with every memory she had “forgotten,” C.C. quietly wept until she felt a hand gently take hold of her arm and help her up.
She shook as he tightly held her. Wrinkling her dress, he pulled her in and squeezed what little breath was left in her lungs. She buried her face in his chest as he ran his hand through her hair like he used to and inhaled his familiar scent. Wrapping her arms around him, she looked up at him as he wiped the tears from her face, and before she knew it, they were in the break room again where she’d steal part of his lunch just because it looked so much better than hers; the park standing under a tree as it poured, giggling and laughing over how wet they were before deciding to risk it and just run the rest of the way to the car; her lonely bed waking up next to him with his arm around her and his soft breath on her ear as if he was whispering some secret to her even in his sleep.
“It was so stupid of me to leave,” he whispered hoarsely. “I shouldn’t have. I should have stayed, and fought for you. I’m so sorry, C.C.”
He kissed her tears as she trembled. Feeling at ease for the first time in a year, she shivered against the cool breeze, the hairs on her nape rising as she looked up at him, finally in front of her and not just in her dream.
“You don’t know how much I missed you.” His voice broke at the mere remembrance of his pain. “I love you so much, C.C. I lied to myself and tricked myself into thinking that I didn’t, but I do so much, and I don’t want to lose you again. If you’ll have me… If you will, I want to be with you for the rest of my life.”
She closed her eyes and leaned on him. If she would have him? Did she even need to answer? Wasn’t it obvious enough? Of course she would. It was as if she had been waiting all this time just so that she could say nod. She could feel it: the moment she said yes, a weight lifted off of her chest, and she felt that she could breathe again.
“Thank you.” she breathed. I love you.
“It was my pleasure.” He spoke softly into her hair as he held her. I love you too.
“It was my pleasure.”