Playground

Carefully cradling a steaming mug, Euphemia unlatched the door of the elevator and stepped out into the chilly cave. Biting back shivers, she walked out into the vast cavern and walked towards the glowing monitors.

“I brought you some tea.” He turned to face her, showing her the shadows cast over his face. She held out the cup. He accepted but didn’t drink. She frowned.

“It’s late, Suzaku. Come to bed.” Reaching for him, she held his hands. “Please? For me?”

He nodded slowly – reluctantly – but allowed her to lead him away. He knew that his monitoring was bordering on obsession. He hadn’t even needed to go out tonight; the police had started to crack down after the introduction of the vigilante who outperformed them, and while he was glad for the gradual change in the city, he couldn’t help but feel that something was missing. Truth be told, not many knew but there had been a void in his being ever since that night so many years ago, and the mask of Zero had helped him stitch up the gaping wound that still festered to this very day.

As they stood together in the elevator, she suddenly wrapped her arms around him. Burrowing her head into his chest, she closed her eyes. Listening to his heartbeat through his shirt, she soaked in his warmth. She felt him wrap his arms around her as he leaned on her.

Euphie loved Suzaku. She loved him so much so she wanted nothing but the best for him, even if what was best for him wasn’t necessarily what he wanted. She understood that he was still struggling to cope with years and years of guilt, and she understood how for him, exhaustion was a far better fate than those nightmares that haunted him, but as conceited as it sounded, she was here now. Before they had met, he hadn’t had anyone. There had been Sayoko, who had been like a mother to him, but even with her he hadn’t been able to trust with his grief. How could he, when he could barely trust himself? But now that she was here for him, and would be for the rest of their lives as they had promised one another…

It was just as she had told him, wasn’t it? She loved him and would stay by his side. Everyone else had already left him, but she was different. Unlike the others, she believed in him and trusted that with enough patience and time, she could help him return to the person she knew he had once been. But until then… Until all his wounds healed, she would remain next to him – close to him – just as she had promised him because she loved him with all her being and would continue to with every breath she took – even her last.

.         .        .

“So what do you think?” He crossed his legs from where he sat watching her. Obviously preening his feathers, he puffed out his chest as he gave her a smug smile. “Do you like it?”

“What’s the occasion?” She gave a half-turn, and the skirt of her dress fanned out to graze against his knee. Coming to a smart stop, she eyed him as he chuckled.

“Can’t a man just dress his woman in pretty clothes without being questioned?”

“That’s strange that you say that I’m your woman, especially considering how I said that it was the other way around.”

“If it was really the other way around,” he said softly as he came to stand behind her. “Then where are my pearls?” The sound of gentle clacking drew her eyes to the right as he revealed a pearl necklace. She grinned and spoke in a sickly sweet voice.

“For me?”

Her breath caught as he nuzzled her neck and breathed in her sweet scent. She shivered as his hand curled around her neck and gave a small squeeze. Opening his eyes, he smiled at their reflection. “Do you like them?”

“What kind of a self-respecting girl wouldn’t?”

“Ah, ha. I suppose that’s why Tora Kururugi died for them. These were her pearls, you see. A little…parting gift for her son, though Cat Woman took the liberty of delivering them to me. You see, my sweet, the reason why you have this dress is because you and I are going to a party!” Spinning her around the barren factory, he laughed. Cheerful, he smiled at her with the kind of madness that made her hunger for him all the more. Giggling with one another, they danced together under the moonlight to celebrate what devious scheme they had plotted and planned next for the playground of the criminally insane.

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