Suzaku bowed under the weight of a rambunctious 4-year-old. Apologizing profusely as he hopped over the child’s 9-year-old brother – who had taken it upon himself to lay on his stomach in the living room, absorbed in another one of his impossibly thick books – he reached around to better support his ambusher so he wouldn’t tumble to his death. Or broken arm. Whichever one came first.
“Surrender or die!” he yelled. Waving around a plastic cutlass, he bopped him on the head. “All hail the pirate king!”
“I surrender!” The nanny nervously – and unsuccessfully – reached to detach himself from the iron hold that wouldn’t have seemed possible from a child of such young age but evidently was. While he was glad that he was comfortable enough to throw himself at him (even if it was out of ambush), Suzaku couldn’t help but feel anxious. He didn’t want to hurt him, but seeing as how he was being so wild with his pirate game, the chances of him accidentally retaliating were increasing with every passing second. Fortunately for him, he was rescued by none other than Julius vi Britannia, eldest son of Lelouch vi Britannia and reformed delinquent/protective older brother.
“You’re not very good at this, are you?” he asked contemptuously. Peeling away his youngest brother, the young man handed him to his sister – Marie, was it? – to free his arms for the sole purpose of emphasizing his disdain by crossing them. “It’s a wonder Sayoko hired you. You know, there were people trained and certified in world-renowned childcare institutions who applied for your position. But of course we had to be stuck with the one who can’t even get a toddler off his own back.”
“Julius,” quietly chided his sister. Pushing up her glasses, Marie glanced at Suzaku before shyly looking away. “He doesn’t mean what he said.”
“Oh, yes I do.” Drawing himself up to his full height, the teen glowered at him. “I don’t know what you’re playing at, but if you think you’re better than Father, I swear to you that-”
With a squeal, Leopold struggled to free himself from his sister. Flying out of the room, he vanished without a trace. Almost immediately, Alexander shut his book to shuffle out after his brother, as well as Marie. Julius hesitated for a moment but, eventually caving in to his wanting, settled for one last glare before hurrying out. Curious, Suzaku considered following them. Obviously the children’s father had come home, whom he had yet to be introduced to. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to say hello to him rather than wait for him to walk into his living room to find a complete stranger standing awkwardly in the center? But there was also the matter of interrupting the family reunion, so…
“Aren’t you going to say hello to Papa?”
He looked up to see two very large, two very golden eyes blinking at him from between the railing of the spiral staircase. Ah. So that was where the last of the children was.
She bounced down from the third floor, her pink ballerina skirt flouncing with every hop. Sweeping her hair over her shoulder, she readjusted the sparkling crown on her head before reaching for his hand.
“Come on, we have to say hello.”
When Suzaku had had some free time after dinner, he had been surprised to discover – after some preliminary research – that Lelouch vi Britannia was not much older than he even with 5 children (one of whom was very nearly a man in his own right). And as he stood in the foyer and watched Leopold cling to his mother and Alexander silently press himself to his father’s leg and Marie kiss her mother’s cheek as Julius coolly hung back before shaking his father’s hand, he couldn’t help but be surprised a second time by how much the children adored their parents. He had assumed that, with three hired caretakers, the parents were estranged and left them to their own devices, but as he stood there, he couldn’t help but realize how wrong his assumption was and that contrary to his former prejudice, the relationship between all children and their parents was watertight.
Which made his recent hiring all the more mysterious.
“Don’t you think Papa is the handsomest man ever when he wears a tuxedo?” Aurelia whispered loudly. Cupping her mouth, she peered up at him. Suzaku obediently nodded. She smiled with approval. “Me too.”
“I’m right here, Papa!”
She vanished and soon reappeared in her father’s arms. “Do you like my crown?”
“I do. It’s very pretty. Though nowhere near as beautiful as you, my girl.”
Oh. So that explained the strange accents. He had noticed that, while not so prevalent with the youngest (Alexander, he wasn’t quite sure as he hadn’t yet been fortunate enough to hear him speak), the rest of the children had had a wide spectrum of accenting, from a light English accent – as was the case for Aurelia – to a somewhat heavier sort as evident by the eldest two. So that was where it had come from. Well, of course. The Wikipedia page had said that they hailed from across the ocean.
Sayoko and Mr. Gottwald appeared beside him, the former of which murmured to him, “Only Miss Aurelia and Misters Alexander and Leopold are the only children who must be put to bed. Since Mr. Alexander is the least difficult of the three, you will be assigned to him until you familiarize yourself with the process. His bedtime ritual can be found in the binder that was provided to you earlier this evening. It is strongly suggested that you refresh your memory by tomorrow evening. For now, focus on introducing yourself to Master Lelouch.”
“When should I…?”
He looked up to see the two parents looking at him with curiosity. Smiling to hide his nerves, he tried to discreetly dry his sweaty palms on his pants.
“Hello, I’m Suzaku-”
“Kurururu!” shouted Leopold. Pointing with his sword, he yelled, “Suzakurururu!”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Suzaku.” The father held out his free hand as he held his daughter with the other.
Rushing to take it, he prayed that his hands weren’t as moist as he thought they were. “For me as well.”
“I insist we sit down later to better introduce ourselves, but for now, you’ll have to excuse me. Julius, would you help Aurelia to her room and make sure she’s ready for bed?”
“Excellent. Aurelia, Papa will see you in a few minutes, okay?”
She nodded and he kissed her on the cheek. With his arms newly freed, he turned to his son. “Alexander, you too. I’ll come tuck you into bed after I change. Do you think you can wait until then?”
He blinked yes. His father patted him fondly on the back. “Then I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
Soon enough, all of the children had been made busy with the promise of getting tucked in. Suzaku hesitantly glanced to his superior for permission before scuttling away to Mr. Alexander’s bedroom.
He poked his head inside to find the small boy sitting on his bed, absorbed with his book.
“Excuse me, Alexander, but I think it’s time to take your bath.”
He looked up with doleful doe eyes. The young man couldn’t help but feel bad as if he had said something mean and wrong.
“You know, the sooner you take your bath, the sooner it’s over and the sooner you can go back to your book.”
He continued to blink glumly at him. Suzaku began to sweat profusely.
“Um… Your father asked me to tell you that he really wants you to take a bath right now or else he’ll be very unhappy.”
His eyes widened fearfully before he slid off the bed and pulled his shirt over his head. Crossing the room to help him, Suzaku folded the shirt and was about to reach for the pants, when he realized that the boy had shyly slunk into the bathroom and quietly closed the door behind himself. Somewhat relieved, he set the shirt down on the dresser before knocking.
“Would you like any help?”
There was nothing but the sound of rushing water on the other side. Unsure of what to do – was he supposed to just leave him there? – he glanced around before plucking up his courage and setting out what he presumed was his pajamas. They certainly looked like it, with their matching fox design.
He considered setting out some underclothes as well but eventually decided against it. That just felt too…weird. Scratching his head, Suzaku appraised his handiwork before turning to leave, when the door opened with a bang and there was a loud: “Kneel before your pirate king!”
The last thing Suzaku saw before the naked 4-year-old rushed towards him was a pair of eyes peeking out from the bathroom door, and that, quite frankly, was all that he really wanted to remember from his first bathtime.