“You’ve been spending quite some time with C.C. these days.”
Her son sat quietly as he carefully avoided her piercing eyes. Folding her hands, she lazily fanned herself.
“We all saw the way you two were looking at each other. Very peculiar for two people who’ve just recently agreed to break their vows.”
“Then be happy to know that we won’t have any reason to see each other again. She’s agreed to give me her shares of Ambrosia.”
“Who said I was upset? If anything, there was no one sadder than your poor old mother when I heard of the news. She was too good for you, you know. It’s only a shame she realized that too.”
His lips curled back in grimace but he refused to comment. He knew she was just trying to bait him into admission. But he hadn’t been born her son without learning a few things about the way she operated, and so looked away. The minutes ticked by and dust floated by in the shaft of light warming his lap. The young man – feeling all the more like a boy with every passing second – moodily drummed his fingers on the arm of his chair.
“Leopold’s starting kindergarten soon.” Finally crumbling, he glanced at her. “He’ll be living with C.C. for the most part.”
“Are you upset with that arrangement?”
There was a pause. “No. It’s a good school, and C.C. lives closer.”
He was about to add that it was the school that they had chosen together years ago when their son was but a small bundle of warmth and love in their arms. Nor did he mention how C.C. had, upon seeing his expression when they had decided who their baby would be living with, comforted him in her own special way. If he closed his eyes and thought hard enough, he could still faintly smell her perfume as she wrapped her arms around him from behind and gently covered his eyes with her hand as she leaned just enough to make her presence comforting.
“And what of Leopold? Surely he can’t be as happy with the arrangement as you are.”
“I’m not…” he started but almost immediately he caught his mistake. Fuming, he pursed his lips.
“…Leopold’s a good boy, and he loves his mother. He’ll be fine.”
“A boy needs his father.”
“I know,” he muttered. “I of all people should.”
A boy did need his father. His own childhood, his burgeoning youth had proven that enough. But a boy also needed a good education, and if living with his mother was what would provide him with a nurturing environment and encouraging teachers, then he’d live with his mother. It would mean that he’d have to try harder as a father and put more thought and time into it, but it was nothing he wasn’t willing to do for his son. It was nothing to stop him from avoiding the mistakes his own father had made.
He had promised him at least that much all those years ago when he had stood in front of that warm window and watched his son sleep among the other children who had been born on the same day in the same building but were all the more lesser than his own perfect child.
“I know,” he said softly. “…But it’s necessary.” And that was that.
. . .
“C.C., there’s someone asking for Lelouch.”
A flash of irritation ruining her focus, she glanced up to see Gino standing in the doorway.
“Have you told them that he’s not in?”
“Yes, but he insisted.”
“Well, I don’t know what the hell you want me to do because he’s not here. If he wants to speak to the manager, I can see him, but otherwise, there’s nothing we can do.”
Gino left her to her pots and pans. She grit her teeth past her aching wrists. Good God, how had Lelouch managed all of this by himself? The stubborn idiot. Had he really been that prideful to shunt all of the work onto himself?
“I’m sorry, but he really wants to see Lelouch specifically.”
Exasperated, she opened her mouth to curse, when a cool hand reached out. Gently taking away her pans, they shifted them over to her right. She looked up to see Alexei motioning for her to go. Untying her apron, she took a moment to breathe. For some reason she had been more tired than usual, and even with the help of Alexei, there were times when she was having trouble with her fatigue. It was a bit strange that she would be tired – she usually couldn’t feel it until after work ended – but there was something going on with her that was making things more difficult. Maybe she was just sick.
Sighing, she followed the server out, torn between irritation and curiosity. Not that this hadn’t happened before – apparently her husband… That is, her ex-husband was quite popular with a certain demographic of clientele, and already she had been forced to fake friendliness to some coyote or two who had wanted to personally “compliment” the chef.
But when she saw who was waiting at the table all the way in the corner, C.C. couldn’t help but wish for the annoyance of those pesky women. They at least would have been easy to get rid of.
They at least wouldn’t have reminded her of the past.