“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know that being partners meant having to get permission from you on everything.”
She tried to move past him, but a hand came out so fast, the box of lettuce shifted an inch back. C.C. glanced up; this was an unusual display of physical aggression. Was he really that bothered? Why? Wasn’t he supposed to not care what happened to her? He had at least made that clear over the past few months.
“This isn’t everything,” he hissed. “What if he had shown up with everyone? What would you have done?”
“Trust me, Lelouch, I’m sure the police would do a far better job of clearing them out than you could.”
“The police can’t do shit, and you know that.”
Her smile stiffened ever so slightly; she did know that. She had just been saying all of that to try and brush him off. She had never liked it when he had gotten on her back like this even when they had been married, and now with their new status as strangers… What was it with men and having to show off their manly manliness?
“Shin isn’t stupid. He wouldn’t cause a scene here. There’s too many people.”
“Shin,” he spat, “will find a way if he wants. I’m saying this for your own good, C.C. Why didn’t you call me when he came?”
She didn’t tell him that she had made the choice she had because she hadn’t wanted him to get involved. It sounded silly even to her; it was no longer her business who he spent his time with. For all she cared, Lelouch Lamperouge could give up the restaurant and rejoin his old St. Michael buddies, so long as it didn’t affect their son. It didn’t matter to her. Or it shouldn’t have anyway. But for some reason, the mere entertainment of such a thought – of him having to step into those shoes again with those people – disturbed her. So that was why she hadn’t called him yesterday; because if Shin Hyuga was showing up after so many years, it could only mean one thing: that he wanted Lelouch Lamperouge back.
Well, Lelouch hadn’t been loaned to her. He had been earned, and as far as she was concerned, she planned on keeping what she had earned.
“Who told you that Shin came?”
“Alexei. Why didn’t you call me?”
She narrowed her eyes. Alexei? Why? What had he been scheming?
“I didn’t think that it was necessary since I clearly remember you saying that you were never going back to them. Unless you’ve changed your mind, and you’d rather run a drug ring.”
She looked up with wide eyes at his correction. He’d been keeping tabs on them?
“It’s an empire now. They’re free to do as they please nowadays, C.C., which is why it’s so important for you to call me when Shin shows up. So the next time,” He didn’t tell her that he planned on there not being a next time, “he’s here, call me. Please. For the sake of you and your son’s safety. Do you understand?”
She studied him a while.
“You’re going to go see him, aren’t you?” It was more a statement than a question. He tried to ignore the look of betrayal in her eyes and the way it made him feel to be on the receiving end of such a look.
“No,” he lied. “I wouldn’t…” He stopped himself, the words “do that to you” hanging on his lips. Clenching his jaw, he glanced at the door to the walk-in, when he felt cool fingers touch his warm cheek. She sighed heavily.
“…Do what you must. I won’t stop you,” she said softly. “Just no more lying.”
He noticed for the first time that she was wearing the necklace he’d given her on one of their wedding anniversaries. It had been one of the earlier ones; their first. He knew because it wasn’t even a string of pearls, just one single bead held up by a thin chain of gold because that had been all they could afford at the time. It paled in comparison to her later, far flashier pieces, but none had the sentimental value to match the one he was staring at now, which – Dare he say it? – might be why she was wearing it.
When Lelouch spoke, he was no longer speaking from wit. The cold and all its nostalgia of their wedding day had completely possessed him.
“…Do you love him?”
There was a hiccup in their silent conversation as she cleared her throat of emotion.
“You don’t want to know the answer to that question.”
She was right; he didn’t. Even if the answer was “no,” he didn’t want to know because that would only mean hope, and that was the last thing he wanted: hope that he had a chance with her. Lelouch wasn’t stupid. He could piece things together, and seeing from his reaction to his mother’s questioning and his impulsive attitude towards Alexei, to how he’d always think of her, how he’d always be looking at that picture on his desk, wondering, wondering, wondering, if maybe things wouldn’t be the way that they were now if he had done or said something a little differently, he knew that he was still in love with her; that maybe he had never really stopped but just had gotten swept up in the chaos of defending the terrible, terrible, spur-of-the-moment choices he had made as a new and inexperienced husband fresh out of rehab. Wasn’t that why he was always sleeping over? Because he just wanted to be with her. He no longer really cared about the sex anymore. In the beginning he had thought that that was why he was always giving her that look before slipping his sunglasses on or calling her to see where she was, but when they just innocently shared the bed together not the last time, but the last two, he had begun to suspect that maybe not all his logic was sound.
And so his plans for Shin Hyuga had changed at that moment also.
“Kiss Leopold for me.”
She gave a tight nod and he left to…to meet Shin, no doubt, against her better judgment. Not that she didn’t understand his thinking; if Shin had shown up at Ambrosia, that meant he knew where Leopold lived – their greatest liability. She was one too, but what could a four-year-old boy possibly do to fend off Shin Hyuga? Less than she could anyway. So unless he headed him off before he could resort to measures like using their son as bait…
All the same, C.C. couldn’t help but feel sick to her stomach over the thought of their meeting again. Lelouch had worked so hard to extricate himself from that life. She had been right there next to him as he struggled and had shared his failures and triumphs, his joy and pain. Of course there had been times when she had teased him about going back, but it had always been a joke. She had never found the idea of him actually returning amusing; she never had, and she never would. That had never changed with or without their divorce.
“He better come back,” she muttered. After a second or two, another sigh floated up to the ceiling of the fridge.
“A boy needs his father.”
And who better knew that than Lelouch Lamperouge?