“C.C., there’s someone I want you to meet. Oh, excuse us.”
Milly smiled apologetically at the boy who’d been chatting up her friend. C.C., who wasn’t very sorry to see him go, turned as she peered at them curiously over the rim of her cup.
“This is Lelouch vi Britannia, a family friend. He just flew in from Heathrow.”
“Did he now?”
“It’s nice to meet you.”
C.C. wasn’t quite sure if it was just the way Europeans worked or if it was just the boy who was such a stickler for manners, but either way, she took his hand though didn’t tell him that it was nice to meet him too. Why would she? She barely knew the guy; what if she ended up hating his guts?
“So, C.C., as a pledge, I was wondering if you would help Lelouch and make him comfortable.”
“What are you doing?”
“Kallen is about to beat the living shit out of this guy, and I need to calm her down before she actually loses her temper. Lelouch, I leave you in good hands. Have fun you two!”
There was probably nothing more that she hated than making small talk, and yet, here she was, forced to do just that because Milly was far too busy with other, grander matters at hand. With a sigh, she lowered her cup from her lips.
“Do you want something to drink?”
“Is there anything non-alcoholic?”
She scrutinized him. He certainly didn’t look underage. He had a sort of air about him that made him seem older than 21 for sure (little did she know he was actually 24), and if he was a family friend of the Ashford’s, then he must have known what sort of party he would be coming to. So what was with this Prohibition nonsense?
“We have water and orange juice.”
“A glass of water would be much appreciated, yes.”
She gestured for him to follow, and they wound their way through the other students until they reached the kitchen. Opening a cabinet, she reached for a glass when from behind a hand reached out and took the cup for her. She turned around to see him with stolen cup in hand. He must have realized the implication of his thoughtless act of assistance because he blushed.
“It’s okay,” she replied. Amused, she smiled at him. “Do you want ice with that?”
He nodded, and she pointed towards the fridge where someone had taken the liberty of sticking their head into to do who-knew-what. Lelouch vi Britannia looked somewhat taken aback by the rather intimate position of person to fridge but managed to get the ice he wanted by carefully averting his gaze to the display on the right.
“So does Milly always invite people as…interesting as this to her parties?”
C.C. glanced around them. “I’d say this is pretty mild for something she threw. Why? Feeling a little out of your element?”
“A bit,” he admitted sheepishly. She smiled at him as she hoisted herself up onto the counter.
“So what brought you to America? Milly?”
“I, uh… I’ve actually transferred here.”
There was a slight pause before he said behind his water, “Cambridge.”
He was surprised to see how unimpressed she was. Well, this was a first.
“Well, welcome to this little hellhole. Things may seem strange now, but I promise you that once you settle in, things won’t seem much different from Cambridge.”
“Ah, well, I certainly hope that isn’t the case. The entire purpose of my transfer was, after all, to avoid anything like that school.”
She peered at him curiously but never pressed him for an explanation. Instead, she took a quiet sip of her own water – which had been disguised as vodka for the past 20 minutes – and though the two had only met ten minutes earlier, sat in companionable silence until their hostess took the liberty of reappearing.
“Oh, great, you’ve gotten him something to drink. Thanks, C.C. I’ll take him off your hands now. You can go back to Alex if you want.”
She couldn’t help but glance at the transfer student, who was looking at her with an expression of curiosity as if he wanted to ask who Alex was and what their exact relationship was. But he didn’t, so she waved to him instead.
“It was nice to meet you, Lelouch. I hope you find things as un-Cambridge as you want.”
He smiled. “Thank you. It was nice to meet you too.”
Milly glanced between the two but kept her thoughts to herself – for now. She had more pressing matters at hand than finding out what this little spark between the two was (as unbelievable as that sounded, sometimes there were things that were more urgent like family; though admittedly a potential romance was a close second). Taking her friend by the arm, she led him up the stairs where they’d be able to escape the noise of the party and have more privacy for the interrogation she undoubtedly held in store for him. It wasn’t everyday after all that the valedictorian with the full scholarship abandoned the University of Cambridge.
And yet, even as he tried to prepare himself for his friend, Lelouch couldn’t help but look over his shoulder as he searched for what he hoped would become a familiar head of green.
It really was quite a lovely shade, wasn’t it?