44: Shell Suite

Standing up from bidding goodbye to Liesl, Lelouch opened the door to make a trip to the grocer’s – ever since Milly had made a dragon out of herself and locked away his wife in some tower like some video game princess, the amount of care and thought he’d put into his meals had fallen sharply, and it had been at least a week and a half since he’d gotten out for fresh ingredients – when he was forced to stop in the face of two wide, golden eyes and an impossibly long white braid.

“Mon gendre!”

As she grabbed hold of his shoulders and kissed both of his cheeks lightly, Liesl took the opportunity to squirm out between his legs to eagerly sniff at the new visitor who was, unbeknownst to the pup, that lady known as Grandmama.

. . .

When Suzaku started his new job busing tables at the small bistro, he hadn’t thought much of it. But then when he came back out of the kitchen on Tuesday afternoon and saw Professor Corabelle’s husband seated in a booth across from a old albeit gracefully aged woman, he squinted and couldn’t help but wonder if his contacts were messed up. The lady was so reminiscent of the Professor, but if it wasn’t her Lelouch was out having lunch with, then who could it be? He understood very well how inseparable the couple was. And wasn’t Tuesday one of the days they had lunch together?

But no, Tuesday wasn’t the day they had lunch together as Lelouch vi Britannia preferred to surprise his wife than assign a specific day of the week. Not that Suzaku knew, thus causing for him to be inattentive to the task at hand until he heard, “Fancy seeing you here.”

“Oh! Um… Yes. Hello.” Flushing, he awkwardly wiped his hands on his apron before accepting his hand. “Hello.”

The Englishman turned away to say something to his lunch companion in another language – uh… French…? Oh, right. Hadn’t he said something about his wife being half-French or something that one time? He must have said something pleasant because she smiled at him before asking him in heavily accented English to take a seat with them.

“Oh, no, I can’t. I’m working right now. I’m really sorry.”

But the Professor must have inherited her stubbornness from her mother because she refused to stop smiling and insisted. Reaching around him to pull up a chair, she patted it with a weathered hand.

“Sit,” she said. Her sharp eyes twinkled at him with iron will, and he noticed the jut of her jaw as she demanded he sit with them. Frantically looking around him for some managerial interference, he obediently sunk slowly into the seat.

Her smile widening, she clasped her hands together.

“So. Mon gendre tells me that you are a student of my daughter.”
“In her French History course.”
“What is she like, my daughter? She is, um… Quel est le mot pour dévoué?”
“Devoted,” replied her son-in-law. Smiling, she gratefully patted his hand before turning back to her victim.

“She is devoted aux étudiants, yes?”
“Oh, yes. She’s one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. I didn’t think I would really like the class, but I’m really glad I decided to take it. Elle est très bonne.”
“Oh, là là, le garçon parle le français!”

Laughing nervously, Suzaku nearly buried his head for his adventurous attempt. Why had he done that? “No, not at all. That’s about all I know.”

“You like my daughter, yes? Since she is un prof superb.”
“How could you not?”
“Mon dieu, il est très charismatique avec ses mots doux, n’est-ce pas?”

Suzaku could only smile helplessly as the two chuckled at some inside joke. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Angela come out from the kitchen and inched towards the edge of his seat. If Angela caught him chatting around when he was supposed to be working… He’d really get it this time.

The man must have noticed because he said a few quick words to his mother-in-law before saying to him: “We understand you have work to tend to. Thank you for sparing us a few moments of your time.”

“Oh, no, not at all. It was a pleasure to meet you, Madame.”

She smiled at him and patted his hand as he gave her a small bow. Shaking the gentleman’s hand, he picked up his tub before scooting away under the evil gaze of Angela. Ducking his head, he hoped she wouldn’t be too upset with him.

Amazingly, she wasn’t. Perhaps it had to do with the gentleman requesting some of her time before exiting the café arm-in-arm with his mother-in-law. Probably. With complete certainty, actually. There was no mistaking that look on Angela’s face; it was the one she always got when one of the patrons caught her fancy.

Though to be fair, Lelouch vi Britannia was très charismatique, n’est-ce pas?

. . .

“And so your mother will be staying here with me until the wedding.”
“I know. I was surprised too. She must still be extremely miffed over our last ceremony.”
“Well, in our defense, that wasn’t our fault. That’s what happens when you go and wander off into the countryside without a phone. You miss your daughter’s wedding.”

He watched the softly glowing screen as she capped her pen and slipped off her glasses. Picking up her phone, she dove onto the bed and, propping her chin up onto a pillow, blinked at him.

“Is she with you in the room?”
“No. She went to bed three hours ago.”

She pursed her lips and sucked her cheeks in, and with that look alone, he knew what she was thinking. He should have gone to bed three hours ago as well, what with his daily routine. So while the video call was a pleasant surprise, and she was glad to have the company while she finished the last of her work, it meant he was suffering from a relapse again.

“I wish I could be there with you,” she said softly. “I’d hold you until you fell asleep.”
“I know, sweet pea. I wish you were here with me too.”

She sighed as she pouted. Chuckling to himself, he rested his chin on his folded arms as he lay on their bed.

“So how goes the wedding planning? I haven’t received any calls or texts or emails from you requiring my opinion on anything as of yet. Am I to take that as all goes well or…? Your mother was bombarding me with questions earlier today, none of which I could answer.”
“It’s, um… It’s going along.”

He furrowed his brows. How strange. It shouldn’t be going this slowly, unless there was some problem she was hiding from him. Not that she hid things on a regular basis, but every so often, there were times when she chose not to tell him something crucial “out of love,” as she would always tell him later. But whether it was out of love for him or not, if it was burdening her, he wanted to know anyway if only to lessen the pressure on her.

“Really? So you’ve finally picked a theme? And mind you, I said theme, not venue.”
“… Are you really not going to invite anyone from your family?”

He must have been ill-prepared to answer such a question because his face must have shown how stricken he was. Her brows drawn together worriedly, she quickly added that once they created the guest list, that it would be difficult to add larger quantities of guests and that she had just wanted to make sure since… Well…

“As of now, I really don’t know. I… I honestly didn’t feel that much was missing from my side of the family six years ago, and I don’t think anything has changed since then. Do you want them to be there?”
“Not if it’ll upset you.”

He lay quietly for some time, at a loss for words. He sincerely didn’t know. Ever since the appearance of his mother-in-law, he had thought about whether he wanted his own mother – and by that, his own family – at the wedding, but even with hours and hours of contemplation, he couldn’t seem to decide upon even a negative verdict. But he had to figure this out soon, didn’t he? For the sake of progressing the planning.

“I need some time to think it over.”
“You don’t have to if you don’t want to. Milly and I decided we’re not going to invite the Dean.”
“Oh, rightly so. He’s such pompous arse, and our wedding day is a strictly no=pompous-arse day.”

She giggled, and he smiled gently. It was good to hear her laugh. He loved her laugh. It was so light and pretty – like her, his wife. His sweet pea.

He caught her yawning in spite of her trying to hide it. Raising himself up on his elbows, he looked down at the tablet.

“Time for bed.”
“It’s not that late.”
“It is extremely late,” he said. “You’d best be glad I’m not there with you, or else I’d have made you go to bed hours ago.”
“Well, it’s a good thing you’re not then, isn’t it? Even though I paid a little visit to Fleur of England after work today.”

He groaned. “Oh, you little tease…”

“Don’t mess with me, Lelouch. I know you inside-out: including exactly what you like,” she sang. Tantalizing him with ribboned boxes, she grinned at him.

“Oh, but I guess I am tired. Looks like it’s time for me to go to bed.”
“Good night, Lelouch. I love you.”

Closing his eyes out of exasperation, he told her he loved her too. Waving, she blew him a kiss and smiled, and before he could persuade her to otherwise, signed off. Rolling over onto his back, he stared at the ceiling, his blood rushing and coloring his face. He may be in his mid-thirties but his wife knew exactly what buttons to push to tease him just far enough to rile him up, and as he lay there, trying to calm himself, he couldn’t help but groan.

She was simply insufferable, wasn’t she?

But no matter. He’d repay the favor soon enough. It would take some biding on his part, but that was fine. He could just plan his revenge But until then… Sitting up, he rubbed his face.

Well, he wasn’t planning on sleeping any time soon, so might as well, right?


One Comment Add yours

  1. Sean says:

    I like the comparison with video games since I’m sure it feels like that, though probably more for him than her. I don’t know why but that bit about the meals made me conjure up the image of Lelouch all scraggly and unshaven eating just instant ramen because he’s so lost without her. I’m sure it’s not that bad of course. I’m sort of envisioning C.C. with her look from the end of the show but older. Does that sound right? Do they call her Grandmama or is that what she technically is to Leisl because she is their baby?

    I like how Suzaku just keeps running into them whether it be places it makes sense like school or randomly in the park, a party overseas, and now at his part time job. Seeing a lookalike to C.C. certainly made it all the more confusing. I’d imagine he got Tuesday as the day in his mind from probably seeing them out to lunch on that day enough to assume. It’s hilarious how he always seems to be so nervous, though around Lelouch I can understand given some of the looks Lelouch has given him. I love how pleasant C.C.’s mother is yet still every bit as strong willed as C.C. can be, which Suzaku notes she probably inherited from her mother. I guess C.C. just never picked up the language despite her mother clearly speaking it regularly?

    Such a boon to be able to speak with one of her daughter’s students and probably the one who would most sing her praises. His small attempt at French was adorable though. Her mother seems to think so too if the translation I saw of that line is correct. He is quite endearing and handsome to boot. Seems like he just barely escaped getting in trouble, though it looks like Lelouch used a bit of his charm perhaps to smooth things over. Of course his manager doesn’t realize she doesn’t have a chance of getting him.

    It’s hilarious that she’ll be staying with Lelouch I think. Gives him more reason to not get too mopey being without C.C. and I’m sure she’d love for her son-in-law to entertain her as well as see the cute puppy. I wonder if she’s the type who will go around cleaning and rearranging things. She’s also probably sticking close to one of them so she absolutely does not miss this wedding. Her wandering around the country is quite neat I think as well. Wonder if the relapse is due to her not being around.

    Ah looks like the main obstacle now is the issue of if anyone from his family is coming. Being conflicted makes sense to a degree since even if he isn’t on good terms with them there’s probably still that desire to have them be a part of this and perhaps share in his joy. Ha and good riddance to that Dean. Given his personality, he’d probably become more obnoxious at work seeing such a nice ceremony. Never heard of Fleur of England but looking that up certainly resulted in some interesting images. I’d imagine she’s making sure to be quite prepared indeed. Curious what Lelouch is doing at the end there. Planning what he wants to do or perhaps getting rid of some frustration?

    Thank you 🙂


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