Master of Responsibility

“Can we have ice cream?” The two children bubbled beside him as they took turns bobbing their heads a few inches closer with every hop. Their backpacks jingling, they tried their best to swing free of his grip. As they waited at the crosswalk, Suzaku was careful to hold onto their hands as tightly as possible without hurting them. For a four-and-six year old, the children were incredibly strong, and he was caught off-guard by the force of which they pulled him.

“Are you sure? Because Sayoko baked apple pie today.”
“Apple pie!” They shrieked, making their older brother glance up from his books for once to wince. Smiling apologetically to both tourists and locals within earshot, he tried to quiet them down. Jumping with renewed energy, they cheered. “Apple pie!”

Reining them in as best he could, he dug his heels into the concrete as they tried to rush into oncoming traffic.

Maybe he should have taken Sayoko up on her offer to come with him.

“Come on, Suzakurururu!” Leopold momentarily turned to clasp his hands with both of his own in hopes of making him budge. “I want some of that pie!”
“Julius might eat all of it!” added his panicked sister. “Last time he ate the entire thing!”
“It’s okay.” Struggling to regain control, he glanced at the oldest child to make sure he was still alive. “Julius has polo practice today. He can’t eat your pie.”

The boy’s ears perked up at the mention of polo.

“Oh, let’s go see Antonius!”

With a sudden change of direction, the child tried to lead them back to school. “I want to see Antonius!”

“But your godfather’s coming for dinner today, and your mother said that it was important that you did all of your homework before he came.”

Honestly, it was a wonder that the children needed a caretaker at all, what with how well-disciplined they were. The moment their mother and father were in the picture, they matured instantly and did as they were told. It was a wonder the family needed one, much less three, caretakers.

“Ya!” yelled Leopold. Suzaku felt a blunt pain in his calf from where the child had stabbed him with the point of his paper airplane.

On second thought, maybe three was justified.

. . .

“How was school?”

The children crowded around their mother and made themselves busy with chirping their individual answers. Even Alexander momentarily looked up from his book to whisper into his mother’s ear, when Sayoko appeared in the dining room with a tray of warm, steaming pie. Eager for the warm sweetness of their snack, the children freed their mother to flock to the table.

“It wasn’t too difficult to fetch them, I hope? I would have sent the car with you, but we’ve found that it’s much faster and easier to navigate the sidewalks than the traffic.”
“Oh, no, not at all.” He smiled nervously at the beautiful lady. Her silver bracelet twinkling, she tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear as she smiled at him. Blushing, he shifted his weight from foot to foot. What a lucky bastard Lelouch vi Britannia was.

“Would you like something as well? We won’t be having dinner until 8 this evening. Sooner, if you would prefer to eat with the 3 Musketeers. I myself am a little tempted to eat with them just so that I can get a taste; Jeremiah’s outdone himself.”
“Maybe. I don’t mean to intrude.”
“You’re no intrusion. We would be happy to have you join us. Besides. I would think that we adults are capable of providing conversation far more stimulating than what any 6-year-old could offer, no matter how precious and imaginative.”

And so it was decided. He would dine with them and meet this godfather who somehow elicited an energy from the children that was seconded only by their excitement for apple pie and their parents.

. . .

“Now where can my favorite godchildren be?”

At the sound of the voice, a pirate, princess, and linguist materialized. Giggling, they rushed en mass to the two men standing in the foyer.

“We’re your only godchildren, Uncle!”
“Hmm. I suppose you’re right.”

Thrown up into the air, Leopold squealed before he was passed on to his father. Hugging him around the neck, he grinned as he greeted him with frankness.

“Hi.”
“Hello,” he replied.

“And how you’ve grown into quite the beautiful young princess. How do you do, your Highness?”
“How do you do, Uncle?” she said politely while giving a deep curtsy. Presented with a bouquet of roses almost as big as her, her godfather asked her if she would be so kind to deliver them to her mother.

“Oh, but what about me?”

He smiled as if he were used to the question.

“I promise that what I have for you is far better than a bunch of silly little flowers.”

With a light gasp and rounded eyes, she raced towards the kitchen, the pattering of her feet and a petal or two marking her tracks. Standing tall, Alexei Aleksandrovich then proceeded his way up the totem pole: first a grave handshake from Alexander, a hug for Marie, and then another – this time firm – handshake with Julius, the eldest of them all. And it was only until all of these introductions were complete that the madame of the household emerged to kiss her husband’s oldest friend on the cheek.

“It’s been so long.”
“It has,” he agreed. “But then again, I’m sure to say that if we had seen each other this morning.”

The two laughed. Leopold rubbed his nose before sniffling.

“Why is that funny?” he whispered to his father. His father shrugged.
“I’m not quite sure either. Maybe Mummy knows why.”

When he started to reach for his mother’s sleeve, his father gently grabbed his wrist.

“Oh, perhaps later would be a better time, Leopold, when Mummy isn’t busy.”
“Oh. Okay. Will you remind me to ask her later then?”
“Of course.”
“Thank you.”

His father nodded somberly.

“Now then, I don’t mean to be rude, but I can certainly smell dinner, so where might I have to go to see it? Not too far, I hope?”

. . .

“And you must be Suzaku Kururugi.”

Suzaku shook the hand of the children’s godfather who looked more like an influential attorney than the friendly honorary uncle that he was.

“I expect greatness from you, Suzaku. It’s no small responsibility that you’ve been entrusted with. I, alongside Lelouch and Cera, will hold you accountable for them.”
“Suzaku’s been doing well, Alexei. There’s no need to threaten him,” chided the Madame.
“I’m just making sure he’s aware of the possible consequences, should he decide to do anything questionable.”

But before Suzaku could even promise him or defend himself, the Godfather dropped his grave tone and smiled.

“But all serious matters aside, welcome to the family, Suzaku. We’re glad to have you here with us.”

Was he really though?

. . .

“Good night, Suzaku.”
Stopping on his way to the staircase, he peeked into the living room, where the two men had retired to after a lengthy, sumptuous feast. His employer was standing by the grand fireplace, his hands in his pockets, while his guest drank from a delicate glass.
“Good night, sir.”
He smiled briefly before turning his back on him. Suzaku quietly scurried away to give them privacy, but as he climbed the stairs to his room, he couldn’t help but wonder what they had been discussing. The temperature of the room seemed to have dropped several degrees since the Madame had kissed her husband good night. Perhaps a business matter. Stocks or something?
Oh, well, whatever it was, he didn’t really have a right to pry, did he?
No, of course he didn’t. So Suzaku simply allowed the adults to worry over the problem as he settled in for bed.

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