In all honesty, Milly thought their affection and flirting partly amusing and partly embarrassing. It was nice to see how happy he made her, even if at times it was a tad much for her.
Even so, when he was late to lunch on Thursday, Milly couldn’t help but feel a bit relieved. They were cute, but sit with them often enough and it would become overbearing for anyone.
“So, are you going to invite him over?”
“Why not? The house is going to be empty the entire weekend. Don’t you think it would be the perfect opportunity to… You know?”
But she only stared at her reproachfully as she drank her juice. Laughing to herself, her friend only leaned forward to better whisper to her: “Hasn’t he been chomping at the bit? I know you have. Oh, come on, C.C. You can’t lie to me; I know you.”
As much as she hated to admit it, Milly was right. Lelouch was in fact becoming decidedly eager for further progress, and though she also was feeling increasingly frustrated and wanted him in that way, the prospect of giving herself to him in that way was so daunting, she just couldn’t… She didn’t want to be pressured into doing that kind of thing. And it was nice that he understood. But it was still always there in the back of her mind, especially whenever she was kissing him, or when they were at his place, together and alone, thus leaving her with this strange sense of conflict and loss.
The two girls looked up to find their third and final party join them. Taking his seat beside her, he leaned in to give her a peck on the cheek.
“Did you get it all figured out?” she asked.
“Yeah. Turns out I can still graduate with you guys even after missing school for a week.”
The couple smiled at each other, leaving Milly to roll her eyes. Leaning forward, she rapped her knuckles on the table. Clearing her throat, she said, “So, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, Lelouch, but C.C.’s parents are going away on a small vacation getaway to celebrate their wedding anniversary, leaving your darling girlfriend all alone in a big house with nothing to defend herself but the book you see in her hand. Would you be interested in acting as watchdog in my place? I’m sure she’d be more than happy to compensate for your time.”
“I thought you were going to spend the night,” he said.
“Unfortunately, I’ve been rendered indisposed.”
“I just have. So are you going to or not, because if not, I have to make other arrangements.”
He glanced at his girlfriend, who was busying herself with the task of avoiding any eye contact. The subject wasn’t broached any further that day until the end of that day when her father picked her up from school.
“How was rehearsal?”
“It was okay. I think we’ll be able to win state this year.”
“Oh, that’s really cool. When was state again?”
“Well, your mother and I will definitely be there to cheer you on. We wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
He smiled at her, happy to see her flush and smile. It was a given that they would be there to cheer her on – neither had ever missed a single one of her competitions or performances – but it was nice to see how much it pleased her that they would. He understood how, as young as she had been when they had adopted her, the memories of abandonment and neglect still remained from those days before they had welcomed her to their home, so naturally, as her father, seeing her smile made him want to smile.
“Milly dropped by earlier, by the way. She said something about not being able to sleep over this weekend? Are you going to be okay by yourself?”
She was silent as she thought back on earlier that day at lunch. Obviously he would be very unhappy to hear about any intentions of having Lelouch sleep over. As trusting as her parents were, they had limits and the one about the boy was one that would never ever be crossed. Not that they really had to know if he did, but…
“I can have the car, right?”
“Of course. But I’m more worried about nighttime. Even if our neighborhood’s gated, it’s not a guarantee.”
“The worst that could happen,” she said, “is stubbing my toe. I don’t have any plans this weekend, so I’ll probably just be home all weekend long and do my homework. Maybe go to work.”
He nodded. “If you say so. But never hesitate to call. Even if it seems like it’s the smallest thing, okay?”
She tried not to sigh out of exasperation. She knew he meant well. He was just concerned for her safety, which would have been quite nice, if it weren’t so annoying.
“Oh, and I’m sure I don’t have to say this, but no parties and no boys.” Pulling into the driveway of their home, he parked the car as he turned to her. “Especially the second one.”
“What if he brings me an assignment I forgot?”
He snorted. “I didn’t think he was the studious type.”
“I thought he was stupid too, but he’s actually really smart. He has better grades than me. He just doesn’t look like he tries.”
“I believe you. But I mean it, C.C. No boys.”
She raised her right hand. “I swear there won’t be any testosterone present in the house during the weekend.”
“Good. It’s for your own good, by the way.”
She rolled her eyes and shook her head, but he remained staunch. It was true, and she knew it too. For all the times they’d reminded her how important it was to keep her sights trained on her future, they could only hope that, when it really came down to the wire, the lesson would stick and she would choose her future over any temptation that may be offered to her, whether it be drugs, sex, or whatever harmful thing that could surface in the lives of a teenager.
And C.C. really was obedient and heeded her parents’ words until Saturday night when her boyfriend surprised her with an unannounced pop-in towards the end of her shift. Giving a short wave to Sayoko who passed by behind, he swung their hands together between them.
“I’m worried for you, C.C.”
“You’re all alone.”
“So are you.”
“I’ve been alone for years now. This is your first time, isn’t it?”
She scoffed. “I’m not sure if you remember this, but you’re only 2 months older than me.” Pulling away, she finished printing out the receipt for table 3. “I know how to take care of myself. I’ve been doing it for 18 years now.”
“Can we at least have dinner together?”
He nodded as he slid into a seat at the counter. Frowning, she slipped a pen into the small booklet. Tucking loose hair behind her ear, she briskly walked the check to the waiting patrons before returning. “I don’t know. I’m kind of tired today.”
“So then let me cook for you.”
She scrutinized him. Why was he being so pushy all of a sudden?
He must have realized because he quickly backed off. Leaning back in his seat, he cleared his throat. “I just want to help you as much as I can. If you want, I’ll just make you dinner and leave.”
But of course, why should it ever come to that? No matter how tired she was, she still liked being with him, and so even after the dishes had been washed, he remained. He had asked her if she wanted him to, and since it had started raining at this point, she had nodded. But nothing had happened. With the exception of the wine they had opened, it had been a mild evening through and through, until it had finally ended when she fell asleep on his shoulder.
Lifting her up carefully, he carried her upstairs to what he assumed was her room. Glancing around, he couldn’t help but smile at their pictures and the stuffed toy he’d given her for their one-month anniversary. Laying her down, he pulled her blanket up to her chin. Kissing her on her forehead, he smiled down at her.
“Good night, princess.”