|Bastard of Disguise|
|Summary: Zero and C.C. prepare for Operation: David's Sling.|
Sanc Kingdom. Though not officially aligned with Katharon, the nation has held sympathy for the terrorist organization even back when they were simply known as "Orb Union." As such, they provide what is better termed as unofficial assistance to Katharon where they can: safety bunkers, information, food -- anything they can pass by under the books so as not to undermean their gleaming neutrality. It is the best place to hide away in for official Katharon business in Europe; the facilities here from sympathizers is abundant.
And that is exactly why Lelouch has elected not to use any of them.
Within a simple, non-descript home at Sanc's New Port City's suburban limits. The house has been 'loaned' to him by its owner; a single man with no extended family or relatives, he shuffles about his daily business as Lelouch surfs lazily through countless websites on his holographic computer. The man seems to not even recognize Lelouch's existence.
Which is probably because the boy explicitly told him not to.
For now, Lelouch continues to peruse, and wait. The amount of information in this world is as infinite as it is abundant -- and the internet is an underappreciated tool for such things.
Even if he does occasionally, accidentally stumble across 'NUDE PIXXX OF RECCOA LONDE!' posted by someone called '1ntrp1drep0rter69'.
While Zero has busied himself being useful, C.C. has been ordering food and watching TV. Perhaps surprisingly, she's done a lot more of the latter than the former, although it's not quite as surprising when one determines that eating actually does require some modicum of effort, while watching TV enables C.C. to lay on the couch with her pants off, and imposes no obligation one way or another.
Of course, just watching TV with your pants off gets boring after a while, and one can only order so many pizzas in a day. This is the worst part of Lelouch's day, because it's when C.C. decides interact with him.
"Who's Reccoa Londe?" asks the green-haired, half-dressed witch as she pads up behind Zero silently, dragging Cheese-kun with one arm. Her expression is a slight frown, as if in disapproval.
"I mean, if you were that desperate, I think you would have resorted to ordering girls to undress for you in person by now, but I guess it's good to know you have /something/ resembling restraint."
'Who's Reccoa Londe?' An all-too familiar voice asks.
The website is casually closed a second later; Lelouch does not even miss a beat as he continues to surf, barely deigning to look back at C.C..
"A pilot of the Anti-Earth Union Group," he explains off-handedly, violet eyes focusing on his holographic browser. "She is well-beloved and trusted by her peers." The irony of the statement is hardly lost on Lelouch.
Nor is what C2 says next. His brows knit together, a disgusted frown crossing his lips at the very idea of what she suggests -- but by the time he turns around, he is nothing more than a smug, infuriating smile, a smile that reads far too pleasantly to be genuine.
"I suppose one of us has to, witch," he offers up, helpfully.
A second later, and Lelouch returns to his work. He says nothing for a solid minute, as if hoping for C.C. to leave. He has things he needs to discuss with her, but he'd rather put it off until she has a full stomach. He knows she's at least marginally less catty then.
A minute passes. Thirty seconds after that, he finally pauses, a frown of disapproval tugging deeply on his lips.
"Didn't you have some television to rot your immortal brain away with? Or were you thinking of actually helping me with something, for once?"
"I've already seen this episode of Nudist Leper Cooking Challenge," C.C. sighs boredly. "The fat one wins after the woman one gets disqualified for a piece of herself falling into the chowder she's making. Quite sad, she worked so hard."
C.C. stands behind Zero still, bringing Cheese-kun up into an idle hug as her arms wrap around the toy. "So I thought I'd come over and make sure both of your hands were on the keyboard. I'm glad I caught you just in time." C.C. hovers to one side, watching the screen and not Lelouch.
"Besides, shouldn't you be preparing for your David's Sling business, not playing around on the computer?" C.C.'s unlocalized, pan-European accent renders question marks as periods, especially in conjunction with her distinctly unimpressed tone.
"Mm. That's nice." Lelouch says off-handedly.
He makes sure to say it in a way that makes it clear he is neither paying attention to C.C.'s description nor remotely cares.
Communication is important.
But when C.C. /persists/ on talking, Lelouch's brow twitches. He glances down at his hands, as if confused as to the green-haired woman's meaning -- and then realization dawns on him with a scowl. "Your witticisms know no bounds, C2," he 'compliments' in an utter deadpan. "Though I suppose for one such as yourself, the only thing you have left in this world is your jokes. The world of us petty mortals must seem so dull."
A hand taps against the desk for a long, silent moment. C.C. continues to speak, even as Lelouch comes to a stand, dusting idly at his simple tan shirt with his scrawny arms. If she is going to insist on sticking around, then-- "This is part of the preparation. Vindel Mauser holds the key to our current predicament -- if I am to get him where I want him, I am going to have to learn everything I can about this world first. There is a reason he came here. I would like to know why. But first..."
Brushing idly past the green-haired witch, Lelouch walks with a calm stride towards a nearby closet. Sliding it open, he begins throwing clothes out onto his bed -- technicians clothes. Most notably, those meant for the Divine Crusaders' technicians. 'ZED ZUCKERKORN' is written on the jumper's nametag.
"... there is a reason why we are in Europe. Britannia's people -- Cornelia's people -- will no doubt be here, at the Federation's capital. Finding the answers I seek will come from there, but I need to get rid of various annoyances first. If Gibraltar is out of the picture, not only do I help to gain Vindel's ire... I also drive his people out of their foothold in western Europe." He pauses. He frowns.
"... Which is why you are also necessary, C2."
"Oh, good, I'm necessary," C.C. says, sounding as if Lelouch had just broken to her the great news that he believed toenails were actually radio implants from space aliens. "Splendid."
C.C. then decides that standing up is apparently not worth the effort, and gracefully drops onto Lelouch's bed, laying on her side atop the covers to watch him play with his jumpsuit. "So, how horribly can I expect to be mutilated this time, hmm? Burned alive? Crushed? Buried? Machine-gunned? Or maybe you need me to handle enriched uranium for you this time."
C.C. rolls onto her back, lifting Cheese-kun up at full arms' length and wiggling his sides, boredly making the doll do a little dance. Her feet tap on the ground in time to what is most likely some kind of hundreds-of-years-old classical composition with a bizarre, shifting time signature. "Oh, do let me know, I can hardly contain myself with the anticipation."
Lelouch doesn't speak after C.C.'s placid tirade; his brow lifts, instead, staring at her in mild disbelief. "Maybe you've lived so long that your memory has begun to wander. Refresh me on the last suicide mission you did not electively take yourself out of some whimsical fancy? You've begun to have a grim outlook of me for someone who claims us to be accomplices."
His tone is remarkably dry despite his momentary confusion; eventually, Lelouch simply decides it is her womanly sass coming to the surface in a more bizarre way, and continues on unabated.
"No, I do not need you to slaughter yourself for my personal amusement, but thank you for the offer. I'll be sure to keep it in mind for the future." Slender fingers continue to thumb through the closet again. He does not bother to look at C.C. as he speaks. Eventually, another outfit is thrown; this time, it is thrown pointedly so it falls over the face of the immortal woman using his bed, so she can see just what it is: Zero's suit.
"I simply need you to be me."
"Making sure you're not taking me for granted," C.C. replies to Lelouch's disbelieving response, in the sort of perfect deadpan that only an immortal woman playing with a knit cheese-blob doll can muster. It's a going concern dating back thousands of years. C.C. apparently sees such a check-up as so routine that she doesn't even visibly register Zero's shock.
Then, of course, she's whacked in the face with a cape. "Ngh!"
C.C. pushes the garment away and sits up, lifting the costume and sighing. "Oh, is this it?" she says, sounding nonplussed. "All right, then. And what will I be doing while I'm you? Just milling about attempting to crush my enemies with perfectly timed bon mots?"
C.C. takes the pants of the Zero costume and lays them over her bare legs before laying back down. "While you pretend to be a technician and plant a bomb or something, I assume."
"Hmph. Your sense of entitlement grows less and less charming every day." Is all Lelouch can find the words to say.
A second later, something else is tossed at C.C., landing on the bed's cushion just beside her: a medium-sized neo-iPod. "In case you somehow don't have the wherewithall to act the part, I've prepared that for you. There are a number of responses and phrases recorded onto it, all categorized based on situation, target, and potential, generalized question subjects. None are extremely specific."
Lelouch, voice hoarse, speaks into his recorder: "Don't be foolish. I, Zero, have--" He is cut off by a fit of coughing as the house's owner burps loudly beside him, the stench watering up his eyes as he falls off the sofa in shock.
"... and they were all painstakingly made."
Folding up Zero's cape easily, Lelouch finally walks over, extending both it and the mask towards the green-haired woman. "Of course, as always, the mask has been equipped with a voice modulator as well. All you need to do is play my part at the Zaftra wall while--"
'--you pretend to be a technician and plant a bomb or something, I assume.'
Lelouch works on piecing together a simple bomb; parts loaned to him by Sanc and Katharon, it is one of a series, each one moderately sized, but each packing more than enough of a punch for his needs. He begins to put the final touches on it--
--when he notices the house owner lifting one up, inspecting it, and slowly bringing it towards his mouth as if to experimentally chew on it.
Lelouch says nothing for roughly half a minute. The silence is broken as he looks to the side, scowls in what might be more of an indignant pout.
C.C. reaches over for the Zero mask and eyes it, giving it the sort of survey one might extend toward, say, a monkey that was attempting to bite you and give you the feared Dustin Hoffman Outbreak Virus. She makes a face and drops it back on the bed, sighing. "Well, I suppose I'll be you, then. Just don't go and get yourself killed. I'd hate to have to explain to people that you blew yourself up. I'd look foolish."
C.C. takes the pants of the costume off of their spot on her legs, and swings those same legs up onto the bed. Tugging one of Lelouch's pillows closer to her head, she lays on her side, using one arm to tightly clutch Cheese-kun. "I'm going to have a rest before your big day, then. Good night, Lelouch. Don't ruin this man's credit rating buying questionable website memberships."
Smirking, Lelouch taps his index finger against his chin, looking the perfect image of serene confidence as C.C. speaks. "Please. Who do you think you are talking to? I don't need your witch immortality to keep myself protected from harm--"
'--ruin this man's credit rating buying questionable website--'
And in an instant, Lelouch's confident and dramatic pose is completely shattered. "Wh--" Flustered agitation creeps over his face as he sweeps his hand to the side, trying to hide the flush of his cheeks as he summons up words to speak.
"I was NOT looking up INTERNET PORNOGRAPHIC MATERIALS, YOU WEN--"
Lelouch catches himself, flustered as he is, and ultimately just lets out a supremely agitated grunt, /snapping/ up his jumpsuit and walking away with a defeated and angry stomp to his step.
"Hrmph. Then I'll be using the couch.
"Again." Lelouch narrows his eyes, and mutters irritatingly under his breath.
As Lelouch storms off, C.C. calls after him languidly: "Watch some television while you're out there -- you talk too much like yourself to fool anyone." Then, smiling a little smile, the Codebearer nods off.