Suzaku walked in slow, plodding steps, his reluctance completely hindering his usual physical grace. Lancelot gazed towards the heavens, its shadows creeping across trees with the rising sun. He did not bother to land it in a place where no enemy would find it; he even left the key in the cockpit in his hurry to get out.

But once out, he had no idea if he wanted to go forward.

If not for that day...

Zero heard the great splash behind him; he did not look back. C.C. was a surprisingly quick student when he taught her the basics of Knightmare controls, and so he trusted her ability to pilot against even Jeremiah Gottwald. He trusted in her ability to survive.

An exchange of abilities, he thought dryly. Although both of them were more than sure who had the better end of the deal.

If Lelouch had died in Shinjuku, would the future have been better?

He wanted to know. He didn't want to know. He feared the answer.

Suzaku had watched Zero go in. He did not move from the cover of flora, green eyes glowing amidst the plants. The saunter, the manner in which the leader of the Black Knights carried himself—why had he denied it for so long?

Sadness had overshadowed happiness for so long, he had almost forgotten how much happiness hurt. He became desperate to find happpiness again after seven years, so much he forgot how much more bitter the sting of reality was after joy. Or perhaps he did remember, which was why he denied who Zero was. Even now, he wanted to be sure.

If I had shown myself to you that day, would you have chosen me?

Zero tried not to let other thoughts creep into his mind, burying any he had of Euphemia into a dark corner, and sorting away those of Suzaku. He would figure Suzaku out later. Even though he had told Suzaku he would challenge the Lancelot pilot on the battlefield, in the end...

Damn C.C. for being right about his weaknesses, and damn Suzaku for not choosing them. Nunnally would never have been taken if Suzaku were the one protecting her.

If I had never met Euphemia...

In those last moments, the only thing Suzaku could do for her was lie. He broke his principles for her—he would have lied as much as he could if she was happy, before she died. Euphie's eyes had known he was lying, but she did not condemn him, she never condemned him for his efforts. Her eyes only accepted him, no matter what he did.

Suzaku thought he wanted to hate her for accepting someone so terrible. He knew he wanted to hate Lelouch for just accepting what he did to his father—but Lelouch had forgiven him too. Both Lelouch and Euphemia knew who he truly was, only that the princess did not meet him until her dying day.

The him willing to do wrong in order to achieve happiness.

He clicked the safety off his gun, made sure it was loaded, and approached the cave entrance.

If I had died along the way, Zero reflected, I would definitely not be here. Still, he could not help but feel annoyed at Fate.

"You helped me survive for so long," he whispered into his helmet, unheard, "and now, why, at this moment?"

Suzaku listened to the echoing footsteps of Zero's boots, and wished he had died earlier.

Without Geass, would it have come to this?

In that heart-stopping second, with their guns pointed at each other, the should haves and has beens and what ifs ran through their minds, enveloped in anger and fueled by hate at the obstacles they had become to each other.

It never occurred to either of them to think of consequence.


Notes:

Inconclusive ending? Because this is a 'real' short, in the sense that it is not a 'what if'. Suzaku and Lelouch are, in my opinion, definitely people who would wonder about the what-ifs, because they are two people constantly looking over their shoulders as they move forward.

Code GEASS does not belong to me.