Hello all you happy people.
I come to you with fanfiction! It's my first Gurren Lagann fanfic, so, uh, be gentle or something.
I do love the Yoko/Kittan dynamic, I'm just frustrated because as we all know, the timing for them sort of doesn't work. :P So this was me doing my best with what I had! Obviously it's not overtly romantic, but it was definitely written with the pairing in mind.
SPOILER WARNING: THIS FANFICTION CONTAINS HUGE SPOILERS FOR GURREN LAGANN, SPECIFICALLY EPISODE 25. YOU ARE WARNED.
Please leave a comment, constructive if you can! I hope you enjoy!
It had been five months since everything had changed.
Five months since the battle with the Anti-Spiral—the battle for their right to exist. Five months since the Spiral tribes of the galaxy had made contact with each other for the first time in eternities. Five months since what should have been a wedding turned into a funeral, and five months since Yoko had last seen Simon as he walked away into the distance without anybody moving to stop him.
It wasn't much later that Yoko, too, said her goodbyes. She'd known that she hadn't been suited to be a government official the first time around—and then it had just been a relative handful of scared and relieved humans learning to coexist with beastmen on the surface of this single planet. What place did she have in politics now, when every light in the heavens was a new potential ally and a new potential bureaucratic headache-in-waiting?
So she'd left. She'd said her goodbyes to the small circle of friends she'd come to know, loaded her few possessions onto the back of her small personal hoverbike, and left the affairs of government to the people who were qualified for that kind of thing—Rossiu, Leeron, Dayakka, and the new generation behind them. Yoko had put that life behind her, and had gone to fill a promise she had made barely more than five months ago, though it felt like five liftimes.
The small island had been busy rebuilding what had been destroyed—not only from the attack of the bandits in Ganmen, but from the havoc as the Moon (or rather, the Cathedral Terra in disguise) had come within a hair's breadth of crashing down onto Earth. Though it had barely been a month since Yoko had left to join the war against the Anti-Spiral, they'd made remarkable progress while she'd been gone. Their homes and buildings were still far from how they'd once been, but the reconstruction was going as quickly as possible.
Yoko had offered her aid, and within another month the closely-knit community looked exactly as it had before the catastrophe—if not better. The homes were truly homes again, the school was a school, and the only thing that had really changed was that maybe the throng of children who knew her as their teacher had grown a little bit taller. There was no point in hiding her identity anymore; yet it didn't seem to matter. To her children, she was once again the same Yomako-sensei they'd always known. And Yoko liked it that way.
Even so… Yomako-sensei might not have changed, but Yoko knew that she had. Traveling to the edge of the universe and back alone would certainly change anyone's outlook on things, and everything she'd seen and been through while standing at Simon's side in the battles they'd fought… well, it was no wonder she felt different. Wasn't that simply the way a Spiral being lived—changing and growing with each moment they existed? Then again…
Five months had passed since she'd said her goodbyes to the friends she'd left behind, but those hadn't been the only farewells Yoko had had to make. People who should have been there—who had been there for seven years—weren't. The loss of so many people she'd known as comrades and friends still weighed heavy on her heart. They had given their lives so that others—not just Yoko and everybody on the Chouginga Dai-Gurren, but all Spirals throughout the universe—could live.
Noble or not, it didn't make them any less dead. Yoko had stood back as the triumphant crew of heroes returned to the loved ones eagerly awaiting them, watching… there was no-one to greet her, after all. Somehow, though, that seemed better than the alternative, to be waiting for someone who wasn't going to come. Even if they were men, women or children she'd never seen before, the grief and shock on their face was the same.
Zoushi, Ailac, Kidd, Jougan and Barinbou, dozens of Grapal pilots whose names she'd never learned… they weren't coming back. Though she'd seen Reite, seeming as collected as ever, return to three children waiting for their mother, without Makken they were a family torn apart.
And then there was him.
Kiyoh had been there with her infant daughter, and Yoko could all but feel her relief as Dayakka had appeared at the top of Arc-Gurren's landing ramp. A wife had her husband back, and a daughter had her father. Kiyal, too, had been beside her sister—and a ways away, Kinon stood next to Rossiu to greet everybody. The three sisters of the Black Kinsmen stood, still waiting, for their brother.
She had known. Before she had ever seen their hopeful faces, Yoko had known and dreaded what was to come. Knowing didn't make it any easier, though, as Dayakka desperately tried to find the right words to tell them what had happened. About how their brother had been a hero beyond heroes. About how, through sheer force of will alone, he had saved them all from death. About how the Anti-Spiral would never have been defeated without his selfless and courageous sacrifice. About how he had done the impossible.
It was small comfort to sisters whose brother was never going to return. Yoko wasn't sure which had been stronger, the painful lump in her throat or the gaping hole in her own heart as Dayakka gently and futilely held his wife and sister-in-law as they grieved. Kittan was dead.
It seemed to Yoko that his loss had changed her most of all.
The small quarters adjacent to the schoolhouse that she now called home had one of the first things rebuilt, even before she had returned. Like so many things in the village, it was exactly how she remembered it—but she was not.
Her home had been built for two. During her first stay on the island, she'd barely even noticed it. Now, though, Yoko felt all too aware that everything in the small apartment had been designed for more than one person. The table by the window where she ate her breakfast and dinner, the small sofa by the fireplace and television, the bed… though it was never more than a needling awareness, Yoko couldn't help but feel like there should have been someone there who wasn't. He should have been there, but he wasn't.
Some nights, Yoko found herself simply staring at a picture she had hanging on the wall, a photograph of her standing with friends and comrades from years past, barely able to take her eyes off of it.
She had changed.
Yoko sat at the table built for two by the window alone, looking up at the cloudless nighttime sky, her cheek pressed against the palm of her hand, and her other hand trailing a fingertip lazily around the rim of a half-emptied wineglass. If she looked down at the glass, she could see the shimmering glint of starlight in the depths of the dark red liquid, but it was a poor mirror indeed.
Outside her window, the infinite heavens stretched on and on, a dark blue background awash with millions upon millions of tiny pale silver specks that together formed a brilliant, endless sea of light… this was the sky that they had fought so hard to restore and preserve. This beautiful and boundless firmament; something she could have never even considered seeing mere years before…
She raised the crystalline glasswork to her lips, taking a small sip of the sweet crimson wine. It was still hard to really imagine, even now after the fact. That she could be sitting here peacefully in her tiny apartment on this small island, looking up at the infinite sky… that the Great Gurren Brigade had triumphed over everything that had come at them. By all odds, by all rights, they should never have made it as far as they did. The fall of the Moon, the Death Spiral Field, the final battle against the Anti-Spirals…
…no, before that, even. Countless times, again and again, they had won and they had pressed on when all the odds and all common sense said that they would have never had a chance. That she could be sitting here… it amazed her.
Yoko sipped the wine again, her eyes roaming the endless sky, looking for nothing in particular. She closed her eyes for a moment—but when she opened them, her vision was blurred. Yoko blinked in momentary confusion, reaching her hand up to rub at her eyes… and she found that they were wet. She was crying, though she really didn't know why.
Blinking back the sudden, confusing tears, Yoko found her gaze drawn once again to the picture—a memento of a time that felt so long ago it might well have been a legend.
Too many of the people in that photograph were gone, and the simple act of looking at it seemed to call forth even more tears. Though her vision was blurry, for some reason Yoko couldn't move her eyes from the blond-haired man standing next to her and flashing the camera a lopsided grin she knew all too well.
Setting the empty wine glass down on the table far more roughly than she'd intended, Yoko tore her gaze away from the picture, resting her head against her arms on the table, and fought the ever-stronger urge to openly cry.
"A… good luck charm?"
Kittan ran his fingers through unkempt blond hair, shrugging as he leaned up against the bulkhead deep within the heart of the Chouginga Dai-Gurren. "Eh, I figured it couldn't hurt, right? Not like Simon needs it much right now…" he trailed off, giving another shrug and crossing his arms in front of his chest.
Yoko looked over at him from where she was sitting on a storage crate. "I guess that makes sense." As she talked, her hands worked independently, repeating motions they'd done many thousands of times, disassembling the familiar body of her rifle. She looked down at the gun, her experienced eyes quickly scanning the components to make sure everything was in perfect working order.
She started to reassemble the frame, and glanced up to see Kittan looking at her, one bushy eyebrow raised in curiosity. Feeling her face grow hot—she hated to be under scrutiny, even as casual as this was—Yoko shot back her own questioning look, though her hands continued to put the weapon back together. "…what is it?"
"Ah, nothing," he said, waving a hand in front of his face. "I was just…" Kittan looked at her again, shaking his head. "You don't think you'll have to use that thing, do you? Like, this Anti-Spiral guy… you don't think he's just gonna show up or something?"
Yoko laughed softly despite herself in response as she made sure the barrel was screwed in tightly. "Oh, no… nothing like that." The red-haired girl closed her eyes for a moment before opening them and smiling somewhat sheepishly at Kittan. "I just… there's not much for us to do at the moment, is there? When there's nothing for me to do… well, I guess it's just habit, I suppose."
He nodded, and she could see him set his jaw even in the dim light of the cavernous hangar bay. "I guess that's true, yeah," said Kittan with a sharp tone in his voice. "Reite and Simon have the whole Super Spiral Missile thing covered, eh?" The mammoth projectile towered high above them, dwarfed only in comparison by the silhouettes of the remaining Space Ganmen. "…you're right, nothing for us to do."
Kittan exhaled sharply, kicking his leg back against the metal bulkhead, which resonated with a dull clang. "…I hate feeling useless," he muttered under his breath, and Yoko could hear the frustration in his voice. He didn't have to verbalize it, though—he'd always been fairly easy for her to read. She could understand it, too, to be honest. Even here, dozens of miles beneath the exterior of the massive battleship, she could feel the rumbles and creaks beneath her feet as the Chouginga Dai-Gurren sank further and further into the crushing depths of the Galactic Spiral Trench. Here they were, two of the founding members of the Great Gurren Brigade… and there was absolutely nothing they could do to help. It was completely out of their hands, and Yoko could feel the frustration coursing through her veins.
"I wonder, though," said Yoko thoughtfully, her gaze trailing up the side of the Super Spiral Missile. "…don't you think it'd be more reliable to get there in a Space Ganmen?"
The blond man turned his gaze from the gigantic missile to her. "What do you mean?"
"Well, you could feel it when we were out there, couldn't you? The pressure made it hard to move well." He nodded in response, and she continued musing out loud. "I'd imagine it'd be the same thing for a missile. If you wanted to target it accurately, you'd have to take into account the pressure. It'd be faster and more accurate to just get there in Ganmen shooting mode, don't you think?"
She sighed and shook her head, a thin little smile on her face. "Ah, nevermind, I'm just thinking out loud. Besides, if there's anybody who could take that into account, it'd be Leeron…"
Across from her, Kittan closed his eyes, leaning back up against the bulkhead. "No… you're right, that would probably be the best way," he nodded in agreement, though Yoko thought she saw something heavy flash across his features for the briefest of instants before it was gone.
Pulling the bolt of her rifle back into place, Yoko gingerly set the fully-reassembled weapon down on the crate next to her. "…it'd also be incredibly risky, taking something as small as even a Space Ganmen out there right now. Leeron and Reite know what they're doing, don't they?"
"Guess we just sit back and wait," the frustration was all too evident in Kittan's voice.
Neither of them spoke for seconds that felt like hours, the only sounds in the massive hangar bay the mechanical hisses and clangs as the Chouginga Dai-Gurren's manufacturing equipment put the finishing touches on the massive Spiral weapon. At last, Kittan broke the silence with a short chuckle. "Heh. Even if it was risky… he'd do it anyway, wouldn't he?"
Yoko didn't have to ask which 'he' Kittan had meant. "Gladly. He'd go out there without a second's thought…" she looked down at the cold gray metal floor for a moment before shaking her head, though she was still smiling softly. "The risk wouldn't matter, even if he'd just wind up getting himself killed."
"That's how it should be, shouldn't it?" There was a harsh tone of… something… in Kittan's voice that surprised her, and she looked up to see the blond man balling his hands into fists. Before she could say something, though, he went on. "Heh… don't mind me. Just… thinking about the others, that's all."
"Oh." Yoko found that her own voice was smaller than it normally was, and she coughed softly to clear her throat, looking off to the side. "I've… there really hasn't been much time to think about them, has there?" In some way, it still didn't seem real… Yoko half expected to look over at the makeshift table by the Space Ganmen docks and see the entire Gurren Brigade sitting around it and joking as if nothing had changed.
Kittan sighed heavily, shaking his head. "They did it because they wanted to," he repeated the words he'd told Gimmy not twenty minutes—though it could have been half a lifetime—ago. "He did it because he wanted to… that's how it should be, isn't it?"
Resisting the urge to pick up her gun and start the whole process over again, Yoko gave the tiniest of shrugs, more to herself than anyone else, and nodded. "I think so… I think we'd be dishonoring their spirit and memory if we did it any other way." She moved from her perch on the storage crate, leaning up against the bulkhead near where Kittan was standing.
Yoko laughed softly under her breath. "It's… silly."
"Back then, when we lost him… all I could think about at the time was how selfish he was for doing that." Yoko shook her head sheepishly.
Beside her, she could see Kittan looking at her in puzzlement. "Selfish? Where the hell does 'selfish' come from?"
She opened her eyes, though her gaze was still fixed on the cold steel floor, and paused for a moment before continuing. "It was… incredibly self-centered of me—believe me, I know. But…" Yoko sighed, though it was tinged with an embarrassed laugh. "Before the battle, he… promised me something. And when he died?" She laughed again. "There was a part of me that was just so angry at him for being such an idiot and not being able to keep his promise."
Yoko shrugged her shoulders against the bulkhead. "More than that, though—for a long time, I was angry at him for… leaving everybody, when we still needed him so much. Simon needed him, and…" she shook her head, before looking over at Kittan and meeting his eyes with her own. "No matter what I might have said to him, back then I needed him too. We all did."
Kittan nodded, averting his gaze to the floor and reaching up to scratch the back of his head absentmindedly. "Yeah, we did. Heh… that was a tough time, wasn't it?" It was his turn to chuckle sheepishly. "When Simon couldn't keep it together, and all I could do was shout at people about the stupidest things…" he trailed off, looking off into the mist-filled hangar bay.
The two of them were silent for another brief eternity before the red-haired woman spoke again. "We've come a long way."
"One hell of a long way," agreed Kittan. He fell quiet for a second before turning to her, that lopsided grin she knew so well firm on his face. "And we're going to see it through to the end, no matter what it takes."
Yoko couldn't help but find her own mouth tugging into a similar smirk. "Of course we will. That is how the Great Gurren Brigade does things, isn't it?" She and Kittan said nothing for a fraction of a second before they both broke into quiet laughter again.
She looked away to the side briefly before returning her gaze to him and smiling genuinely. "They aren't mine, you know."
Kittan looked puzzled for a moment as he tried to figure out what exactly she was referring to. "'They'? 'They' who?"
"The kids I told you about earlier… they're not my children," Yoko said with a mirthful sparkle in her eyes. "I was just teasing. I'm… their teacher, actually. On a small island about two hours' trip from the city."
"…a teacher?" For a moment, Kittan looked at her with a bushy eyebrow arched, but then he grinned and again leaned back up against the bulkhead. "I can see that… I bet you'd be a great teacher! How old are they?"
Though she didn't quite know why, she felt her cheeks growing faintly hot at his compliment. "Not very. The oldest aren't even seven yet. They were born on the surface."
There was a thoughtful tone in Kittan's voice as he stared up at nothing in particular. "Born on the surface, eh? ...hard to believe I'd ever hear those words." He turned to her, with that same grin again. "Hey, even if they aren't your kids… I'd still like to meet 'em anyway, once we're done here."
He chuckled under his breath. "I had to take care of Kinon and Kiyal when they were young. I guess I've always liked kids since then…" Kittan paused, scratching his head. "Still can't believe I'm an uncle, though."
Yoko nodded slowly before speaking. "You… never really told me about when you were young with your sisters. It must have been tough." She paused before shaking her head, an embarrassed flush on her face. "No, nevermind—I don't mean to pry or anything! You really don't have to tell me anything."
Across from her, Kittan wore a strange expression that Yoko couldn't quite decipher, which was odd considering how well she could normally read him. However, within a moment that expression had morphed into a soft, sincere smile. "It's a bit of a long story, but sure, I'll tell you when we've got some time… after we win here and go home."
She returned the smile, resting her arms on her chest. "All right then. I'm going to hold you to this, by the way."
Kittan nodded once. "Sure, it's a promise—after we're done here, when we've finally got some time to relax, put our feet up… I'll tell you all about it." The smile widened into that grin of his again. "And we'll come see those kids of yours together."
"…I'd like that," replied Yoko quietly, her eyes on his. She hesitated for a moment before brightening up, a familiar teasing tone creeping into her voice. "I've told them about you, you know."
As she'd expected, Kittan's cheeks started to redden. "You told—wait, what'd you tell them? You told them good things about me, right?"
Yoko paused for a few seconds, watching Kittan grow more and more flustered (and trying to hide it) before she put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "Only good things, Kittan… because, well, I was their teacher. And you are a part of history, you know." She winked at him, straightening up and inserting a more authoritative tone into her voice. "After all, you're one of the Three Captains of the Great Gurren Brigade…" she trailed off with a smile.
She couldn't tell which seemed to flummox him more—the prospect of her telling her students about him as a person, or the idea that he would be part of the history books. Either way, Kittan stood there with his face flushed, occasionally uttering syllables that were almost like words.
"No, I…" she started to say again, dropping her gaze momentarily before looking back up at him. "I wanted to tell them about you. You know, more than just history… but they didn't know who I was."
Apparently having found his voice, Kittan shot her an inquisitive glance. "They didn't know? Aren't you, uh, just as important to history as you say I am…? How didn't they?"
Her long red hair waved behind her as she shook her head. "I… was trying to hide who I really was, actually." Though he didn't say anything out loud, the puzzled-yet-almost-concerned look on Kittan's face spurred her to continue. "After I left, I…" she sighed, looking out into the gigantic emptiness of the hangar. "I wanted to get away from everything, I guess. …I can't really explain it. Not even to myself."
"You don't have to," answered Kittan with a shrug. "…explain it, that is. I mean… we all have stuff like that, right? Doesn't make sense, even to ourselves?"
Yoko nodded softly, before returning her gaze back to him. "…I… thought a lot about you while I was there, actually." She could feel her cheeks grow warm as soon as the words had left her lips.
Whatever Kittan had been about to say in response, it was cut off by an incredibly loud mechanical thrum as the gigantic Super Spiral Missile began to move, powerful hydraulic engines hauling it up to the top of the bay where it would be loaded into the Chouginga Dai-Gurren's cannon. Although slow-moving at first, the engines began to pick up more and more force, and the massive weapon soon faded into the fog above them—though they could still hear the roar of the equipment long after the projectile had disappeared.
"They're ready," Yoko found herself saying (obvious though it was)…and they both started moving in unison, headed for the section of the hangar where Reite and her robot technicians were waiting and preparing the second of the two missiles. The large viewscreen displayed a copy of what Dayakka, Leeron, and the others were seeing up on the bridge of the immense starship—a representation of their ship and its location relative to their target, the Death Spiral Machine.
If the viewscreen were to be believed, they were just now entering the densest part of the Death Spiral Field surrounding its source. Though it might just have been her imagination, Yoko thought she could feel the warship shudder beneath her feet as the tremendous pressure squeezed it tighter and tighter. Their five minutes were counting… and it didn't look as though the missile had made it to the guns yet, as huge as the distance between origin and destination was.
Reite was working as fiercely as she'd ever been, and all around the pair her robots were ignoring the viewscreen, finishing the preparations for the second missile as quickly as they were able. Though Gimmy and Darry were nearby, it seemed to Yoko that she and Kittan were the only two paying attention to the monitor.
Suddenly, the viewscreen changed to what was apparently an exterior camera on the Chouginga Dai-Gurren, giving full view of the battleship's cannons emerging from their sheath—and then firing with a blast that they could feel rumble beneath their feet. The Super Spiral Missile had been launched—and their hopes and prayers with it—and the monitor returned to its previous screen, tracking the path of the weapon as it closed in on its target.
Despite the frantic atmosphere around them, Yoko's voice was quiet and calm as she leaned in closer to Kittan, looking up at his face—his brow was furrowed and his jaw set, a look she knew quite well. "Are you scared?"
Kittan looked back down at her, his dark blue eyes meeting her own yellow ones, and she could see his larynx move as he swallowed before answering her. "…yeah."
"Good." Yoko swallowed herself, taking a step closer to him and slipping her hand down to grab his and tighten her grip, her gaze returning to the viewscreen. "…me too."
She could still remember the taste of his lips on hers. She could still remember the heat of his body against hers as she embraced him, she could still remember the feel of his shoulder beneath her chin. Yoko could remember everything from that moment with crystal clarity, but she remembered nothing as vividly as she did the moment they separated.
The brush of his jacket on her arms, the warmth of his body replaced by the cold air of the hangar bay, the way he had looked at her just before they let go of each others' hands…
Her heart had been pounding in her ears so loudly that she never heard what he had said to the twins or Reite before climbing up onto the little skiff that took him to the massive Space King Kittan…
Kittan had been looking back at them, and that grin she knew so well had been on his face as he snapped off one final salute to Reite and gave Gimmy and Darry a confident thumbs up. He didn't say a word, though, as his gaze moved down to her. Though he was moving further and further away from her with every moment, Yoko could see that grin change slightly as their eyes met one final time—she'd always been good at reading him.
Yoko had stood still, her body frozen despite her mind's screaming.
Do something, Yoko.
Say something, Yoko.
But there was nothing she could have done, and there was nothing that felt right for her to say.
"Please, don't heroically risk your life to save us all and give us a fighting chance."
"…I love you."
It all seemed hollow. But nothing came to mind, and Yoko stood there completely frozen, her eyes on his, before he turned away to step into the cockpit of his giant Ganmen.
She saw his gaze still focused down on her before the machine's hatch closed and he was gone.
A ray of dazzling light came through the window to land directly on Yoko's eyes—she stirred, reaching a hand up to block the offending glare, before realizing that she was still sitting at the table, an empty glass of wine in front of her. Evidently, she'd fallen asleep there… and her body's sore creaks of protest as she straightened up in her chair confirmed that.
Thankfully, the children didn't have school today, she remembered… so it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Yoko looked outside to see the source of the light that had so thoughtlessly awoken her—and sure enough, she could see just under half of the sun's disk breaching the perfectly smooth ocean horizon. The day was beginning.
Yoko stood up, stretched her stiff limbs, and opened the door to go outside, inhaling the fresh sea air. Behind her, she could hear a stray noise here or there as some of the island's inhabitants began their day as well, but for the most part it was completely quiet except for the waves gently crashing on the sand far below.
The sun was rising now, and the infinite ocean of stars from the night before was vanishing. Even this early, there were few visible stars in the sky, and one by one they winked out as the sun's light overpowered their own.
She stood there in silence, watching as star by star faded away, giving way to the sunrise and the light of day.