Another Gurren-Lagann oneshot. My other one was kind of rushed, so I decided to do another.
-I don't own Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann or any of its characters.
There was never a dark night in Kamina City. The strong neon lights reached up into the blackness and stole the light of the stars. Even the moon was robbed of its once beautiful radiance; now it was only a dull, bland circle suspended in the sky. In fact, the city and its population had grown so big in the last sixty years that the lights could be seen from fifty miles in all directions. A man could get lost in this damned city if he wasn't careful, and that's exactly what had happened to one man in particular. He didn't care. He wandered through the slums and back roads without a purpose. The place was absolutely huge; a ridiculously large city that matched the ridiculously idiotic person it was named after. The man grinned at the irony of such a coincidence.
No, there were no longer dark nights in this city, but it was dark for Viral.
It had been sixty long years. Most of the men of the Brigade had already passed away due to old age. Even those two little runts, Gimmy and Darry, were in their mid seventies, retired, and had their own grandchildren who were grown. Anne, who had been born just before the Anti-spiral attack, was now sixty years old. It had been a long sixty years, yet Viral still looked the same as he did back then.
When the Helix King had blessed him with immortality, he had at first cherished the thought. Never being able to die: who would ever refuse such a thing? But Viral was not afraid to die, nor had he ever been. But as things looked now, he was living in fear of the eternity that lie ahead of him.
He stumbled clumsily into the next bar, sitting heavily in a seat at the counter.
"I don't care what it is. Just give me something strong."
The bartender obliged.
Viral looked down at his drink, his long white hair shading his eyes. He shook the glass in tiny circles before bringing it to his lips. The scent of it invaded his nostrils: it was strong alright. The glass was emptied in one shot, and Viral smirked at the intense taste and the burning sensation at the back of his throat.
"I'll have another one of those," he said to the man behind the counter.
"Tough night?" the bartender asked, pouring another glass.
"You could say that," mumbled Viral, emptying the drink he had just been poured, "Give me another."
He downed it again and sighed. Digging in his pocket, he left the money on the counter and stumbled out.
Apparently, beastmen were able to hold down three times as much liquor as humans, so it said quite a bit when he had to go down a dark alley and throw up. He wiped his chin and used the wall as support as e made his way back out to the street.
"Looks like you've had a few too many, young man," a mature laughter sounded in the dark.
"I'm not young," Viral replied, trying to locate the speaker.
"Certainly much younger than an old man such as myself, no?" the voice came again.
This time, Viral was able to see him; a hooded old man sitting against the far wall.
"You'd be surprised," said Viral, "at how old I really am."
The old man leaned forward and squinted his eyes.
"These eyes of mine aren't what they used to be, but…are you not Viral, a member of the government?"
"That's me," laughed Viral, "are you surprised to see someone from the government out here in the streets drunk off his ass?"
"Being in the government doesn't make you exempt from the hardships of life," the man replied.
"Hmph. You sure as hell got that right."
Viral, unable to keep his balance, staggered and landed at the man's side.
"That would explain your appearance though. You're immortal right? I remember hearing smething about that back in the days of the Dai-Gurren Brigade."
The beastman laughed again.
"You know about my immortality? That means you must be old enough to remember the days of the Brigade."
The man laughed in return.
"Yes, I am pretty old," he said, "and poor."
"Don't complain, you bastard, I was created by the Helix King way before you were born. And I got a long ways to go. Forever, to be exact."
"That's a long time," agreed the man.
Viral tried to stand again, but his balance failed him.
"You've drank a lot. What's troubling you, young one?"
Viral looked a little annoyed being referred to as a child, but his frown was playful.
"Did you have any dreams during your lifetime, old man?" he asked.
"Yes. They weren't unlike the dreams of any normal person, though. You see, my parents died when I was very young, and my brother died a few years after that. I just wanted a peaceful life with my wife, and I wanted to live and be free with my friends."
"And were you able to see that dream through?"
"Unfortunately, no. My wife passed away soon after our wedding, and I haven't seen my friends since then."
"Well why not?"
The old man sighed. "Some things you just have to leave behind."
Viral nodded. He knew the truth of that. Whatever the reason, it must have been hard for this man to have walked away from it all.
"Isn't it lonely?"
The man didn't answer. He only gave a sad smile. They sat in the narrow alley, two old men understanding each other's struggles.
"Is that your fear, Viral? It sure would be sad to spend an eternity alone."
"Heh. Those that I consider my friends are all old men and women. Some of them have already gone. I can make new friends, but one day they'll all be gone too. It will repeat over and over and over again. That is my fate."
"Fate? I thought the Dai-Gurren Brigade cared nothing of fate and reasoning. You just throw it aside and keep going, letting nothing stop you."
"The old Brigade slogan, huh? You really are an old timer," grunted Viral.
"You guys gave us hope and freedom. There is no greater gift than that in this whole world," replied the man.
"Ah, love," he said knowingly.
Viral looked up at the starless sky.
"Despite my appearance, I have always dreamed of having a family. Such a thing would make a cranky, violent beastman like me happy. Love…I haven't had the fortune to experience such a thing. I haven't dared. I can't reproduce. No matter how much I try, I will never be able to reproduce. And even if I did ever find what I'm searching for, it would only be brief compared to the lifetime of mourning I'm doomed to have."
"Yes," said the man, "I can understand your feelings."
"Back when that guy was still around, I had hopes and dreams for the future, more hopes and dreams than there were stars in the sky. But that time is gone, as are my hopes; just like there are no more stars in the sky."
"Yes," the old man said again, "I surely wouldn't want that to be my fate."
"But…" said the man, "If I had to live that way, then being sad and lonely for the rest of time would be a horrible way to live a life, don't you think?"
"But-" came Viral.
"Take it from me, kid. Love, friendship: those things can bring you happiness like you have never imagined. It is also true that your loved ones will eventually pass away, leaving you to grieve them forever. Let me tell you this, though. The days I spent with my wife and friends were the happiest days of my life. Although I may be lonely now, I will always have my memories. It has been said that those you care about live on in your heart when they die, and I believe that it is true. Your heart becomes its own universe in which all of your loved ones live on. Yes, you will love. Yes, they will eventually die and you will live. But you will have your memories, and you will have your happiness. Your heart will become a place where they will all live; the biggest universe imaginable, a never-ending source of the great memories you shared with all of your loved ones."
The old man pointed a slender finger in the air.
"Just because you can't see the stars, Viral, it does not mean that they aren't there. The universe is vast, kid. Even in your lifetime, you will never reach the end."
Viral's eyes were wide now, taking in the man's words one by one. And he continued to listen as the speech went on.
"Look ahead to the future. Never regret the present. Isn't that another of the Brigade's mottos?"
The man stood and a single finger lashed out from under his cloak and pointed at Viral's heart.
"This is the strength of Spirals. And yours will be one that will grow to rival the heavens."
Viral looked down at the spot where the man's fingertip had touched his chest. He put his hand over his heart, clutching at it.
"You really are old," he laughed with his sharp-toothed grin, "You know a lot of the Brigade's old sayings."
"Of course," the old man grinned back, "who the hell do you think I am!?"
The drunk beastman's eyes bulged in sudden realization.
The cloaked man placed his hands on Viral's shoulders.
"Viral, do not fear love. Do not fear life. Live it as best you can."
Viral couldn't bring himself to speak.
"My time will be up soon, but you will move forward. Be strong. I know you are strong."
A small creature appeared in the neck of his cloak. It looked him in the eyes for a long, delicate moment before jumping out onto the top of Viral's head.
"I'm not sure if he's immortal, exactly, but he hasn't showed any signs of aging either. Perhaps he will be a good companion for you as he has been for me."
The old man's knees were shaky and slow, but he walked steadily back to the main street.
"Wait! Simon!" Viral called. His balance was still disoriented.
The man turned and smiled.
"I have no name. I am no one; just another homeless beggar with not a penny to his name. Not a drop of money, but a fortune in a lifetime of memories."
"Viral, become the richest person alive."
And that was it. The man disappeared around the corner.
Viral was left alone in that dark alley. He held out his hand, and Boota willingly jumped into his palm.
"That guy…he really is something else, isn't he?"
The furry creature nodded his reply.
He was an amazing person indeed. That man had done the impossible and defeated the empire of the beastmen. He freed humans from their underground lives. In defeating the Anti-spirals, he learned that Spiral power would eventually destroy the universe. But still he fought, conquering the fate that the Anti-spirals thought that civilization was doomed to complete. And just now, old and decrepit as he was, that guy had just turned an immortal man's curse into a blessing.
Viral laughed. In his life that was to come, he would be truly honored if he was fortunate enough to meet another man of that caliber. He doubted he would, even considering all the people he could ever meet in an eternity.
Drunk as he was, he struggled to his feet. As disoriented as he was, he took easy steps. It was hard, but slowly, he escaped from the dark alley and emerged into the light.