Character: Suzaku

Pairing: a tiny bit of Suzaku x Lelouch? (if you don't like guy on guy, don't worry. You can interpret it as platonic)

Summary: What is sin, what is absolution, what is penance?

Warnings: Catholicism bashing, but it is not the opinion of the author (please don't flame me about why my arguments are wrong)

Of Course

There was one thing he loved most about Britannia.

Catholicism. As long as you confess, as long as you repent, as long as you believe, you are forgiven. You are washed of all your sins and all your misery. Bloodied hands are cleansed, blackened souls are purified.

And he believed it. Every word, every letter. Because it was true, of course it was true. Why else would so many people believe it? Because it was true, it was all true. If he believed and believed and prayed and prayed, he would go to heaven and everything would be fine. He wouldn't be a murderer, a killer, the bane of the earth anymore. He would be a person, a good person, a good person going to heaven. Of course he would go to heaven. He smiled and listened and helped and he was a good, kind hearted person. Of course he was. So surely he would go to heaven. God would overlook one murder, just one, just a slight lapse in judgment, wouldn't He? Of course He would.

But he wanted to make sure, just to make sure. Just in case he forgot some silly little detail. So he went to his first confession. He wasn't a Catholic – he hadn't been accepted, hadn't been baptized. He asked, but the priest told him it was against the law. Against the law for something as lowly as an Eleven to love God and be loved by God and go to heaven. But that was fine. He didn't make a scene, or a fuss. He had turned the other check, just as Christ had asked.

Besides, that didn't matter. You didn't have to be Catholic to go to confession, and even if the priest wouldn't absolve you, God would. Because everyone is equal before God and surely He will not care about nationalities. And God would forgive him, because he prayed and believed and repented and confessed. And that was all there was to it, wasn't there?

So he sat there, in the confession booth and spoke, with a calm and even voice. "Bless me, father, for I have sinned. It--," he faltered, "I am not a member of the Roman Catholic Church, but I would like to confess anyways."

"That is fine, my child. I will hear your confession."

So Suzaku began his tale, emphasizing on his father's coldness, the predicament of Japan, and he detailed the gruesome bloodshed that would've ensued if his father's plan continued, as if he saw it firsthand. "So I killed him. I ran at him and stabbed him in the stomach. He had to die. He had to, he had to." His voice remained steady and unfaltering. But his tears fell and his hands trembled. That was what he loved about confessions. The priest couldn't see anything, couldn't see that black soul, couldn't see those crimson hands, couldn't see those murderous eyes. Yes, murder. Murder, murder, murder. He was a murderer. And he told the priest that, screaming and sobbing and drowning himself in tears.

He calmed down eventually, with the quiet, even breathes of the priest, who had yet to speak a single word. Suzaku closed his eyes, waiting for his punishment. Waiting to be yelled at, waiting for everyone praying in the church to throw stones at him, waiting for the police to come. Waiting for his father's forgiveness.

"That is a most grievous sin. I cannot absolve you for you are not part of the Catholic Church. I am not sure if I could absolve you even if you were. But I can tell you this much: before God can forgive you, you must forgive yourself. That is all I can say."

Suzaku's eyes fluttered open. "T-that's it?"

"Yes."

"But—but I killed him! I killed my father! That's not it, that's not it! I-I-I'm an Eleven, I'm the scum of the earth!" His voice grew louder and higher, and he was almost to the point of banging on the window separating him from the priest. "I don't help old ladies cross the street, I'm rude and inconsiderate and—and I'm—" The priest did not respond and simply waited.

Tears started flowing again, and tired, Suzaku's arms slid down from the window. Trembling, but having recollected himself, Suzaku got up from his seat. "Thank you, father," he mumbled and exited the room. In a daze, he walked along the church pews to the exit. That's it? That's it? That wasn't enough, not enough to forgive him, not enough to absolve him. Even if kissed and pampered, bloodied hands are bloodied hands.

Leaving the building, he looked back at the figure of Christ on the cross. God killed his Son to save man. That was just, that was right. And if it was the other way around, surely Christ would have sacrificed God for man, and surely that would be just and that would be right. And Suzaku would be just and right, wouldn't he? He saved man from bloodshed. He was a saint, he was a saint.

No, he wasn't. Of course he wasn't. The whole thing was wrong, just wrong. The whole damn religion was wrong. How does a guy in a box save your soul, how does feeling bad bring back the lives you took?

It wasn't enough. Praying and repenting, what good did it do? His father was gone, Japan was gone. What did it matter? There is one and only one justice in the world, and that is an eye for an eye. That is only fair, that is only right.

He took a life for his own sake. A tooth for a tooth, he must give a life for another's sake. No, more than that. Because he also took Japan's name and freedom. That is his sin also, and his burden to bear.

There is only one penance for his sin. To die, horribly and bloodily, but washed of all sins. Because he will die saving someone, saving all of Japan. And he will be forgiven, completely forgiven, and all his sins will be forgiven.

-

His best friend. The one person he trusted, the one person he cared for, the one person he loved. And here he was, pointing a gun at his heart. But it was fine, it was all fine. This was his punishment, his just reward, the fruit of his labor. With almost a choked sob, he pulled on the trigger.

He would die. He knew. But that was fine. Of course it was fine, because it was Just.

He had confessed and he was now forgiven and absolved and freed of all his sins and his soul was washed clean. Of course.