Pairings: Lelouch x Kallen, if you squint and try really hard to pretend I don't ship him with C.C. In other words, none

Summary: Kallen realizes that Lelouch isn't half the man she makes him to be.
Warnings: post R2 Turn 18

From Grace

The hero whose every word she clung to...

He stumbles along the corridor, his hands groping along the walls like a drunk man's (drunk on despair). His darting eyes lock onto her form standing there watching in both pity and disgust. "Kallen. Kallen!" He cries out in relief, glad there's someone left. Someone who won't lie to him. Picking up his pace, he comes closer and then suddenly pounces upon her, his fingers digging into her shoulders until it almost hurts.

"You must know, Kallen. You're a top officer. Where's Nunnally? I want to speak to her."

The strategist who looked at every battle objectively...

She pushes his hands off her shoulders. Even in his frenzy she's stronger than him by far. "She's dead," she replies, trying to keep her voice calm and stern because one sniveling griever on the ship is enough, but her voice cracks anyways.

"No she's not." The response is immediate. He doesn't even take time to mull her words over; she's not even sure if he took enough time to realize she said something. "Why does everyone keep on telling me that?" His voice grows quicker and louder with every word, "You, Rolo... Stop lying to me! Tell me where my sister is!"

She gives him a resounding slap across the cheek, and it almost feels good. "She's dead," she repeats, hoping the assault would knock the denial out of him.

The leader who could jump over any hurdle...

"Shut up! I'm ordering you to tell me where Nunnally is!" His fists fly into the air, aimed at her face. She catches them, of course, and holds them locked in midair. The livid look on his face, though, is just as ferocious with or without any physical threat.

She swallows her saliva and stares him straight back in the eye. A reply doesn't come this time, because she's tired of her words falling on deaf ears and the truth on blind eyes.

He takes a step back, and she lets go of his limp fists. His eyes are somber and downcast now, and she doesn't know if this is better or worse.

"Why? Why is everyone gone? Am I cursed? Cursed so that everyone I care about leaves me? Mom, Suzaku, Euphie, Shirley, C.C., and now you too?" Even though she knows he wouldn't be listening, her voice rises in her throat to declare that she's not lying to him, dammit, but he continues on before she gets a chance. "I was given the power to control people. I just have to look them in the eye and I can order to them to do anything. Anything. I have the power to change the world, to take over the world, to do anything I want! But somehow..." His lips trembled and his eyes watered, and she awkwardly reached a hand out to him but retracted it, not knowing what to do with it. "...somehow, I don't have the power to protect the people I love."

The revolutionary that would liberate Japan and the whole world...

"I'm sorry, Lelouch." It's all she can say. It doesn't help, of course, but for a broken man, she can think of no salvation.

He crumbles to the floor and stares up at the intense florescent lights. Tears stream down his face, and is that whimpering she hears? "Lelouch? I…I'm Zero! I'm the ally of justice, the defender of the weak, the man who will change the very course of history! I've cast away my humanity to create a better world! The lives I have to take, the sacrifices I have to make: they don't matter. I don't care— I—" He can't speak any further in between his sobs. Kallen simply watches as her god transforms into a boy. A boy crying and gasping, for air, for Nunnally, for everything.

"No. You're Lelouch. You always were. You always will be."

Their god, their messiah who would create a utopia...

...never existed.