The sword sinks into the soft earth and he sighs, watching it glint in the morning sky amidst a field of flowers, colors of every kind imaginable.
There will be no official grave marker, but this is where he, Suzaku, believes Lelouch will remain, and this is where he will come again and again to remind himself.
Maybe one day, he'll be able to look at that sword and his hands won't tremble.
"That doesn't really belong here… does it?"
He is startled, like a bird about to take flight, but manages to reign himself in- he is Zero now, and Zero does not flinch, does not act surprised, does nothing that would make him seem anything less than a hero.
Kallen walks with slow, careful grace, and Suzaku wonders how anyone could have ever thought her just a mere frail slip of a girl- this is a peerless warrior-queen, strong enough to match him even with his Geass order in place where even the legendary Knight of One could do nothing.
He wonders what she's here to do. Does she know who he is- no, who he once was? Will she yell and scream at him? Thank him? Or kill him?
Uncertainty plagues his mind, and he is grateful, not for the first time, that this mask and cloak disguise all the fears he bears inside.
Idly, he thinks Lelouch had probably felt the same many times before.
"Why are you here, Zero?" she asks, and the way she says the name Zero is not as it was before- there is no conviction in the word, no loyalty.
Just a stinging emptiness.
He doesn't know how to answer her. He knows what he would say as Kururugi Suzaku, the Knight of Zero, Kururugi Suzaku, knight of Third Princess Euphemia, Kururugi Suzaku, member of the Ashford Academy student council, and even Kururugi Suzaku, betrayer of Japan, but those men are dead and buried, forgotten.
The mask feels too big, too heavy over his face. It doesn't fit right, because it was never meant for him.
If Kallen is annoyed by his silence, she doesn't show it, merely kneeling into the flowers, hands ghosting over the vibrant colors. She is awkward with them, hands that have destroyed weapons of war unable to deal with the fragility of the petals.
She is trying, though.
"I won't- can't forgive you," she begins at last.
He's not sure if she's talking to the mask or the man beneath. She's not sure either.
"That's fine," he manages to answer, and wishes his voice was that of the true Zero- calm, controlled, powerful, like a king holding his court anywhere he goes. "I don't expect to be forgiven. Not anymore."
Lelouch's words, out of his mouth.
Does that mean maybe it's the mask that shapes the wearer, and not the other way around?
"But I don't hate you," she affirms, fingertips brushing crimson petals like a lover's goodbye caress. "I never did."
"It sounds like you're saying goodbye," he responds distantly, and prays his voice remains steady.
"I already said my goodbyes," Kallen replies softly, and the stem breaks before her calloused hands, plucking it from the earth.
The word "Sayonara" still lingers on her mouth in a way their kiss did not, effervescent bitterness making her words seem foul and hollow.
"Then why are you telling me this?" Suzaku asks.
Because I'm not him. I'm not the one who's supposed to be behind this mask.
Her lips quirk and she doesn't reply to his question. "How did it feel?" the smile on her lips is cruel, but it's more than he deserves.
He struggles. Zero would speak grandiosely, using metaphor and allegory to weave pretty words around the ugly truth. Lelouch would smile and lie and keep everything inside and pretend he wasn't dying inwardly.
"I don't remember," he lies, fingers brushing the hilt of the sword. "Does it really matter?"
She nods and he hates her a little for it.
"Zero killed the enemy of the world, Lelouch," she answers, almost coldly. "Everyone felt something in that moment. Even you."
His lips curl and he feels like being cruel.
"I felt nothing."
No cold satisfaction. No horror. No despair.
Just Lelouch's blood painting his mask, his fading heartbeat against Suzaku's own.
Kallen's face never changes, even as she plucks another flower from the garden (white, the color of death, the color of purity), pocketing it as she does.
"This garden is beautiful," she murmurs, something like a smile in her voice.
"But it won't last," Suzaku responds, almost cynically, wondering if those are his words or Lelouch's or maybe Zero's.
"That sword doesn't belong here, though," she adds, pretending not to hear him.
He glances down at it, and pretends he's not seeing bloodstains that have long since been wiped away.
"There's nowhere else to place it," he answers, sounding almost helpless. It doesn't belong in a museum… or rather, he doesn't want it to rest there, like a dirty memory on display for all the world to see.
"You should keep it," Kallen smiles, just a little. "I think that's for the best."
She starts to walk away, back straight and strong, proud, facing a future paid for with blood. Only when she's reached the end of the garden does she finally turn back to look at him.
"Lelouch never liked flowers, you know," she comments distantly, and then she's gone without another word.
He glances down at the sword, fingers wrapping around the hilt as he removes it from the earth.
It's heavier than he remembers it being.
But he's can't let it go just yet.
Zero walks away from the flowers, taking the sword and the wishes of a dead man with him.