Note: Longest chapter of story (suggest take a break in between shifts in POV)
The next day came, bright and sunny in the early morning. For Suzaku, it had become one of the most important days in his life. Rummaging through his closet, he gathered only his "Zero" outfit and stuffed it in a brown duffle bag. When he reached for the mask, Suzaku paused for a moment of silence. He didn't quite expect himself to be so nervous since his decision to go through with the plan, but it was just another feeling he would endure for the trip.
'Lelouch' he began, 'I will soon be telling Nunnally the truth. It is farfetched to say the least, and I know that this is also going against your will. But if you were me right now, would you have done the same?' Suzaku stared blankly at the mask, as if expecting a reply from the inanimate object. 'You'd probably say that it is something that I must do, right? It is something that I must do to finally move on, eh?' Suzaku smirked at his thoughts. 'In any case, if it is any consolation, please give me the strength to go through with this.'
Another silent moment came as Suzaku close his eyes and mentally prayed. It was a small little thing, but was said to be all one needed to do. Suzaku briefly reflected upon his religious faith. He knew that most Japanese were already absorbed into the Christian faith, with only a few headstrong Japanese, usually the elderly and those who were against foreign assimilation, retaining the polytheistic ways of Ancient Japan. He wasn't particularly fond of the conversion to Christianity, yet he also did not really believe that many gods existed. The middle ground between the two is where he usually stayed. A part of him wondered at how Lelouch looked at religion. That part of Suzaku seemed to believe that both he and Lelouch may have had the same idea about faith; things were decided by luck. Beliefs that ranged from the possibilities of good and evil in one another and where one person lives, one other must die; these seemed more believable than the usual religious hocus pocus.
Suzaku pulled back and gazed once more at the mask. He spotted the dried blood upon the left cheek; he knew that it was Lelouch's blood. All this time he had wanted to leave it on as a reminder of his best friend; yet as he gazed at it now, he couldn't help but feel that it no longer was needed. Suzaku sighed as he grabbed a soft tissue, spat into it, then proceeded to wipe the markings away, like a mother wiping dirt away from a child's face. When he finished, Suzaku felt almost lighter than usual, as if a small chunk of the burden he had was lifted. Placing it softly into his bag, he zipped it up and proceeded towards the door.
In the hall, Suzaku met with C.C., who had been standing up against the adjacent wall. Suzaku mentally commented on how C.C. dressed so casually, despite knowing the destination that the two were headed towards.
"Are you ready, Suzaku?" C.C. stated flatly.
Suzaku stayed silent for some time, then nodded. "Let's go."
Smirking, C.C. soon followed Suzaku as they headed towards their destination.
Heading down to the heliport at Tokyo Airfield by car, with C.C. at the wheel, Suzaku couldn't help but to be amazed at how much Japan had changed since his childhood days. Passing by so many places, Suzaku had momentarily forgotten that Japan had been known for many close-knitted areas of shops and businesses. Of course, what caught his eye the most were the people now up and about. The smiles upon their faces were a bit soothing at first, yet when he thought about it, Suzaku felt that their smiles were only there because Lelouch was dead and that the world was finally liberated from both him and the Britannian Empire. He felt that at any time before the Zero Requiem, this type of behavior would be acceptable. Though he felt the urge to frown at the spectacle, he calmly gathered his thoughts and let the feelings slip away. The closer the car was to the airport, the more anxious Suzaku had become. Taking precaution, he had begun to dress in his Zero attire. When they arrived, Suzaku had successfully dressed himself as Zero.
Much to their expectation, by the time they had reached the heliport, signs of life were noticed by both Suzaku and C.C. Only one black jet and a few guards were present as C.C. parked the car as close as she could. Pulling out a straw hat, she tucked her hair into a bun and covered her head. Upon exiting the car, the two started to approach the jet. A few moments later, both C.C. and Suzaku saw a familiar figure coming from the jet.
"Well, you finally show up Zero" boomed a voice from behind the guards. Slowly moving towards them, the person stood undaunted by the meeting.
"Cornelia, it is just as I promised" spoke Suzaku.
"Indeed" Cornelia spoke, but soon glanced at C.C. "Is she the person of which you spoke?"
"Yes" he stated.
"Well then, shall we proceed to the palace?"
Cornelia ushered the two into the jet and soon the group was airborne. Not much could have been spoken during the flight. Neither Cornelia nor Suzaku talked, and C.C. was not surprisingly quiet. To say that the flight was awkward was an understatement. The silence in the cabin was a testament to the lingering distrust and anxiety that both parties felt. However everyone knew the objective at hand was the same; the meeting with Nunnally.
A few hours later, the jet arrived on the palace heliport. Exiting the jet, Suzaku and C.C. both started to feel the strange sense of nostalgia when finally setting foot onto the concrete. By the time that they entered the main sanctum, the nostalgia could truly be felt.
"As you might already know" started Cornelia as she guided them down the numerous hallways. "This is the palace that Lelouch vi Britannia had resided a few months ago."
"Not much has changed" whispered Suzaku to C.C., whom nodded in reply.
"Ever since the day he was assassinated, my family, or what is left of it, has taken up residence here. Much of the political and economic reconstruction plans have been discussed in the main room." Cornelia paused as one servant had approached her.
"That's fine; tell them that the guests have arrived." When the servant left, Cornelia turned towards C.C. and Suzaku. "It would seem that my younger sister is eagerly waiting for us."
"How has your sister been?" Suzaku softly spoke.
Cornelia sighed. "Much to my dismay, she has yet to be as open as she was before. As I mentioned to you, she had held herself in her room. She didn't speak to anyone for very long and sometimes I wake up to the alarm of her nightmares." A look of sorrow was evident in Cornelia's eyes. "I can only assume that she is purposely trying to separate herself from us. For what reason, I don't know."
Suzaku could feel the pressure building as he listened. The memories of that faithful day began to flash like crazy. Mentally shaking the feelings off, Suzaku hardened his heart constantly in preparation for when he finally sees Nunnally.
A few more hallways later, Cornelia and the group stopped. Facing towards the left, the three soon stood in front of a large doorway.
"My sister resides in this room" Cornelia spoke in a firm attitude. "She is waiting for you two."
"I understand. If you will excuse us…"
When Cornelia nodded, the guards opened the doors to the room. When Suzaku and C.C. entered, the guards softly closed the doors behind them.
Suzaku stood in disbelief as he gazed straight towards the bed. The sight almost moved him to tears; however he knew far better to act like he was still Suzaku Kururugi. Had it not been for the mask and his new identity, Suzaku would have dropped his anxiety and rush towards the bed.
Upon the bed sat Nunnally, upright and as radiant as the sun piercing through the window. Her eyes were closed, which momentarily sent chills down Suzaku's spine. Her mouth had been frozen into a mild, horizontal line, expressing no emotion. The wheelchair she used when she was reinstated into the family remained at the foot of the bed itself. She wore a soft pink/violet dress that made Suzaku reminisce momentarily about Euphie. Of course, Nunnally's long brown hair had made him drop the memory. Nunnally's hands were clasped together and placed in her lap. To Suzaku, it was as if Nunnally had already resumed her status as part of the royal family.
C.C. glanced at Suzaku from the corner of her eye. Seeing that he was not going to move, she carefully nudged an elbow into his side. When Suzaku glanced down at her, he noticed that her eyes had the look of seriousness that he needed to adopt for the current situation.
Taking a breath, he opened his mouth to speak.
"It is you, dear guest that is now present?"
Nunnally's soft voice caught Suzaku off guard for a moment. Pressing on, he replied. "Yes, it is I, Zero."
For a moment, no response came from Nunnally. Suzaku started to tense up from the silence that she had given him. For C.C., however, she remained calm and once again nudged Suzaku in the side. Suzaku glanced back at C.C. and soon regained his previous composure.
"I have come at your request to see me" he spoke in a serious tone.
"Yes" Nunnally replied. "There is a seat for you over there."
Suzaku's sight was soon fixed upon the chair at the desk. He quietly whispered to C.C. "You take the seat."
C.C. shrugged and approached the desk. Grabbing the chair, she pulled and brought it closer towards the bed.
Suzaku soon came closer towards the bed, until he was right beside Nunnally.
"What is the reason for you to request an audience with me?" he questioned in a more serious tone, similar to the demeanor that Lelouch had always worn when he was Zero.
"The world…" Suzaku stiffened as he heard Nunnally speak. "The people of the world all rejoice in this peaceful age. It is very surprising to hear such cheers. Long have I wished that the world be so joyful and relaxed…and now it is thanks to a certain individual; Zero.
"I have heard that Britannia has suffered through a lot since a few weeks ago, am I right?"
"The affairs of Britannia were definitely made clear at the meetings, yes."
"I see…and it comes to my attention that it was you, who at the time when Britannia was close to being torn apart by the internal strife of the people, came to our nation's aid. This is true?"
"Yes it is."
Nunnally paused for a moment and spoke in a softer tone, as if whispering to herself. "Do you remember what you had said that day?"
Suzaku had been caught off guard by the seriousness in Nunnally's voice, but opted to stay silent as he pondered the memory. Of course, after not answering, Nunnally's hands began to grasp the blanket.
"Do you remember what you said?" said Nunnally in a louder tone.
Suzaku was feeling tenser than ever. He felt as if he was about to be scolded by a parent for something he had done wrong. "I-I said…" he stuttered for a moment before being cut-off by Nunnally.
"You said that we must hate, right?" Soon, Nunnally's eyes began to slowly open. When Suzaku saw this, he fell immediately silent. "Who was it that you said to hate?"
The emphasis on the "who" reminded Suzaku of what she had been getting at. Swallowing the saliva, and pride, he spoke in a slightly hurried manner.
"Lelouch vi Britannia" he stated flatly. Glancing down at Nunnally, he noticed that the grip that she had on the sheets were still tight, her eyes now fully open. Her mouth opened once more.
"Who was the one you said that the world should hate?"
"Lelouch vi Britannia" he stated once more, this time firmly, masking his personal nervousness.
"Who was it again?" Nunnally stated once more, her voice now cracking and somewhat hinted with anger.
"Lelouch vi Britannia." Suzaku saw that her hands had softened their grip, yet he could not feel the heaviness of the atmosphere slowly dissipating.
"Lelouch vi Britannia; the enemy of the world. The same person whom died that day and the one whom you personally killed with your own hands…"
To Suzaku, this was a side of Nunnally that he feared that he might see. The tension was heavy as he waited for Nunnally to finally crack; to show him the anger that laid dormant in her soul, to be bombarded with hateful words, just as she did to Lelouch.
"Afterwards, the world rejoiced your name and followed your order. And now, thanks to that, the whole world is in this peaceful era." Nunnally calmed down for moment then continued. "In a way, you must think it was necessary to do so, as if for an ulterior motive."
"I don't know what you are trying to get at" Suzaku replied, confused by her remark.
"Everything up until that day had been done for something, right? All of it was done for the sake of a hidden agenda that no one else knows or should know, right?" Nunnally's eyes soon dimmed as strands of hair fell in front of her eyes. Her delicate hands began to shake softly as she held them together. "It was all necessary for that plan, right?"
Suzaku felt a small chill slowly going up his spine once more. "I don't understand what you are…"
"Stop!" shouted Nunnally. Suzaku absolutely went silent right at that moment as he gazed at Nunnally's shaking figure. "Just stop it. I can't take it anymore. Everyone is hiding something from me. Even from the beginning, I've always been lied to. My friends, my family, even my brother…" Soft sobs could be heard from Nunnally as she tried to continue on. "I probably even told myself a few lies, just to spare my feelings. But now, I've had enough of the lies. All I want is the truth." Her head pivoted towards Suzaku.
Suzaku, now in full view of Nunnally's cringing face, tried his best at acting like Zero, yet found some difficulty when he noticed the tears forming under her eyes.
"All these baseless assumptions…" he started, "have nothing to do with…"
"The Zero Requiem…"
Both Suzaku and C.C. were shocked to hear Nunnally's words.
"The Zero Requiem as you both called it; wasn't it done for that plan? Or was everything for my sake?"
Suzaku knew that he had really been caught off-guard by Nunnally, yet remained adamant on the outside.
"I never asked for this. I never wanted any of it. But no, even that wouldn't have stopped you guys from betraying everything. While I was at home, everyone was off, fighting battle after battle, spilling blood and taking countless lives. All I wanted was for everything to be peaceful, that no lives would be lost to the war. Yet even as I wished it, no one ever told me what was going on. Even after I was reclaimed by Father and accepted back into the family, I couldn't help but to feel distraught with the knowledge that my own desires weren't being accepted. I didn't want that much; only to know what was going on, nothing else.
"Yet now that I know the truth, I can't help but to regret ever knowing anything. I can't rid myself of the memories in my head. They haunt me every night. I lie in bed and know what will happen when I close my eyes. I can only see the truth in my sleep, and when I wake up I can only see the horrible truth of it all. I can't take it anymore." Nunnally glanced back down at her hands.
Suzaku stiffened himself as he quietly spoke. "What do you know?"
Nunnally breathed heavily before speaking once more. "I can't explain it…but I know everything; the Zero Requiem, the Black Knights, even your secret as well."
"And by that you mean…"
Nunnally paused and then faced Suzaku once more. "You aren't the real Zero." Though behind a mask, Suzaku could feel as though the shock was evident upon the surface of the mask. "Rather you aren't the original. The first Zero confided in you to take up the mantle. Lelouch had confided in you to become Zero. Am I right, Suzaku Kururugi?"
In an instant, Suzaku could feel his body go numb from her words. Nunnally soon frowned as her hands soon reached up to the mask itself.
"Is it really you under there, Suzaku?" No response came from Suzaku. Nunnally's hands soon trekked upward towards the back of the helmet. It was instantaneous that Suzaku's hands shot up when he felt her fingers came upon the rim. Grasping her hands, Suzaku breathed a sigh of relief. However, for Nunnally, it just confirmed her statement.
"It really is you then, Suzaku" she stated solemnly, her gaze soon lowering down to the space between them.
Suzaku lowered his hands and placed both of theirs upon the bed, soon letting the grasp on her hands lift. When he began to hear her sobs, Suzaku slowly knelt down beside the bed.
"Princess Nunnally" he softly cooed, but was only rewarded with more tears.
"I don't know…" Nunnally spoke, "whether to be happy or to be angry."
"How do you mean?"
"I just can't explain it. I'm happy that you are still alive, and yet I'm angry that the memories are coming true."
A part of Suzaku became eerily intrigued. "Why do you say 'memories'?"
Nunnally wiped the tears from her eyes and spoke. "I don't know how, but I saw it all flash by in my head. A chunk of memories flashed when I touched his hand."
Suzaku soon felt slightly fearful, but pressed on. "Whose hand?"
"My brother's, Lelouch's hand…"
Suzaku momentarily glanced at C.C., whom had a very shocked expression on her face. Glancing back at Nunnally, he began to feel the sorrow beginning to build. He was afraid, truly afraid to continue, but it wouldn't get any better if he did not. "When did you do this?" As if I needed to ask, he mentally scoffed.
Nunnally sniffed. "That day, before he died, he tumbled down in front of me. When I looked at him, he had a small grin upon his face. Here he was, bleeding to death, and yet he smiled. I was curious as to why, but when I touched his hand, every event that took place; I witnessed every event he had done, every sin he committed. It made sense, and yet all I felt was a deep sadness for Lelouch. I understood his final plan; if he were to die at that point, the world would be free and peaceful. I understood how burdened he was with his life; being dissatisfied by normal life, not having anyone to trust with his heart, feeling helpless to reach his goal, to carry the hatred and sin of the world. I understood why he acted so heartless up until that point. And then it dawned on me; his goal was to create a peaceful world, even if it meant being the ultimate scapegoat.
"And then it dawned on me again; he was going to die soon. 'Why of all times must he die', I thought to myself. I sat holding his hand, knowing that his life was draining away slowly. He was giving everyone a second chance, even those who wronged and betrayed him, including me. I didn't understand how he could be fine about dying with such a burden. He gave up everything and expected nothing in return. I thought that the brother I loved was gone ever since he used his geass on me. I said so many horrible things to him, called him a devil and heartless.
"'Not like this' I thought right then as I held his hand to my face, ignoring the blood upon his fingertips. 'Don't leave me again, not after I see that you were just the opposite. Please live through it, let me have the chance to tell you how much I love you. Let me ask for your forgiveness, Lelouch. Please, don't die now. Hold out until we get you to a hospital, please. Just don't die.' I heard him speak once more, thinking that he would regain some strength. But no matter how much I hoped, it would only be seconds until he died." Nunnally began to sob again, but continued to speak. "It frightened me when his eyes closed. I shook my head and tried to wake him up. My screams couldn't reach him. He would never wake up. 'Why?' I thought. 'Why did he have to do this to himself? Couldn't he see how much I needed him?' I shut my ears to the cheers. I closed my eyes, wishing that I was blind again. It wasn't the end of my sorrow though. A Knightmare came and took him away from me."
Suzaku had wanted Nunnally to stop, but his memories prevented him from acting out of character. As much as it pained him, he allowed Nunnally to continue.
"When I gazed at that Knightmare, I couldn't speak. 'Haven't I suffered enough already?' I thought in my head as the Knightmare's grasp became tighter upon his body. I was afraid that my brother's body would be crushed in its hand. But as quickly as it came, it left with my brother's body. Terrified, I tried to speak, but no words came. 'Don't take him' I screamed in my head. 'Someone, anyone, stop that Knightmare. My dear brother…He's disappearing in front of my eyes.' I tried to struggle free from the hold I was in, but I was too weak and distraught. I cursed my weak body and I cursed my weak legs. I tried to reach out to the direction the Knightmare was headed, but then I blacked out.
"When I came to, I was here at the palace. At first everything was unclear, but after being visited by Sister Cornelia, things just flooded back. I cried a lot. 'Why is the world so cruel?' I thought to myself again. I had gone unheard, so what was the point of trying to explain everything. I told Cornelia so many times that Lelouch wasn't bad at all. But she waved it off. The only truth that came out of this was the fact that my brother is now dead and I don't even know where his body is. I can't give him a proper burial, nor am I able to vouch for his kind spirit. Everyone treats him as an outcast and abhors him so earnestly that the only evidence of his charity towards society would just be the freedom gained when he died."
Suzaku could only sit by as he saw Nunnally finally break down in front of him. Seeing the tears fall from her face made Suzaku feel uneasy. A part of him cursed that he had to remain undeterred on the surface due to his current identity. His hand tried to reach for Nunnally's, but was pulled back down by his will. If he were to become Suzaku once more, he thought, at least for the moment he could console Nunnally in a way he saw fit. Yet now that he was Zero, he could not do such a thing, even though Nunnally knew his true identity. Yet he wished eagerly that he could give some solace to the girl before him.
"I see" he started softly. "Indeed, that is a touching story to hear, but what is done is done." His seemingly cold words pierced even his own soul. He saw Nunnally raise her glance at him once more, eyes slowly becoming more bloodshot from the tears. "Lelouch vi Britannia died and the world is now at peace, freed from his tyranny. Can you not call it a success?"
"That's not…" Nunnally stuttered, slightly distraught from hearing Suzaku speak.
"The Zero Requiem, as you considered it, still remains successful since his death."
"Stop talking like that" she retorted meekly.
"But it is the truth. His death facilitates peace, something that not even the most well known advocates had accomplished."
"Please stop talking like that" Nunnally replied, her hands now partially covering her ears, eyes fiercely shut.
Suzaku pressed on. "The Demon Emperor, Lelouch vi Britannia, died by my hands, and with his death, I brought the people peace!"
"Why won't you stop talking?!" Nunnally screamed. "If you are really Suzaku, then stop talking like that! Why do you keep ridiculing my brother?! Why are you acting so heartless?!"
Suzaku snapped. "Because it is necessary!" he shouted back to Nunnally, silencing her in the process. For a moment, Suzaku felt the rage surging through his veins. Had it not been for the mask, he would have shown his angry face to Nunnally. He panted underneath the mask for a while before speaking again.
"I am not the man you knew before. He is dead, along with Lelouch vi Britannia. I am only Zero now. Thanks to him, I am Zero; me, the man who betrayed him, who hated him the most, and who killed him because that was his final request." Suzaku moved his hands up to the mask.
"This is not the face of Suzaku Kururugi your friend, nor is it the face of Suzaku Kururugi the Knight of Seven, nor is it the face of the Honorary Britannian." An airlock-esque sound came as Suzaku slowly removed the mask. "Take a good look, Nunnally, for this is the face of a man who has sold his soul for redemption."
Nunnally could only gasp at the sight of Suzaku's face. Being that she had never seen it before, she was shocked to see it for the first time. In truth, since she had regained her sight, she had only been able to see various faces; mostly those who became prisoners of Lelouch. Even during the march in the city, most of the time her sight was away from the others, hiding the shame and grief from behind her long locks.
Nunnally gazed in awe; the face behind the mask was rugged, tanned and very sullen. Suzaku's ears were like those of the average human, nose not at all like the stereotypical versions she had heard from passersby. The sharp, emerald eyes pierced through her form with a look of seriousness. For Nunnally, it seemed that Suzaku's face was more magnificent than she had ever thought, suiting a man of his caliber.
In her mind, however, it was a face that didn't suit the kind of man she had perceived Suzaku to be; it was not the face she had hoped to see way back when they first met.
The thought perplexed her to no end.
"Do you understand it now, Nunnally? I am no longer that man."
Nunnally was left silent, hushed by his words.
"This is the result of everything that has conspired between me and the world that I sought to change. It was because of my naiveté that I ended up having this burden." Suzaku paused and took in Nunnally's meek gaze. "We had always been on opposite sides; Lelouch and I. I had desired to change this world without loosing a life to hatred, while Lelouch had other means. I was always ready to take whatever scorn could be thrown my way, if it meant that I could be given a chance to redeem my past and to save the lives of my people. But even so, thousands more were lost to the war and my struggle became useless. In truth, I wanted to do things honorably and clean, so that already placed me against Lelouch. I abhorred his ruthlessly efficient ways and wanted nothing more than to stop him, even if it meant stooping down to his level. In an ironic twist, I became his comrade and we fought to change the world, even if it meant becoming targets for the people's hate. But in the end, I couldn't hold my end of the bargain." Suzaku halted himself, remembering the final conversation he had with Lelouch.
"I can't help but to wonder…did he ever plan for himself to be the one to take the blame for everything? I called him heartless, inhuman even; I've betrayed him and couldn't help him when he needed it the most. But the worst of it was that he even gave me, the one who stood against him since the beginning, a second chance. He took my anger and vengeance for killing Euphie, my request to die trying to protect others, and placed it upon his shoulders; just another burden he would take to the grave." Suzaku began to shudder at the reminder.
"I couldn't stop Lelouch from destroying himself. I-I…I killed him with these hands."
Nunnally was shocked to see Suzaku fall to his knees right before her; the mask dropping out of his hand and beside him. "I killed him" he repeated, his hands shaking from the cold sensation he had suppressed inside himself. Nunnally caught on to how sad Suzaku had felt at that moment. After standing by and watching Suzaku slowly descend into sorrow for a while, she couldn't take it. She cautiously reached out for his hand, slowly encompassing it within her own. Suzaku slowly glanced up and saw Nunnally cradling his hand, pulling it towards her. Rubbing it against her cheek, Nunnally closed her eyes and softly whispered.
"It's alright" she cooed in the gentlest voice she could muster. Using her other hand, she clasped them together on Suzaku's. "It is not your fault" she whispered once more. "Please, don't blame yourself for killing Lelouch."
Tears slowly formed at the corners of Suzaku's eyes. It amazed him at how forgiving Nunnally had been to him, even though he would've justified any sort of anger that she had for him. Placing his free hand upon hers, Suzaku brought himself closer to Nunnally and allowed the tears to flow. Gritting his teeth, he struggled to cry the remainder of his tears out.
The gesture made Nunnally feel glad that Suzaku had been partially wrong about his statement; in that moment, she saw that the Suzaku she had come to know was still very much alive within him. "It's enough that you stayed a friend to him even in the end" she whispered gently into his ear.
Both Nunnally and Suzaku stayed close together, ignoring the awkward feeling that sprouted from the reality of having to play different roles; she as a princess, and he as Zero. When they finished, Suzaku stood up before her.
"Thank you Nunnally" he spoke.
Nunnally shook her head. "It was nothing. I'm just glad that you are here now, even though you must not be like this for how long it is to be necessary."
Suzaku nodded. "I'm grateful for your words. Though I cannot be the Suzaku that I was before, I will do what I can safeguard that which needs protecting."
Nunnally's smile slowly fell as she spoke. "You are Zero now, and must do so for the sake of peace, right?"
Suzaku sighed softly. "Yes, but even so, I can only hope that people will come to understand why peace is needed now more than ever." He soon took the mask in hand and placed it upon his face. "For everyone and for the world that Lelouch created…" When the task was completed, he turned and headed for the door.
"Where are you headed to?" spoke Nunnally in a curious manner.
Suzaku paused at the exit and turned slightly towards Nunnally. "I have some business with Cornelia that needs to be discussed. I bid you farewell, Nunnally."
"Will you…" Nunnally spoke, somewhat disheartened by Suzaku's abrupt change in character. "Will you come visit me again sometime?"
Suzaku sighed behind the mask. "It's a promise" he replied, then exited the room.
Nunnally gazed at the door for a while, silenced by the atmosphere yet warmed by the promise that Suzaku made. Of course, she understood that if they should ever meet, Suzaku would still only be known as Zero. It hurt to look at the situation like that, but it was something that couldn't be changed. Sighing to herself, Nunnally afterwards turned towards the other guest in the room.
"What did you think about that?" she asked.
"You put up a good front, I must say" C.C. smirked. "And your compassion never ceases to amaze me."
Nunnally faintly smiled. "It is all that I can do for him." Nunnally momentarily sighed. "It is the only thing that I am to do for anybody, even for my brother. Wouldn't you agree, C.C.?"
C.C. felt shocked, but grinned at the level of awareness that Nunnally had. "Really perceptive aren't you? Pray tell, how did you know?"
"I could tell it was you…The faint scents you give off, the subtle way you seem to blend into the surroundings, but I knew that it was probably you that he'd bring ever since I heard my sister talking about the mystery guest that Zero would bring." Nunnally's smile faded soon after.
"So, what have you come here for?"
"Suzaku had been getting cold feet about this whole ordeal, and I guess he figured that with me around, he'd be somewhat at ease." C.C. giggled to herself, and then turned serious. "The truth is I had no reason to meet with you."
"Although I didn't expect you to hold such information to yourself" she added afterwards.
"Indeed…but as I said, I only touched Lelouch's hand when it happened. I never expected such a thing to occur. In an instant, everything that he had experienced, all the plans he created, all the lies he told, everything soon became a part of my memory." A flash came across her mind as she turned towards C.C.
"His geass…you gave him his power, didn't you?"
C.C. shook her head. "I made a contract with him. His power came from his desire."
Nunnally paused in spite of C.C.'s flat statement. "Who, or should I say what are you really?"
In response, C.C. heaved a sigh and pulled the hat from her head. Her long green hair soon bloomed forth, falling softly down her shoulders. Running a hand through the strands, she straightened and patted the locks to her preference. "I am C.C., the 'Green Witch' of Britannia."
"Green…Witch?" questioned Nunnally.
C.C. nodded. "Because of my power, I've been called a witch by many, including your brother. Indeed, but you should know of it as well from his memories."
"True…but is it indeed true that you are immortal?"
"Sadly, it is. That is the curse of the Geass Code. It binds the user physically by eliminating aging and death. The only way to be rid of it is to pass it on to another who fills the requirement."
"How terrible…" Nunnally whispered to herself. "Were you…planning to give my brother that Code?"
C.C. paused. Her eyes traveled towards the window. The sun shone brightly down upon the room, somehow drawing her to the window itself.
"I've made many contracts over the centuries, and not one ever wanted to be given such a burden. I was left to wander, making more contracts, yet not a single one lived up to an expectation. My wish could never be granted."
"What was that wish?"
C.C. spun around slowly and faced Nunnally. "I wished for death; to have someone end this miserable existence of mine. Humans don't grasp the fact that immortality is not at all magnificent. I've seen so many horrible things that mankind was capable of. I lost so many acquaintances to the flow of time. The loneliness that it brought made me want to die on many occasions; even if I had done so myself, I could never feel the release of death. So I continued to look for one who could give me an end…" C.C. trailed off.
"That was when you found my brother, right?" Nunnally replied.
C.C. spotted Nunnally's hands slowly grasping the bed sheet. "Do you hate me for that?" Nunnally grew stiff as C.C. spoke. "I changed his life, allowing him to become Zero, and thus he fought a war against Britannia. Even as he fought, his soul became more tainted by the darkness of human desire. All because of my interference…Do you still hate me for that?"
"I-I don't know…" Nunnally stuttered. "I still can't comprehend why he would accept such a contract."
"You can't comprehend, because of what?"
Nunnally shook her head. "I just can't comprehend at how he would risk his life for something like that."
C.C. sighed. "Is it that hard to understand?" Soon, C.C. began to approach Nunnally. "Every time he fought, all of the lies he told, everything that he risked; you have his memories yet you still don't understand the reason?"
Nunnally looked up and saw C.C. standing over her.
"Of all those in his life, who did he live for the most?"
The thought soon crossed Nunnally's mind, and soon a shocked expression appeared. "Me?"
"He cared only about you, Nunnally. No one else could ever come close to where you stood in his heart. No matter how much he had suffered, he'd only smile so long as you were."
"But…" Nunnally shook her head once more. "But I never asked for any of it. I never wanted for him to do such things. I…I just…"
C.C. saw as Nunnally placed her face in her hands.
"I wanted him to just be there for me. Even if we were poor or unhappy with life, so long as he was around I'd be fine. I wanted him to just be there."
"But you desired something else, didn't you?"
The memory of that talk flashed across Nunnally's mind. "It's true that I wanted the world to be at peace…but I didn't want it to happen like this, not if it meant losing him forever."
"Then how? What would you have done that could've stopped him from doing so?" C.C. knew that her temper had rose, but she managed to control the urge to shout. "Peaceful methods never worked for Suzaku, but Lelouch's methods, though underhanded, yielded the best results. What would you have done in their shoes?"
"I-I don't know…but why did Lelouch have to go so far as to become the most hated person in the world? Why did he have to destroy the image of the caring and loving brother that I had grown up with? The world hated him to the core, even I couldn't help but to feel so betrayed when I heard the truth from Cornelia and Schneizel. I called him so many horrible names and even proclaimed him dead when we spoke one last time…" Nunnally felt the bitterness of her words slowly stinging her soul. "I hated him just like everyone else…Why would he do such a thing; to sacrifice his own image and collect the hatred of so many people?"
C.C. sighed in defeat when Nunnally began to quietly sob. "It seems that you still don't grasp why. I will tell you exactly why Lelouch accepted such a fate." C.C. leaned in and met eye-to-eye with Nunnally.
"It is because he was your brother." C.C. grinned as she spoke in a compassionate manner. "He was always the caring brother you knew. He cared so much about you that he risked his life to create a world where you can smile.
"Not only that" she continued, pulling away from Nunnally, "he had cared so much about those around him that he didn't care about what could happen to himself, so long as everyone else was happy. He cared about all of us…" As she trailed off, C.C.'s smile faded, and soon came a dim grimace.
"It is sad to say that he cared more about others than himself…The people he left behind; comrades and enemies, are basking in the peace that his death created." C.C. soon turned her gaze towards Nunnally. "None of us realized just how lonely Lelouch must've been in his life."
Nunnally glanced down at the sheets below her as C.C. continued.
"Men like him are a real pain in the ass. They never once show the weakness that they hide from others, claiming to be all right even when it could be obvious that they are suffering. But his case is worse, don't you think?"
"What do you mean?"
"Think about it…or in your case, skim through the memories if you can."
Nunnally pondered C.C.'s words, and then closed her eyes. Soon afterwards, she mentally brought up the various memories that she had obtained from Lelouch.
"He was successful and intelligent, yet was always dissatisfied and unchallenged."
Nunnally found several memories to match C.C.'s words.
"He was devoted, yet he was constantly betraying others to protect them."
Evidence of his will soon came to Nunnally.
"He cared about the world, but was spited by the indifference of his experiences."
She felt the pain of those experiences through each memory.
"Of all the times he opened his heart, he never once was accepted."
Scenes of betrayal soon flashed across her mind.
"And only when he truly lost everything; trust, forgiveness, and love, did he truly show how human he had been in the end."
In her mind, the final moments that Lelouch had revealed the truth. Soft tears soon leaked from the corners of her eyes.
"He was a great person…it is a shame that he was quite lonely even though surrounded by those that he cared about.
"However, that can only be a speculation on my part" C.C. added shortly afterwards. She herself knew how to perceive such feelings over her years of experience. She needed no borrowed memory to understand how Lelouch worked. Of course, to her, it seemed that Lelouch always had something else that even she could not pick up; the one little detail about Lelouch that could explain his whole being, but not even after he died could C.C. figure it out.
"Being his sister, and more than likely the only one Lelouch ever cared about the most, what would you say to my claims?"
Nunnally stayed quiet for a while, still reeling from the memories that she had to remember, but soon spoke in reply.
"I understand, but can't help but to feel sad about it. My dear brother, he was always strong in my eyes, even after he became my enemy. All this time; his fights against Britannia, his unhappiness with both our lives, lying to spare my feelings, I understand it now. If only I had picked up on his sorrow sooner…If only I could've really been there for him instead of trusting his word at face value…" The tears did not stop as she continued. "He deserved much more than what I could have ever give him, more than what we all had given him. He deserves to live in this world more than any of us…"
Once again, Nunnally placed her face in her hands and sobbed. C.C. shook her head and found that she was delicately holding Nunnally in her arms. A pair of fragile arms soon wrapped around her as Nunnally buried herself into C.C.'s body, softly letting the sorrow come forth. It reminded C.C. of countless times she consoled Mao when he was a child. Petting Nunnally's hair back, she smiled to herself. In her mind, she wondered at how terrible Nunnally must've felt over the past few days. She had rarely seen such a bond between siblings, and even now it still amazed her at how strong the bond between her and Lelouch was. Sometimes, C.C. would abruptly curse the way Lelouch had acted towards everyone just for the sake of giving them happiness. However, on occasions, she'd find herself realizing that she was not the only one who suffered because of his kindness. Many other girls, such as Kallen, and even guys, such as Suzaku, all had been witnessed to Lelouch's sense of altruism.
Time seemed to fly by as C.C. held Nunnally; seconds became minutes in an instant.
When Nunnally's sobs died down, C.C. softly hugged her and smiled when she pulled back to face her. "Are you okay now?"
Nunnally wiped the rest of her tears away. "I'll be fine. It will take some time to come to terms with everything, but I'll be fine." After clearing her eyes, Nunnally spoke once more. "Tell me, did you…love my brother?"
C.C. felt surprised to hear the question. Scoffing and smirking, C.C. replied. "I don't hate him, that's for sure."
Nunnally giggled softly. "I see…Well, I know that I will always love him, for what he was and what he had done for all of us."
"That sounds great, Nunnally. Of course, you know that this is something that must always stay secret, right?"
Though Nunnally frowned, she soon nodded.
"The world must not know of this secret, especially in such a crucial time. But maybe someday…"
"When the world is finally ready for the truth?"
C.C. nodded and momentarily stared at Nunnally. Her smile made C.C. feel somewhat grateful that Lelouch had such a wonderful sister. 'Such purity' she thought, 'maybe this peace will have a better chance if people like her are present.'
Nunnally became confused at C.C. "What is it, C.C.?"
Swiftly waving her hand, C.C. replied. "It's nothing."
A knock soon came from the door, afterwards swinging open to reveal Zero. When the door closed, Zero approached the bed and removed his mask.
"What did you discuss with Cornelia?" asked C.C.
"Well, we talked about many things, mainly about the state that Britannia is in; also, we discussed how the empire would be rebuilt."
"And how did that go?"
Suzaku sighed. "Much of the policies will be changed to fit the needs of recovery and stability. Agriculturally, much of the resources, both importing and exporting will be changed. Economically, the monetary system will see changes as well.
"But in the case of politics, only one things needs to be established; leadership. Cornelia and I discussed at how the country needs not only a strong leader, but one that is wholeheartedly for maintaining peace."
"Who are the candidates so far?"
"Well, due to the way that Britannia was under Lelouch…" Suzaku momentarily paused; making sure that Nunnally was fine, he continued. "Well, since the policy to remove royalty and high social standings was in effect, most nobles have not been successful to fit the bill. Of course, the only representation that Britannia had been Cornelia and Schneizel, not much can be done."
"I'll do it."
Suzaku and C.C. soon turned their gazes towards Nunnally.
"I know that I can't do much, I am not physically strong like Cornelia, nor as charismatic as Schneizel, but I will do anything that I can to keep the peace that Lelouch created alive." With a firm gaze, she glanced at Suzaku, holding out her hand. "Will you allow me to do so, Suzaku?"
For a moment, Suzaku felt amazed at how willing Nunnally was, compared to the fragile state that she was in the moment he walked into the room after arriving. Giving his hand to her, he smiled. "Very well, Nunnally."
"Thank you, Suzaku."
"Yes, well, in any case, we can discuss it with Cornelia anytime." Suzaku glanced over towards a clock upon the wall:
"It's getting late" Suzaku stated as he turned to Nunnally, a soft frown upon his face.
"You have to return to Japan, right?" responded Nunnally with the same frown.
"Indeed, there are some things that have to be taken care of back home…"
Nunnally shook her head. "I understand that you are busy as well."
"This won't be the last time we will meet" Suzaku reassured Nunnally.
"I know, so until then, I will be anticipating your next arrival."
Suzaku smiled and soon approached Nunnally. The two hugged one last time before Suzaku adorned the mask of Zero. Turning towards the door, both Suzaku and C.C. started to walk. With one last goodbye to each other, both C.C. and Suzaku exited the room.
Outside, the two were met with Cornelia and Schneizel, who became their escorts on the way out. Halfway down the hall, a faint shout could be heard: "Wait!"
The group turned and saw Nunnally rushing down the hallway in her wheelchair.
"Nunnally" gasped the group. Soon afterwards Cornelia rushed to her young sister's side.
"What are you doing here?" asked Cornelia in a worried manner.
"I came to see the guests off, if that is okay with you."
Cornelia nodded in reply. "Of course, Nunnally."
With Cornelia wheeling Nunnally, the group soon headed towards the roof. On the roof, Suzaku and C.C. soon boarded the jet, waving short goodbyes to Cornelia, Schneizel and Nunnally. In return, the three siblings waved back, but none fiercer than Nunnally. When the jet had disappeared beyond their sights, the guards and Schneizel soon descended back into the castle, leaving Nunnally and Cornelia alone on the roof. Wheeling herself in position, she gazed deeply at the setting sun. Cornelia was surprised by such a drastic change in her younger sister's attitude. Joining her, she stood and gazed at the orange sky.
"Are you glad to have met with them?" Cornelia asked.
Nunnally softly nodded, a gust of wind blowing passed her. "Thank you for helping me, Cornelia." Sighing in relief, Nunnally glanced at the sky, imagining the smile that Lelouch would have had.
"The sky's so beautiful" commented Nunnally.
Cornelia smiled as she witnessed the radiant look becoming more and more apparent upon Nunnally's face. "Indeed it is…"
'Are you watching me, brother, from wherever you may be?' Nunnally thought to herself as she calmly gazed at the sky. 'Thanks to you, the world can finally become peaceful. I know that I will miss you quite often since I never told you how much you meant to me. I'm not alone though. I'd like to think that all of us here still miss you. We can no longer tell you how grateful we are for your sacrifice. But maybe living in this world will be the only thing that we can do to show our gratitude. If you are listening, please be at peace and watch over us as we fulfill your final wish.' The sun began to glow brighter than ever for Nunnally, and it was then that she knew that everything would be alright.
A few more months have passed by and soon the world had proceeded into peace. Countries all over the globe became prosperous, its people thriving on acceptance and good will. Of course, the evidence of crime and corruption still existed, however now far more minimal than before. Under the banner of unity and prosperity, the world began to shift once more into the new age of peace, brought forth from the ashes of war and strife.
In a familiar city, on the school grounds of Ashford Academy, a group of young adults stand tall.
"Of all the things to not change, the academy had to be one of them…" sighed a blue-haired male.
"My grandfather decided to keep things as it is" spoke an effervescent blonde.
"Though, didn't the gymnasium change despite that?" added a slender, green-haired girl.
"Yeah, it was converted to something else" commented a fiery red head.
"Still seems pretty much the same as it used to" muttered a tall, blonde man. "Who exactly is in charge of the Student Council? I mean surely they wouldn't allow such a thing…"
"Shut up!" shouted the blonde woman.
"Another one of your spells Milly?" questioned the blue-haired male.
"I won't allow you to bash the Student Council."
"Yeah, that's our Madam President…" 'Even though I'm technically the Council President now' muttered the blue-haired male under his breath.
"Oh Rivalz…" sighed the green-haired girl.
"Thanks for the sentiment Nina."
"You've certainly matured, Nina" spoke the red head.
"Oh, uh, thanks Kallen."
"Quite the supporter, eh Kallen? I sure do like that attitude in you."
Kallen blushed slightly. "Put a sock in it, Gino. I can't believe that you are still going to the school"
The group soon had a laugh to themselves.
"Well, everyone seems to be in a good mood today" said a soft, angelic voice.
A gasp came out as the group turned their gazes towards the source.
"Nunnally!" screamed Milly. "And Zero" added Rivalz.
"It has been so long Nunnally." Soon, Milly hugged Nunnally.
"Indeed it has Milly. Nice to meet you all again."
"Why is Milly being so informal with the Empress of Britannia?" asked Gino.
"Well, Nunnally had been a student here a few years ago" stated Nina.
"Really? Man, such a small world…"
After the initial greetings, the group soon gazed back at the school.
"It really has been a while since that day" stated Milly.
"I still can't believe at how different the world used to be back then" Gino commented.
"Everything happened because of that man…" Kallen had trailed off in her sentence. The group itself went silent when the topic came up.
"That guy…he really was something else, wasn't he?" spoke Rivalz, though only met with a piercing silence.
The silence, however, was soon interrupted by the sound of fireworks.
"Fireworks?" Nina questioned. "But who could be…"
On the rooftop, two figures could be seen preparing fireworks.
"Forgive me, Your Majesty" spoke a deep voice, belonging to Jeremiah Gottwald.
"Which is next? The blue or the red one?" spoke a much softer voice.
"Either one…" spoke the deep voice. "Anya, is it okay for you to not be down there with them?"
"It's okay, I still have the memory in my heart, so it's fine."
"I see…well then, let's set off some more."
On the ground, the group became awed by the spectacle.
Milly smirked. "It's just as he said…that man…"
"Who?" asked Gino.
"He promised that we'd be together for the next fireworks display…" started Rivalz.
"Even though we lost a few…" added Kallen.
"We are still together in spirit" concluded Nina.
"Shirley…Rolo…hope you are up there watching this…" stated Milly and soon the group fell silent.
Kallen stole a few glances at Zero and couldn't help but to smirk. Gazing back at the fireworks, she sighed and smiled. 'Hey, Lelouch…It has been a few months since that day. I still feel the sting of reality knowing that you are gone. Your plans have succeeded haven't they? The world now focuses on reconstruction and recovery. The weapons known as Knightmares are only used for show now, not for war. It still pains me to think that the blame of such chaos is constantly being thrown upon you without a care. However, this must have been planned for, right? Of course, violence and crime still are issues, but none that can jeopardize this peaceful era. Even so, we must still live on.'
Nunnally gazed at the fireworks for the first time and felt amazed by the show. Bringing her hand up to Zero's, she trembled a bit. 'Zero' she mentally called.
'Yes' Zero replied in his own mind. 'Lelouch…it is as you said. The world has indeed become peaceful. Everyone is smiling now thanks to the efforts of the world. Nunnally, everyone of our friends, they smile contently now more than ever. I can't help but wonder if you are watching this too…somewhere far from our reach…' More fireworks were soon sent off. 'The world has indeed changed, and now people are moving forward into the future that you gave them. I have witnessed it firsthand. Nunnally is doing great as the Empress of Britannia. Don't worry though, I have promised to keep her safe from any harm. If I can only wish for one thing, I would want you to be at peace now, for I will make sure that the world you died for, the peace that you created will not be compromised so long as I'm around.' The sound of the fireworks echoed louder than before, signifying the start of a new age.
In the countryside of a foreign land, a lonely hay cart rides along a dirt road. Upon the top of the hay, the figure of a woman can be seen, her long green hair pushed up against a "Cheese-kun" plush toy, a pink origami crane beside a suitcase. As she gazed at the sky, her thoughts soon come to life. 'Of all the great figures in history, barely any can come close to what you have accomplish, Lelouch. Not just for the world and its people, but also, in a way, for me. As I said before, you have indeed granted my one wish. You destroyed the world and created it anew. I won't die just yet, though. It sounds preposterous, but maybe at least I'll give life one more shot. As you said, there are many experiences to be had, and I think it is about time that I do so for myself. Though, you will always remain close to my heart more than anyone, but that is just selfish, isn't it? Ever since you came into my life, or rather the other way around, I've started to feel less lonely in the world. Ironic isn't it?'
A gust of wind blew passed her frame. "It is said that the power of Kings will cause the user to be eternally alone…Seems like that wasn't the case this time…right, Lelouch?"
A/N: A big "Congratulations!" to me for finally completing a story (my first ever completed story on fanfiction) Yay ME!!! I would also like to thank you all, my wonderful readers, for helping me to finish this story. I will never forget your reviews (for they will always be in the review section lol) and your words of wisdom. Now onto my notes. Okay, first off, I really wanted to end the story on an even amount of chapters. I always thought about cutting this chapter into separate chapters, but it would still be on an odd-number basis. Second, if the story seemed to drag a third or even halfway into the story, then I'm sorry, but as I suggested, take a break from reading. Third, understand that this is my first ending chapter of any story. Keeping things bracing and yet still true to the story was difficult, but hopefully the characters are up to expectations, if any OOC moments can be found, just keep to yourself, or message me about any other mishaps. Also, please understand that this was the final time that any main character could get closure, so if the characters seemed more depressing overall, just do the same thing as specified with OOC comments. Hopefully you read this section before you post any reviews/comments. Lastly, if the thought comes, yes I did compile all of the after thoughts from the ending of R2 and from the sound drama episode (stage 25.01 of R2), but more or less made it my own without skewing most of the content. I wanted them to be evidence of the final acceptance of the Zero Requiem by the characters most affected. I would like to thank all of you again, and if I may say, if you find the urge to write, then do so and then refine the technique. Thank you all once again for sticking alongside this story. See you later.
A/N 2: I also found out that there will indeed be a new season of Code Geass. Really high expectations on the process and hope that the integrity is not compromised (keep Lelouch dead in my opinion, it will be better if he just remained a memory). How do you feel about it? In any case, thanks again. Goodbye to you all.