Over the next month, the UFN and Britannia worked out the terms of Britannia's surrender. Other arrangements included the abolishment of Britannia's discriminatory laws and the release of many foreign prisoners. Not all Britannians had taken the changes well, and more than a few incidents of violence were reported in the Areas shortly after they were freed, but for the most part people fell in line.
Schenizel was eventually released as part of the Britannians' demands. Despite his destruction of an entire city as a show of force, he could not be held accountable for much else, and releasing him was a small price to get the Britannians to give up so much. Lelouch didn't let him go without insurance, though. With the help of Jeremiah's Geass Canceller, Lelouch compelled him to destroy any and all documents relating to FLEIJA, ensuring he could never rebuild it. Beyond that, Schenizel agreed to maintain the peace.
Lloyd, Cecile, and Nina ended up working alongside Rakshata, in part because it kept Nina, FLEIJA's inventor, out of the hands of those who might have her build it again. Kallen had walked in on them on a number of occasions, each time seeing Lloyd and Rakshata arguing. She wondered just what happened between them to make them so unfriendly around each other.
Returning Suzaku to Britannia had been refused during negotiations, on the grounds that his relation to the former Prime Minister made his fate Japan's concern. It was Kaguya who determined how he was dealt with after some long legal proceedings. As her idea of poetic justice, Suzaku was drafted into the Black Knights. He had objected, but as a prisoner he didn't have much say in the matter. For a man who had spent so long fighting his own people, she felt it appropriate that he finally be put to work for them.
In the midst of all this, Ohgi had brought the issue of Lelouch's various crimes back to the table. Ohgi, Tohdoh, Asahina, and Chiba all felt he should answer in some way. Diethard naturally stuck with Lelouch, since he had really beaten Britannia. Ultimately, the decision was in the hands of Kaguya and Xingke, neither of whom was willing to oust the man who had almost single-handedly created the UFN. Ohgi had objected, but Xingke was quick to point out that, aside from lacking any concrete evidence supporting the accusations, to expose Zero would destroy the public's faith. He was too intertwined with their alliance now to allow that to happen.
Lelouch, Kallen, and C.C. were sitting in an office in the Tokyo Settlement's government building. Kallen was helping Lelouch go through various forms spread out on a table. Two couches were on either end to sit at. C.C. was opposite them, eating pizza and refusing to help. It had been a month since everything was settled, and Japan was electing its first Prime Minister since the occupation. Ohgi was on the ticket, of course, as were two others. It would likely be another month at least before they could leave the service and finally have normal lives.
"Do you think Ohgi will win?" Kallen asked. She already knew the outcome, but she wanted to hear what Lelouch thought of it.
"He'll win," Lelouch stated as if it were fact, not bothering to look up from his paperwork. "His popularity as one of the people responsible for Japan's freedom will see to that."
That wasn't really the answer she wanted. "Do you think he's qualified?"
"Ordinarily I'd say no," he replied, "but he'll have people helping him make the right decisions. This election is more symbolic than anything, but Ohgi will learn as he goes."
Kallen knew Lelouch wasn't one to care about past mistrust, so his answer didn't surprise her. She went back to sorting the paperwork. A few minutes later, the intercom beeped.
"Zero," the secretary said, "Suzaku Kururugi is here to see you."
Lelouch sighed. "Didn't even make an appointment," he noted before pressing the speaker button. "Send him in." Suzaku walked in a moment later, standing at attention like one would expect of a model soldier. "There's no need for such formalities," Lelouch said, still focused on his paperwork. "Sit." Suzaku took a seat next to C.C. "What do you want?" Lelouch asked.
"The truth," Suzaku stated adamantly. "You've captured me, are forcing me to work for the enemy…"
"Kaguya decided your fate," Lelouch corrected, "and you're the one who decided to fight your own people. Get to the point."
"I want to know what happened with Euphy, with Shirley, and everything I asked you when we last met," Suzaku insisted.
"I answered those questions the last time," Lelouch said impassively. Kallen knew he probably hadn't told him the truth, but wasn't going to interrupt. This was something they had to work out.
"You were lying," he replied angrily, slamming a fist on the table to accentuate the point. "Tell me the truth."
Lelouch finally looked up from his paperwork to regard Suzaku. "If you know that much then why ask? What would you do if I gave you the truth? Would you let go of your hatred, forgive me for what I've done, or accept that your methods have failed?"
"My methods could have worked," Suzaku replied.
"But they didn't," Lelouch pointed out, "and they wouldn't have. Your plan was much too shortsighted and failed to consider the bigger picture. If you were willing to look beyond your own ideals, you would have seen that Britannia would not change for you. In fact, the only reason you got anywhere was because I was your opponent. Regardless, you didn't answer my question."
"Answer mine first," Suzaku countered, not bothering to dispute Lelouch's assessment.
After a long staring match, Lelouch finally spoke. "You haven't given me a reason to."
"Your ways succeeded and mine failed," Suzaku grudgingly admitted. "You've gotten everything you want and I'm stuck in a position where I can't even atone for my own sins. It's the least you can do."
"Death is not the only way to atone," Lelouch began. "You've done nothing but impede the freedom of Japan. Working for us is the best way to make up for that. As for your questions, very well, I shall tell you. Euphy's death was an accident, though no less tragic because of that. I lost control of my Geass when listing various nightmarish things I could force her to do."
"You…," Suzaku began with a hint of anger in his voice.
"I'm not done yet," Lelouch said, cutting him off. "Shirley was killed someone trying to protect me because she regained her memories. They made it look like a suicide. Before you ask, I did not tell them to do so."
"Who was it?" Suzaku inquired.
"I have no intention of telling you," Lelouch said. "That's my problem and I dealt with it in my own way."
"What about this curse you gave me?" Suzaku asked.
"I gave you the 'Live' command because you are too stupid and stubborn to be trusted with your own life," Lelouch replied quite frankly. Before Suzaku could even voice a complaint, Lelouch moved on. "You would have gotten yourself killed and me along with you just to uphold your precious rules, damning any hope Japan had of regaining its freedom in the process."
"Who gave you the right to decide how I live my life?" Suzaku growled.
"You did," Lelouch replied, "the moment you decided to let yourself die to take me with you. Those who decide to fight the enemy should be prepared for that enemy to fight back. I could just have easily ordered you to die and stolen the Lancelot for myself."
Suzaku looked like he wanted to jump across the table and strangle Lelouch, which kept Kallen on guard. "You expect me to believe all of this?" he said.
"You wanted the truth and I gave it to you," Lelouch stated plainly. "It's your choice if you want to believe it or not. Is there anything else?"
"No," Suzaku replied through gritted teeth. He stood to attention once more and left.
Once he closed the door, C.C. spoke up. "That was quite harsh, Lelouch."
"As much as Suzaku wants the truth, he also wants revenge," Lelouch explained. "He needs to work out his hatred on his own." With not much else to say on the matter, everyone went back to work, or back to the pizza in C.C.'s case.
When Kallen went out to get some food of her own, she was flagged down by Suzaku, who was serving as one of the guards in the building. "What is it?" she asked, taking him to a separate room so they could talk.
"I want to know if Lelouch is telling the truth," he explained. "He must have told you about the things he's done."
Kallen sighed. "What do you think?"
"I want to believe him," Suzaku admitted, "but he was the one who killed Euphy."
Kallen couldn't help but smirk slightly. He sounded like she did when she finally got the chance to talk to Lelouch after a year-long absence. "If you want to believe him, then believe him."
"But Euphy…," he repeated.
"Since you know the truth, what would have had him do?" Kallen posited. "If you really loved Princess Euphemia, could you have stood by and watched her continue killing the Japanese people? Would you have let her kill you instead of stopping her?" The words struck Suzaku, leaving him speechless. Kallen knew something of it herself. She had been ready to kill Lelouch the Demon Emperor, or at least she thought she was, since she never had the chance. After letting her words sink in for a bit, she continued. "Think about that for a while. Now, you should get back to your post." Suzaku just nodded and went back to his duties while she went back to Lelouch's office.
After a couple more months of work to stabilize the new government, Kallen was finally able to leave the Black Knights with Lelouch. He did one of his typically dramatic speeches as Zero to announce his departure, explaining that his presence was necessary for times of strife, and that in this era of peace, the people should learn to work things out among themselves. Of course, he made sure to note that any attempt by the strong to oppress the weak would see him return to stop it.
C.C. stayed with Lelouch, if for no other reason than lacking anywhere better to go. She had become somewhat more personable over the months. Kallen was sure part of her motive was that wanted the chance to poke fun at their relationship whenever possible. Nonetheless, Kallen didn't really mind, since having C.C. around was like having a sister. C.C. had also made it clear that she was glad Lelouch had found someone to make him happy, so Kallen didn't have much reason to be jealous that C.C. was still living with him.
Suzaku was eventually released from his duties so he could return to school. Kallen wasn't sure if he had forgiven Lelouch, but the two were civil, at least. Anya and Gino had also returned to Ashford. Anya in particular was a peculiar case, as she had somehow ended up living with Jeremiah and Sayoko on an orange farm. She wasn't sure just when they had met or what had happened to spur that arrangement. She figured that it must have been during one of Schenizel's visits to Japan.
Ohgi was elected Prime Minister of Japan as expected, and married Villetta not long after. Ohgi had been reluctant to have Lelouch at the wedding at first, but ultimately decided to bury the hatchet when Kallen insisted that she wasn't coming without him.
Nunnally had remained in politics, despite Lelouch's requests for her to return to the school, felling she could help more there. Schenizel even appointed her as Prime Minister to fill the seat he left vacant. Some had questioned the wisdom of appointing one so young to the position, but Kallen had heard from Lelouch that Schenizel didn't trust anyone else to do the job properly in peacetime.
The state of the world itself was not quite as utopian as Lelouch's methods had made it before, but it was close. The EU remnants and the freed Britannian colonies joined the UFN for protection, creating a stable balance between the two powers, if not necessarily a cooperative atmosphere. Without any wars to fight, governments were able to work on more important matters like poverty. Ohgi made sure to trade Japan's supply of sakuradite fairly to keep everyone happy.
Kallen came home from school on a day the same as any other, unpacking her books. She looked up to her bulletin board where she kept all her pictures. Suzaku was now in a recent picture with Lelouch, both finally being friendly. The one in the center, her most important picture of Lelouch, was now a picture of her and Lelouch kissing, taken in a photo booth.
"That's certainly a much nicer picture," came Todd's voice from behind her. Kallen had to stifle her own scream.
"You don't show up for months and then you sneak up on me like that?" she pointed out. "What's wrong with you?"
"It's all in good fun," he replied with a laugh, "and I didn't have any reason to show up, really."
"So, why are you here?" she asked.
"Because today's the day," he answered, "the day you met me. The day you decided to change things. I don't really see much point in offering, but you still have the chance to undo what you've done, if you want."
"You're right," she said. "There is no point in offering. This isn't quite as good as the world Lelouch made before, but it's close, and I'm happy with it."
"I thought as much," he replied with a smile.
"So can I talk about the past now that I've changed it?" she inquired.
"Sure, if you want," he said, "but I wouldn't expect anyone to believe you." Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a bag of candy and threw it to Kallen. "It's for the movie," he said in response to her unspoken question. "Have fun."
Before she could inquire further, a knock on the door drew her gaze away momentarily, and in that instant Todd had vanished. She went to the door, and Lelouch was waiting there, holding two tickets in his hand.
"I thought you might like to see a movie," Lelouch said.
"I'd love to," Kallen replied. Suddenly remembering the candy, she thrust in into Lelouch's hands. "For you."
"You knew I was coming?" he asked.
"Uh, lucky guess," she offered, wrapping her arm around his. "Let's go."