Lawli: My obligatory tribute to the series finale. Did anyone else cry like a baby at the end of episode 25? Because... I definitely did.

Anyways, I hope I'm not making Suzaku incredibly out of character or anything. If you think I am, please let me know and I'll do my best to try and fix it!

Disclaimer: Do not own. Obviously.


Requiem

He didn't want to like him.

The last thing in the world Kururugi Suzaku wanted was to like him.

With so much innocent blood on his hands – Euphemia's blood on his hands – Lelouch vi Britannia didn't deserve to be liked. He was a horrible person, Lelouch. Granted a power that he – that any human – was not worthy of, he did so many terrible things, destroyed the lives of so many people.

(Britannians, Japanese, even friends and family members... No one was spared his wrath.)

Lelouch deserved to be alone, deserved to be hated. Suzaku should hate him with every fiber of his being. For being Zero and leading this bloody rebellion, for taking advantage of the ones who loved and had faith in him, for painting Princess Euphemia (Euphemia... lovely, naive Euphemia; the only woman Suzaku had ever loved but never got the chance to express his feelings for) as nothing more than a mad murderess and taking her life. For all these reasons and countless more, Lelouch... should instill nothing but hatred in Suzaku.

But...

He couldn't. No matter how much he tried – how much he wanted to – he couldn't bring himself to hate Lelouch.

It wasn't because Lelouch was his childhood friend (his first and, really, only friend). Even the best of friends could become enemies – and they had; they'd fought against each other, albeit unknowingly at first, and were prepared to kill each other in the heat of battle even when they learned of each other's identities as the White Knight and Zero.

...Was that even true, though? So many times Lelouch had been presented with the opportunity to destroy him, but he never did. Maybe he felt indebted to him, for saving his life all the times that he did? No, if anything Suzaku resented Lelouch for that –for making it so he couldn't die.

So why did he care? Why did he continue to care about Lelouch – continue to like him, stand by his side?

His eyes...

Those eyes, those wide amethyst eyes (no, that wasn't even their natural color anymore, was it? They were crimson now, tainted by that damnable Geass), they were not the eyes of an evil man. They were cold, surely, more often their not portraying Lelouch's undeniable cruelty... but they were a child's eyes.

Lelouch was nothing more than a child, a little boy in the body of a young man. A little boy mourning and enraged by the betrayal of his father, the loss of his mother and now Nunnally (dear, sweet Nunnally for whom he wanted nothing more than to build a world where people smiled and lived freely), and the absolute unfairness of it all.

No, Suzaku could not hate such a person.

Zero or not (Euphemia's murderer or not), Suzaku could not hate Lelouch...

... Nor could he ever kill him.

The thought of actually killing Lelouch (even though it was their plan, it was what Lelouch himself wanted), hurt Suzaku more than watching the moment where the bullet pierced through Euphemia's heart. On that day (it seemed so long ago now, that day), Suzaku would have given anything to be the one who ended Zero's (Lelouch's) life. But now, at the brink of Zero Requiem he couldn't bare to go through with his end of the bargain. He couldn't kill Lelouch – Lelouch, who stood before him in all the regalia befitting of a selfish Britannian emperor, smiling, waiting.

Waiting for death, a death that Suzaku himself could never hope for so long as the Geass that commanded him to survive existed.

"I... I can't."

I must..!

Lelouch's smile faltered, his thin eyebrows knitting together in a rare look of confusion. This was not part of the plan. The plan... Suzaku was supposed to kill him, dispose of the emperor who shouldered the hate of the world in order to unite and bring peace to the war-torn lands. There was no time for hesitation, no time to suddenly change things like this. All eyes were on them – the attention of the entire world focused solely on them. Suzaku couldn't... couldn't stop now; not when they were so close!

"Idiot," Lelouch hissed, and Suzaku could practically read the thoughts racing through his mind.

His hands were shaking, and as a result so was the sword he grasped (Lelouch's sword, or at least it had been back when he still called himself Zero). Behind the heavy, hateful mask there were tears in Suzaku's eyes.

There was no way around it. He realized this, understood that there could be no stop to Zero Requiem. Should he back down and not take Lelouch's life, he would be arrested by the few Royal Guards still loyal (through Geass or otherwise) to Lelouch. Being a known terrorist and threat to the crown, Zero would have no right to a trial. As emperor, Lelouch would have no choice but to condemn Suzaku. He would be killed. One way or another, one of them had to die.

And, damn it, it couldn't be him.

Suzaku shuddered, a coolness washing over him as the word survive echoed through his mind in Lelouch's pleading voice.

Lelouch wouldn't... Lelouch wouldn't let him die. That cursed command...

Survive. You must survive.

It bended his morals, twisted his beliefs, but Suzaku had to obey. He didn't want to listen. Didn't want to survive, not through these means. If the price for living was taking Lelouch's life, Suzaku didn't want to live! Damn it, why did he have to care so much?

He was crying now, his body moving on its own accord, pushing him forward – pushing him to survive.

Survive, survive, survive!

"Lelouch..."

The emperor took a step back, a flicker of uncertainty in his eyes, his lips parting in a silent plea to stop (an order which could not be followed, even if spoken aloud; not with Suzaku already under the control of his Geass).

Neither of them wanted this, now that it had come down to it. How they both wished they could go back on their plan – just forget all of it; forget Britannia, and Zero, and war and everything else and just return to a time when they could run through fields of sunflowers hand-in-hand, laughing, laughing as if they hadn't a care even when the world around them was falling apart.

Things were so much simpler back then. There were no thoughts of bloodshed, no armies to command or hatred to shoulder. Only innocence and laughter and laying in the meadow at night wrapped in each other's arms with eyes to the stars and dreams of a big, peaceful future together (together, the three of them – Suzaku, Lelouch, and Nunnally... dear Nunnally, always their little princess).

The universe seemed so much bigger back then, back when they were young and still had dreams. Now that they owned the world, it was small and insignificant, certainly not worth this sacrifice (this sacrifice... these stupid people didn't even realize what they were losing, so easily swayed they were by Lelouch's lies, his flawless acting).

As the blade pierced Lelouch's chest (far more easily than it should have), it was Suzaku who released a strangled, wounded cry. Lelouch's eyes were wide, trembling in their sockets; a dribble of blood leaked through the corner of his mouth as, slowly, he raised a delicate hand to where Zero's sword was embedded.

A hush fell over the crowd, no-one daring to speak – no-one daring to even breathe in the last moments of their emperor. It was not a mournful silence, but rather a hopeful one, and it disgusted Suzaku – the only person who could witnessed the pained, yet serene smile cross Lelouch's features (beautiful even when dying...).

Suzaku wondered if it hurt, being stabbed in the heart. Wondered if it hurt just as much as the countless times they'd stabbed each other in the back during this futile war (futile, for the war itself didn't accomplish anything; only Lelouch). It hurt Suzaku. It always hurt him, inflicting pain upon Lelouch, even if – especially if – Lelouch welcomed it like he did now.

"This is punishment for you too... You can no longer live as Kururugi Suzaku."

A shaking hand rose to cup the side of the mask, and how badly Suzaku wished he wasn't wearing the damned mask so he could feel the warmth of those fingers against his skin; wished he didn't have to be indifferent about taking his first (his only) friend's life. How he wished he could cast aside the mask of Zero and protect Lelouch like a true Knight was supposed to, catch him like he promised he always would and never let go.

But alas, the Knight Kururugi Suzaku was dead, and Zero was the only identity left for him.

"You'll give everything for the world, including your own happiness, for all time..."

The tears fell steadily from Suzaku's eyes as, for the last time, he looked upon Lelouch's face. "...I accept that Geass."

It was difficult to plunge the blade through Lelouch's heart. But it was even more difficult to remove it and step aside as if he hadn't done anything.

Lelouch vi Britannia – who would forever be known as the Black King, detested by his subjects – was still with shock, expression distant as the life bled out of him. And then he was falling, tumbling down the royal blue-carpeted ramp of his transport like a discarded puppet and coming to rest beside a bound and broken Nunnally (broken twice now, first by the thought that her brother didn't love her and now by realizing too late how that was far from the truth). Suzaku – Zero – remained where he was, too numb to even consider turning around and seeing Lelouch's dying body.

What have I... What have I...?

He wanted to throw the sword away, get as far from the murder weapon as possible, because maybe if he got rid of it he could forget what he'd done with it. Like when he was young and killed his father (though he never really forgot; it was always there inside him, eating him alive, that sin, and that was exactly what he was atoning for through Zero Requiem... right?).

Summoning all of his strength – resisting the urge to turn the sword on himself and take his own life just to make the pain go away – Suzaku swung Zero's sword to the side, watching as Lelouch's blood splattered onto the carpet at his feet and apologizing softly to no-one in particular for having to disrespect Lelouch in such away.

Then he turned and faced the masses.

"Zero..."

It was the word on everyone's lips. A quiet murmur that steadily grew louder with each passing second until it evolved into a celebratory chant.

Zero! Zero! Zero! Zero!

And over it all, the only thing Suzaku could hear was Nunnally screaming for her brother.

"No! Onii-sama, open your eyes! Live! Live!"

Survive!

Suzaku screamed as well, but over all the cheers for their savior Zero, no-one heard him.


Lawli: :'(