The Demon King

Disclaimer: Code Geass - Lelouch of the Rebellion and Code Geass - Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 are the property of Bandai and Sunrise, not me. I make no money off this little venture. This is purely for entertainment purposes, and no copyright infringement is intended.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

I was attacked by a Code Geass fanfic idea on the way to school yesterday. It was a bloody fight and we almost took out three pedestrians in our struggle, but I finally grabbed some time to sit down and churn this thing out. So this is just a one-shot epilogue sort of thing about the ending of Code Geass R2.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Lelouch vi Britannia was evil.

At least, that was what everybody said. And Kallen Kozuki could never truly be sure of that statement. Lelouch vi Britannia was evil...or was he?

For what did it mean to be evil? Was it to do evil things? Think evil thoughts? Lelouch vi Britannia was evil, yes— but he was more than that. He was brother, he was leader, he was Zero, he was Emperor, he was Student Council Vice President...

But then, that raised another question. Lelouch could not be both evil and good at the same time. And Kallen Kozuki was determined to find out which he really was— to know which of his many masks were only that and which face was that of the real Lelouch vi Britannia.

Kallen knew good. But she did not know evil. And so, Kallen Kozuki embarked on a project, to understand evil— and to understand Lelouch.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

The new calendar was the Universal Era, but it continued counting from where the Ascension Throne Britannia calendar left off. And so it was the spring of UE 2020 when Kallen Kozuki graduated from Ashford Academy, a salutatorian even despite her taking off a year or two to be a terrorist. It had gotten her out of her gym requirement, that was for sure.

With her diploma in hand and mortarboard under her arm, Kallen had no idea what she wanted to do with her life. Lelouch's words echoed in her mind when she went back to school, no longer as demure and sickly Kallen Stadtfeld but as confident and strong Kallen Kozuki, with her cherry-red hair upturned and her Guren's activation key on a chain around her neck. She had gone back to school, as he had wished...but now what?

So Kallen Kozuki took on odd jobs. Working at Pizza Hut for a few months— until the irony set in, anyway; a bank teller; a lifeguard (and hell if the job description had included "getting ogled by an army of horny teenage boys"); a grocery store cashier; a self-defense instructor for women; whatever work came her way, eventually ending up back at Pizza Hut after an unsuccessful stint as a waitress. But such jobs meant frequent travel between the glitzy Tokyo Concession, still home to a thriving population of Britannian nationals, and the run-down ghettoes of the former Area 11, still yet to be repaired and refurbished to their pre-Britannia glory.

And there, Kallen Kozuki had her first step in her project about evil.

Britannia's ghettoes were not the result of neglect. Certainly, neglect was a policy among Britannian viceroys regarding the slums into which a country's rightful citizens were crowded, but the abject poverty and despair here was far more than the result of mere lack of attention. No, Britannia intended this. Britannia intended the ghetto to be a prison without walls, where none could leave and none could enter, except to work as virtual slaves for the Britannian citizens in the Concessions. Here they lived in squalor, packed ten or twenty to a room, nearly a thousand to a single dilapidated apartment building. These buildings sometimes collapsed as the laws of physics took their toll, burying their nearly thousand occupants alive— and Britannia never supplied the equipment or labor necessary to unearth the survivors. It was etched indelibly on Kallen's mind the first time she saw it, watching people clawing frantically at the debris for weeks, until they finally realized that whatever hope had once existed was gone, and their friends and loved ones who might have been saved were now dead beneath the rubble.

And faced with such despair, even the nominal jobs in the Concessions open to the Elevens had their side of cruelty to them. Not just in the naked prejudice and contempt they were greeted with as they plied their goods and washed their windows and built their castles— oh no, nothing so simple. The real cruelty was in the false offer of hope— that Britannia could call these jobs, with pittance wages and inhuman conditions, an avenue of betterment. Even the Honorary Britannian system was a cruelty. It could be nothing but cruelty to offer the false hope of climbing the social ladder from the slums to respectability, when there was no ladder at all, simply oppression and Refrain.

Yes, that was all evil.

But was Lelouch evil?

There were times, in the depths of despair and when her eyes were shut to his plan, that he seemed evil beyond all measure. He gave the Japanese false hope; after Japan found itself on the cusp of freedom, he returned with strength a hundredfold to conquer them anew and grind them even harder under his boot than had Emperor Charles.

But was that really true? He gave what appeared to be false hope— but now, after all the pain and sacrifice, Japan was free. Lelouch the Demon King united the world against himself, and in doing so, freed it. Their hope had not been false; it had just been convoluted and well obscured. And the only catch was that none of the Japanese would ever know that this was Lelouch's way of freeing them.

So Lelouch had been many things— overly secretive, manipulative, taking the most painful and violent way to peace— but he was not evil.

Not in that way, at least.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

In the fall of UE 2021, Kallen Kozuki finally got a steady job. She became the Knight of One.

It sure beat Pizza Hut, anyway.

Empress Nunnally vi Britannia of the Holy Empire of Britannia needed of a Knight of One, a personal swordsman and premier fighter of the realm. The new Knight of Two, Gino Weinberg, did not appear eager to take on that noble station. Anya Earlstreim, the former Knight of Six, was not about to leave the Gottwald Orange Farm anytime soon. And Nunnally wanted someone she could trust as her first knight.

Gino came to Kallen's meager apartment in Japan with the news. She took it well, all things considered.

"The Knight of One?! What— Gino— I can't— are you out of your fucking mind?!"

Gino glanced around the room in search of cover. "It wasn't my idea— "

"Gino, I work at Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut!"

"What's wrong with Pizza Hut?"

Gino instantly regretted that as Kallen smacked him across the face with an oversized Cheese-kun toy.

"Look, you can't just come here and ask me to pack up my life and turn into something I'm not! I'm not a Britannian, I'm Japanese! Nunnally knows that, right? She has to— "

"And that's why she wants you to be her Knight of One," Gino explained. "She trusts you, more than she trusts me or Nonette or Cornelia or Schneizel or anyone else. And," his voice dropped, and even Kallen could sense the dread underlying his voice, "Zero thinks so too."

This time, Gino ducked the Cheese-kun attack. "I'm not a Britannian, Gino! I'm not going to go join Britannian high society, and that's final!"

Two days later, Empress Nunnally met with Kallen at the Britannian Embassy in Japan; and two weeks after that, Kallen joined Britannian high society.

The knighting ceremony itself experienced only one major hitch, when an earl voiced the complaints of many, horrified at the spectacle of a lowly Eleven swearing to hold the sword as the Empire's greatest knight. Zero informed him that Kallen was half-Britannian. Even worse, the earl gasped, a mongrel as the Knight of One!

On the other hand, when the earl drew a sword, Zero dropkicked him across the room, and if for only a moment, Kallen forgot why she hated Suzaku Kururugi so much.

So now, Kallen was the Knight of One. Nunnally had warned her that there would be politics in this new job— that she would have to play the games of the aristocrats and generals, shrug off their scorn, and try not to get embroiled in any court intrigues. Kallen did not look forward to that, but ironically, this made Gino her best friend. He was born of these people— he knew their ways, he lived among them, and even though he did not exactly fit in with them, at least he had experience in defusing their more petty shenanigans. And so Gino taught her— or, well, tried to teach her— about life in Britannian high society.

Kallen hated life in Britannian high society.

From her perch at Nunnally's left hand (Zero was on the right), Kallen watched politics. The Empire had largely reverted to its old ways from the reign of Charles, before the Demon King came and destroyed his father's mausoleum. But Empress Nunnally had grand visions for the new Britannia she led. She cut loose Britannia's colonial possessions, and her diplomats were busy drafting a constitution that would allow for universal suffrage, guaranteed rights, an elected legislature, separation of powers, all the grand and noble principles of the Euro Universe that had proved unable to match the raw military power of Charles' armies. The abolition of the nobility came a month after Kallen's knighting, and it nearly resulted in civil war. Only when Zero personally arrested the leaders of the would-be insurrection did the threat of war abate, and it remained a dangerous tumor in Britannia's body politic. It all ended with a compromise that sort of abolished the aristocracy in the future but without really doing so until the current crop of aristocrats passed away; or, as Field Marshal Cornelia put it, "we wait for them all to kick the bucket." Now things were quiet; Schneizel had warned the Empress not to introduce another shock to the Britannian system for a long time. Old wounds had to heal, after all.

Kallen vantage point on the Empress's dais, as a warrior whose job was to observe and learn the art of politics from those who practiced it best, gave her time for the second step in her project.

The aristocrats, she noted, were leaders in their own way, whether or not they possessed any leadership qualities or skills. Indeed, each aristocrat owned an estate, huge holdings of land somewhere in Britannia; or they owned or led massive corporations that fed both civilian consumer interests and the still strong Britannian military appetite. And those aristocrats had servants, both to tend to the land or to their companies, and to tend to themselves. Kallen rarely had reason or opportunity to travel around Britannia, but she had reason and opportunity aplenty to see the aristocrats in dealing with their servants in the empress's palace and in Neo Wales, the new Britannian capital. And that was where the evil lay.

It was rarely outright; but it was there, in the wave of a hand, in the dismissive tones of voice, in the faces, in the eyes. One episode stood out; a duke preparing himself for a meeting with Prime Minister Schneizel, probably seeking some governmental favor. A dark-skinned servant moved to hand him a folder of documents, but they slipped from the unlucky man's hand and spilled onto the floor.

"You fool!" roared the duke, striking the darker man across the face.

"I'm terribly sorry, sir, please forgive me— " the servant started, kneeling to recover the fallen documents, only to be silenced with a second slap to the face.

"You Fours are all the same!" the duke snarled. "Lazy, worthless, clumsy dogs, the lot of you! I ought to— "

When Kallen saw such things, she forgot completely about the codes of etiquette that Gino and Nonette Enneagram, the Knight of Nine, desperately tried to ingrain in her. She marched right over and broke his jaw. In Charles' Britannia, this would have been a major scandal; in Nunnally's Britannia, it was, as the Empress had put it, "an unfortunate overreaction to an otherwise clear and contemptible violation of imperial labor laws."

Yes, that was where the evil lay. Not in the violence. No, violence was a means to an end, and so long as it remained just that, violence itself was not evil. The evil was the refusal to see common humanity. That duke's scorn at a human mistake— a mistake he likely made many times himself in his pampered life— was merely the surface of a sickness. That evil was to treat another human being as something less than fully human: the contemptuous wave of a hand, the dismissive voice, the intentional viewing of some humans as more human and others as less human. No. They were all human. The only difference was that some simply refused to see it. And that was evil.

But was Lelouch evil?

He had been evil in her eyes only twice. The first was when he stood before her on Kaminejima, before that mysterious doorway, blood trickling down his face and the shattered fragments of Zero's mask at his feet. That was when her world came to a halt, and the irritatingly pompous and self-absorbed boy from school became the selfless and ingenious leader of the rebellion that she knew would free her people. Lelouch Lamperouge. Zero. It could not be.

It could not be, because he had lied.

And yet, during the intervening year after the Black Rebellion, when she thought about it— or rather, when CC made her think about it— she realized through a dispassionate and logical analysis of the situation that Lelouch had every reason to lie about his identity. It was when she threw the emotions back in that she got all angry again.

The other instance, of course, needed no elaboration. His evil was seemingly obvious as he became the Demon King and conquered the world.

And yet, was that really evil? She thought back to the duke who raged at his servant, as though his servant was less than human. Zero, Lelouch, whoever he was, he surely had to at times suspend his appreciation of their humanity. No commander could do so while sending troops into situations where they could die. And if that was evil, then so was Kallen— for the Knightmare pilots she killed in battle certainly did not haunt her sleep.

But was Lelouch always ignorant or indifferent to the humanity of those around him? No, Kallen could not say that. His tenderness for his sister, his concern for his friends, even his willingness to throw them away so they would not be caught up in his plan to carry the hatred of the world on his shoulders, those things were real. No man who did not appreciate the humanity of others would lay himself down on a cross and let Zero drive in the nails.

So Lelouch was not evil in that sense, either.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Scandals among the aristocrats were as common as car collisions, and almost as morbidly fascinating to watch. Kallen was almost nauseated by their frequency, while Gino and Nonette, her two guides to the mysterious world of the upper class, barely paid them any mind. And so it was about two months after her knighting that Knight of One Kallen Kozuki found herself at the center of a scandal of her own.

His name was Marcus Vanderhoff, and he was a newly instated baron who clearly wanted a bit more than the barony had to offer. He was already a popular name among the other aristocrats in the court of Empress Nunnally— and a popular face, to some of the women at least. And since his intentions to promote himself were clear, he was already showing some mild interest in some of the women whose fathers were higher on the totem pole than he was, and he already had the reputation of a dashing, chivalrous young man with integrity and the drive to succeed and better himself. And to that end, he was engaged to the lovely and clearly smitten daughter of an elderly archduke who, conventional wisdom assumed, was nearing his deathbed. Now that was marrying up.

The occasion was a state dinner to receive Jiang Lihua, better known as Tianzi of the Chinese Federation. Kallen noticed, however, that her ever-present bodyguard Li Xingke was looking worse for wear. But he remained standing stonily by Tianzi's side throughout the dinner, and so Kallen thought no more of it— since she had her own problems anyway.

Nonette had taken Kallen aside one day shortly after her knighting to explain an aspect of Britannian high society that Gino could not really relate to, and after a rather embarrassing talk, Kallen left with the instruction never to acquiesce to the romantic advances of the court's dashing young men. Ever. And that advice malevolently reminded her of itself as Baron Vanderhoff attempted to ply the Knight of One with drinks and pleasantries. Kallen deflected his advances with what she thought was professional efficiency.

When she slipped away to the unpopulated balcony for a few moments of precious solitude, she discovered that her efficiency had been anything but professional.

Believing himself free from prying eyes, Baron Vanderhoff turned out to be not terribly different from the teenage boys who tried to "accidentally" grope her breasts during that lifeguard job. Unfortunately for the baron, he was not as free from prying eyes as he thought, and his fiancée overheard the conversation and tore back into the ballroom in tears. Vanderhoff pursued, but the damage was done when the archduke's daughter wailed of the baron's infidelities, and Kallen took the opportunity to make a stealthy escape, where Nonette and Field Marshal Cornelia soon joined her to find out, as Cornelia put it, "just what the hell did you do?" The papers screamed of the chivalrous Baron Vanderhoff's would-be affair, and half of those headlines pointed the finger at "the mongrel Knight of One, seducing a virtuous young man who unfortunately could not resist her siren's song."

But within a week or two, it was all forgotten. Vanderhoff's marriage plans lay in ruins, and the Britannian press went back to simply silently hating Kallen, rather than actually voicing it.

There was evil in this episode, Kallen could see, and there she found her third step. The evil went by a particular name: hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy was violation of trust, and violation of trust was evil. Perhaps a lighter shade of evil than, say, the willful impoverishment of the ghettoes or the ignorance of common humanity, but evil remained evil. Baron Vanderhoff showed that evil when he made public pronouncements and silken speeches about his commitment to his fiancée and the virtues of chivalry and honor and integrity. And it had all turned out to be lies, because what it really came down to was he wanted his fiancée's father's riches and status, and on the side, he wanted to sleep with the Knight of One.

So it was evil. Not evil on the same order as what Britannia did in the ghettoes, perhaps, but evil enough.

But was Lelouch evil?

Try as she might, Kallen could only think of one clear and distinct principle that she knew Lelouch to live by. Standing on the deck of the yacht in Lake Kawaguchi, surrounded by the former hostages of the Japan Liberation Front, with Zero's dark, commanding voice ringing through the cold night air, Kallen remembered many things that sent chills down her spine. But only one of those was a principle she could truly feel Lelouch believed in.

"Those who kill must be ready to be killed!"

Lelouch killed. He killed many people. Incalculably many people. Some of them he killed himself, through Geass or by more manual means. Others he killed through proxies, through subordinates, through minions. But Lelouch was a killer, and his hands were soaked in blood.

But was Lelouch ready to be killed?

Ridiculous. Of course he was. Kallen could not help but see again Zero driving the sword through Lelouch's chest, and watching the dying, broken body of the Demon King finally expire.

Lelouch was many things, but he was no hypocrite. He killed, but he was ready to be killed— and when the time came for him to die, she thought she saw him smile.

So Lelouch was not evil in that way as well.

Or was he?

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Being the Knight of One had its perks. The free dental was nice, as was the license to finally travel the country in a Knightmare Frame, a needlessly resplendent ninth-generation Guren designed by the combined insanity of Lloyd Asplund, Cecile Crumey, and Rakshata Chawla, the last of whom had gleefully described their joint creation as "more powerful than God." Now that was getting around in style.

But the perk she found most useful was access to the Imperial Archives. Here she could find records that stretched back thousands of years, to the very beginnings of Britannia— to Eowyn himself. Nominally, the Archives were open to the public on Empress Nunnally's orders; but vast wings and whole floors remained closed for various reasons, and that did not even count the well defended and well-hidden vaults buried almost half a mile underground.

It had been a hell of a fight to achieve this opening of information. The nobles and the vast majority of the military's upper echelons recoiled at the thought of private citizens having access to the Imperial Archives. Filed within were documents that could damn almost every noble and general across the board, if anyone were willing to delve into the swamp. And only a month after the Archives were opened, there were already lawsuits piling up in the Empire's newly reformed courts.

One case stood out. It pitted Colonel Hamilton, a distinguished officer who took part in the subjugation of Area 17, against the Ramirez family. The Ramirezes lived in what was once Area 06, and as they toiled and slaved in the ghettoes surrounding the Caracas Concession, their only son joined the military. This won the family Honorary Britannian status, which was completely useless in pulling them out of squalor. The Ramirez son was assigned to Colonel Hamilton's infantry regiment and dispatched to join the conquest of Iran. Ramirez proved to be a fine soldier and rose as high as an Honorary Britannian could, to the rank of sergeant.

On the battlefield one day, Hamilton was ordered to make use of his Honorary Britannian forces in combat, to provide effective propaganda about the efficacy of the Honorary Britannian program. And so, Hamilton dispatched Ramirez and his squad to exterminate a group of troublesome guerrillas in an occupied village. Some of the Honorary Britannians in Ramirez's squad were eager to take out their miseries and improve themselves in the eyes of their masters, and when they found their target, they killed not just the terrorists but everybody else in the town square. Ramirez ordered them to stop, but to no avail— and so he shot and killed the three offenders before they could slaughter the rest of the village's inhabitants, and returned to base with the six survivors. When he returned, he reported it all to Colonel Hamilton— who killed him up on the spot for ignoring his orders.

The Ramirezes made use of their Honorary Britannian status to sue Colonel Hamilton in Emperor Charles' courts. The case wound its way torturously through the serpentine appeals system, until it reached the foot of the throne— where Emperor Charles not only upheld the Colonel's innocence, but revoked the family's Honorary Britannian status as well. And so, Ramirez was posthumously branded a traitor to the Empire, Colonel Hamilton got away with murder, and the Ramirez family was sent to die in the sakuradite mines of Greenland.

It was in the vaults of the Imperial Archives where Kallen Kozuki found the fourth step of her project.

The evil this time was in two sets of rules, one for those who were fortunate and one for the rest. It was a form of hypocrisy, Kallen supposed, and still not as horrific as other forms— but evil was evil, and she wanted to know whether or not Lelouch was evil, not how evil.

Kallen had always been somewhat disturbed by CC's mysterious power of immortality, and now the time had come to find out just what it was. The deepest and darkest vaults of the Imperial Archives held all of Charles' collected works on Geass, the Sword of Akasha, the Codes, the various supernatural powers and mysteries that lay behind the curtains of his emperorship and Lelouch's rise and fall.

It was here, as well, that Kallen discovered that even despite her high marks at Ashford, she was not a scholar.

A week of miserable research later, Kallen had a sketchy picture of the Code, as an immortal power related to Geass, passed down from one Code bearer to another. It explained how CC could survive even being crushed by deep-sea ocean pressure. It could be passed on to someone else, and although the original Code bearer would become mortal, the new Code bearer would be protected from all manner of harm, in exchange for bearing the Code now and forever— or at least until they managed to foist it onto someone else.

CC had a Code, and even when he was the Demon King, CC was Lelouch's constant companion.

The evil that lay in two sets of rules was that it gave two punishments for the same crime. Ramirez killed soldiers under his command, and was himself executed for disobeying orders; Colonel Hamilton killed a soldier under his command, and met no consequence. Why should the rules bend for one man and stand firm for another? Yes, to wriggle out of the grip of justice was evil.

But was Lelouch evil?

Lelouch had but one rule. "Those who kill must be ready to be killed!" And indeed, it appeared to all eyes, including Kallen's, that he had been killed. But the Code was wiggle room. The Code was a way out. If he had somehow gained CC's Code, then he would simply have appeared to die— and no one else would have reason to doubt it. And he could slip away undetected to live as long as he wished, foiling his own rule.

That would make Lelouch evil. For he had set down a law, for himself and others, that only those ready to die could take lives themselves. And if one intended to obey the law, one could not say they had done so if they obeyed only the law's letter and not its spirit. So really, what this meant was a new question.

Was Lelouch really killed? And if he not, then for all the killing he did, was he really ready to be killed?

There was only one way to get the answer.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

"Zero, we need to talk."

It was rare when Zero, the Hero of Justice, could be found anywhere other than at Empress Nunnally's side, and Knight of One Kallen Kozuki was more than happy to seize the chance when it occurred. Here he was in the cavernous hallways of the imperial palace, a briefcase in hand and a sword at his side. Kallen tried not to look at her own dull reflection in Zero's emotionless mask.

"Of course, Lady Kozuki. What about?"

"In private," Kallen clarified. "Like, if you have an office or something..."

Zero seemed to consider that for a moment, but only a moment. "Right this way."

A few corridors later, Kallen found herself trying not to marvel at Zero's Spartan working space. He had little reason to spend much time here, she supposed— but the office looked almost perfectly unused. But, no distractions. The door slid shut, and Kallen turned her eyes on Zero.

"Now, milady, what can I do for you?" Zero asked.

"Take off the mask, Suzaku," Kallen said, her tone brooking no disagreement. "I don't need to talk to Zero; I need to talk to you."

Zero studied her for a moment, and Kallen tried not to squirm under his inhuman gaze— but at last, a black-gloved hand reached up to remove the mask, another pulled down the thin fabric cover, and Kallen Kozuki stared at last into the eyes of Suzaku Kururugi.

His skin was paler— too much time under that mask. His hair was coarse— the same. His features were sharper, clearer, more distinct with age. But his eyes— yes, his eyes still had light. Not the bright, vivacious light of life, but the dull, featureless luster of polished steel. Suzaku Kururugi was a dead man, and this man before her bore only his face.

"I hope this is really important," Suzaku said, his voice no longer sounding like he was straining to imitate the real Zero's booming baritone, "because I don't take my mask off for just anything."

"It's CC," Kallen answered. "I want to find her."

Suzaku arched an eyebrow. "Good luck."

"None of that, now. I mean it. It's about Lelouch."

At that, the man now called Zero instantly darkened, and the light in his eyes flickered for a moment. "What about Lelouch?"

Kallen adjusted her Rounds' uniform uncomfortably for a moment. "I...I want to know if he's really dead."

Suzaku blinked, dumbfounded. "You watched me stick that sword through him and you want to know if he's dead? Is this some kind of joke?"

Kallen sighed and briefly explained her project. When she came to the part where she had her doubts about Lelouch's real mortality, though, Suzaku put a hand to his chin in thought.

"He never said anything to me about a Code or immortality," he answered. "Neither did CC." He glanced aside bitterly. "But it would be just like him to have some secret escape route either way, wouldn't it?"

"That's what I want to find out," replied Kallen. "Once and for all, I want to know if Lelouch really was evil. And to do that, I need to know if he really died that day. And to do that, I need to find CC."

Suzaku rubbed his eyes tiredly. "I don't know where she is," he said, "but I can give you a few starting points. She took off into the Britannian countryside after I, um, 'killed' him. I've heard that she's popped up in a few places since then, but they're all over the world and she could literally be anywhere these days. The last I heard, she was in Egypt hanging out at one of the pyramids."

Kallen sighed. "I guess she's still weird."

Suzaku risked a smile, and Kallen felt as though she was truly privileged to see such a thing. "Well, just follow the Pizza Huts."

Nothing could bring together two adversaries like laughing at CC's weakness for pizza.

"I'll see what I can dig up," Suzaku said, his smile gone as quickly as it had appeared, "but I won't go with you to find her."

"I know, you have to stay here with Nunnally."

"Not only that," Suzaku went on, "but I don't know CC anymore. Because..." He fell silent, drawing up the cover and putting the mask back on. "She doesn't know me."

Kallen dared to smile herself. "I understand, Zero."

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

As expected, CC was in a Pizza Hut.

The venue of choice this time was Stockholm, Sweden, and as Kallen shambled through the frozen streets fighting off the cold, she nearly ran into the green-haired witch as she emerged from another member of the franchise with a stack of five pizza boxes in hand. Kallen stared into the golden eyes of the Geass Witch, dumbfounded, before she looked down at the piping hot pizza in her arms.

"You gonna share that?"

A short walk later, Kallen and CC were ensconced in the latter's cozy apartment, seated on her sofa, with a crackling fire and a large supply of Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza. Kallen had never encountered this combination before and found nothing at all reasonable about it, but it was hot and that was all that mattered at the moment.

"I presume I owe you money," CC began with a supremely bored look on her face, "because there is no other reason I can think of for why you'd track me down like this."

In the flickering firelight, Kallen took the opportunity to finally look closely at Lelouch's old accomplice. Aside from her thick and well-worn winter clothes, she had not changed at all— in fact, one could say she had not aged a day.

"I have a question about Lelouch," Kallen began.

"Before you ask, I will never give you his bank account number. That's how I pay for my pizza."

Kallen blinked. "I, um, wasn't going to ask."

"I'm warning you. Don't get between me and my pizza."

"...right." Kallen took a moment to choose her words. "Look, CC. You're the only person who would know for sure. I want to know if Lelouch really died that day when Suzaku killed him."

CC stared at Kallen for what felt like an eternity, before slowly setting down her pizza. "Why would you think he didn't?"

"You have a Code."

At that, CC leaned back on her side of the sofa, gazing neutrally at Kallen and nearly making her squirm under her gaze. "And how do you know about that?"

"The Imperial Archives in Britannia," Kallen explained. "They collected all of Charles' books about Geass and the Code and that stuff and locked them away. And since I'm the Knight of One, well, they can't really stop me from reading them."

"But now you know stuff you didn't want to know," CC pointed out.

"It happens."

CC frowned. "Why would my having the Code make any difference towards Lelouch?"

Kallen's eyes darkened. "I want to know if Lelouch was evil. To do that, I need to know if he broke his rule or bent it or whatever. The one about those who kill having to be ready to be killed. And to do that, I need to know if he really died that day." She looked pointedly at CC. "So basically, I need to know if you gave him your Code, so he could escape death."

The green-haired witch studied Kallen for a moment, her face betraying no emotion. Just as Kallen opened her mouth to speak again, however, CC stood up, unzipping her jacket. Kallen blinked in surprise, and her face flashed red as CC started unbuttoning her shirt.

"Wha— CC! What are you doing?!"

"You asked if I still have my Code," CC explained.

"Yeah, I didn't ask for a striptease! What— stop that! Why— ?!"

"Oh, get over it. At least I'm wearing a bra." With that, she pulled back the left side of her shirt. Kallen blinked again, not in embarrassment but in disbelief, at a huge scar underneath CC's breast. It was shaped like a sigil— like the sigil of Geass.

" that...?"

CC nodded. "Since you've done all your homework, you'll recognize, I'm sure, that this scar is the indicator of a Code." She started buttoning her shirt back up. "So, there's your answer."

The Knight of One was silent for a moment, before she smiled and rose from her seat. "Thank you, CC."

The green-haired witch flopped back down into her seat. "Close the door when you leave," she instructed. "You'll let the warm air out."

Kallen did not even bother throwing back a retort as she left.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Empress Nunnally herself greeted Kallen when she returned from Stockholm, and together they took a quiet, unpopulated back path through the palace.

"Zero told me about your, um, project," Nunnally said, her voice barely audible above the hum of her wheelchair. She looked up at Kallen, not with the calm and steeled eyes of the Empress but with the warm and trusting eyes of Nunnally Lamperouge. "Did you find what you were looking for?"

"You could say that," answered Kallen, with a thin smile.

The doors slid open, and Kallen blinked in surprise as the Empress and her Knight of One found themselves in the imperial garden— with a mighty oak reaching towards the heavens before them.

"I apologize for not bringing you here or telling you about this sooner," Nunnally began. "After all, you've been my Knight of One for the better part of a year now. But this seems like as good a time as any to tell you." She extended a hand towards the towering oak. "That's where Lelouch is buried."

Kallen blinked in disbelief, and Nunnally took the hint to explain.

To the public's eye, Empress Nunnally vi Britannia never used the vast powers of the throne for personal gain, and never wanted to. In truth, the public's judgment was almost perfectly true.


No memorial to the Demon King Lelouch was possible, because almost no one wanted one. A gravestone would have been defaced within hours, a mausoleum destroyed, a casket in a crypt yanked up into the light and burned in the streets. But for Nunnally, and Zero, and those who knew the truth, they could not bear to see the Lelouch they loved simply disappear— even if that was what was needed.

And so, Lelouch vi Britannia was buried beneath a towering oak tree in the Empress's private garden at the imperial palace.

Only a handful knew of the place. Nunnally had come up with the idea; in the dead of night, Zero dug the grave and placed the unassuming wooden casket in a small tunnel hewn into the earth, and then filled it all back in and left the garden in pristine condition. Cornelia went there once, to come to terms with all that Lelouch had done— Euphemia's death, the Demon King's reign, and this strange and better new world that he had brought about. Schneizel went there once as well, but no one was sure why, and no one saw fit to ask. And once, Kallen thought she saw a flash of green hair down the corridor leading from the imperial garden.

"I apologize if my not telling you this led you to go out of your way on an unnecessary trip," Nunnally started, before Kallen waved her off.

"Even if I knew he was buried here, we'd have to dig it all up to make sure the body was still there," she said. "But either way...I know now."

The two women approached the base of the trunk, where the strong and wrinkled bark looked powerful with age and experience. No one would suspect that the most hated dictator of all time had come to his final rest underneath this magnificent tree.

"I'd like to think he's happy now," Nunnally said, putting a solemn hand on the ancient bark. "But after all that he did..."

Kallen shook her head and smiled. "It's alright, Nunnally," she said.

Nunnally looked in surprise at her Knight of One, but Kallen's eyes were turned towards the sky.

"Lelouch vi Britannia wasn't evil."

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —