here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
-e. e. cummings
A Hole in the Sky
a Gurren Lagann au fic
by tobu ishi
There were so many blossoms falling, that day. Yoko would never forget the sight of them, fluttering scraps of palest pink against the blue of the sky, a blessing from the heavens to anoint the assembled crowds. The whole world seemed light and sweet and beautiful, a generous reward for taking the dual risks of saving the world and scheduling an outdoor wedding, and the stone flags of the path were drifted over with natural silk by the time the bride's delicate shoe touched them.
Years later, she would wonder if it was fate's bitter idea of dropping a hint.
Realization hit him with a sickening jolt, as her body faltered in his arms.
He must have stiffened, or gasped as he realized--he doesn't remember, it's possible she just knew, she had always felt what he did almost before he knew it himself--because she turned and gave him the briefest of solemn looks. He knew, and she knew he knew, and on down the wall of mirrors in the split second before--
--they nodded a tiny affirmation, as small and insignificant as the innocent bullet in the primed chamber, and she settled back to brace herself against his chest as they did what had to be done. His knuckles clenched white on the controls, as though the bones would pop through the taut skin; his teeth ground until they creaked with the sheer overload of spiral energy roaring through them, their own living wills gone berserk in a storm of green light; his mind raced helplessly in a panic of viscereal rebellion (oh god please no no time to contemplate why now why her this isn't) and he caught at it to shove it away until they could afford to think again...
The scent of her hair was all around him, sweet and heady and familiar and no, damn it, this was all so wrong...! He was spinning away in circles, fumbling for the soft vein in the unforgiving stone with the last remaining corner of his beleagured concentration and pleading for an answer, and in that moment, in that second...
A bullet in the chamber. It appeared before him clear as day and attainable as sunrise, and there was no spare second left to hesitate. Simon closed his eyes and instinctively pulled the trigger.
There were petals caught in Nia's veil, but her eyes shone more softly and more beautifully, overflowing with an excess of emotion that transformed her whole face. If their gentle foundling had ever looked more beautiful, Yoko couldn't remember it. She held her chin so high and proud that it was impossible to forget that this was a princess, walking among them as they cheered and showered her with their affection.
The white pavilion waited for her, and so did Simon.
His expression was the mirror image of Nia's, both of them so far beyond speaking that it nearly brought tears to Yoko's eyes to see them. They were drinking the sight of each other like water in the desert. It was nothing unusual, for a wedding, but even so. She should have guessed, Yoko thinks, later. She should have known.
The words were lost in her billowing curls, in the press of their bodies and the soft rhythmic hitch of their sobs. The stars wheeled slowly around them, beyond the glassed-in nest of Gurren's cockpit, in the spiraling-down aftershock of battle and the ensuing chance to think, to realize. They wept and kissed each others' tears, damp skin against trembling lips.
"It...there wasn't any other choice. The Anti-Spiral energy..."
"You can't undo it...?"
"It's already done. I...I wouldn't if I could. No. I can't."
She was shaking so hard and he couldn't stop it, no matter how tightly he folded his arms around her. He hardly noticed that he was shaking just as badly.
"Don't leave me. Please...I don't want to be alone..."
"You won't be alone."
She gulped a deep breath, lifted her chin. The tracks of their tears glistened on her cheeks, gleaming with the burning fire of atmospheric reentry as it clawed at the smooth curve of the horizon behind her..
His hands lifted to cradle her face--his eyes searched hers, insistent.
"Your eyes, my eyes. Your ears, my ears. My smile is your smile. We promised, remember?"
He managed to turn up the corner of his mouth.
"Two people can't become one."
She laughed through her tears, shaking her head.
"I held on this long. I can hold out a little longer. Trust me."
"I never stopped trusting you."
It was a brief ceremony, simple and heartfelt.
It never ceased to amaze Yoko that they let Rossiu, of all people, stand there and solemnize their union. But that was Simon and Nia, so kind and open-hearted that she and the Black Sisters had spent the morning teasing the bride that their first offspring would be either a sunbeam or a rainbow.
They made a beautiful couple, framed on the steps of the pavilion in a tableau of white and pink with the wind tugging gently at his dark hair and the sheer ripple of her veil. The look on Simon's face as he took in the sight of her was worth every moment of struggling to gather Nia's rambunctious curls into something they could pin a veil to. If Yoko's hands smoothed unconsciously over the severe folds of her suit, watching the way the groom's hands enfolded the bride's, it was a sentiment too vague in the face of their happiness to qualify as jealousy. She had nothing to be jealous of, she thought--and then blinked in confusion as something shifted imperceptibly in her old friend's face.
There were tears in his eyes. Simon was looking at his bride as if he would never see her like this again.
Somewhere in the distance, the waves sighed softly against the sand.
The room was pitch black, except for the moonlight shining in at the window. "Two days," she whispered, in a voice like the emptiness between the stars.
Simon's eyes blinked drowsily open, and he turned his head on the pillow. The slightest sound from her was enough to wake him these days; he hardly slept at all, not wanting to miss a waking minute.
Nia lay flat on her back, staring at the ceiling. Her profile was stark white against the darkness of the room, and blank as a stone. Simon shivered; the memory of her cold stare as the Messenger was still fresh. Shrugging off the sheets, he sat up and reached out to gather her close. She whimpered once and slipped cold arms around his neck, and he hummed something tuneless, rocking her gently against his chest until her skin felt warmer.
"Hey," he murmured, brushing a curl away from her ear. "Remember the time you got upset because we wouldn't let you work?"
"I made dinner for everyone." Her voice steadied a little, and she gave the ghost of a smile. "That was the only time I ever saw a line for the men's room."
"I never got what all the fuss was about," Simon said, and kissed her cheek. "I've never eaten better cooking than yours."
Her chin trembled, and she bowed her head into the warm hollow of his shoulder. "You're the only one who ever liked it," she whispered, and closed her eyes. "You're the only one who knows what I mean when I'm trying to say things and...and they don't come out right. Simon," she said, her words falling away like an empty cry into the vacuum of space, "what am I going to do?"
"Hey...shh. You're...you're going to be beautiful," he said, "you're going to be everything," not even sure what he was babbling anymore but meaning every word of it. She gulped and clung to him, and he held her just as tightly, drawing her back down into the bed and rubbing soothing circles against the soft skin of her back, as if he could massage life and warmth into her grieving body. "You're going to do everything you ever wanted. You're going to...to look at the stars every night, and remember that every one of them is a friend because of what we did, all of us, Dai-Gurren Dan, together."
"Together," she echoed, as if it was a prayer.
Eyes shining as she gazed back at him, Nia lifted her face in anticipation.
Half the crowd was on their feet, roaring congratulations, before Simon had even finished kissing his bride, none of them but one noticing the first blotch of many-colored light as it bloomed against the pale fabric.
In her seat in the front row, Yoko felt her breath catch in her throat. Gripping the edges of her chair, she stared, already aware of what she was seeing but unable to believe it. Then she was on her feet, shouting something drowned and inaudible among the joyful cheers.
"Kiyal says roses will not coordinate with my dress," she pouted, folding her arms.
He could have whooped out loud for joy at the sight of her behaving like a normal bride, or melted at the sweet nostalgia of her reversion to old speech patterns in her dismay; instead he simply smiled, and pressed his forehead to hers. "Wear whatever you want. I don't mind."
"But..." she protested, and there was too much to say after that, the moment suddenly on the verge of souring. She choked on the half-formed argument, unable to get the words out.
"I don't mind," he repeated. Brushed a thumb across her cheek. "I can't wait to see you in it."
She sighed, leaning into his touch, and let reality fall gently away. "Red roses?"
"Red, pink, electric blue..." He was laughing now. "Put them on me, for all I care."
"Are you willing to stand by that statement, Simon the Digger?" she teased, and he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close to prove just how willing he was...
They drew apart, gazing into each others' eyes. Blossoms blew around them in the rising breeze, circling the two silhouettes as one.
Murmurs began to run among the crowd. The cheers faltered and faded away as one guest after another noticed the strange spreading stain of light, the patches of empty air where living body should be.
Nia's lips moved, whispering something impossible to make out past her swirling veil. Simon beamed down at her, and from the angle where she sat, Yoko read the words easily as he spoke them.
I love you.
And then, like a flame touched to paper, the sparkling colors rushed up the folds of neatly pressed white linen, leaping from strand to strand of his dark hair as he faded away. For an awful moment, Yoko could see the latticework of the pavilion through his determined blue eyes...
Nia never flinched or let her gaze falter; not until the last spark had flickered and died.
A sharp clink rang out in the silence. The core drill bounced off the steps, trailing its chain behind it in a glittering arc, and rolled away down the petal-littered path, veering sharply to one side.
It bumped to a stop at Yoko's feet.
She bent and picked it up, too stunned to speak. It was so small in her callused palm. Unbelievable, that in the hands of a boy with intuitive genius and a nigh-endless store of raw elemental power, this little thing had slain the Helix King, jolted life into a prototype Gunman buried a thousand years, pierced the heavens and reached through space to find one beloved woman and unite the stars...
In the pavilion, Nia turned to the crowd with her empty hands spread wide, and bestowed on them her bravest smile.
"He knew this would happen," she said, softly. "He wanted it this way..."
Their first shouts swelled into an uproar of confusion and protest and grief, then settled into stunned silence as Nia's clear, strong voice rose above them, explaining in even tones about love and sacrifice and lost arguments and the inexorable spiralling drive of life. Charismatic Nia, beautiful in her wedding gown with the blossoms falling all around her, spreading serenity and understanding to smooth over the pain of loss that she surely felt more sharply than any.
Yoko closed her fingers around the tiny drill, only half-listening to it all, wondering what strength their little princess had found, and where, to reach that state of peaceful acceptance so quickly. She swallowed hard, remembering a little boy's yelp as he burned his mouth on a hot mug of soup, his shy laughter and grieving eyes, the roar of grinding gears as he became a man. She should have guessed, and if she'd guessed, she would have known. When it came to sheer determination, to choosing the bitterly noble path rather than the easy one, to finding the loopholes and tearing them open and clawing his way through come hell or high water, Simon had never failed. From start to finish, it had always been a question, not of what he could do, but of what he was willing to try.
"A hole in heaven itself," Yoko whispered. She tucked the drill into her pocket, just for now, and closed her eyes.
He knows that confident tread without having to look round. It brings a smile to his face, and he leans back on his hands and kicks his legs over the sheer cliff's edge, drinking in the neverending sunrise that unfolds before them as he waits for the inevitable shout.
"Simon! What the hell were you thinking?"
"She's going to do so much," he says, softly. Sorrow is tempered with joy in his eyes, reflected in them along with the golden light. "She's like you--gifted at making people listen, even when they don't understand everything she says. She could help unite the world...even represent us to the rest of the universe, if she felt like it. She's got so much to give," he murmurs, warm with love to his fingertips, and twists to look over his shoulder at the looming figure. "I think I did everything I was born to do, Bro. Spiral energy isn't meant to push things past their limits, just...turn them around a little." He swipes a sleeve across his eyes, and grins wholeheartedly up at him. "It's about time she got her turn to change the world."
Kamina thinks that over with arms stubbornly crossed, then uncrosses them to offer him an outstretched hand, still frowning a little. "I don't remember teaching you to be the kind of man who makes girls cry."
Simon laughs, and clasps his hand to be hauled to his feet.
"Don't be an ass, Bro," he teases, and slings an affectionate arm around his shoulders, as they stand looking out over the endless plains below...
"You taught me everything I know."
"I'll put a hole in heaven itself! And even if that hole becomes my grave, as long as I break through, that's my victory!"
-Simon the Digger