Disclaimer: If I were the owner of Code Geass, I would've shot myself from embarrassment a long time ago. :P

In Which Lelouch and Suzaku Angst Greatly about Their Lots in Life

It was dark. Quite fitting actually, for him to be surrounded by the absence of everything; after all, he had taken up the identity of nothingness. But this absence of everything–the lack of tactile sensation, the blindness–didn't seem suffocating or alarming at all. After all, what could shake the man who engineered his own death and the birth of a new world at the age of eighteen?

Suddenly he felt a prickle, as of something crawling across his skin. A ray of sun flashed against the back of his eyelids, and he slowly opened his eyes.

And lo and behold, crawly leisurely along his cheekbone was a lowly earthworm!!! Lelouch's eyes widened and jumped up quickly. Or tried to. His body seemed to refused to obey the electric signals being sent through his neurons, and gave a pathetic jerk to the left. After a couple more unsuccessful attempts to move, he gave up and glared at the earthworm, who had, by this time, crawled near his eye.

"Move," the ex-emperor commanded, before belatedly realizing that earthworms had neither the eyes nor the brain to obey his geass. A faint chuckle reached his ears as Lelouch quickly scanned his surroundings. Turning around, he was confronted with his partner-in-crime CC. His befuddled mind began snapping the pieces into place immediately, recalling the earlier events that had culminated in his very public "death." Rising slowly, he daintily flicked off the earthworm before brushing off his bloodstained royal robes. Britannian customs conveniently dictated that a body should be left out for a period of 3 days before actual burial. He would have to geass the mortician in order to cover up his miraculous resurrection.

"It looks like the code worked," Lelouch commented in the bland tone he would use when speaking to his (brainless) siblings. As expected, CC gave him a look, not even deigning to reply. Slowly, he stretched his limbs. Being "dead" for 2 days did wonders to a human's body. Lelouch felt more helpless than a 4 month baby learning to crawl. Two days ago, he had been the most powerful man on Earth and look at him now. As he concentrated on relearning to use his limbs, Lelouch felt CC's amused gaze fall on him. And ignored it. "What do you want to do now?"

Caught unaware, Lelouch turned to look at CC, his glib retort dying on his lips. He had eternity ahead of him, and suddenly it felt like too much for him to handle. However, his mind immediately crushed the momentary weakness. Narrowing his eyes, he draws himself up and exits the chamber in his usual drama queen style. Like his shadow, CC glides out behind him. "Before you go anywhere, I think it would be a good idea to change out of those bloody robes. It's quite showy."

With a start, Lelouch realized that he was still wearing the white bloodstained robes that marked him as the Emperor of Britiannia. Miffed, Lelouch vaguely wondered if this was the treatment he gave his father. Growling slightly, Lelouch shoved the thought away and angrily demanded, "Why didn't anyone change me out of these clothes? I know I was a bastard king, but rigor mortis sets in quickly, making it impossible to change clothes. Really, what kind of idiots am I surrounded by?"

With a wince, he recalled the people he had left behind. Suzaku, Nunally, Karen, Suzaku, Ougi...mostly Suzaku. A gnawing feeling ate at his heart, and he turned from CC.

Silently, the girl watched him before remarking offhandedly, "I've always wanted to be a farmer, you know?"

Lelouch turned in surprise. "But if you're on a farm, how will you get your daily dosages of Pizza Hut pizza?!"

CC looked him in the eye and said with a straight face: "I heard Cheese-kuns are made on farms."

Lelouch's eyes widened comically and he valiantly resisted the urge to let his jaw drop. A part of him was grateful for the subtle suggestion of how to start a new life and another part rebelled at the thought of a person of his status doing manual labor. Ok, maybe he has a problem with the thought of doing manual labor more than the status problem. God knows how horrible he is at doing manual labor. Oh wait, he doesn't have a God. Then, whatever deity was up there watching everything indifferently, but evidently loved to torture him. Unable to come up with a better idea, Lelouch finally replied, "A farm sounds good."

CC smiled mysteriously, knowing he'd cave in in the end. The two proceeded down the hall, where the office of the mortician was conveniently located. Feeing a headache build up behind his temple, Lelouch decided to take out his temper on the heavy wooden door standing between him and the mortician. Several kicks and body slams later, the door refused to budge. Apparently gaining CC's code did not improve his physical prowess. CC gazed askance at him before turning the knob, gesturing for him to enter first.

The mortician rose in alarm. He was a spidery, decrepit old man, looking like he already had a foot in the grave. Without missing a beat, Lelouch activated his geass, ordering the mortician to give him clothes and arrange for "Lelouch vi Britannia" to be buried immediately. The younger man was mortified when the old man began stripping on the spot, remembering belatedly that he should have specified what clothes he wanted. Eyeing the proffered clothes with distaste, Lelouch begrudgingly slipped out of his own robes and put on the mortician's shirt. The pants and underwear, he decided, would stay.

The mortician then scraped some ash from the fireplace and selected the finest urn, filling it halfway. To add some authenticity to the fake remains, Lelouch tossed his discarded robe into the fireplace before adding a few partially burnt scraps of cloth into the urn. Nodding in satisfaction and certain no one would try to analyze his ashes, Lelouch reminded the mortician to forget this ever happened. Without a further word he swept from the office, leaving a confused and half-naked mortician behind him.

Stepping out of the dank mortuary, Lelouch took his first breath of fresh air as a free man. With a start, he realized that he was indeed free in every sense of the word. He longer has any responsibilities, to the country, to the people, to his friends, to his sister. He had even escaped the chains that bound everyone–death. He received a chance to start over, to become anyone he wants, to do anything he wants, but he wondered if the price he paid was worth the freedom he received in exchange.

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The lock made a soft click as it slid into place, and he checked the windows and walls for any signs of surveillance. Satisfied that he was alone, Suzaku removed the mask and cloak. As he began to relax, he chided himself. "I am Zero, I am Zero. Suzaku is dead now."

Yes. Suzaku is dead. Just as Euphemia is dead. And Shirley. And Charles and Marriane. And the millions of soldiers and innocent civilians. The war spared nobody, not the evil nor the good. And now, Lelouch is dead. Lelouch. Lelouch, his best friend, his comrade, and his sometime enemy is dead. Suzaku snorted at the irony. At one point, he had wanted to kill Lelouch, but it was when he had wanted to save his friend that Lelouch had been killed. And by his own hands. "Well, I guess I managed to keep my promise to you, Euphy," Suzaku said ruefully to the empty room. Only silence replied.

Suzaku threw himself onto the plain bed in the corner, wondering what he would be doing for the rest of his life. "Help me Lelouch," he prayed, "I want to be able to protect the world." Never mind that he was being arrogant by thinking he was capable of protecting the whole world, or that he was talking to himself. The shock of losing someone so close to him made his grip on sanity even more tenuous than usual. A soft knock shook Suzaku out of his musings. Cursing his negligence, he hurriedly donned on the Zero outfit and opened the door to find the new Empress looking sadly at him.

"You know, Suzaku-san, you could've told me of the plan before it happened. You don't have to carry the burden by yourself."

But the young Empress' words did little to make him feel better. With a twinge of guilt, Suzaku realized how it must have felt for Nunally to see her brother's best friend kill her beloved oniisan. Feeling his grip on sanity slipping even further with this added guilt, Suzaku decided that it would be dangerous for him to stay in the same room with Nunally for too long. Averting his eyes, Suzaku blurted out the first line that came into his head: "Excuse me your highness, but I need to shower. The Zero costume needs to be put in the wash soon; it smells awful." Indeed, the smell was especially irking to Nunally's delicate nose. A faint waft of stale pizza rose from the black cloak. Slightly relieved at the chance to leave gracefully, Nunally spun her wheelchair to leave.

"Suzaku-san?" Her small voice bringing his attention back to the girl in front of him. "Yes?"

"If you ever want to talk about it, I'd be more than happy to. I think sharing this sorrow would be helpful. For you as well as for me." Inclining his head, Suzaku acknowledged Nunally's comment. Relocking the door, he headed toward the bathroom, stripping along the way. As the water rushed over his body, Suzaku slowly relaxed. He had always taken a shower after a battle, convincing himself that all the blood of the soldiers he had killed in battle would wash away with the sweat and grime. But today, with the blood of his best friend on his hands, Suzaku felt like he would never cleanse himself of the blood. The weight of his sin suddenly weighed on him with overwhelming intensity and Sukazu slumped against the cool tile.

Slamming his fist against the shower wall, he turned off the shower. As he dried his hair, he pulled out a photo of happier times at Ashford Academy, a photo of the student council. The faces of the other council members were blacked out, and at the center of the photo stood Lelouch and Suzaku, arms around each other. Happier days indeed.

Grabbing the spare Zero outfit, Suzaku headed to the mortuary to see Lelouch one last time even if it was just to see Lelouch's still face. Making his way swiftly to the mortuary, Suzaku hurried through lavish hallways. Suddenly, in the corner of his eye, Suzaku caught a flash of green; doing a double take, Suzaku only saw an empty corridor. Shaking his head, he headed onwards, dismissing it as just his imagination. But when he got to the mortuary, he was greeted by a half naked mortician. Sweeping past the mortician, Suzaku walked to the familiar room that housed Lelouch's body. But one surprise followed another, when he discovered the room empty. Making a grand sweep around, Zerozaku demanded, "Where's the Emperor's body?!"

Hope swelled up within him, despite cold common sense yelling that there had to be a logical explanation. The mortician was little help. The babbling old fool looked ready to kick the bucket. However, the old man was lucid enough to point at an urn on his desk and utter two fateful words: "The Emperor." Feeling his heart drop to the pit of his stomach, Suzaku rushed to the urn, eyes filling with tears that were threatening to brim over. Lifting the urn, he suddenly noticed that it was quite light–too light in fact.

Tearing open the covering of the urn, Suzaku noticed the little strips of partially burnt white cloth. Yes. This was Lelouch's work for sure. Only he would go so far to convince people of his death. Lelouch's geass would explain the mortician's half dressed state as well. Yes, perhaps there was hope after all. With this wonderfully self-serving logic in mind, Suzaku walked out of the mortuary. He knew Lelouch would not leave any traces behind for him to follow. However, his strong intuition and deep abiding bond with Lelouch would ensure their reunion.

Sweeping through the halls, Suzaku spotted Karen wandering aimlessly through the palace. Smirking slightly, Suzaku started formulating his own plan. We can't have Lelouch doing all the thinking now can we? Knowing him, he probably decided to keep himself far from the people he knew and leave without saying anything, trusting Suzaku and Nunally to create a better world. Abruptly, Suzaku stopped. In his joy at discovering the possibility that his friend was not dead, Suzaku had forgotten his promise to Lelouch to become the "defender of justice and wear a mask forever." To no longer live a Kururugi Suzaku. To sacrifice his happiness for the world...eternally. He couldn't forsake his promise for the possibility of being able to find Lelouch out there living somewhere. After all, that's what it was. A possibility, nothing more. No, it would not do. He had to protect Nunally, especially in the next few years, to establish legitimacy of the current government. Although Lelouch told him to be a defender of justice, Suzaku reasoned that he could slightly abuse his power to try and find his friend. Then again, who would want to find or even believe that the tyrant Emperor was still alive? Perhaps later he would find a way to do so. Later he would be able to do as he chooses. For now, his place was with Nunally. With this decision, Zerozaku swept past Karen, acknowledging her with the barest inclination of his head.

Suzaku gaze off into the distance, his fist over his heart. "Lelouch," He vowed, "I'll protect the peace you created for Nunally until the day we can be together again~~~!!!"

End Chapter 1

Author's Note: Logic is hard. :[ Angst is harder.

***********Alternate Ending**********
His musings had brought him directly in front of the pink haired girl. Karen looked up in surprise, her eyes swiftly filling with bitterness. "Oh, it's you. Zero." Suzaku reminded himself that she was merely a Zero fangirl and smirked behind his mask. "Hello Karen."

Zerozaku: ...do you believe that Lelouch had to die?

Karen: glare I believe he's still alive.

Zerozaku: Impossible, I stabbed him in the chest in a very public display of phallic symbology.

Karen: Yeah, whatever, screw you. He's totally into girls.

Zerozaku: Bitch! Take that back!

catfight ensues

Wonder who wins?