I've been wanting to write a Gurren-Lagann fic for a very long time and finally I found the inspiration I needed. I hope you enjoy.
This is set after the events in episode 23 after Simon and the others went up into space. Rossiu/Kinon focus. Spoilers are probably at a minimum, though they're suggested, so read at your own risk.
It was a view I had seen nearly every day of my life for the past seven years and it had always looked the same. Growing slowly at first, then expanding by leaps and bounds. It was like nothing I could have imagined seven years ago in the cold seclusion of Adai Village. A village that could only sustain fifty. In those days fifty seemed like a multitude, but as I had watched Kamina City grow from the ashes of Teplin the only difference I saw was numbers. I thought the things that worked for fifty would work for fifty thousand. I had been wrong about that, too.
The panorama window provided a view of the entire city and beyond, far out towards the horizon where the light of late afternoon turned the barren landscape to shades of red and gold. A million lives living beneath the sun. That was what I'd wanted, wasn't it? Had I lost track of those early dreams so easily when my concerns had become for finances and space probes and censuses?
It takes an optimist to inspire a revolution, but it takes a pessimist to run a government.
It had been so simple to be swept up in Kamina's revolution; you were either swept up or bowled over and trampled. And things were so much simpler then. The world was a huge, new adventure and I could be carried along for the ride, letting the others take responsibility for our course. Even when I took up Kamina's seat in Gurren, it was Simon who did the piloting. I was there because there was an empty seat to fill. They always told me I was important because I was their voice of reason and caution, but it didn't take me long to realize that they were only words. The only way Simon knew was straight ahead and there was no room for caution.
We won those battles not through my voice of reason, but through Simon's blind faith. It had always seemed so stupid. Improbable. Victory after victory only because Simon's will demanded it. I always wondered when his luck would run out. We couldn't continue to exist on blind faith alone. There had to be a point when it wouldn't be enough. Where his blind faith would cause him to charge haphazardly into the one situation he couldn't hope to survive and when it was done I would hate myself for being unable to stop him from charging forth stupidly when the odds were stacked too high against him. Only I was wrong. Simon's blind faith was not the product of improbable victory after improbably victory; it was simply the opposite. We won because of the strength of his heart.
So in the end, I nearly killed us all because I lacked the one quality that had preserved the human race for centuries upon centuries. I lacked faith. I scorned Kamina's stupid mantra. Believe in the me that believes in you. I had stopped believing in those words. I had always thought the world had needed men like me, but faced with the realization that it was Simon's throw-caution-to-the-wind approach that sustained us, I had crumbled.
Nothing made much sense anymore. The only thing that kept my mind from falling into an endless loop of questioning was the one thing I had forced myself to ignore ever since the wonder that was our Face God became nothing more than a lie crafted by the hands of men. I believed in Simon. There was no logic to explain it. The odds of his success were a million to one. I should have been preparing shelters, evacuating cities, waiting for the doom of our race to come crashing down on our heads. The pragmatist in me said Simon and the others would never return from space. But for once, I wasn't listening.
I could see from the plate glass windows the convoy of trucks snaking through the streets of Kamina City. Some would head to the villages on the outskirts to provide food and other necessities. Some headed into the heart of the city to begin repairing the buildings that had fallen or burned. My orders had not been to take cover in the hope that our inevitable end would pass us by, but to begin repairing the lives we had once had. I did this because I knew Simon would return. Against all odds, he would destroy the enemy that threatened us.
I believed in him.
"You're thinking too hard again." The light tap of Kinon's pen against my desk stopped for a moment. She had been watching me, probably for longer than I'd even realized.
I didn't turn immediately, though, rather I nodded towards the streets below. "I've been watching the trucks."
The pad she had been using was placed on the table followed by the soft creak of her chair as she turned and rose. I watched her reflection in the glass, her face transposed over a panorama of human life, struggling for every step forward. She was smiling at me because she thought I couldn't see it, those soft expressions I often saw in brief glimpses out of the corner of my eye. Many times I had caught her watching me, especially in the past few days. Ever since she and Simon had saved my life in Adai. She was always nearby, always pretending she had some important business that required my attention or some document that needed my signature when really all she was doing was watching over me.
I only noticed that faint ache in my jaw on those occasions I caught her watching. It was that ache more than anything that brought back to me the pain I had caused her. It was those times when I could not meet her eyes.
So while she smiled at me and I avoided her eyes, we both pretended not to notice.
Why did she make me feel like that uncertain kid I was when I first met her?
"I've sent them out to rebuild the residential neighborhoods first. People will feel more confident if they're safe beneath their own roofs again." Her reflection was still there, smiling at me in the glass. "It'll be a bit noisy there. I invited Kiyoh to stay here for a few days with the baby but she turned me down." I could feel the downturn of a frown forming on my face and the expression grew too quickly for me to entirely mask it. If I could see Kinon's reflection, she could certainly see mine, but gave me no empty words to attempt and soothe the frown away.
"She just wants to stay home. She's worried about Dayakka." As she spoke, Kinon closed those final meters between us, laying a hand lightly against my arm. A small gesture of comfort for those unspoken worries she had read so easily in my frown. "She doesn't hate you, Rossiu."
Her fingers flexed for a moment against my arm then grew still. Her touch remained only a simple gesture of friendship, nothing more.
How long would we pretend she hadn't dove into my arms among the ruins of my village or that we hadn't shared those quiet moments of closeness in Gurren's cockpit? What kind of man could let these games go on?
My opposite arm rose and before she could withdraw completely, my hand had come to rest atop hers, fingers closing around it with a conviction that had previously only been given to my work and in a moment of foolish courage, I turned to meet her eyes. "Kinon, I-" Then it was gone. The words caught in my throat and for a tense instant the only sound was the steady pounding of my heart. Her cheeks had gone red and after an instant of panic, I realized mine had, too.
It was almost simultaneous when we turned our faces away from one another, focusing again on our own reflections in the glass.
After a moment of awkward silence, during which I never did release her hand, I plunged forward with business as usual. "I've diverted funds away from the moon exploration research entirely and allotted some towards reactivating Teplin's old defensive systems. They're a bit out of date compared to what we have now, but they should serve long enough for us to develop a more solid defense."
"I'll see to it you get a progress report in the morning," she replied, her tone slightly elevated. A quick glance at her reflection told me her cheeks were still a warm shade of pink.
I was acting like a kid! There had to be a better way of going about this!
Unfortunately, the only thing that happened was yet another bout of heavy silence. Her hand still rested against my arm and my hand still rested atop hers. Her cheeks still burned brightly. My palms were sweating. The sun had slowly begun to set and glowed brightly behind the skyscrapers that had survived the Anti-Spirals' onslaught, casting long shadows over the quiet neighborhoods below. The snaking convoy of trucks had long since reached their destinations and had most likely long since unloaded their cargo before shutting down for the night.
Then, on the opposite horizon came the first faint glimpse of the moon. Not the Cathedral Terra, but the real moon, no longer hanging above like an ominous harbinger of death. Of absolute despair. Now it was just the moon. Simon had done that for us.
Our reflections turned, eyes focused on the slowly darkening sky, the white moon glow as it cast away the suns last lingering shadows and enveloped the world in shades of soft blue. My gaze met the moon's and it held for some time, but as it always happened, I was the first to look away. "I should have believed in him."
It was only when Kinon's hand shifted beneath mine, our fingers intertwining that I realized I'd spoken aloud. Her reflection, now transposed over the rising moon, turned. Her gaze was focused on me now, not my reflection; she was no longer pretending not to watch. "You did what you had to do. Simon understands that."
"But I lost faith. I forgot the one thing that got us this far. The essence of what we are as humans, the strength to drive through adversity. All the things that evolve in the natural course of human development." My fingers tightened around hers. "I wasn't wrong when I thought that we were driven forward by sacrifice, but by trying to create that drive myself all I did was push us backwards."
My eyes fell closed, blocking out the steady gaze of her reflection. "There was a time when I had been willing to throw myself in harm's way to clear Simon's path. But I had convinced myself that civilization couldn't move forward if we continued to use the same tactics we'd used in battle. I should have seen that it wasn't the actions themselves that mattered, but the emotions behind them. I just… forgot how to believe in something that wasn't right there in front of me. I forgot how to believe in the power of my own spirit."
The soft touch of fingertips against my lips drew me at last out of my thoughts and my eyes opened again to find Kinon herself had replaced her reflection. Her cheeks were still flushed and there was no masking the timid tremble of her fingers, but her smile was steady. The same smile that until tonight, she had only allowed when my back was turned. "I believe in you."
When I spoke her fingers fell away and her eyes shifted downward, whatever boldness had prompted her words fading with the setting sun. I released her hand at last and drew her near, feeling her gentle weight against me. She curled her fingers in the trailing strands of my hair. My reflection was hidden from her; she wouldn't notice that I smiled now, resting my chin lightly in her hair. I was smiling because for the first time, Kamina's stupid mantra made sense.
Fingers threading lightly through her hair, I held her close there before the panorama window high above a quiet world bathed in moonlight. "Then I'll believe in you."