Serena: Last part is here and it's the longest part yet! Enjoy~! And okay. There's 15 segments. :I It just sort of happened that way when I was trying to write segments 11 and 12 so hng.
I would like to thank the following people for reviewing: HisaAngel, Altair718, and TotalAmuto!
Warnings: AU-ish. SuzaLulu and ZeroLulu. Extra cruel dream!Suzaku is extra cruel. :c
Summary: In a twisted sort of way, a nightmare can be a warning of events to come. / "This isn't a dream. It's a warning." Lelouch didn't know whether to laugh or cry. "That's what…he told me."
Disclaimer: I do not own Code Geass.
A shiver ran up Lelouch's spine as his bare legs touched the surface of the table Zero had carefully set him down upon. The chilled table was metallic and just big enough for an adult to lay flat upon. There was also yet another, smaller table set beside it (probably meant to hold various tools for…certain procedures), but it was empty. It was a little unnerving to know that he was sitting atop a surgical table (his last episode with one hadn't exactly been pleasant, after all), but at least this one was clean and restraint free. Plus (though, Lelouch couldn't be one-hundred percent certain but), he doubted that Zero would try to hurt him in the same manner as that Suzaku imposter had.
Lelouch returned somewhat from his mind's wanderings when he felt something being draped across his shoulders. He turned his head only to catch sight of Zero wordlessly slipping his cloak around Lelouch's shivering, half-naked frame.
Lelouch blinked and a barely noticeable blush crept along his cheeks at the thought. He couldn't help but glance down at his figure briefly before taking the offered clothing and wrapping it around himself. His hospital gown was in tatters and he had nothing on underneath it. He really was practically naked, wasn't he?
"Thank you." Lelouch murmured in gratitude.
Zero merely nodded his head and ran a hand through Lelouch's hair as he came to stand beside the prince.
"You need it more than I do." the masked man responded and his fingers slid down to trail around Lelouch's left eye.
He was silent for a few, deafening heartbeats and Lelouch found he could only stare up at the other man as those gloved-covered fingers slowly traced line after line around his left eye. Lelouch's reflection was being reflected within Zero's mask and Lelouch couldn't help but stare up at it. He briefly wondered if that's what everyone looked at whenever he donned the mask himself or if they simply tried to imagine the face underneath. It was certainly unsettling and now that Lelouch was on the other side, he suddenly had a better understanding for other's fear (and even hatred) of him.
Zero was anonymous to the world. He had no face, no identity, and no real connection with anything. When people saw him (when they looked up into that ominous black mask), they only saw themselves being reflected back at them (just like a mirror). Mirrors reflected only what was standing before them and some (like the mirror in this series of books he and Nunnally had read together many a time) reflected a person's innermost thoughts.
Lelouch internally hummed at that.
The Mirror of Erised, he believed it was called. It reflected back what the person standing before it wanted most in the world. Perhaps, then, Zero's mask did the reverse. Perhaps it showed whoever looked into it what they didn't want to see. A fear they had or maybe something they didn't want to admit to or maybe even a past trauma they wanted to forget. And, when people gazed up into the enigma's "face" and only saw themselves being reflected, they got angry. Not at Zero directly, but at themselves.
Lelouch made a soft, airy noise and his eye fluttered when Zero's fingers trailed away and back up to comb through his hair once more. It might have been a little strange, but the touches were sort of nice. It was a welcome contrast to all the pain and stress the prince had been enduring for days now (so maybe that's why he didn't mind the contact any). Even still, Lelouch remained unnerved by the mask staring down at him. The reflection from it was dark from both the lack of light and the dark color of the mask itself, but the longer Lelouch stared, the more details he could make out. He could see himself seated atop the table with Zero's cloak wrapped tightly around him. His shredded gown was a sight to see and the blood Lelouch was coated in only made the whole picture more disturbing.
Zero's caresses abruptly stopped.
"…we need to talk."
Lelouch blinked rapidly. He hadn't realized just how much his mind had drifted until Zero's voice startled him out of his trance.
"…about what?" Lelouch questioned while unconsciously clutching at the cloak more tightly. "Suzaku?"
Zero sighed and his hand fell away from Lelouch's hair.
"Among other things." he answered vaguely.
Lelouch raised an eyebrow.
"Like?" he prompted. "I don't suppose you could tell me why I'm unable to wake up, could you?"
Zero walked towards a closed door they had come through moments before and stood by it while seemingly peering out the little glass window the door had. Zero's arms crossed and he hummed as he stared out into the hallway.
"Actually, that's what I need to speak to you about." he answered. He turned to lean against the wall and his head turned in Lelouch's direction. "This place, this dream, as you call it, isn't what it appears. You are in very real danger being here and you need to get out before it's too late."
Lelouch's eyes narrowed and his eyebrows knit together.
"Excuse me? Heh. Other than being able to feel pain, there's nothing abnormal about this dream."
"Nothing abnormal, you say?" Zero repeated with a chuckle. "So all that back there and everything that has been happening to you is normal?"
Lelouch's cheeks flushed.
"I…for me, I suppose." he clarified. He turned away from the apparition to stare at a closed door on the opposite wall. "My dreams are never happy. There's always something unnatural in them…always something trying to hurt me. This dream I keep having…it's not what I would have expected, but considering my track record, I think it inevitable that Suzaku show up and do the same as all the others."
Lelouch's mood dropped to a depressing level.
"I'm used to them. They're 'normal' to me. I'm tired of waking up crying, but there's nothing I can do to make the dreams go away." he continued and his grip on Zero's cloak was desperate by this point. "They only get worse the older I get."
Lelouch turned back to gaze at Zero with tears he didn't know he had glistening in his eyes.
"Do you know what it's like to be afraid of closing your eyes?" Lelouch asked, but he didn't wait for an answer. "It hurts. It hurts knowing that I can't tell anyone about them and that I'm…alone. I've never even told Suzaku about them even though he knows I'm having nightmares. Nunnally, too."
Zero pushed away from the wall and strode over to stand by Lelouch's side. He placed a hand under Lelouch's chin and tilted the teen's head up slightly.
"Lelouch, I know." Zero stated and his other hand came up to wipe a few stray tears away. "That's why I'm here: to help you. I'll make them go away for you, but you need to trust in me enough to let me do what I have to do to make them stop. I know you well." Zero hmped in amusement as his tear-stained hand threaded its fingers through Lelouch's hair. "I've been inside your head for a long time, after all. We're practically the same age."
Lelouch let out a quiet laugh at that.
"I'm still older by a few years." Lelouch pointed out with a small smile. "I was four when I named you."
Zero shook his head and his hands slid away from Lelouch.
"Yes. As I recall, you kept calling me 'Zeeo' because, for some reason, you couldn't fit the 'r' into your alphabet."
Lelouch scoffed, but didn't say anything. He merely readjusted the cloak (to hide his embarrassed blush) and looked away (and felt completely justified in doing so).
"You know, for a twisted individual out for revenge who breaks the law, takes advantage of the strong, rich, and stupid, skips lessons, and generally makes a mockery of his own racist society…you're awfully cute~."
Lelouch bristled and the cloak's high collar was shoved up even further. If there was one thing he disliked to be called, it was cute. Lelouch wasn't cute so no one should even call him as such. Not even someone from his own mind (if anything, that made it even worse).
"I only speak the truth to you, Your Highness, and you are, without a doubt, adorable~"
Lelouch yanked the cloak down and sent the fiercest glare he could muster Zero's way (his blush notwithstanding).
"Stop reading my mind. That's an order."
Zero took a step back (keeping one foot behind the other) and brought a hand to his chest to cover his heart.
"I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request, my Lord." he responded before gracefully bowing at the waist. "You are cute. I call them how I see them, Your Highness~."
Lelouch's eye twitched and his lips pursed.
"…you infuriate me."
Zero bent back upward and reached over to ruffle Lelouch's hair affectionately (almost in a brotherly sort of way).
"It's not my fault you're loveable. Blame genetics."
Lelouch swatted at the hand atop his head in a huff.
"Just get back on the subject!" the prince demanded and he was trying to will his flushed cheeks to return to their normal color. "And stop teasing me. Besides, this is just a dream. Dreams can't -" Lelouch hesitated a moment before finishing his sentence. "…I can't die from a dream. It's not real."
"Not true. Especially not in this case." Zero countered. He crossed his arms again and resumed the serious air he had had about him when the subject was first brought up. "This isn't an ordinary dream, Lelouch. In fact, even though this is all in your head, this isn't a dream at all. It's a very real warning."
Lelouch's eyebrows knit together at that.
"A…warning?" he repeated hesitantly. What could Zero possibly mean by that? A dream was a dream. In any case, just what was he being "warned" about? Nothing about this dream had proved too logical (well, not directly; dream logic apparently didn't see any harm in confusing its subjects).
"Mhm. From Geass." Zero clarified. Lelouch's eyes widened a fraction. Geass? Hunh? "To be more specific, the World of C. It's trying to warn you about something in your future in order to help you survive."
The World of what?
"My future?" Lelouch questioned. He blinked and then his eyes narrowed. He tried to rack his brain for any remembrance he had of this place Zero spoke of, but he couldn't ever remember a time in which he had heard it. "That doesn't – why would Geass even do that?"
"Because you possess a connection with the World of C and it wants you to live." Zero answered, but then he sighed. "It was only meant to warn you of future events. Unfortunately, you were already having abnormal nightmares to begin with. The World of C always uses a set amount of its power to aid Geass users in their dreams, but with you, it was too much and the vision it was trying to show you became toxic and ugly. That's why everything is decayed and also why you can feel so much pain here. If you die here…you die for real."
Lelouch grew uneasy the more Zero spoke. Honestly, he wasn't sure if he should believe any of this nonsense or not (because it was just a dream), but…well, strange things had been happening ever since he met C.C. (in fact, the idea of a power that could manipulate others into doing his bidding still seemed so very surreal to him). It wasn't as if C.C. ever explained anything to him, either. So, he supposed it wasn't impossible, but -
Lelouch held up a hand.
"I'll humor you, for now." he stated before letting his hand drop. "So, I can actually die here? How am I supposed to survive when I can't even make this dream stop? Even if I wake up, I'll eventually fall asleep again. The last time that happened, I ended up here. It would just happen again."
Zero turned his head to glance at the door briefly.
"That's why I'm here." he said and he turned back to Lelouch. "I'm going to take you to the exit. Normally, the dream ends once the dreamer discovers the dream's meaning, but because yours has gone all to Hell, we have to find the exit and get you out before -"
Zero abruptly cut of his sentence and he whirled around to face the door. His posture turned defensive and Lelouch heard the telltale click of a gun being readied for use.
"Lelouch, get out!" Zero ordered in a tone that left no room for discussion. Lelouch blinked in confusion at the masked man's actions. He slid off the table and held a hand out towards Zero's shoulder as he felt his own anxiety steadily grow.
There was a sudden crash in the hallway and the little window nestled in the door shattered. Lelouch was startled and withdrew his hand back into the safety of the cloak. The dimmed lights overhead flickered with a light buzzing sound as a loud, ominous creaking noise began to echo throughout the room. Lelouch decided to take a chance and risked a peak around Zero's shoulder only to see the door being pushed open by –
Lelouch couldn't help the startled, disbelieving gasp that spilled out of his mouth.
Infuriated jade irises were narrowed into deadly slits and the glasses sitting askew in front of them were cracked and even missing a few glass pieces (as well as being dirty with flecks of dark red). Those soft, russet curls were drenched in goopy scarlet jelly and small rivers of the substance were clinging to those lightly tanned cheeks greedily. Lelouch's eyes wandered up and saw a hideous black spot staining the side of the other's head (exactly where Zero had shot him earlier).
Those green orbs flickered up in the same moment that Lelouch violet ones slipped back down. The two met (one gleaming in a strange mixture of hatred and affection and the other glistening in sudden fright). Lelouch took a step back and the hand he had wrapped around the edges of Zero's cloak tightened.
Upon seeing this small retreat, the owner of the smoldering green hues allowed his lips to twist into an unrestricted smirk.
"Good to see that my little doll is still around to play with." the intruder stated. His voice was weary with ambivalence and if the situation had been different, Lelouch would have tried comforting him. "I guess I should thank you, Zero, for not taking him that far away from me."
Zero had taken it upon himself to travel all the way over to the other side of the hospital (well, it seemed like one, at any rate) and had taken the most confusing and indirect route Lelouch had ever been dragged through. Despite this, Suzaku claimed their current location to be not "that far away" (as if they had merely been next door the entire time).
Suzaku took a step forward and rolled his shoulders as he did so. Zero held out an arm as he took a step back (presumably trying to shield Lelouch from the approaching danger).
"You know, that hurt. The bullet, I mean." Suzaku commented a bit too casually for Lelouch's liking. The way Suzaku talked, it was as if he were discussing the weather or some type of sport. "It was also really rude. You have a surprising lack of manners, Zero. You shoot me in the head – and, ow, thanks for the hole, by the way – and then you just steal my little pudding pop away. Truly an asshole thing to do."
Suzaku took another step forward and something heavy was being dragged in behind him, but Suzaku's bloodied lab coat was in the way and Lelouch couldn't really see to begin with thanks to Zero shielding him.
"The only asshole amongst us is you, Kururugi." Zero countered and he took another step back (Lelouch following suit). The hand holding his gun lifted and the nozzle remained rooted to Suzaku's form. "If you want to take your vengeance out on someone, do it on me. I'm the reason she's dead. If you want to get technical, I'm the one who pulled the trigger. Not Lelouch."
Suzaku's smirk dropped.
"This isn't just about her." Suzaku responded. Despite the limited view, Lelouch could still see a gleam of sadness shine in Suzaku's eyes. "I was lied to and used. I really thought he…loved me."
Lelouch had chosen not to put much thought into what Zero and Suzaku were arguing about. Lelouch figured that he would never find out and wasting time on trying to decipher this Picasso of a dream was wearing him out. The prince did, however, react at Suzaku's heartbreakingly lonely sounding statement.
"I do!" Lelouch exclaimed. Zero's head turned slightly and he made a shushing noise, but Lelouch ignored him. "I always have! I thought you felt the same way and then you -" Lelouch unconsciously clutched at the scarless expanse of skin above his heart. He trailed off in an inability to finish his sentence.
Why was he getting so worked up over a dream? This wasn't even his Suzaku. It was just some bizarre manifestation of Lelouch's own fears.
Stop it, Lelouch. None of this is real. Stop being so sensitive. Lelouch thought, berating himself.
"Don't lie to me, Lelouch." Suzaku responded and his depressing lack of an expression bothered Lelouch even further. "Maybe you did at one time, like I did with you, but not anymore. Now, I hate that I cared and I loathe that on some stupid level I still have feelings for you. Maybe it's the same for you. I don't know, but I don't care. What I do know is that I want to see you suffer."
Lelouch physically recoiled at that and even felt hot liquid prickling at his eyes. He retreated a few steps.
'Stop it! This isn't real!' Lelouch tried to tell himself, but he felt his resolve violently wavering. 'Don't get so emotional over a stupid dream.'
"Kururugi." Zero growled viciously in warning.
Suzaku took another step forward and ignored the warning growl thrown at him.
"I want you to pay for making me fall for you." the brunet continued. His voice kept dropping its pitch and a searing coat of malice was mixed in with the otherwise emotionless words. "I want to watch you bleed and cry until you can't anymore. I won't be satisfied until you're begging me to take your life and when that time does come, I'll only smile when you've stopped breathing."
Lelouch looked like he was two seconds away from breaking down. He was shivering from his attempts to hold in his emotions because he knew he was being too sensitive over this whole thing. …that's right. He was. He was being too sensitive and he needed to stop because he knew that his Suzaku would never say such cruel things. His Suzaku was too nice and strangely too innocent in nature for his own good to act like such a monster. His Suzaku liked cute things (like cats even though they didn't really like him back) and had teased Lelouch about being "cute" on more than one occasion. His Suzaku thought dressing up was kind of fun for what it was (even during that crossdressing festival Milly threw) and pushed Lelouch's buttons enough to coax some sort of reaction out of him when the prince had been forced into some horrible, degrading outfit. …his Suzaku liked to gaze at Lelouch with the goofiest expression of love (with no malice whatsoever) the prince had ever witnessed. …his Suzaku even liked to cuddle and spew corny lovey dovey crap at Lelouch, for crying out loud! Suzaku was a giant dork! He wasn't cruel like this!
But Lelouch's mind had gone blank at the harsh words and he could feel his cheeks slowly being scalded by liquid depression. His breathing had become a little louder than he thought it should have been and he didn't even realize he was moving until his back connected with the wall. Lelouch opened his mouth, but nothing more than a barely audible squeak came out.
A shot of gunfire rang out and Lelouch heard Suzaku grunt in pain. Glancing up, Lelouch saw Suzaku clutching at a soaking wet, bloody mark at his chest.
"That's enough!" Zero shrieked and Lelouch could see the masked apparition's shoulders shaking in fury. "How dare you."
Zero fired another shot and hit Suzaku in his right shoulder. Suzaku took a step back in recoil and grimaced.
"How dare you!" Zero repeated and he fired yet another shot. This time, the bullet dug itself into Suzaku's left leg and the brunet collapsed to the ground with a breathy gasp. Whatever object the imposter had been dragging along behind him clattered to the ground outside the hallway.
Zero fired yet another shot. The bullet burrowed itself into the middle of Suzaku's chest (where his heart was) and Suzaku's eyes widened before they narrowed in pain and he fell back without another word or gasp spoken.
Lelouch felt so conflicted in his emotions. He had kept his mouth open in an attempt to say something (maybe he had wanted to tell Zero to stop or maybe he had wanted to say something to Suzaku), but nothing had come out. Eventually, he closed it altogether and turned his gaze to the ground. He couldn't reign in his emotions (Suzaku had broken Lelouch's metaphorical mask and left him exposed) and he couldn't stop his tears this time.
Why wouldn't he just wake up already? Why?
"Lelouch, we need to go."
Lelouch felt a gloved hand cup his wet cheek and he realized he never noticed Zero walk over to him. Lelouch didn't have the heart to look up at that mask, though. He was afraid of what he would see being reflected back at him. He must look a mess just standing there sniveling like a pitiful child –
"Stop, Lelouch." Zero gently admonished. He rubbed at a spot just beneath Lelouch's left eye. "Listen. I'm sorry for all this. I really am. This…it wasn't supposed to be like this. He wasn't even supposed to be here. You were only meant to see and not feel, but all that went wrong. Heh. You have no idea how much I'd like to hug you right now, but now is neither the time nor the place for it. You must get out of here."
Lelouch glanced up into the mask briefly. He felt oddly comforted by Zero's presence and the attention he was receiving from the other man was nice. Lelouch wondered if he should feel bothered by that, but the thought died before it could really take shape.
Zero shook his head.
"Don't think on him for another moment. I'll keep him busy while you escape. I can do that much." Zero stated and if the mask hadn't of been there, Lelouch felt that Zero would have smiled at him. "I'm sorry I can't come with you, but it will be easier this way. The exit isn't far, but this place is almost like a maze." Zero let his hand slip down to grab hold of Lelouch's chin and he gently forced the prince to look up at him. "When you leave this room, watch the signs above the hallways and on the walls. You need to make it to a hallway that has rooms two-thousand and ten to two-thousand and eighteen written on the sign."
Lelouch would have nodded, but Zero still had his chin locked in his hand.
"Okay." the teen muttered for lack of anything else to say. His tears had slowed down, at least, but Lelouch still felt as if he had been stabbed through the heart one time too many. Talking wasn't coming easy to him for the time being and his emotions were still all over the place.
Zero released his hold on Lelouch's chin and took a step away from him.
"Hopefully, our next meeting will be better." Zero added with a small, humored hmph.
Lelouch almost smiled at that. Zero didn't seem so bad. Maybe…maybe Lelouch wouldn't mind dreaming of him again (even if it was a little weird). He almost said as much, but then remembered that Zero had already heard the thought and kept silent. He glanced back at the floor only to glance back up at Zero. His lips twitched a little (Lelouch thought he was trying to smile), but his eyes flickered over Zero's shoulder unintentionally (because Lelouch thought he had seen something and the eye movement just sort of happened out of reflex). Lelouch did this twice before his eyes widened and he opened his mouth to shout out a warning.
Zero caught the sudden burst of fear that sprung off Lelouch and he tried to turn around, but –
Lelouch choked on his words. Zero fell to the ground in a heap, his mask cracked and broken because of a gapping dent smashed into its side. Above him stood Suzaku. A metallic hammer that had a long wooden handle was clutched in his hands. The hammer was rusted in places and it was double-ended. One end was flat and worn with use and the other end was sharp and pointed. Suzaku had the flat end turned Zero's way and he lifted it upward (as if in preparation of using it again).
Zero appeared too disoriented to do anything so Lelouch tried to intervene.
"Suzaku!" Lelouch shrieked out in a panic. He took a step forward without much of a thought as to how he would even stop Suzaku if it came down to a physical fight (and it would). "Leave him alone! You only want me, don't you?"
Suzaku let his hammer pause midair and his gaze flickered to Lelouch. The cold, unfocused way Suzaku stared at him sent chills down Lelouch's spine. It was almost like Suzaku was gone in his head (and, all things considered, he probably was).
"Be a good dollie and go sit down somewhere until I'm done." Suzaku said and even his voice was severely off.
But before Lelouch could protest any further, Suzaku swung the hammer down and a loud crack echoed throughout the room as it collided with Zero's mask yet again. Suzaku didn't stop there, either. He brought the hammer back up again and swung it down, but he wasn't aiming at Zero's mask this time.
Lelouch gagged and a scream stuck in his throat. He wanted to vomit all over again and there went his damn tears again.
Suzaku stayed busy and effectively ignored Lelouch for the time being. He brought the hammer down again and again and again and again and again until there was nothing but a bloody mess littering the floor. The end of the hammer was soaked with blood.
"You can't kill someone with a dead heart." Suzaku said at last and he flipped the hammer around to its pointed side. "Just like you can't kill someone who only exists in someone's head, but by the time you recover," Suzaku raised the hammer up again. "it'll be too late for Lelouch." And he swung the hammer down into the place where Zero's heart was meant to be.
Lelouch felt like a coward, but he slipped out the door next to him and shoved a piece of metal he saw laying on the ground through the door's handle to prevent it from being opened. He breathed heavily and his eyes narrowed as more tears fell. He clutched helplessly at Zero's cloak as he took a step back and a short sob broke through the silence of the hallway.
He was alone again. Alone with this monster of a manifestation. Zero had been the only nice dream he had had in a long time. Lelouch had felt safe and protected with Zero around, but now that that was all gone, Lelouch didn't have anything he could hold on to so as to keep himself sane. He wanted to collapse to his knees and just cry unrestrictedly over everything (because all his fears had all been forcibly ripped from his soul and were suffocating him from all sides, forcing him to stare at all of them without anything to protect himself from them). Lelouch always kept his fears hidden and locked away in the deepest part of his mind. All those metaphorical masks Lelouch wore were extra protection. To an extent, so was Zero. Lelouch kept inventing ways to hide his emotions and protect his heart from further damage, but with all those masks shattered and his fears now running loose, Lelouch couldn't gather the courage to stay strong anymore.
He was scared, plain and simple. He was a child who had been forced to grow up at too young an age and he was scared. He didn't want to be the aloof, arrogant person he usually was anymore. At least, not yet. Right now, he needed someone (anyone) to just take the fear away. He really, really wished his mother was still alive. It was times such as these in which he really needed a strong parental figure in his life. He needed a mother right now (hell, a father; if Lelouch's father were to suddenly appear and offer an out-of-character hug, Lelouch would take it; he was that desperate).
A bang at the door alerted Lelouch that he was being stared at. The prince glanced up and through the little rectangular window in the door's side, Lelouch saw Suzaku staring out at him.
The door rattled on it hinges, but it couldn't open because of the piece of metal keeping the door closed.
"Lelouch, open the door." Suzaku commanded rather than asked. Lelouch didn't budge. "…aheh...okay. I get it. You're scared I'll hurt you again. Look. All that stuff I said, I was just angry. I mean, Zero shot me in the head and then he tried to keep me away from you. I overreacted. Just, come on, open the door."
Lelouch took a glance down both hallway ends (searching for signs, like Zero had told him) and when he caught sight of one with an arrow with text reading "Rooms 2010 – 2018", Lelouch took a step in that direction.
But Lelouch paused at the shout of his name and, reluctantly, he turned back towards Suzaku.
"I'm leaving." Lelouch stated rather weakly. He was so tired. "I'm not going to dream this dream anymore. You can't hurt me anymore, Su…Fear."
Suzaku (or, rather, Fear) blinked once before letting his eyes narrow into slits.
"…you can run." He began and his voice was so low and hateful that it almost didn't sound like Suzaku at all. "You can hide, but…I'll find you."
Lelouch took another step in the direction he had decided upon. The Suzaku imposter continued on.
"You hear me? I'll find you. No matter how far or fast you run or how much you hide behind whatever the fuck you find to hidebehind," The Suzaku imposter's voice was rising in volume with each word he spoke. Lelouch, fed up with being screamed at, bolted down the hallway just as Suzaku's voice reached screaming level."I'll find you, Lelouch! Do you hear me? I'LL FIND YOU NO MATTER WHERE YOU RUN TO!"
Lelouch heard horrible banging coming from behind him, but he didn't stop for a moment. He kept on running down the hallway (fueled by pure adrenaline and fear) and only slowed down enough to make the turn around the corner to follow the sign's arrow. He kept going and going and following and turning until his lungs burned and his legs ached, but he was so afraid he would be caught. He just kept running and running until he reached an intersection and had to stop because there were no more signs to follow. He breathed heavily and looked wildly in all directions in hopes of locating the next sign, but…he…just didn't see any.
Lelouch turned in circles and desperately threw his frightened gaze down each dark path. He still found nothing and after turning around so much, he forgot which way he came from.
"No. This isn't fair…"
Lelouch stopped moving and brought a hand up to tangle into his hair. He gave up on trying to stop his tears from forming and just let them fall freely. His eyes narrowed and he felt his knees going weak.
"I just want to wake up. Why is that so hard?" he asked the empty halls in a truly pitiful voice. "If I'm going to die, just do it already and stop –"
He fell to his knees and a sob broke out into the silence.
"I give up." he muttered in a barely intelligible voice. "I give up! Just stop it. Please."
Another sob broke the silence and Lelouch couldn't find it in himself to care over how much noise he made or even if he seemed pathetic. He was tired of being so strong all the time. That Suzaku imposter would probably find him sooner or later (especially with all the noise he was making), but…so be it. Lelouch was giving up. He couldn't take this anymore. Call him a coward or a baby, but he was still quiting. Life wasn't worth this much torment.
"Why are you crying?"
Lelouch jumped as a hand (and a relatively small one, at that) gently landed on his shoulder. Lelouch sniffled once and made some little, airy grunt in the back of throat. The hand he had twisted into his hair slipped down to floor unceremoniously and he turned his head to see who had found him. It didn't sound like Suzaku (in fact, this voice sounded too soft and feminine to belong to another man), but it did sound familiar.
Lelouch truly hadn't expected the person he found standing behind him to even be there, but she was.
She was significantly younger (somewhere around the age of eight or so) and her hair was a lot shorter than it should have been, but Lelouch would recognize his little sister anywhere. Though she was standing, her eyes were still closed and Lelouch wondered if she was blind her, too. It seemed odd that she would be when she clearly had use of her legs, but…dream logic.
Nunnally tilted her head and her small hands reached out to cup Lelouch's face. Her forehead was wrinkled in concern and her mouth was turned downward into a very unsatisfied frown.
"Big brother, your face is wet." she stated needlessly. Her tiny hands traveled up (feeling the tears along the way) and she frowned, if possible, even more. "I heard you crying so much. Why are you sad?"
It seemed like such a simple question (and it was), but the answer wasn't simple at all. Lelouch didn't understand why this tiny version of Nunnally was even in such a God-forsaken nightmare, but she was here and she was trying to comfort him. On some level, Lelouch was touched.
"I…I can't f-find the exit." Lelouch answered in a breathy sob he hadn't meant to let out. He figured this a better answer than the more complicated one that delved into his inner mind and portrayed him as an overly-sensitive weakling. He couldn't be like this in front of Nunnally. Lelouch was supposed to be the strong one. He was the eldest. It was his duty to protect Nunnally, not the other way around.
For some reason, Nunnally's grim expression brightened considerably at that. Her frown spread into a joyful smile and she excitedly brought both hands down to grab one of Lelouch's.
"I know where it is!" the little pigtailed girl exclaimed happily. She tugged at Lelouch's hand, urging him to stand and follow her. "Don't worry, big brother! Everything's going to be okay! I can take you to the exit so you don't have to be sad anymore! I promise, I promise!"
She was practically bouncing she was so excited. Lelouch felt his lips twitch at that.
"C-calm down, Nunnally. So, wait, you know where the exit is?"
Nunnally merely nodded her head in exuberance and continued to tug at Lelouch's hand insistently.
"It's this way! Follow me, big brother! Please?" Nunnally begged and her bottom lip poked out in a little pout. "I promise it is. Really! You'll come, won't you?"
"O-of course I will. You're the leader." Lelouch answered and he lifted his free hand to wipe some of his tears away. His sobs had (thankfully) ceased to be an issue.
Nunnally's smile grew at his answer and she patiently waited until Lelouch had stood up before she let one of her hands entwine with his larger one and off they went down one of the pathways.
It was dark and the little light they were spared was faint and cast the walls in a ghostly glow. Lelouch felt a little guilty about having Nunnally lead the way (she was blind, wasn't she? Her eyes hadn't opened, at least.), but he was mostly grateful for her presence. He felt about as emotionally stable as a newborn baby and his limbs were even weaker than a kitten's, but…he was finally going to leave this place. He was finally going to wake up.
…what about her? Lelouch found himself wondering. This Nunnally was a dream, too, but Lelouch felt his big brother instinct's kicking in all the same.
"Nunnally, why are you here all by yourself if you know where the exit is?" Lelouch asked curiously. It was peculiar (but, again, dream logic) and he figured it couldn't hurt to ask. "It's so dark and creepy. You don't like it here, do you?"
Nunnally turned her head up in Lelouch's direction briefly (a pleased smile still on her face) before she returned to "looking" straight ahead.
"I don't like it here, but I have to find something." she answered cheerily. Her cheerfulness was an oddity amongst the dead corridors. "It's very important to me. So I have to find it and have my wish granted before I can go."
Lelouch tilted his head.
"What are you looking for that's so important?" he asked and as an afterthought, added: "Wish?"
"Uh-hunh! I'm looking for cranes!"
Lelouch's eyes widened and his mouth dropped open just the slightest bit.
"C-cranes?" he repeated. He was...startled. The real Nunnally made paper cranes in her spare time and here this tiny version of her was searching for them. Just to grant a wish she had. What was her wish? A gentler world? That was the same thing his Nunnally wanted, at least.
Nunnally nodded her head and hummed an "uh-hunh!".
"I have to find a thousand of them." she elaborated. She made her and Lelouch's entwined hands swing back and forth. "If I find a thousand, my wish will come true. They're small cranes so they're a little hard to find, but I've already found thirty-three! I'm getting closer to my goal every day."
Lelouch's eyes narrowed sadly. Nunnally was so precious and innocent. She thought she could change the world in such an easy way. Her conviction was admirable and Lelouch desperately wished he could make her wish come true immediately, but people were stupid.
"That's…a lot of cranes." he responded weakly. "Your wish must be really special for you to go through so much trouble."
"Yup! It's the most important thing in my life! I'll be so happy when my wish comes true."
Lelouch's lips lifted into a strained half-smile.
"I hope you find all your cranes very soon then."
Nunnally giggled and then they continued on in silence. Nunnally was still swinging their arms to and fro, but Lelouch didn't mind. He let her do as she pleased. It didn't even seem like much time had passed before the swinging actually did stop as did Nunnally herself. The little girl turned her still smiling face up to Lelouch and pointed at a door with an extremely obvious "Exit" sign steadily glowing in the dark.
Lelouch decided that he hated dream logic.
"Here it is! Now you can be happy!" Nunnally exclaimed. Ah, if only his happiness could be so simple…
Lelouch smiled regardless and he kneeled down to ruffle Nunnally's hair.
"Thank you." Lelouch said in heartfelt gratitude. He hesitated a moment before wrapping his arms around her in a gentle embrace. "Thank you so much, Nunnally. You've really saved me."
This little dream Nunnally had done more than she could ever comprehend. Even though Lelouch was still an emotional wreck, this little girl had pulled him out of an abyss that Lelouch hadn't been able to pull himself out of. He felt a little stronger now. He felt that he could keep himself together because of her. He almost felt bad about leaving her in such an awful place (but he had to keep reminding himself that nothing in the dream was real and neither was this version of Nunnally).
Nunnally giggled and returned the hug. After a moment, they pulled away from each other and Nunnally held her hands behind her back.
"I'd do anything for you, big brother." she responded sweetly. "It makes the cranes important, you know."
Lelouch had been about to stand, but he paused and turned back to Nunnally curiously.
"What makes the cranes important?" he asked. Perhaps he was overthinking it, but it sounded as if Nunnally's reason for collecting the cranes lied with…him. Maybe it was just the way she worded it.
"You, of course!"
Lelouch blinked and his eyebrows rose.
"Yup. Hehe. You wanna know my wish, big brother?" Nunnally asked, but she didn't wait for a confirmation from Lelouch. "It's for you to be happy!"
Lelouch found his mind going blank again and his eyes were (not again) filling with water.
"But…but I thought you wanted a kinder world." he said and he felt lost at hearing such a desire. "My happiness isn't –"
"A kinder world would be wonderful, but if my big brother is sad, then what's the point in living in a gentle place? I can't be happy knowing you're not." she said matter-of-factly. Her smile was very sincere, too. "I love you, big brother. You're very important to me. That's why my wish is important and when it comes true, the world really will be a better place!"
Lelouch's hands were shaking. What…what was this he was hearing? This…this selflessness coming from this kind child? His heart was aching.
Nunnally's head cocked to the side.
"Because you'll be smiling!" And, coming from her, it sounded like the most obvious answer in the world.
(And maybe…maybe it was.)
When Lelouch woke up, he felt oddly at peace. He didn't know why (all things considered), but he just did. Maybe it was due to the fact that he was, indeed, awake at last. His room was the same as it had always been and it was filled with sunlight (sweet, sweet light). Or maybe Lelouch's mind had been put at ease because he just knew that he would never have that dream again.
Or maybe it was the delicate hand he found entwined with his own upon regaining consciousness.
It was anyone's guess.
Lelouch smiled and it felt real for the first time in ages. He didn't know how long he had been asleep (it felt like years had passed), but waking up to the sight of Nunnally slumped over the edge of the bed (asleep) with her hand clutching at his was really –
He sighed and ran a hand through her hair.
He was really happy she was there. He had passed out alone and frightened (and stayed alone and frightened for the longest time), but he had awoken to company. Nunnally didn't want him to be alone while he was "sick".
She stirred at the feel of Lelouch's fingers combing through her hair. She didn't open her eyes (but Lelouch didn't expect her to) and she didn't say anything at first (but, again, Lelouch didn't expect her to), but after a moment of Lelouch's quiet caresses, she mumbled out his name.
Lelouch chuckled and said the only thing he could think of saying.
"Morning, Nunnally. Sleep well?"
His little sister had a surprising burst of energy and she practically leapt at Lelouch as she repeated his name in a loudly surprised, but heavily relieved sob.
"Big brother!" she cried and Lelouch could feel his night shirt being coated in tears. "I thought you'd never wake up! You scared everyone! Why couldn't you just…oh, Lelouch!"
Lelouch didn't know what to say so he simply held her close and ran a hand through her hair in an attempt to calm her down. She sounded upset, but so relieved at the same time and yet so worried. Lelouch felt guilty, but…the dream was over now. He was awake and…everything would be okay now.
His smile grew somewhat.
Yeah. Everything would be okay because he was awake, a very real Nunnally was clinging to him for dear life, and –
His door slid open and a certain someone with franticly worried jade hues came running in without so much as a warning.
"Nunnally! I heard you shout and…Le…louch?"
Lelouch froze and his eyes widened at the sight of his friend. He felt his heartbeat quicken and it took every ounce of self-restraint he had not to try fleeing.
Suzaku (completely missing Lelouch sudden tenseness) was overcome with the most heartbreakingly relieved expression Lelouch had ever seen the teen use. Suzaku's eyes were even watering.
…but that was what Lelouch's Suzaku did. He cried over the silliest of things. He was nothing but a big softie on the inside, that dork.
This isn't a dream. This isn't that monster. Lelouch told himself.
As Suzaku walked towards the bed, Lelouch kept repeating that mantra over and over in his head until Suzaku had seated himself on Lelouch's other side.
Lelouch's breathe quickened and he was sure that he must be shaking as well. Suzaku smiled at him and held out a hand towards Lelouch (probably about to ruffle his hair or stab him with a – oh, stop it!), but Lelouch flinched without meaning to and Suzaku's hand wavered. The brunet's expression fell into some mix between confusion and hurt and it was the hurt part of that that made Lelouch's guilt increase.
Here Suzaku was. His Suzaku. Smiling, giving him that goofy expression of love like he always did, concerned over Lelouch (like Nunnally was), and now he was sporting that pitiful little kicked puppy look that got Lelouch every time. Suzaku was just being so…Suzaku right now. From the adorably confused glint in his eyes to the unsure twist in his lips to the tiny retreat he had made at Lelouch's flinch.
Because this was, indeed, Lelouch's Suzaku and not that monster from the prince's dream. Lelouch sighed at his own emotions and decided to throw his fear out the window. He had his two favorite and most loved people keeping him company and he wasn't about to waste the chance because some stupid dream decided to use his goofball of a knight as a mass murderer.
Lelouch quickly reached out a hand to grab Suzaku's wrist and he tugged on it rather childishly. Suzaku stared at Lelouch questioningly for a moment, but after seeing the dark tint Lelouch's cheeks had taken on, Suzaku got the message and his smile returned full force. The brunet scooted closer to Lelouch and wrapped an arm around him tightly. The other hand, he entwined with Lelouch's and though none of that had made Lelouch's blush lessen, the prince smiled in a truly happy sort of way.
"Welcome back to waking world, Lu."
Lelouch hadn't meant for it to be like this. Suzaku wasn't supposed to find out Zero's true identity and Euphemia wasn't supposed to die, but that was how things had progressed. Lelouch's Geass went haywire and a careless comment registered as a command in Euphemia's head. The genocide she wrought would forever stain her innocent name and Lelouch was to blame. True. It had been an accident, but even still. Nothing about today had gone right.
Suzaku was pointing a gun at him and his expression was hard and conflicted looking in appearance. The pilot looked somewhat confused (like he didn't know what to feel) and undeniably angry.
Lelouch's guilt was starting to become a tangible thing. He could feel it in the air, choking the life out of him. He couldn't breathe and he felt his gaze becoming unfocused.
Suzaku had called him a mistake. He had said he hated Lelouch.
"This isn't a dream. It's a warning." Lelouch muttered to himself and he didn't know whether to laugh or cry because, after all this time, he finally understood the meaning of that hellish dream he had had. Every piece had fallen into place and Lelouch recognized all the similarities with his dream and what was happening now. Hell, Lelouch even understood the argument Zero and imposter Suzaku had had over "her" in his dream. "That's what…he told me."
Geass. The World of C. Zero himself. All of that stuff had been warning Lelouch of this moment. A betrayal that would kill him in more ways than one.
Losing Suzaku to Britannia. The one betrayal Lelouch didn't feel his heart could stand, but he knew he could do nothing about because Suzaku wasn't going to listen to him. Lelouch had lied one time too many, but even if Lelouch had done nothing but told the truth his whole life, he doubted Suzaku would listen even then (but it might have helped Lelouch's case).
Maybe. Lelouch wasn't exactly certain about anything anymore.
'I think…I would have preferred you cutting out my heart rather than all this, Suzaku.'
In a way, Suzaku eventually did take Lelouch's heart, but under Lelouch's own terms and conditions. Lelouch planned it out that way. He was the one to place the glistening "scalpel" into Suzaku's hands along with the means to hide his identity as the entire world witnessed the young emperor's death.
And Lelouch managed to go through all this with a smile he never knew he had.
( ('I'm giving you my heart, Suzaku. That's what you've wanted all this time, isn't it? It's something that only you can have…because you're the only one who is allowed to kill me.') )
But Suzaku could only cry.
In the end, he never really understood Lelouch's reasonings and the young knight felt he would have had Lelouch only lived a bit longer. The knowledge that he had only been carrying out orders (a final wish, as it were and for the betterment of the world even!) did nothing to sooth the ache Suzaku felt inside. He never once felt justified in staining his hands with Lelouch's blood and he never would.
Yes. Lelouch killed Euphemia, but Suzaku had (and still did) loved them both. Killing Lelouch for the sake of avenging Euphemia only left Suzaku with nothing but a cold mask to keep him company and it wasn't as if the deed had brought Euphemia back. Nothing about either of their deaths settled well with Suzaku at all.
( ('I never really wanted you to die, Lelouch. I never wanted to hurt you. Why? After everything that happened…how could you smile at me like that? Like everything was alright. Like…you weren't about to die...') )
The world still turns and time moves forward, but Suzaku remains stuck within the past and is haunted by the tragedy each and every night.
( ("Was it worth it? Are you happy? I gave you what you wanted, but…you look upset. Did you want something else? Please, take it. Take whatever you want!"
Suzaku felt like retching. He couldn't stand this innocent charade. It left him an emotional wreck.
"Please stop." he begged the apparition but he was only met with a glazed over stare. "Lelouch…please leave my dreams. I can't take seeing you like this."
Lelouch's head cocked to the side.
"But don't you want to see me? You said you missed me once before." the apparition stated and that awful smile of his widened. "I just want you to be happy, Suzaku."
"So take something else! How about an eye? You're always going on about them."
Suzaku screamed at him.
"Leave me alone!"
When Suzaku bolted down the eerie hallway, Lelouch merely turned his head to stare after him.
He never once stopped smiling.) )
It was strange. There was a time when all Lelouch could do was frown.
( (Lelouch's smiles were always horrifyingly innocent and completely saturated with stains of gore. It carried a beauty all its own, but it was so hideous at the same time. It disturbed Suzaku to no end.) )
But now that he only existed as a decaying manifestation in Suzaku's dreams, all Lelouch could do was smile.
( ("Zero, I have a confession to make."
The steady tinkle of piano keys being pressed continued to sound as they performed a phantom melody. Zero pulled Lelouch back into his arms and they twirled around and around and around in circles When Zero stepped one way, Lelouch followed in perfect harmony and when Lelouch teasingly tried to distance himself from the dance, Zero responded as one would expect and pulled Lelouch right back in – with a feral growl even.
And thus the two continued to twirl in a never-ending waltz around and around the decayed morgue.
"And what would that be?" the dark night asked. He spared a brief glance in Suzaku's direction before returning his attention to his dance partner.
That horrifying smile of Lelouch's twisted into a sickeningly amused smirk and he made a point of leaning up to Zero's side, as if he were going to whisper a secret to him.
"I think I like being dead."
And the two of them proceeded to laugh as if Lelouch's confession was the single most hilarious thing that either had ever heard.
Suzaku could only stare at the two in horror. It was all he could ever do whenever Zero was around. Because when Zero was around, Suzaku couldn't move because he would be strapped down to a rusty wheelchair and he couldn't speak due to the piece of duct tape that had been slapped over his mouth.) )
All Lelouch could do now that he was dead was smile and it was something that would forever haunt Suzaku until the end of his days.
( (Zero rubbed at the blood covering his lips and sighed somewhat dreamily. He seemed delighted — practically giddy — at having Lelouch's blood on him.
It made Suzaku sick to watch.
Because Zero was always like this. He always took the time to gloat and savor what Lelouch had not given Suzaku: a kiss. Suzaku felt that he wouldn't have wanted one, in any case. Lelouch's mouth had a bad habit of bleeding.
After a moment of this, Zero stuck the blood-coated finger into his mouth before pulling it out to lap up the gore drenching his lips Once they were clean, the portion of his mask that covered his mouth slipped shut with an audible click.
Suzaku always wondered about Zero and his mask of many doors. He seemed to have one available for both his eyes as well as his mouth. Suzaku always wondered why and if Zero had more.
Not that Suzaku could voice these questions. Zero always kept him gagged.
Zero suddenly giggled in a way bordering along the lines of insanity.
"This is a punishment for you, too.") )
Serena: I'm expecting freaked out reviews, but this is how it went in my head so…I SWEAR MY NEXT POST WILL BE SO FLUFFY YOUR TEETH WILL ROT FROM SUGAR. Ahem. Anyway. This is the end of it. Let me know what you thought about everything in a review, if you wouldn't mind leaving me one. You know, I ended up using a lot more symbolism than I intended to when I started this story. Most of it is really quite vague, though. Hehe~ Thank you all for sticking with me!