Disclaimer: I do not own Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, R2, or any of the copyrighted stuff.

A/N: I have no idea how this story came to be, as it is with most of my stories. I was actually writing a oneshot for a completely unrelated manga when this popped into my head. I don't think it turned out quite like I had meant for it to but somehow it never does.

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Mounting Grief

Lelouch looked down at the boy in his arms and tried to remember that hatred he had felt after Shirley's death. He tried to remember that desire to kill Rolo, that fire that had burned away at his being second only to his desire for revenge against Britannia.

Of course, it hadn't always been that way. He had been tricked into caring for Rolo in the beginning, so Lelouch didn't count that as an actual emotion toward the boy. After all, it had never been real. But he had been less than hostile before that. He had even enjoyed Rolo's company at times – at least he hadn't been as annoying as some of the imbeciles Lelouch had worked with.

Well, "worked with" wasn't really as accurate as "manipulated." And Lelouch couldn't deny that he had manipulated Rolo to the very end. Not only had he convinced Rolo to betray Britannia but also made him think that he was the one who had wanted to do it all along.

Lelouch had always been quite the master manipulator. Never had there been a goal he hadn't been able to achieve.

And yet…

Lelouch was stunned to find tears in his eyes, a dry sob choking in his throat. He was crying? For Rolo? For Shirley's murderer, for a boy he had never valued as more than a tool?

Only now did Lelouch realize that wasn't what Rolo had always been. In a way, he had understood Lelouch's pain as no one else had or could. In a way, though Lelouch was able to manipulate Rolo, he was also the closest person to the same level of intelligence Lelouch had ever known. And in a way, Rolo really had been like a little brother.

Okay, the brother who had unknowingly killed the only person other than Nunnally who Lelouch had ever really cared about.

But, Lelouch realized as he hugged Rolo's body to him, the boy had only been acting for Lelouch's own interests. Rolo had been trying to protect the one person he thought had ever cared for him – much like Lelouch had been doing all this time as he fought against Britannia for Nunnally.

And though he had thought Rolo was only a useful pawn, though he had thought he could kill Rolo in a second and would when he had the change, though he was sure had been stringing the boy along and manipulating him this whole time… somehow, Lelouch saw now, somewhere along the way those lies about caring for Rolo had become the truth.

Rolo had died for Lelouch, died for the one who had only pretended to give him the care and affection the boy had so longed for. But now that he was dead, Lelouch saw the error in that synopsis.

Because Lelouch did care.

And the grief over his mother, the grief over Shirley's father and Shirley herself, the grief over Nunnally, all of the griefs he had borne in eighteen years of life, were compacted by this new, overpowering one for Rolo.

In that instant, Lelouch hated himself more than ever. In that instant, he finalized his plan at last. There was no turning back now; this was the road he would have to walk. He deserved it for the way he had manipulated and destroyed even those who had only wanted to comfort and protect him. And especially for the ones he loved who had died on his behalf.

The boy who had only wanted someone to love him had thought he had found it in life. It was the reason he had sacrificed that life and, in a way, the reason he was right.

For it was only now, in death, that Rolo had earned the affection he had died for.