Titans and Gods

Suzaku lay alone in his room, barely seeing the shoddy walls of the hideout, and thought, Lelouch and I were fighting for the same thing. And all the others, Britannians and Black Knights and—and oh gods, Euphemia and Shirley!-- were swept up like leaves in the whirlpool of us. Or was I swept too?

Men fight to destroy, someone had once said to him. Women fight to protect.

When the great red bulk of Kallen's Gurren rose up before him during the last battle, and sunlight glinted from blood-crimson metal plates and the cockpit shook around him, Suzaku could not be in the moment. Who was she fighting for? Who was she protecting? Usually he could fight fast and confident because the world narrowed around him and his eyes narrowed with it and all there was became himself and the cold metal shell around him and the other Knightmares, humans huddled inside them. (He had never thought much about how little it took to rip a person out of their cockpit, not before Kallen and Anya. Casual rules of war stated that the aim was to make pilots eject, alive, but…how much could war ever have rules?)

He had felt the electricity-warm touch of the Gurren, that atom-ripping bundle of claws, dig against his stomach, and so…had the sword felt like that between Lelouch's ribs?

But he would not think about that. Not when everything led up to it so succinctly, when everything seemed to have fallen into place just as Lelouch (as Zero?) had wanted it. How much of the chess game had been preordained? How much of Britannia's politics falling into place had been a reflection of when C's World was Geassed, as its great slow spiraling consciousness felt its synapses rearrange? Everything had been rearranged. The Titans had stolen fire from the gods.

Suzaku stretched out over his quilt and tried to order his thoughts. The bare walls of Zero's base lurked around him.

Once, he and Lelouch had looked at one another in the halls of Ashford Academy and smiled. Those days were still photographs now.

He had been unable to keep focus when he fought Kallen. That did not mean that he did not fight well—oh no, there was a beautiful control in uncertainty then. It felt like riding a bicycle with hands held in the air and knees shivering with the strain of balance, and then is when you feel like the wheels are glued to the ground and gaining speed is the only thing you can possibly do. Part of his mind was filled up with the scrape of metal and whoosh of engines and spectrums and reflections of color…and part of it simply with there is a fragile human in that cockpit, behind that deadly grasp, and she is thinking over and over in her war-tired mind that she is about to kill her classmate to serve her classmate-hero. They took tests together once.

They take tests together now—

She cornered him within the struts of the Damocles, and somewhere in their pasts they shoved curl-cornered exam papers down onto the lunchroom table and compared marks.

And she beat him.

And so, when Zero killed Lelouch the immortal (he had to have been immortal to survive this long--what did the world mean when children could slay immortals?) he could not do it in a thick-metal skinned Knightmare. It would be in his own skin, scarred and thickened with war and covered with the uniform of his former enemy. It would not be a test. Lelouch would not allow it to be, for then Suzaku might hesitate. He had planned it all; left the clumsy Knightmare honor-guard out front so that one skilled man could leap across the pitted blacktop and pass by the chained attack dog Jeremiah and have a clear shot to the emperor. No time to think, to teeter, to feel out of control. Lelouch looked up at the Zero mask and Suzaku saw in his eyes that he was proud of it.

And he'd felt the hot scarlet blood through his helmet (even though that was impossible, even though something human could never get through metal and plastic with such a simple, momentumless touch) as they leaned on each other. The crowd roared with joy at the death of the dictator.

One who had become a dictator for a noble cause, the only one in the history of many who said they were—

And Suzaku had felt Lelouch's thin body pressed against his, the warmth leaking away, and he knew why the Titans had given mankind fire.