Lelouch glances over at Kallen, and he feels sorry for her but not for long. There was no time for thought, for emotion, when the person thinking would soon be a dead man. He musters up the last of his strength, the last of his kindness and of his resolve, of his very being as Zero – the man of miracles – to laugh, and what a laugh. It was cold, it was careless, and it rang from warehouse wall to warehouse wall. Let them interpret it was they will. Let them see that Zero, no, Lelouch vi Britannia, fears nothing, not even death. And so, it would serve as a last rebuke to his brother.
"Fools! You've finally figured it out! That I've been using you all!"
He can hardly believe his own voice. Was that really him? It seemed he was standing outside of his body, staring on at a stranger whom he couldn't even pity. How sad. What a pathetic, little man to have believed he could have ever won.
Lelouch watches stoically and blinks once, twice in the heat of the searchlights. Kallen steps away. She's crying, but Lelouch has no more feeling left in him. It went with Nunnally, it went with Shirley, and now, finally, this empty casing of a body would be cast aside. After all, a body without emotions was just another corpse, right?
"Goodbye, then, Lelouch."
Despite everything, Lelouch feels a pang in the deep recesses of his heart. Was this what C.C. had been feeling? For centuries? This longing for death?
He closes his eyes. He was sorry for ever having kept her from it.
He snaps his eyes open, and he can feel the attention being diverted to the elevator, the doors of which had soundlessly slid open just half a second ago. Lelouch pivots. C.C….why?
And there she was – fear choking the rest of her words, her legs unstable and weak at the sight of so many armed with guns and intimidating grimaces. He almost laughs, but it would have been a dry, humorless laugh. He almost feels the urge to reach out and say, "Don't worry, it's just my Black Knights."
Then again, the pawns were no longer his, were they?
But, the question remains: why is she here? He stares at her, a little shocked, maybe, but still with that same air of indifference. What does she want?
"No matter! Get ready!"
C.C. had been cowering, staring helplessly at the man who had shown her such human kindness as she had never known in her life. What was going on? Why did they have weapons aimed at her Master? Why-
"No matter! Get ready!"
C.C. gasps and her eyes widen. She had been shocked out of her stupor, and as the impact of the words hit her, she finds herself moving, stumbling. "No, Master!"
She whimpers and shuts her eyes tightly, bringing her arms above her head in a futile attempt to protect herself – and her beloved Master.
He no longer feels shock or even sympathy but only annoyance. Agitation. Irritation – the irritation of living as C.C. had phrased it?
And he callously pushes her aside, hard enough for her to hit the ground in a deadening thud. She yelps, and he suddenly feels anger coursing inside of him, boiling and raging without any end. Who was she to think she could stand between him and his death? This servant girl? An illiterate, spineless fool?
He wants to say more, but he has no more time.
The guns are trained once more; they've gone weary with waiting, and Lelouch is ready. He turns away – for the last time – from her, and for a moment, he is glad she lost her memories because she – this C.C. – will not have the courage to stop them.
He is ready.
The guns click. The triggers are pulled…
Lelouch scowls, but as he opens his eyes, the malice vanishes as though it had never been there in the first place. He hears before he sees, and he hears the dull thump of ten bullets burying into flesh.
The back of her white top is already stained in blood, spreading faster and faster, and the sight horrifies Lelouch because, all over again, he sees Euphie, he sees Shirley, but most of all, he sees his immortal witch dying.
"C.C.!" The tears come, unbidden and fat. Who had called them forth and from where?
C.C. sinks; this one doesn't have the resolve of the one he'd lost in that accursed tomb. And why hadn't he cried then? Why now when he is not losing C.C. but – if anything – just a fleeting reflection?
He catches her – like he had caught her so many times before – but this time, he cradles her against his breast. Her green hair, speckled red, flows over his arms and legs into the dark, sticky pools widening and widening about them with each passing second.
She stares weakly into his eyes – happy? – and she tries to speak, but more than one bullet had punctured her lungs, and she no longer has the breathe to form words. Even so, the poor girl struggles because she wants to say something. She wants him to know…
He looks past the blood and into her eyes, glistening with unshed tears that threatened to spill over. The sight only makes him hug her more tightly.
His voice breaks, and he cannot find the words.
Finally, battered and beaten…"C.C.! You idiot…!"
He can't pretend. He can't pretend that she means nothing to him. He can't pretend anymore, not for the Black Knights, not for himself, and so he sobs, silently and quietly, but he doesn't close his eyes for fear of missing the moment when she closes hers.
"C.C.! You can't do this to me! I thought you said you would be with me to the end?! Didn't you promise? And now…please, didn't I say you should die with a smile on your face…"
His voice fades off because she is smiling.
Her hand, stained like the rest of her, slowly reaches up as though to touch his face, but she can't make it there. He helps her. He grasps her hand, and with his other, in one last, desperate attempt, roughly parts the hair covering her forehead. She grimaces.
There is no mark. It is as unblemished as marble, and Lelouch's worse fears are confirmed.
Maybe it was because as long as she was here, by his side, even as a servant, there was still the chance – or rather, the hope – that she would by some Geass-related incident regain her memories.
His hand tightens around hers. Her eyes are glazing, growing dim. Her body is growing cold.
It hits him – she really is dying.
"Master…" she chokes out, her voice garbled, broken, almost undistinguishable.
She raises her other hand. She has to rely on actions now.
She lifts her forefinger and points, points at the hand clutched frantically in his.
Her smile broadens when she realizes he understands. It is just for a moment.
Her head shifts; her eyes close, and the smile, that broken-hearted smile vanishes forever.
Lelouch leans closer and feels something break inside of him when he had thought there to be nothing left.
He pulls her body into his and presses his face into her hair.
The roof caves in, but Lelouch barely takes any notice.
"Are you okay, Brother?"
Lelouch feels himself being torn away.
"No! Rolo, leave me!"
He hangs on to C.C. despite the gunfire, despite the chaos. He wraps his arms around her. No, he wouldn't leave her – not again.
"Brother, she's dead!"
The last thing Lelouch sees is C.C. growing farther and farther in the distance. His hand lingers, but she's gone.
And he'd never even told her he loved her.
Author's Note: Yeah, I know. Valentine's Day is like tomorrow/today, and I come up with a death fic, but I can't help it. I'd just re-watched the last few episodes of Code Geass R2, and I wrote this in a random spurt of emotion. I don't think I conveyed the scene very well, but I tried. Reviews are very much appreciated, and as for my In medias res readers, know that I am working on the chapter! It's just hard for me lately to sit down and actually write something decent - a lot of things going on, so... yeah, well, here it is. Thanks for reading, and I hope it didn't disappoint too much.