Disclaimer: Code Geass is the property of Sunrise, Bandai et al. No money is being made from this fanfic and it will be removed if the above parties so request. All your base are belong to us.
Note: This is the second of my two Nunnally-centric Code Geass AU fic ideas, the other being Code Geass: Nunnally of the Liberation, the prologue to which has already been posted. I've started a poll on my author page to see which of the two people would most like to see continued; please read the other piece if you haven't already, and vote for which you preferred.
Code Geass: Children of the Revolution
Chapter 1: One Missed Call
"I'm home, Oniisama!" Nunnally called as Sayoko guided her through the front door. There was no reply. "Oh...he must still be out."
"I'm sure he'll be back soon."
"I hope so..." Disappointed, Nunnally entered the living area behind Sayoko as the maid went to put the groceries away. Lelouch had been gone so much lately, seemingly not at his usual gambling since he hadn't been getting Rivalz to drive him. Nunnally was sure he just didn't want to worry her, but not knowing what he was doing worried her anyway. He could have got involved in something dangerous...or, then again, he could just be going on dates with C.C. He was still being rather vague about whether she was his girlfriend or fiancée or anything like that, but boys could be very silly when it came to such things, Milly said.
"Oh! Here he is, Nunnally-sama; he's fallen asleep at the table," Sayoko said with a small giggle. "Shall I wake him?"
"No," Nunnally decided. "He must be very tired; I'll sit with him a while."
Sayoko helped her get settled next to the table, then tiptoed away and left the siblings alone. Nunnally sighed contentedly as she sat forward and listened to the peaceful rhythm of Lelouch's breathing. Asleep or not, it was wonderful to be close to him for a while. She felt so lonely (even though they lived in a school full of people) when he was gone most of the time and they only saw each other for a few moments of the day, if that.
An unpleasant thought occurred to her. Could he be spending so much time away from home at the moment because looking after her was becoming tiresome? He would never say such a thing out loud, but she was sure spending time with a crippled girl who couldn't do so much could not be as interesting as other things he might be doing, however much he loved her. Especially if he really did have some kind of relationship with C.C.; with her around, they might not be able to do the kinds of things boyfriends and girlfriends did together (Nunnally was uncertain as to what exactly those things might be, since Lelouch always shushed Milly when she got onto the subject).
The ringing of Lelouch's phone cut through the tranquil silence and broke her unhappy train of thought. Tutting, Nunnally scrambled to find it and turn it off before it woke him, and managed to locate it by his hand. She stabbed randomly at the buttons to stop the irritating buzz, which finally cut off. Relieved, she put the phone down.
"Zero? You there?" asked a tinny voice in Japanese, causing Nunnally to jump. She opened and closed her mouth, not sure what to do.
"Zero?" the voice repeated.
Nunnally hesitated a moment longer, then lifted the phone. "N-no. I think you have the wrong number."
"Wait, who is this?" The voice was cut off as she found the right button and ended the call. Then she dropped the phone as if it might explode and shrank back into her wheelchair, biting her lip nervously. She had no idea what to think about the strange phone call, and found herself oddly afraid to ask Lelouch about it.
"Was that Lelouch-sama's phone ringing?" Sayoko asked from the doorway, making Nunnally jump.
"Yes...but it was just a wrong number, I think."
"Are you all right, Nunnally-sama? You look pale all of a sudden."
"No, I'm not feeling well. I think I should lie down for a while. Don't wake Oniisama, I'll be fine. I just need a rest..."
Sayoko knew something was wrong, Nunnally could tell, but she said nothing as she helped her onto her bed and covered her with a light blanket. Nunnally thanked her, then was left alone with her wild thoughts, desperately trying to decide what to do. She knew she could try to forget the whole thing, tell herself it really was just a wrong number or part of some game Lelouch was involved in. Normally, she would have assumed exactly that and not worried any more. This time, though, it was impossible for her to do so – and that, she realized, was why she felt so lost and horrified: because it was all too easy for her to believe that the call had not been to the wrong number, and that Lelouch was Zero, the terrorist leader. It made too much sense to be impossible.
Lelouch hated Britannia for what had happened to them, to their mother and to Japan; Zero waged war on Britannia on behalf of Japan.
Lelouch had always been kind to those weaker than himself, and got angry at people who did the opposite; Zero had proclaimed that he would punish those who oppressed the weak.
Suzaku was their friend; Zero had saved Suzaku's life. Come to that, he had saved Milly, Shirley and Nina at Lake Kawaguchi as well. Could that be why he had gone against the Japanese Liberation Front?
Zero had first appeared during the Shinjuku incident; Lelouch had been home late that day...Nunnally's breath caught as she matched up many of his absences with reported sightings of Zero or the Black Knights. Tears began to prick at her eyelids as the weight of evidence sank in. The realization tore at the very foundations of her world. She felt sick and dizzy, and above all more afraid than she had been since the day she woke up in a hospital bed to learn her mother was dead and she would never walk or see again. Lelouch had always been there to anchor her since then, but now it was almost as if he was a stranger. She could no longer think of him simply as the kind, gentle person who never did anything worse than skipping class to go gambling so that they could live comfortably.
For a long time, Nunnally lay lost in such painful thoughts, absently working the edge of the blanket through her fingers, until she heard the door slide open and Lelouch's footsteps. He knelt down next to the bed, touching her shoulder. She swallowed, steeling herself.
"Nunnally? Are you awake?" She nodded, but said nothing. "Is everything OK? Sayoko said you weren't feeling well."
"Lelouch, I need to ask you something, and...please give me a direct answer."
"Are you Zero?"
Nunnally easily heard Lelouch's shocked gasp, and his hand flinched away. "Why would you ask that?" His voice was high and wavering, and she knew at once that she had touched a nerve. "Wherever did you get such an idea, Nunnally?" He was trying but failing to sound calm, and Nunnally felt a pang of shame and regret for upsetting him – or at least, for upsetting the person she had always believed him to be.
"Are you?" She spoke more sharply and coldly than she had in years, surprising herself. That was good, though. She was speaking to Zero, she now felt sure, and Zero was a stranger, someone who had saved her friends but killed her half-brother and many others.
Lelouch was silent for so long that Nunnally thought she might faint from the sensation of her heart pounding and her insides knotting. Her hands curled into tiny fists where they clutched the blanket, digging their nails painfully into her palms. "Yes," he said at last. "I am Zero."
Nunnally let out a ragged breath. "Thank you for telling me the truth."
"I'm so sorry, I..."
"You didn't want me to find out. Why? To protect me? Or because I might be angry?"
"Both. I know some of the things I've done must seem awful, but they were necessary."
"Was killing Clovis necessary? He was our brother!" Tears sprang to Nunnally's eyes.
"He was a monster!" Lelouch shouted, making her jump. "The day he died, he ordered his soldiers to kill everyone in Shinjuku, just to cover up something he wanted kept secret. Women, children, old people...thousands of them. I saw bodies piled in some of the buildings, children crying for their parents while Britannians shot them in the head. That was the kind of man Clovis was!"
"You were there?" Nunnally gasped.
"I organized the terrorists to try to stop Clovis, then I sneaked into his command post and forced him to give the ceasefire order. The government reported the deaths were caused by stolen poison gas, but that was a lie."
"I remember you – as Zero, I mean – saying on TV that Clovis ordered a massacre, but I didn't want to believe it. He never seemed like that kind of person when we were little..."
"Maybe I overstated," Lelouch said. "It's quite possible he didn't think of the Japanese he had killed as people, because they weren't Britannians and he didn't have to look them in the eye as they died. Perhaps the massacre was just a temper tantrum, like when I used to beat him at chess. But if anything, that's worse."
Nunnally felt a little better – it was easier to believe Clovis had been stupid and selfish than murderously evil. She scrubbed at her eyes. "I'm sorry...this is difficult to take in."
"It's all right." Lelouch dabbed at her cheek with his handkerchief, wiping away her tears. A little while ago, she might have expected her skin to crawl, knowing what he had done with those hands...but it was just her brother's familiar touch. Tenderly, he cleared a few errant strands of hair from her face, and something broke inside her like a dam.
"Oniisama!" Nunnally threw her arms around her brother as best she could, burying her face in his shoulder as he pulled her close. She sobbed and mumbled, trying to apologize over and over again. He shushed her gently, stroking her hair.
"There's nothing you need to apologize for, Nunnally," he said at last when she had calmed down a little. "I don't blame you for hating me-"
"I don't hate you!" she protested. "I could never hate you!"
"Hating what I've done, then," he amended. "You have a kind and gentle heart that makes you believe the best of everyone...but the world isn't so gentle. I wanted to make it that way for you."
"Yes. Remember your wish? For a gentle world?" Lelouch sat up, keeping his hands on her shoulders. His voice rose as he spoke, taking on an implacability that Nunnally recognized. "I made that my goal, higher than defeating Britannia or getting justice for Mother or even freeing Japan. Creating a world without war, without oppression, where no-one is looked down on for what they are and cannot change! Where the whims of a few greedy men cannot kill thousands of others!" His tone softened. "A world for you."
Nunnally was briefly speechless, shocked and a little frightened by Lelouch's intensity. She could understand why so many people were willing to follow him without even knowing who he was, and how dangerous that could be. She was unsure how she felt about the fact that he had become such a person, done the things he had, for her. Awed, certainly, but also somewhat guilty.
Something else drew her away from that line of thought for the moment. "Justice for Mother? You found out who...who..."
"Maybe we should start at the beginning."
It took a long time for Lelouch to tell her everything, even though she tried not to interrupt too often. So much of his story seemed completely incredible. Stealing Britannia's own Knightmares to use against it? Driving right up to Cornelia in a news van? And then there was the seemingly magical power – Geass – that C.C. had given him. At least that explained why the mysterious girl had appeared, and why Lelouch had been vague about who she was. Some of it was difficult to listen to, of course. Imagining both the danger Lelouch had put himself in and the ways he had used people – Japanese and Britannian – to achieve his goals put her heart in her mouth. When he had finished, she remained silent for a while, trying to process all the information. At last, she spoke, trying to recapture the tone she had used earlier to speak to Lelouch-as-Zero.
"Lelouch. Please understand, I...appreciate that you became Zero and risked your life to do all this for me. But in future, if you want to do something on my behalf, please ask me first."
"I won't have my name put to anything I don't approve of."
"That said...I want to help you finish what you've started, Oniisama." Lelouch gasped, but she continued. "If you're going to create a new world for me, I want to have a hand in making it. I know there's not much I can do, but...at least let me know what you're doing. It would help to be able to talk about everything, right? That must be difficult, when you're keeping who you are secret from the Black Knights."
"Nunnally..." Lelouch sounded deeply unsure about agreeing to that, as well he might. But this was something Nunnally had no intention of backing down on. She would be his conscience, his voice of reason, and his confessor, should that be necessary.
"Promise me you will?"
"All right. I warn you, though, it may not be easy."
"I don't care. Not knowing whether you're alive or dead whenever you're away would be worse. I would do more if I could...if I could just open my eyes, C.C. could give me a Geass like yours, and I could be a lot more helpful."
"No! I forbid it! That would be far too dangerous."
"But you said that it's different for everyone. I might get a power I could use for you without having to go anywhere or get into danger. Like being able to see the future, or making a Knightmare appear out of nowhere..."
"I don't think they ever work like that last one."
"Maybe not." She sighed. "Anyway, it doesn't matter, since I can't open my eyes." Lelouch squeezed her hand.
"It's all right, Nunnally. Just by being here, you...you make my life worth living."
"Oniisama..." The siblings embraced again.
"Do you feel up to something to eat?" Lelouch asked at length.
"Sure," she smiled. "Can you tell me more about the Black Knights as well? Is Kallen really completely different out of school?"
"Not just out of school. When she thought I was Zero..."
Dinner was rather odd – it was almost like everything was back to normal. A person watching from outside, unable to hear their conversation, would probably have had no idea that the two sitting at the table were not talking about their respective school days, but about the ins and outs of life in a terrorist group, and the finer points of supernaturally assisted spying. Now that his secret was out and Nunnally had got over the initial shock, Lelouch seemed quite willing to talk about his other life, and it seemed to do him good – he even laughed out loud when she explained about the phone call, shaking his head at how fate kept playing jokes on him (so that was why he had been in such a frantic rush to catch the cat that day!). As she had suspected, keeping so many secrets and working under so much stress had taken a lot out of him, and the only person who had known about all his activities so far had been C.C. – and she, at least by Lelouch's account, wasn't a very sympathetic listener. So Nunnally let him talk well past her usual bedtime, surprised at how interesting she found it all.
When Lelouch finally noticed the time and put her to bed, she was exhausted, but it took her a long time to get to sleep. She kept thinking about her eyesight, and what she might be able to do if she could only see again. This wasn't something she thought about much, because there was no point. She had tried and tried as a child to open her eyes, and driven herself into violent temper tantrums when she failed. Supposedly her blindness was all in her mind; if she wanted to see again, she could, but on some level, she didn't. Knowing how stupid it was, she tried to think about forcing her eyelids up, but as always, something made her stop. She gritted her teeth and turned her head to bury her face in the pillow, fighting back tears of frustration. With an effort of will, she cleared her mind and concentrated on going to sleep.
Her dreams were troubled, but not by the usual nightmares. First she was assaulted by a confused mixture of scenes where Lelouch, as Zero, ordered his soldiers to do terrible things – massacring Britannians, killing his own allies when they failed him, even shooting Euphie. She begged and pleaded with him to stop the entire time, but he paid no attention. The dream ended with a gun being placed to her own head, and she awoke to a horrible few moments of paralysing fear before she remembered that none of it had been real. She drifted back to sleep again, seemingly to better dreams at first. Lelouch was still Zero, but now he kept her at his side and asked her advice, checking that everything he did was all right with her. And it all went perfectly: the Japanese rallied to them, the Britannians gave up, and Cornelia proclaimed Japan a free nation and took her soldiers home.
But that pleasant dream quickly shifted into even worse nightmares. She heard Lelouch die over and over again: stabbed in the back by a spy, shot by soldiers, his Knightmare blown up...even, horribly, killed by Suzaku, who for some reason was crying as he did it. As in the earlier dream, Nunnally was powerless to do anything, because she couldn't move to save him or see to be able to warn him of danger until it was too late. In the final, most terrible scene, they were being stalked through their home by an assassin who seemed to be able to move too fast for Lelouch to see where he was much of the time. He kept striking and running, opening bleeding wounds that Lelouch tried not to make her notice as he moved.
At last, Lelouch was barely conscious, and Nunnally could hear the assassin coming up behind him. She knew where he was, roughly, but not enough to be any use. Lelouch had a gun that he had dropped at her feet as he collapsed, but she couldn't find it or use it. They were both going to die. If only-
If only she could-
Her eyes snapped open wide, and she could suddenly see everything around them in perfect clarity. Without a moment's hesitation, she grabbed the gun, turned in the direction of the unsuspecting assassin, and fired – and the dream ended, plunging her into peaceful sleep.
The sound of activity outside in the school woke her the next morning. For a while she lay, still half-asleep, wondering why she felt so different today, until she remembered what had happened.
The door opened, and she felt the warmth of the morning sun on her face as the curtains were opened. "Good morning, Nunnally."
"Good morning, Oniisama," Nunnally murmured as she came fully awake. She lifted her head off the pillow, pulled herself up on her elbows, and opened her eyes.
TO BE CONTINUED
Code Geass Children of the Revolution Presents: Secondary Characters Theatre!
"Who on earth was that?" Ohgi wondered, staring at his phone, whose screen still read 'ZERO'. "It sounded like some Britannian girl, but why would she be answering Zero's phone?"
"Maybe he's getting information out of her...if you know what I mean." Tamaki elbowed Ohgi in the ribs with a wink.
"Tamaki, she sounded about twelve years old. That's disgusting."
"If some soldier had answered it and tried to keep me talking, I'd think he'd been captured, but that...I'd better dump this phone to be on the safe side."
"You going to try and contact Zero again?"
"I'll get Kallen to try tomorrow."
Timeline Note: Children of the Revolution opens between the end of R1 episode 8 (the announcement of the formation of the Black Knights) and the main events of episode 9 (Kallen's episode), during the period where the Black Knights are raising their profile by weeding out corruption and criminal activity. For those familiar with the DVD extras, it begins before episode 8.75 (the picture drama where nearly everyone visits the opening of the Clovisland pool).