(Pointless) Disclaimer: C.C., Mao and Code Geass belong to their owners (not me). Warning! May be troubling to shallow readers used to static, one-dimensional characters! Rated T for some graphic violence, mature themes, monomania, implied sexuality, insanity, (mostly) mild profanity as well as strong doses of 'more than mind control', 'freak outs', 'a hikaru genji plan', 'hannibal lectures' and 'breaking the cutie.'
Mao. That one name sends ripples through the already broken fanbase of Code Geass. Introduced in Stage 14, he appears cool, cunning, and delightfully unnerving, a character who can be a breath of fresh air, because he doesn't appear to take the grim world around too seriously, a perfect foil for the previously unchallenged Antihero protagonist, Lelouch. In fact, he was met by fans with quite a bit of enthusiasm over this fact and to this day remains among Lelouch's most popular foes, despite the fact that he only premiered in three episodes. But underneath that initial villainy, there is immediately a deep-seated mysteriousness evident about him—leading us to question, who he is? What is his true goal? Why does he do the things that he does?
And then in Stage 15, further details are given, but the mystery is still not fully explained. And the details are not what we expected. Where once we thought we had a raving lunatic, we find a broken child, grown into a man who is desperately in love with the one and only person who can help him. Suddenly there are those unwilling to excuse his cruelty contrasted with those deeply sympathetic to his tragic backstory.
This is quite a rarity—for a character to deal out cruelty and receive our sympathy. But yet it is not an example of misaimed "fandumb". In this case, it is well justified.
But then, just as suddenly as he was revealed, Mao is taken away in Stage 16, remaining largely misunderstood. In fact, it is not all the way until Stage 15 of Code Geass R2, that we are able to finally understand the true source of his conflict. But few appear to have made this deduction, tying all the facts together and realizing the truly heartbreaking truth.
My goal with this story is to delve into these inner workings of Mao's story, exploring his troubled mind and the complex formulations behind his actions. Any comments, criticism, questions, or even encouragement are greatly appreciated.
A companion to Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
(The Day The Whole World Went Away)
It was such a beautiful day! The sun beamed bright overhead, spreading its rays over the green wild. The cheerful sound of a gentle stream flowing nearby could be heard in the air, joined by a chorus of singing birds.
Mao looked proudly at something resting in the palm of his hand. All this year, he had been secretly crafting something-a ring. He had cut away stone to make a mold and smelted the ore himself, smoothing it down into shape. He had set a small gemstone into it, what kind he couldn't tell. But he had found it deep in some nearby caves and it sparkled beautifully in the light, especially after rubbing it. He had learned from one of the countless minds he had probed over the years that when a man loves a woman very, very much, he gives her a ring, binding them together forever.
For today was a very special day. It was the day of his anniversary. Or at least, that's what he and C.C., the girl who lived our here in the wild with him, called it.
The whole thing had started one day about eleven years ago, when Mao asked C.C.,
"When is your birthday?"
Looking at him out of the corner of her eye, she instead asked, "When is your birthday?"
Mao paused for a moment, deep in thought, and said finally, "I can't remember".
"Then perhaps it's not all that important," CC replied with a devious smile.
But Mao had a quick solution.
"Then every year we will celebrate the anniversary of our first meeting instead," he announced boisterously.
Mao smiled at the memory. On their anniversary, they would each try to secretly make a special gift and surprise each other with it, which was quite amusing considering that both of them were expecting it. C.C. would usually stalk off to steal things that could only be found in civilization. On such occasions, she would bring him paints and brushes, canvas, easels, and other exotic presents, while Mao would work hard all day gathering flowers to make her a lovely bouquet or searching the nearby caves for precious stones, though C.C. didn't really like it when Mao spent a lot of time in the caves.
This anniversary meant that Mao was roughly around seventeen years old and C.C. at least seven hundred and seventeen years old. When he was about six, she had found him living as an urchin on the streets of China, struggling to survive. He didn't have any parents and couldn't even read or write. But C.C. had given him a special power; Geass, she called it. It gave him the ability to know the thoughts of anyone he focused on, even probe deep into their subconscious if he chose to. But as time went on, his Geass grew so powerful that he became unable to be around other people without constantly experiencing their thoughts. C.C., having given him this power, was the one person immune to this effect. The constant noise of so many mean voices, disgusting images and painful emotions pounding inside his head drove him miserable. So, fleeing the noisy city, they had journeyed deep into the wilderness to make a new life for themselves. Distanced from other people, C.C. had become his best friend and, as his infatuation for her grew over the years, his lover. Perhaps even the only human Mao truly knew. She was everything to him in this world.
He turned the ring over and over. He couldn't wait to place it on one of C.C.'s delicate fingers. Grinning with anticipation, he slipped it into one of the pockets he had cut into his shorts and headed out.
As Mao walked along the grass, which felt so lush and soft under his bare feet, he reflected upon his situation. He had grown up quite a bit. He was taller than C.C. now and, like her, very clever. But things were slightly…different now, between the two of them. He no longer looked at her with the eyes of a little boy, but those of a young man. The way he held her at night, the way he kissed her, always seeking deeper intimacy, were borne no longer from childish affection, but desire. C.C. didn't mind, of course, and Mao felt it was simply natural that his love for her should grow as he had.
Since C.C. hadn't arrived yet, he quickly set about building a fire for the two of them to enjoy later on, hurriedly gathering brush, twigs and other tinder so it would be a surprise. The fish he had caught earlier were laying nearby, cut up, seasoned with some handpicked parsley, and just waiting to be cooked.
Soon, the clever young man had a nice fire burning, contentedly eating the twigs and moss he had fed it and the spot was filled with its soft glow and warmth. Taking the fish and putting it into one of the dishes C.C. had stolen for them, he hung it over the fire to let it simmer for a while. Slowly, the air was filled with its mouthwatering scent. With nothing to do now but wait, he took out the ring to admire it and, one last time, make sure it was perfect. He smiled.
Suddenly, however, he heard a familiar voice behind him call out, "What are you up to?"
He quickly stuffed the ring into his pocket and spun around, trying to distract C.C. with a big smile instead. She eyed the pocket suspiciously.
"This is a nice fire," she remarked as she laid down, feigning disinterest in whatever he was hiding.
"Happy anniversary, C.C.!" Mao announced as he took the platter, full of deliciously cooked fish and sat down behind her, gently pulling her body into his chest.
"Thank you. Happy anniversary, Mao," C.C. chirped back cheerfully.
They sat in silence for awhile, enjoying the meal and the fire and the sounds of the wild as evening crept on. They took turns feeding each other just for the fun of it as a couple of clouds appeared in the sky and Mao looked up warily. It seemed as if something was…bothering C.C.. Like she wanted to say something but couldn't find the right words. He couldn't hear her thoughts, but living with her for so long had given him almost perfect sensitivity to the subtleties of her complex emotions.
Quite satisfied, C.C. set the platter aside and Mao proceeded to gently run his fingers through her shimmering green hair, always one of his favorite things to do, hoping it might ease whatever was troubling her. C.C. smiled dreamily, both of them lulled peacefully by the sleepy fire.
Gazing up at the emerging stars, which seemed so much brighter tonight, Mao kissed C.C.'s head softly. She looked up and smiled, her tawny eyes dazzling to behold. He put his hand on her neck and gently tilted her head farther backward, kissing her lips. It was a lingering kiss, full of contentment.
"C.C.," Mao began uncertainly, blushing. Though he was not quite sure why.
"Yes, Mao?" CC asked.
"I made you something for our anniversary," Mao explained, clearly nervous.
"I made you something too," C.C. replied. "But can I give you mine first?" she added.
Mao nodded with a smile. C.C. repositioned herself cross-legged in front of him and took out a curious thing to have in such a remote place-a digital audio player along with a large pair of head phones.
"This is from the city!" Mao mused excitedly. He had not personally been to the city, any city, for a while now, unable to handle the hundreds of minds he was exposed to there. C.C. took the headphones and put them over his ears, turning the volume knob slightly. "Listen," she said as she pressed the play button and put her hands over his eyes playfully.
"Thank you Mao," played her voice, soothing and sweet as if it each word was dripping with honey.
"It's you!" Mao exclaimed, clapping his hands together excitedly. After a few moments, he slid the device down to his neck.
"Any time, you want to hear my voice, you can just press 'play'," C.C. explained enthusiastically. Perhaps too enthusiastically.
Mao stopped, his eyes narrowing. "But...why would I listen to a recording when I have you right here?" he asked, his voice suddenly full of suspicion.
C.C. paused and bit her lip, as if she was forcing herself to continue, he thought. "Mao, the time has come to fulfill our contract," she explained solemnly.
Mao nodded. C.C. mentioned his obligation to her as part of their contract often enough that he couldn't forget about it, but she had never told him what it was all these years. "What must I do?" he asked, a seriousness in his voice that C.C. rarely heard.
His tone emboldened C.C. and she pressed forward. He always tried to please her, after all. "My wish, the condition of our pact...is to die," she replied without a hint of emotion. "For my existence to end. The destiny of those gifted by Geass to succeed the one who bestowed that power upon them," she explained further. "In other words, you must kill me."
As predicted, lightning flashed overhead in the sky, followed by the sound of thunder.
"You...you're asking me to kill you?" Mao asked, his voice faltering, simply unable to comprehend what he was hearing. "Why would you wish for that? How can you ask me to do something like that? I-I could never do that..."
"Mao please," C.C. stopped him. "There is no life without death."
"I don't understand," Mao countered, his eyes going wide as he looked around fearfully. "C.C...what's going on? Why are you saying that?"
"I've lived for centuries. But you have so much to do," C.C. explained, putting her lips to Mao's ear as she pressed against him, her voice becoming seductive as hot breath splayed his cheek. Mao's eyes glossed over as his breaths came faster and he could feel himself stiffening in response to her. "If you just do this—you'll finally be free of your Geass! You'll be able to go anywhere without pain anymore. And then you can remake this world into whatever you want—no one will be able to stop you if you possess my power. And…" she hesitated, unsure of how to finish. "You'll have my eternal gratitude. I have been waiting until your Geass became powerful enough so that you would be able to take my place," she explained.
Mao's mouth fell open in shock. "I don't care about power, or traveling or the world even! I thought we would be together...always," he blurted out. "Y-You promised... We have to stay together!" Mao pressed. "…You love me," he pleaded finally as if it were a question, tears welling up in his eyes.
C.C. froze, involuntarily shuddering. "Mao...," she countered gently, her voice faltering once more for some reason.
"C.C., I can't—I won't—kill you! I love you! We have to be together," Mao choked, bringing her mind back to the present.
C.C. looked at the young man before her, searching for a way. But one look in his Geass-filled eyes revealed the truth. He would never do it. Rain began to fall, filling the woods with the sound.
"How disappointing," C.C. remarked as her voice fell cold, suppressing the anger rising up within her. "Then farewell, Mao," she said as she turned abruptly and began walking away, her face set like stone.
"Wha-What do you mean, 'goodbye'?" Mao asked in disbelief, going after her.
"I'm leaving you to find someone who will fulfill my contract," C.C. replied, her words cutting his heart like a knife.
Mao followed close behind her, begging her to stay. After a while he tried to grab hold of her and force her back, but she merely shrugged him off each time. He kept looking at her in horror, shaking his head all the while.
"Please don't!" he cried.
They walked and walked and walked, through the pouring rain and mud. After some time, Mao began hearing voices. They were faint at first, but as he continued to follow C.C., they grew louder and louder.
"C.C., the Geass!" he called out frantically. But C.C. continued to ignore him.
Eventually they emerged from the wood out onto a busy road beyond which could be seen the lights and imposing structures of a large Chinese city.
Mao began to panic, his breathing coming rapidly as he struggled to awake from this nightmare. He clenched his teeth, trying to remain focused but they—the voices—forced their way through.
It's so boring just waiting here. Somebody move!
I wish these cars would just get out of my way
That #!*% ! That was my turn! Doesn't he know about 'right of way'?
I hope my car doesn't malfunction or slip in this weather. What if I get in an accident…and killed?
Are we there yet?
Son of a #!*% ...
Mao collapsed to the ground on the side of the road. It was too much, too loud. He couldn't stand it.
"C.C.!" he screamed, his voice filled with desperation.
But she ignored him and crossed the street.
He tried so hard to get up and follow her but he couldn't move, he couldn't think. His head pounded as cars drove heedlessly by. He tried to watch her. She continued walking, growing smaller and smaller as she got farther and farther away from him.
"C.C.!" he wailed again, straining to see her face. "I'll do anything! Please! Just don't leave me, C.C.!" He thought he saw her cast a final glance backward at him, as if to make sure of something, but then…she was gone!
The storm continued overhead, mercilessly drenching him with rain and filling the landscape with flashes of lightning and the peals of thunder.
He couldn't follow her. It was too much. So he began to crawl. Through the rain and the mud, back the way they had come. As he went, the voices began to fall away and his mind was left quiet. Eventually, he staggered back to their campsite. The fire had been quenched by rain and neglect while their used dishes lay strewn about no doubt searched by wild animals. He carefully, tenderly picked up the recorder she had left there, protected from the downpour by the shade of a large leaf. He slid the head phones on and pressed 'play'.
Mao? Mao, are you awake? I'm sorry, Mao. See, that's the way, Mao-You can do it! Thank you, Mao, it crooned.
"C.C.…why? Why? What did I do? I'm sorry... I...I don't understand," Mao muttered repeatedly as he finally broke down into uncontrollable sobs, his mind slipping into an utter and terrifying darkness. It felt like waves and waves of anguish were crashing against him, drowning him, the pain sweeping from his soul through his body. How could his beloved C.C. leave him? For hours he laid there in a stupor, the pain refusing to give him any reprieve, alone and without hope for comfort, as he had been living on the harsh streets of China.
Mao shivered. The cold air of night began to take its toll on his soaked form.
Endsong: "Goodbye My Lover" by James Blunt