Lelouch, the emperor of all Earth and he who held dominion over its inhabitants sat quietly.
Though the verdant and peaceful imperial garden nearly hummed with beauty, he paid no attention to it. His full attention was fixed instead upon his current path, on the unstoppable forces he'd set in motion. It's almost over, he thought. My rest is nearly at hand. His lip curled in a parody of a smile as he reflected on his current position. How ironic that I should want nothing more than to die... and yet my wish cannot be fulfilled. Until... he sat back and sighed. The Zero Requiem is at its conclusion.
His mind turned again towards the immediate future. He imagined how it would play out, each piece inevitably following its fated path. I will take the most heinous war prisoners to the execution block. But I will not arrive there. Nor will the prisoners- I will die by Suzaku's hand before that happens. He smiled sadly, an expression of pain more than humor crossing his face. "Heinous criminals", I must call them. But in reality they're the closest things to friends I have. And I can't really even call them that, with the trials I've put them through... Lelouch quickly ran through a list of the prisoners. My black knight commanders... once my trusted subordinates. But they threw me, threw Zero, out on the streets and doomed themselves to failure. No... I never trusted them, but they once trusted me. And I abused that connection by perverting their wills with Geass. At least, that's what I've let them think.
The list continued. Kaguya... my bride-to-be. A brilliant girl, who'll grow into a fine woman indeed. She wanted to spend her life with me, but I never let myself be connected to her, physically or emotionally. Despite her advances. I simply had no need for that connection, as focused as my will was on Brittania's downfall. But now... when I think of all the things I haven't done, my body fairly burns with wanting. He shivered and gripped his hands together, nails barely puncturing skin. And when I think of all the ways she's taunted, teased me... all the experiences I've never had scream inside me, demanding release and consummation. His mind flashed upon generated images of passion, disregarding propriety or sense. Lelouch shook himself angrily. I dare not think such things. Focus, "emperor". Focus until the task at hand has been cleared.
Xingke and princess Tianzi. They deserve a life together, but even from my limited medical knowledge I can see he won't last that long. It's a miracle his façade has been maintained so long, but even he cannot turn back the flow of time. The shock of coming so close to execution might even strain his heart past endurance... I might become the reason for his death. I might rob him from Tianzi forever. But she will grow into a fine princess just like Kaguya. She will doubtlessly move on.
The former Britannian soldiers Lelouch gave hardly a thought to. They were insignificant to him, mere equations that he'd written off long ago.
His thoughts paused a moment as he thought of Kallen. My most excellent piece, and more than that, a wonderful young woman. She deserves the title of second-best in the world. Without Suzaku's Geass she might even be first. But Suzaku is dead, at least in the eyes of society. She killed him. Well, his ghost will appear two days from now to make my final bow. He'll be garbed in Zero's vestments, though, so none will realize our trickery.
His mind brushed over his brother, Clovis, and settled on his sister. Nunnally... how terrible and maddening that my battle, begun in her name and for her happiness, will leave her as the loser. I've taken everything from her, and soon I will claim my beloved sister's most cherished object... myself. A solitary tear slipped down his cheek, and Lelouch cursed himself for his weakness. Two more days, until it all comes to a close. Everything has been taken care of... but for one variable. The single equation I cannot name and can only just understand.
"Feeling sorry for yourself, as usual?" Lelouch knew it was her without even turning his head. How fitting for an immortal witch to show up as I'm thinking of her. What other voice could tease him beyond reason, make him nearly lose control of himself? She's nearly as bad as Kaguya, with her plans to create connections with me. And I've failed in my intent to stay aloof from her. I can't bear the thought of leaving her behind...
Less than two seconds after her original statement, Lelouch answered her. "And what would you know of regret? You're not supposed to have feelings, remember?" A long pause stood between them. He sighed and turned to face C.C, her green hair blowing gently in the wind. He was struck by her unearthly beauty, as he always was. Enigmatic. Alien. Outlandish and intriguing. She folded her arms against the flowing suit she always wore. Despite himself, Lelouch felt concern. "What's wrong, C.C? Where are your usual retorts, the all-knowing aloofness? Where is your haughty smile?" He saw, to his surprise, tears starting in her eyes. She hugged herself close. "Lelouch, listen to me. This price you think you're prepared to pay, it's not-" C.C. bit her lip and hesitated. "What you think you're giving up, it's more than that. You can't know what it's like." What... it's like? What is she talking about? Lelouch ignored the sentence after a moment of thought. Likely just another maddening word game or half-truth.
"Dying? No, I'm fully prepared for it. I've never wanted something so badly in my life. I can almost taste its sweet release on my tongue." To his further confusion, C.C's tears began to flow at his statement. "No... no, no, you don't know what you... what you're giving up, it's different from-" her face froze as she clearly realized something. When time for her resumed, she only cried harder. I've never seen her like this. She's usually so cold, so insulated... Lelouch recognized his feelings with some shock. I want to protect her. He hesitated, but moved close to her. He held out his hands. "C.C, I... " "No!" She cut him off, backing away. "If we, if you do this, I'll never be able to..." she paused again, then whispered, "All I can say is this. If you change your mind, talk to me. I can change it." Lelouch felt like he'd been broken into tiny fragments. It was like a thousand different pieces of himself were warring with each other. Half of him shouted at him to MOVE, to reassure her; to call it all off and spend his life with the witch that cried with a stone face, now standing in front of him. But he couldn't. His other half reminded him quietly of the plan, the Zero Requiem. If I give up now, I promise myself and her happiness but damn the world. I'll doom the human condition to more suffering, more hatred. I'll trap it rather than free it.
C.C. turned to leave, her tears somewhat subsided. Lelouch stood indecisive, but knew what he must do. He whispered a quiet apology. "I fulfilled our contract for a short time, but I would have liked to for much longer. I hope you can forgive me... perhaps we can meet again, in another life." C.C. turned her head to look at him, eyes wide and new tears forming. She shook, trembling, then walked away stiffly. Lelouch could see it took all her strength not to break into a run.
He held his composure long enough for her to round a corner and move out of earshot. Then he could pretend no longer and fell to the ground, slamming his fists downward. "Damn it," Lelouch the unfeeling cried. "Damn it all!" I've lost every girl I ever cared about! I shot Euphemia after I perverted her will. I killed Shirley with my inaction, focusing on Jeremiah when I should have been PROTECTING HER! He pounded the ground once more. Kallen I've pushed away with my dishonesty. She now thinks I'm a cruel and hateful ruler, corrupted by the power I possess. My beloved Nunnally is lost to me as well. I've convinced her, though it nearly killed me to do so, that I am willing to trample her over in my quest for power. And now... Lelouch groaned and lay back, unable to muster enough energy to yell out his frustration and despair. I'm so tired... I keep making mistakes I can't fix. Not only will my death steal C.C's growing happiness from her, but I've wounded her with my words. I still don't know what I did wrong... but it doesn't matter anymore. Nothing does. Only death, and its beckoning simplicity...
Lelouch's thoughts, inevitably, focused upon that paradoxical witch. I suppose, a long time ago, I desired fixing her. She was something of a game to me, a problem or equation to be solved. And I still haven't even figured out how she works. But I think it was only after I understood what she truly wanted, as I fought with my mother and father... that I truly began to feel something for her. No, perhaps it was before then... but knowing she too had desires, she too needed connection, that caused me to feel close to her. More than anything, I think she's lonely. And I can't fix that need anymore. She's on her own. He felt prickling behind his eyes, and he stood angrily. Move forward. Keep going. All tasks at hand must be cleared. Besides... this is all I deserve for the sins I've committed.