Hello, I am Rex. This is my first epic fanfiction, and the second fanfiction I ever wrote in general. Originally written for a gen prompt at cgkinkmemeii at livejournal about what would happen if Suzaku died early in the series, my fill grew and mutated and took on a life of it's own. Therefore, I think the pacing differences between this first chapter and the rest of the chapters is pretty wide.
WARNING: This thing is gross. It is gorey and squicky. If you are not bothered by such, please do read. But if you are easily disturbed, this is not the story for you, and please turn back before I feel really guilty.
Suzaku dies that day in Shinjuku, and all Lelouch can think about is that he is the only one who gives a damn.
When he comes home after witnessing his first friend bleed to death on concrete, countless other innocent people ripped to shreds, and his big brother's brains splattered on the throne by his own hands, Lelouch's fingers shake so badly he can't open the back door. It is Sayoko who greets him, dressed for sleep with a gown pulled modestly over herself. She looks fully awake. Lelouch goes upstairs to check on Nunally (breathes a sigh of relief because for one crazy moment he thought maybe, maybe Clovis already knew we were here or maybe someone overheard me talking to him or maybe the sky fell and Nunally, too, would be dead, face down as Suzaku was, the wood floor stained beneath her). Sayoko momentarily serves him a bowl of rice that for some reason is warm, and Lelouch is grateful that she doesn't bother asking Lelouch where he's been.
Lelouch sleeps deeply but not well, tossing and cracking open his eyes at five twenty eight in the morning, too bothered by a dream about Clovis to not see his gentle blue eyes staring from above his bed in judgment.
Lelouch can't bring himself to say anything to Nunally. He takes her hand in the morning because she was so distressed by his disappearance, but that is all he has to do and she gasps and asks him what's wrong. Lelouch removes his hand from hers- "It's nothing you should worry about, Nunally" -but he feels if he opens his mouth any more, he'll vomit right on top of their shiny black shoes.
So he manages to get through the next day, really, by specifically not thinking of that day. Or tries not to, anyway. At one point he really does vomit after seeing some footage, watched for entertainment, the truth twisted by reporters.
Lelouch sits in his room that evening and searches the web for news about Shinjuku. He had forced Clovis to order that all the bodies be treated with care, whether Brittanian or Eleven, but no one bothers to list the names of dead Elevens, not even the soldiers. No matter how much he searches, Lelouch cannot find one Suzaku Kururugi listed.
He leaves that very day to visit Shinjuku.
The world is still light out, somehow, by the time he is walking through fields of trash bags, clearly separated from the body bags of the Brittanians. He had considered bringing a handkerchief sprayed with perfume, but then thought maybe it would be an insult to his friend, with whom he once traversed decimated cities. At one point, he recalls grimly, the bodies of the Japanese had lain so thickly over the ground that there was no more stepping over, only stepping on.
He holds his breath as much as he can. Doesn't even breath through his mouth, just doesn't breath at all, because he doesn't exactly want to taste death on his tongue.
Suzaku is in a body bag, not a trash bag, thank god thank god hallelujah. It says, Suzaku Kururugi, approximately 15 to 19, male, 11. A photo of his dead face is included in the tag, but it isn't enough. Lelouch leans down and unzips the bag.
Someone anonymous posts online that the son of former Prime Minister Genbu Kururugi, Suzaku Kururugi, is dead. The post gets mild interest from the rest of the anonymous collective, but it soon dies away and Suzaku is forgotten. Truly, the world is mad; Lelouch knows this as he toys with a pocket watch that belonged once to Genbu Kururugi. It is whole, somehow untarnished from the battle. It ticks away steadily in the palm of his hand.
The night after his first appearance as Zero, in which he spoke to Kallen's terrorist buddies, Lelouch dreams of Suzaku for the first time since his death.
It is a strange dream that doesn't quite add up. They are together in the fields of sunflowers, but Suzaku is grown, not a little boy, and so is Lelouch. It all seems very natural to him at the time, however, and he enjoys playing again with Suzaku.
"I've missed you, Lelouch."
"Yeah," Lelouch says. It isn't adequate. His eyes water a little from the brightness of the sunflowers. "I missed you, too. I didn't realize how much."
Suzaku grins in the way Lelouch remembers, boyish and mischievous and warm. "Missed getting beat up by me, did you?"
Lelouch can't help but be his old self here. "Of all the-! Of course not, you fool! I missed-"
He stops, because he suddenly realizes why the ground he's running on is so uneven. There are bodies underneath the flowers, their dull greys and reds contrasting sharply with the ultra-brightness of the green stalks and yellow petals and blue, blue sky. Fertilizer. Lelouch smells decay and the sweetness of nature all around him.
"Missed?" Suzaku asks, walking back towards him, a giant sunflower held to his chest, partially obscuring his face. Zero's mask rests in the center of the petals.
"Well," Lelouch admits, promptly forgetting the dead people he is standing on. "You made me happy."
"I did that?"
"Yes. And I don't think I've been quite as happy since."
It takes a lot longer than he would have guessed to make the Japanese trust him. Lelouch hadn't expected it to be easy, exactly, but he did feel enormous pressure- to the point where sweats himself to waking at night. Sometimes he reaches for the pocket watch he places on his bedside table at night, looks at it, and wonders what Suzaku would say.
Suzaku, who was always brave and strong. Suzaku, not lived even a fourth of his natural life. When he imagines Suzaku now, it's in the same vein as that horrible dream in which that beautiful summer was marred by the death and decay. He sees, in his mind's eye, Suzaku leaning against a tree, looking healthy and warm and- there's that strange gentleness in his eyes before he closes them -there remains the empty shells of cicadas next to his skin, on the trees. Flowers wilt by his feet, still so bright but unable to take the heat. And Lelouch smells Suzaku, too. Suzaku smells like rot.
Still. Still. Suzaku was brave. Lelouch can't really fathom why he became a soldier, but Suzaku had still been Lelouch's friend. Suzaku had died for Lelouch, after all.
He'd been such a good person...
Lelouch feels his eyes grow hot and quickly switches to obsessing over his plans once more. So: Kaname Ougi. Leader of the terrorists that Lelouch had worked with on that day. Captured and soon to be publicly executed. This is Lelouch's- no, Zero's chance to make a miracle.
And a miracle he will make.
Mere moments before the plan to rescue Ougi in front of the entirety of Area 11 was to be enacted, Zero takes a moment to compose himself, removes his helmet, and Lelouch vomits.
It almost seems like that is all he can do, lately. Mostly it comes out clear, and Lelouch is left with the same clenching emptiness that matches the feeling in his chest perfectly.
He clenches his fist briefly around the Kururugi pocket watch. Hears Suzaku's voice say, "You and I together, we can do anything"- the same promise from their childhood, carried on putrid breath from between rotting teeth...
-or, just the wind, breezing past his sweaty, bared neck. Nothing more. The smell of exhaust fumes, from the car the terrorists had put together for him. Nothing more. Zero replaces the mask and straightens, walking out confidently, glad they were far enough away to not have heard him in a moment of weakness.
Amongst nervous or irritated glances, he takes his place behind the flag of Brittania. He doesn't pretend that they trust him an ounce. They're helping him only because they have a beloved friend to save.
Zero is forced to use his Geass on Gottwald. Ougi looks very confused and beaten as he walks stiffly to meet Zero and Kallen in the middle of the street. He also looks a little scared, but that dies down at the flip of red hair peeking out from Kallen's cap. The plan goes as smoothly as Zero could have wanted, and soon enough Ougi is reunited with his friends. They look up at him after they say their hellos and Are you okay?s with eyes shining. Not at him, but they look at him with happiness, pride, and hope, left over from their reunion with Ougi. It's not for Zero. Not yet anyway.
Ougi approaches him, neck raw, face split and bruised, and he bows his gratitude. Zero (Lelouch) does not bow back.
"Join me," he says imperiously, voice booming and broken through the voice scrambler and the echoes of the building. Even through the mask, he smells dripping water and mildew.
Ougi smiles. "Yes. We will make a good team."
Lelouch returns home that night, very satisfied with the day's events, to find a woman in a prison suit sitting with his younger sister. Lelouch splutters at her, barely registering such a strange name- C.C.? -and he can't get her away from Nunally fast enough.
"How come you came back to life?" he asks her at one point.
"Came back? Implying that I died."
"You did," he says, simple and stubborn, glaring at her as she makes herself comfortable in his bed. She smiles back at him, cat-like.
"I guess I did."
"It isn't fair," Lelouch hisses.
And she agrees. "No, it really isn't."
Shortly thereafter, Margrave Jeremiah Gottwald loses his command, and becomes, simply, Jeremiah Gottwald. Cornelia li Brittania takes control of Area 11 in Clovis' place. Euphemia li Brittania becomes the sub-viceroy, but rumor leaks out that she was injured somehow. When Lelouch digs further on the internet, there is something written very scarcely about a scuffle between the Purebloods. When Euphemia and Cornelia appear together on the television, one of Euphemia's arms is harnessed to her body. The scandal takes some time to die down.
At some point, more food than usual starts appearing on his plate. When Lelouch realizes it, he looks up in surprise to where Sayoko is placing a glass of milk next to Nunally's plate. She says nothing, but after dinner she corners him. He's a little intimidated, not really having received such attention for about eight years. All she does, though, is take his pulse, and rest the back of her hand against his forehead.
Results inconclusive, she backs up a pace, smoothes his hair where she messed it up, and then walks away to attend her duties to Nunally. That night, Lelouch lies on his side, arms circling his turbulent stomach, C.C. sleeping carelessly next to him. He falls asleep late into the night and dreams of Sayoko. Sayoko turns into his mother, living, who turns into his mother, dead, who turns into Suzaku, dead, who turns into Suzaku, alive. Even when he's alive, though, Suzaku smells like he's dead.
That horrible woman... smells like pizza. She orders many different kinds of pizza with his debit card, but she often orders the kind with mushrooms. The smell makes him even sicker.
One day as Lelouch is having tea with Nunally- anything to get run away from the horrible smell of mushrooms (not to say tea with Nunally is a bad option) -the most ridiculous thing happens. Somehow a cat has gotten hold of his Zero mask.
The resulting chase is, frankly, ludicrous. In fact, trying to crawl up the side of slanted roof after the damned creature, Lelouch loses his grip and falls. He manages to catch onto the ledge of a window, but his strength gives out. It slows him down enough for the football team to crowd under him, though, and the only thing hurt is his pride. The student council rushes over to make sure he is alright. Past their leg, he sees the cat walking away, mask-less, and Lelouch is so relieved he starts to laugh.
His friends don't quite understand, but laugh with him. He spends the rest of the afternoon dodging questions, and has to give a kiss to a girl that snatched the cat into her arms. Nunally names the cat Arthur.
Suzaku came to mind. Suzaku had loved cats. Of course, Suzaku always came to mind.
"Do you ever think of Suzaku?"
Lelouch freezes utterly in the middle of inputting data into his laptop. His stomach flips and he suppresses a- well, he doesn't know what he's holding down, maybe yet more vomit, or perhaps a scream or tears or something very, VERY unpleasant.
"What brought this up, Nunally?"
They are sitting in the living room on a Saturday. Sayoko has the day off, and all the electric things save Lelouch's computer are shut down. Even the bulbs have been turned off, and the room is illuminated gently, beautifully by the bright sunlight streaming in through the open windows. Nunally is facing these windows, the breeze lifting her hair and tossing it about her face. Bathed in this pureness, she looks like an angel to him.
"Nothing in particular. I just think of him very often," she says softly.
"Yes, very often. I've been so happy lately. I think Suzaku would've been great friends with Milly and Rivalz and Shirley... and I think Nina would have gotten used to him. After all, Suzaku managed to make even you like him, brother." She giggles happily.
"Nunally," he starts and then has to clear his throat because his voice cracks a little. She cocks her head in his direction. "I..." (He can't do it he can't do it he can't do it, sorry Suzaku) "...I think of him often, too."
For once he is glad Nunally is blind, because she smiles as he cries.
"Big brother, it's okay to admit it. You loved him, didn't you?" Lelouch doesn't answer right away, so Nunally continues. "I really loved him. He was like another brother. I adored him. What about you?"
"Yes," Lelouch finally says, and opens his mouth to say more, but feels something coming up, and so he has to leave.