Title: Stagnant

Genre: Horror/Friendship

Rating: M

Warnings: AU. Time travel. Different relationships (romantic, friendly, and some that blur the line between the two), but I'll let those be a surprise. Gore, violence, death, zombies, and all that jazz.

Summary: It's the year 2023 and Suzaku and Kallen are the last survivors inhabiting the world, but a chance encounter with an eccentric scientist sends them hurtling back into the past with hopes of changing the future. But were they meant to?

Disclaimer: I do not own Code Geass.

Serena: Keep an open mind about all the relationships in here and PLEASE remember that 95% of the relationships mentioned in here are purely platonic (though, some sit on a precarious edge between romantic and friendly, but they are still platonic nonetheless; it's a bit complicated) AND I like zombies. (shot) WELL, the idea was in my head and it wouldn't go away. Plus, I really do adore post-apocalyptic stories and I've always wanted to write one. This seemed like as good a year as any to do one in (considering the whole 2012 thing). I already have this story planned out. Updates will be made once a month. I'm trying to time it so that it ends in December, but depending on how much I put into a chapter, it might end before then. We'll just have to see. I thought it would be a neat idea, at least. Well, I won't hold you up any longer. Enjoy~!

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C h a p t e r 0 1: D a m n a t I o n

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The virus that killed Suzaku's best friend was birthed in the heart of a once powerful nation known as Britannia. It had been cultivated for over nine years by a seemingly unremarkable scientist whose true name was still unknown to the world. The reasons for the virus' creation are also unknown (as any documents that could possibly remain in existence were highly unlikely to be found considering the dangerous state of the world), but the effects and consequences of its creation became more than apparent during its initial growth.

An assistant of the nameless scientist was just the first of many. Within hours, the entire compound in which the unknown scientist worked in was swarming with infection. The virus caused those it infected to lose their minds and the people even began to attack one another (biting, clawing, tearing, devouring), which only caused the infection to spread at a faster pace until everyone in the compound died.

But they didn't stay dead.

Whatever chemicals the virus had swirling within it reanimated the deceased corpses of the compound's workers and the newly risen subjects broke free and infected the general public. Women, children, animals, infants, the elderly…the infected subjects showed no discrimination or mercy to those unfortunate enough to step into their bloodshot gazes. All were taken; all were killed.

The Britannian Emperor, Charles zi Britannia, commanded a small 'cleaning crew' to deal with the growing threat of 'insane' people, but without the proper knowledge of what was happening to aid them, this crew of soldiers were easily outmatched and joined the populace of dead civilians. When communications with the crew were lost, a state of emergency was declared and all remaining civilians were ordered to evacuate, but it was hopeless. Those that ran were dragged back and eaten alive and those that managed to escape to an uninfected area were forced into hiding. More soldiers were sent out to try and take control of the situation, but most met their ends by the hands of bloodied fingers. Eventually, it became apparent that sending soldiers out did nothing but increase the problem and attempts to take back control were abandoned.

Six months later, all of Britannia was engulfed within the virus. Communications with the nation were entirely lost and none of the other nations (that weren't under control of Britannia) dared to investigate (though many wanted to). The last transmission anyone received from the silent nation had been a news report. A cute little reporter girl had been trying to explain the situation to those watching, but her cameraman dropped his camera while shrieking in agony. The reporter tried to run, but heels weren't made for running and she tripped. Many people lost their lunches at what followed.

Within four years, the virus had spread across the globe and in those four years, the Earth's population of life had diminished greatly. There was hardly anyone left alive and those that were had little hope of salvation, but they continued to survive because it was all that they could do (no one wanted to become one of the infected; no one wanted to die like that).

-x-x-

August 14th, 2023 a.t.b.; a year after the virus' global spread

It was quiet and there was a pleasant wind blowing past. It breezed through stalks of grass and ruffled his brown curls in gentle caresses, but the situation was anything but peaceful (despite there being no signs of infected nearby). He was staring at a single flower bobbing up and down and up and down in the breeze. Its petals were white and its nice, green stem was strong and tall. It was a healthy little flower.

"Suzaku." came a quiet voice that lacked its usual bossy intensity.

Suzaku continued to stare at the flower (because it was a nice, healthy little flower; maybe it was a tad bit lonely, though). He reached out a hand to gently touch the flower's petals. They were soft and a little wet from recent rain.

"Suzaku." the voice repeated and though it was still somewhat quiet, it was a bit more forceful. "…look at me. Please?"

Suzaku narrowed his eyes and retracted his hand (lest he snap the healthy little flower right out of its home; it was lonely, though, it needed a friend, but it didn't have one anymore). He didn't turn, at first, but continued to stare at the little flower almost angrily.

Because it wasn't fair. Just when things were growing steady, just when the past had been settled and no more animosity remained between them, just when their friendship had finally been reestablished, just when-

"We should go." Suzaku said after a moment and he finally managed to tear his eyes away from the little flower to turn his slightly unfocused gaze onto the voice's owner. "…we should just go."

Standing a few feet away from the brunet was a slender woman with bright red hair and curves in all the right places. Her eyes were a soothing shade of azure, but they had dulled somewhat over the years (but so had Suzaku's; neither one of them could keep their shine after everything they had witnessed). Her simple clothing (consisting of nothing more than a white tank top and beige shorts) were tattered somewhat and weaponry (an army knife she had stolen and a pair of pistols) clung to her form like a second skin. Her gaze was sympathetic and watery and her eyes were a little red (she hadn't bothered to wipe the tear stains clinging to her cheeks away).

"I'm sorry we didn't get out in time." she said in apology. "…I'm…s-sorry about Lelouch."

To his credit, Suzaku managed not to break down all over again, but his eyes watered at the mention of his friend and he turned away abruptly. He opened his mouth to reply, but he clamped it shut when nothing more than a hoarse squeak came out and his gaze dropped back to the little flower that was still bobbing up and down in the wind.

"I-If I had just gone after him…I'm so sorry, Suzaku." she continued but her voice cracked at the end and Suzaku heard her inhale sharply.

"…don't blame yourself like that, Kallen." Suzaku replied and he was trying his best to keep his voice steady for both their sakes. "It's not your fault. Lelouch -"

Suzaku paused for a moment to wipe at the water trickling down his cheeks and he steadied his breathing (which had grown a bit labored) before continuing on.

"I wasn't fast enough and he got in the way." the brunet continued. "That thing killed him. Not you. It was…out of our control."

Kallen wiped at the tears flooding her eyes and sighed in such a depressing manner that Suzaku almost lost the composure he had managed to build up.

"That doesn't change what happened." Kallen responded and she dropped to her knees in a heap of mental exhaustion. "…Suzaku, there's no one else left. Gino never came back and now…"

She trailed off and buried her head in her hands. It was just so much (too much) for her mind to process. Out of everyone in their pack of survivors, she and Suzaku were the only ones still alive. At one point, they had maybe fifty people, but incident after incident clawed at their numbers until it eventually came down to only the four of them: Suzaku, Kallen, Lelouch, and Gino.

Three days ago, Gino left on a hunt to locate the source of a mysterious radio signal their military radios had been receiving. No one had wanted Gino to go alone, but the blonde had been stubborn. He had somehow convinced everyone that he would be just fine and he left with a reassuring smile and promise of his quick return.

( ("Besides," Gino continued with an airy chuckle. "Kallen's sexiness will be too much of a distraction!"

Kallen crushed her cola can and chunked it at Gino's head, blushing all the while—though attempting to hide it.) )

The trio managed to keep in contact with Gino for the rest of the day, but somewhere during the early morning, Gino's radio began to send nothing but static back to them until it eventually went deathly silent. Gino never came back when he claimed he would and the anxious trio had been forced to move their location after being discovered by a nasty group of infected. They never saw Gino again and the blonde's radio never sent another transmission of any kind.

The trio were forced into hiding (mostly to conserve their limited resources; though, Kallen had felt that she could take on the horde with nothing but her knife and bare fists out of revenge for Gino) and found shelter in an abandoned mall building that had definitely seen better days. Stores had been plundered with their contents and displays strewn across the floor, windows were broken, tables and chairs had been overturned, and there were even mannequins collapsed onto the floor. It was like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie or video game and Lelouch had even hesitantly chuckled out some weak joke about it.

( ("It's like something out of Left for Dead or Resident Evil." Lelouch joked hesitantly.

The ex-Black Knight leader clutched at his gun apprehensively and though he had previously joked about their surroundings, there was no trace of amusement upon his face at all. He seemed to be attempting some form of smile, but it only appeared as a nervous half-smile, half-frown. His gaze was trained onto a fallen mannequin. The look in his eyes suggested that he was sympathetic towards the piece of plastic, but, most likely — because they all had moments like this - , Lelouch wasn't seeing the mannequin as a mannequin but as one of the many, many victims torn to shreds by infected. Their dismembered, bloodied bodies — many times — were gutted and their insides would either be pouring out onto the ground or missing altogether. They were just left there to rot until the virus finally

"Yeah. Whoever decorated played too many video games." Suzaku added with a slight sneer and Lelouch snapped out of his morbid thoughts.

"They should be fired." Lelouch continued with a short nod of his head in agreement. He was grateful for the distraction. Anymore idle thought and — but Suzaku was there. Suzaku always made sure to keep his mind off such things.) )

The three had all moved deeper and deeper into the enormous structure to hide from the horde of virus carriers pursuing them. The mall was located in Pendragon (one of Britannia's largest cities) and had multiple floors. Kallen had discovered a rather extensive and oddly reinforced storm shelter in the back (near the offices that were normally off limits to non-employees). It was unusually convenient, but none of them complained. How could they? It was the best safe haven they had come across in months and they were all exhausted. They couldn't stay there forever, but an extended stay wouldn't hurt and so they settled into the shelter.

The first day passed them by uneventfully. Kallen mostly wandered around and around the length of the storm shelter, checking for any holes in their defensives and any stray infected (though, she found none). Lelouch kept fondling with their weapons as well as taking inventory of their stock of supplies multiple times. Suzaku merely scribbled this and that within his journal (occasionally sending Lelouch a concerned glance before letting his eyes sweep the expanse of their base to see if Kallen had returned yet).

On the second day, Lelouch grew restless and wandered off into other parts of the shelter. During his exploration, Lelouch discovered a room littered with an assortment of computers and lab tools. Various documents detailing experiments (both the many failures and few successes), patient records from many different hospitals dotting Britannia (as well as a few major hospitals from former areas and countries), and various other things including something about an experimental vaccine littered the floor and desktops. Upon further exploration, Lelouch found a whole laboratory complete with test tubes big enough for a human to be placed inside (though most were shattered) and surgical tables that had restrictive straps attached to them.

( ("What the hell?" Lelouch murmured. He ran a hand over the straps attached to the surgical table. They were undone and were limply hanging to the side. Beside the surgical table were monitors and empty metallic tables that had probably, at one time, held surgical tools and whatnot. If Lelouch squinted in the dim lighting, he could see a rust color lining the inside of the straps. Had…had someone been strapped to this? Why? And why keep such a place hidden in a mall, of all places? It would have been more efficient for whoever had built this secret laboratory to place it somewhere else. That was how it usually worked, wasn't it? It didn't make any sense to him. Hiding something like this in plain sight seemed idiotic.

Unless the mall was just a cover. If they needed humans for experiments, then perhaps the mall was simply a way to lure in test subjects — willing or not.

Lelouch retracted his hand and allowed it to unconsciously hover over his gun. Something about this place unnerved him and it had nothing to do with that fact that the mall seemed to be a front for some hidden operation. He felt…watched and it scared him. What if there were infected hiding in here somewhere? Suzaku and Kallen would be in danger and Lelouch refused to lose anyone else. Suzaku and Kallen were all he had left now. They were his only…family.

Lelouch wasn't going to lose his family all over again. Not after what happened with —

Lelouch swallowed the lump that had formed within his throat and clutched at his weapon seated in its holster. He had to tell Suzaku and Kallen about this. They might need to move again or, at the least, keep this area blocked off so that nothing hiding inside could escape.) )

It had been here, in this hidden place, where the three met another survivor (some science-y guy calling himself Eckheartd). He looked a frightful mess (with his blood-stained lab coat, messy hair sticking out everywhere, and baggy eyes), but he had been polite enough and had even been willing to shed a little light onto exactly what the secret lab was for (at Lelouch's insistence, at least).

( ("I realize how it might look, but this is — er, was — a facility committed to developing vaccines and medicines." the dark-haired man claimed. He did a twirl with his arms stretched outward to showcase the ruined lab. "We could have done great things and helped so many, but…well, you've seen them. Nasty little things, aren't they? It's a shame they're so mindless. Otherwise…heh."

Eckheartd suddenly began to laugh a little too merrily for the trio's liking. He sounded as if he were talking about the silly ways of children and not cannibalistic monsters. He sounded almost like a disappointed yet simultaneously proud parent.

Lelouch felt his discomfort from earlier return. There was something very, very wrong here. Had the eyes he felt had been watching him earlier been those of Eckheartd's?) )

Though the three had been uneasy about the whole thing, they never could've anticipated the trap sprung on them.

"I know." Suzaku replied distantly. "…I know."

Now that Lelouch was — it was just the two of them now. Just he and Kallen against the entire world and as cheesy as that sounded, it wasn't without truth. There was just…no one. It was rare for them to come across other survivors and the few they had found weren't in their right minds (most likely driven mad by the state of the world).

Suzaku, at last, stood from his slumped position against the abandoned truck he was leaning against and surveyed their surroundings. He and Kallen managed to escape the city and put a sizable distance between it and themselves before stopping to rest in an open field. They were on some dirt road leading to who-knows-where and if they wanted to continue on their quest to reach the docking port in the next town, they had to keep moving. Besides, the longer they lingered, the more tempted Suzaku would be to return to Pendragon, find that monster Eckheartd, and shove a rusty pipe up his —

Suzaku shook his head and turned away from Pendragon's general direction. As much as he would love to (because what that bastard did to Lelouch was unforgivable), for Kallen's sake, Suzaku had to control and suppress his bloodlust. He couldn't just leave Kallen all alone like that. It would be too cruel and she didn't deserve it. Not even the sins she accumulated in the past as a Black Knight and Zero's ace were enough for her to deserve being left alone. Suzaku believed his own sins were probably enough to condemn him, but he knew Kallen would disagree. Besides, their days as a terrorist and a knight respectively were in another life. It was in the past and not worth dwelling on anymore, but, secretly, they wished they could return to those days. That life may have not been ideal or even happy, but compared to this bleak reality, it was paradise.

"Kallen?" Suzaku started while walking a few feet to reach her. "I know you're tired, but we should move before…"

He trailed off and held his hand out to Kallen once he reached her. She glanced up at him and then at his outstretched hand before moving to take it.

"Yeah, I know. I'm fine to keep going anyway." she said while being pulled to her feet. "How long you think it'll take to reach the harbor?"

Suzaku glanced ahead of them for a moment.

"With the truck out of gas, maybe…a day or so on foot? Half a day at the least?"

Kallen sighed but nodded her head regardless. It was a long trip, but compared to their six day hike to reach Pendragon, it wouldn't be so bad.

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Serena: I listened to Torley Wong's beautiful piano cover of Horizons while writing this! I posted a link on my profile for it, if you wanna listen to it. Guess I'll make a little soundtrack for this story. xD Since music helps me write for it. So, I'm not sure if anyone is going to be interested in this or not, but we'll see, I suppose. xD Anyway, please leave me a little review or something telling me what you thought about the first chapter. See you next month!