A/N: I got this idea after I realised little of what happened between season one and two would be explored in canon. Specifically I wondered how Kallen went from abandoning Lelouch to changing her mind and rescuing him in season two. I felt her explanation was a bit too brief and simplistic to cover what must have been a life changing event for Kallen.
The sound of two gunshots echoed around the partially illuminated cave.
Suzaku deftly moved his head towards the right. His impending demise transferred to the unfortunate headset. Simultaneously Lelouch`s own gun was forced upwards by Suzaku`s own well placed shot. Before Lelouch was able to bring his gun to bear once more Susaku, in an inhuman feat, launched himself towards the enraged figure. In a blink of an eye Lelouch was on the ground courtesy of a fluid spin kick from Suzaku.
"ZERO!" I exclaimed with both fear and worry evident in my voice.
Until that point I stood there motionless, dumfounded by the true identity of Zero.
Lelouch... the lazy and flippant Britannian from my class, whom irritated me like no other, was Zero? How was it possible? Zero the champion of justice, the hope of Japan, the man I admired... was that infuriating Lelouch. How can they be the same person?
However, Suzaku`s sudden suppression of Zero (or should I call him Lelouch?) shook be out of my stupor and I began to move towards the struggling figures on the ground. Despite having his hands full Suzaku still had the presence of mind to raise his gun towards me stopping me in my tracks.
With a cold fury Suzaku addressed me all the while trying to remove the sakuradite bomb on Lelouch`s chest.
"It`s Lelouch. It`s the man who used the Japanese people. Who`s used you. You want to defend a man like that!"
I didn`t know what to do. Looking at the obviously distressed Lelouch with streaks of crimson still adorning his face I felt like I should help him. It was my duty as a Black knight of Zero. But, did that man even exist? Was the Zero persona a lie, constructed to fulfil Lelouch`s own ends as Suzaku had said. I couldn't take it. I ran. Ran like a coward and didn't look back leaving Lelouch to his fate.
Stumbling into the sunlight I barely made it out of the cave before falling to my knees in despair as Suzaku`s word finally sunk in.
Lelouch had fooled them all.
Everything Lelouch said and did was a carefully constructed lie to deceive others into fulfilling his own selfish desires. Lelouch used and betrayed the Black knights. He-He betrayed me. The liberation of Japan was a means to an end nothing more.
If that was true then I had devoted myself to an illusion.
A more disturbing thought entered my mind at that moment. Could this "Geass" power truly force people to do things against their will? Was my devotion fake, the result of his twisted machinations? Was I the true Kallen? A feeling of hopelessness overcame me as I realized the implications.
I was so focused on my own thoughts that I barely noticed when Suzaku walked past me. He stopped depositing the seemingly unconscious Lelouch unceremoniously from his shoulder to the ground. He turned and began to move towards me, the previous rage from a moment before replaced with a stoic mask.
"You should abandon this life Kallen and start fresh." He said it in flat tone as he came to a stop in front of me.
I slowly raised my head until are eyes where level. He paused, apparently deep in thought. I tried to speak but found myself unable to do so. He looked down on me with sad eyes and continued.
"I won't punish you for Lelouch`s mistakes, but I advice staying away from your previous activities from now on."I lamely nodded as I struggled to keep my chaotic emotions in check. He continued to walk towards the exit picking up the Lelouch and offering a parting piece of advice.
"Lelouch poisons everything he touches. For your sake, forget you ever knew him." With that last parting piece of advice he left, leaving me at the cave entrance to silently weep as my emotions finally overwhelmed me.
Following his departure I cried for some time. The tears were not an uninterrupted stream. I tried desperately to rein in my emotions and suppress the pain. However, all I succeeded in doing but obtaining small reprieves followed by extended bursts of overflowing despair. How could I even begin to get a hold of myself when my entire world had been shown to be false?
I had no idea what I was going to do now.
Even if my devotion was all the result of Lelouch`s manipulations and Geass, Zero was my life. Without him I felt lost and without purpose. Should I take an enemy`s advice?
Was I even thinking about this? Who's to say Suzaku was really my enemy to begin with.
After all he offered me a free pass and had always aligned himself against Lelouch whether knowingly or not. Given all that had happened I would be a fool not to accept it. I could only hope that I could follow Suzaku`s advice and simply move on towards a happier future.
I knew that I couldn`t wallow in self pity for much longer. I could not allow myself to be found whether it be by the Britannian`s or the Black Knights. Wiping the tears from my eyes I somehow found the strength to shakily rise to my feet, using the cave wall to steady myself.
Blinking away the last remnants of my sorrow, I set out for the Guren. Finding my Knightmare just like I left it I began to make my way into the cockpit. I stopped to run my hand affectionately over the crimson metal.
"I think I will miss you most of all" I mused out loud realizing that the Guren could sadly not be part of my new life.
Six month later
After my return to mainland Japan I discovered that most of the Black Knights had been captured or worse in the aftermath of the Black Rebellion.
After hiding the Guren and symbolically burning my red flight suit I left behind my old life. From that day forward the heiress Kallen Stadfeld and the terrorist Kallen Kōzuki no longer existed. I didn't expect anyone to come looking for me. My father was busy in the Britannian homeland and my step mother was probably happy to be rid of me.
I was, therefore, surprised when C.C. of all people had turned up around two weeks later trying to convince me to rescue Lelouch.
Like she could. She was the true right hand of Zero not I. She simply appeared one day, the de-facto second in command who had exclusive access to Zero`s personal chambers. She always seemed to ghost around the command sub, you were never sure where she truly was.
Most distrusted her.
Not only was she an interloper, a mysterious one at that, but she carried herself self in such a way that irritated almost everyone she came into contact with. She always had that look upon her face. Like she knew something we didn't and she found it terribly amusing. In light of everything it turns out she did.
Some like Tamaki drew the conclusion that she was his mistress. At the time I was too fanatical to think ill of him, that he would give power to someone who only fulfilled his base desires. Even though it was tempting to add that charge now I still didn't put stock in that theory. His goals would always come first leaving no room for unnecessary distractions. In any case Lelouch was always awkward when it came to such things.
It didn't matter anyway; she was his accomplice and would say anything to gain a willing puppet in her quest to bring back Lelouch. Despite her continued attempts I refused to listen.
She was a liar. Plain and simple. I would never be used again and certainly not to bring back the man who ruined my life.
Thankfully my refusal to listen, coupled together with a few threats, seemingly got through to the witch. It had been some time since C.C. had darkened her life allowing me to make good on Susaku`s advice and move on.
Until the day I saw him.
I was heading home from my new job working in one of the numerous warehouses near my run-down apartment. The work was hard and admittedly boring, but the pay was of the record. This pretty much allowed me to fall of the system and stay there, granting me the anonymity I desired. I never thought I'd be thankful for exploitative Britannian`s trying to dodge labour laws.
My biggest complaint, however, was the work issue overalls I had to wear over my regular cloths.
Given the humid weather and physicality of my job there were few outfits I owned that didn't leave me sweating like a pig. On this occasion I sported a yellow tank top with brown cargo shorts and dark blue boots. I had grown my hair out a bit, but had taken to placing it in a pony tail while working for practicalities' sake.
It was times like this that I really missed my specially designed flight suit. I decided to take a detour to the park in hopes the walk would clear my head. It seems that I was doing that more often these days.
No matter how hard I tried I found myself plagued with never ending doubt. I had allowed myself to be fooled into trusting a soulless madman who treated us all like expendable pawns. How could I have been so stupid? I mean the results spoke for themselves but did I believe it was worth the cost.
Before the incident in the cave I probably would have said yes in regards to most of his actions. After all, before Zero I was a terrorist and I had no delusion about the "means to an end" methods that would be employed. However, the thought that he engineered the massacre at the Special Administrative Zone sickened me. Some things weren't worth the price.
Yet, if he truly could control minds perhaps a simple trigger phrase would have made me condone the monstrous acts. Who`s to say that any of my beliefs are truly my own. The very thought that my entire perception of morality was the construct of that man`s twisted mind brought into question who I truly was.
I was thus stuck in a metaphorical limbo, unable to move on until I saw him.
Walking down the street was Lelouch, Rivalz, Shirley and Milly laughing without a care in the world. He was wearing the typical black Ashford academy uniform and seemed genuinely happy. How could he act like that after the failure of the Black Rebellion? I shook myself out of my daze I`d entered in to and quickly hid myself behind some shrubbery before they saw me.
I waited a few minutes after they passed by before leaving my hiding place with a relived sigh. Leaning against a nearby lamp post I tried to make sense of what just happened. How could Lelouch be free after all that he had done? I was doomed to an unfulfilling an obscure life while he got to go back to his old life no strings attached. It beggared belief.
My musings were interrupted however, when a sudden movement from the adjacent alleyway caught my eye putting me on guard. "My, you're rather paranoid aren't you?" A drawl voice said from the shadows.
Lowering my guard minutely I turned to the shadowy figure. "C.C... I should have known you would show up now. You seem to make a habit of bothering me at inconvenient times." I paused for a moment. "How long have you been following me?"
C.C. moved partially out of the shadows. She had apparently swapped her white prisoner garb for a modified version of the Black Knights uniform. Unlike the conventional uniform C.C`s was sleeveless with gold trim and a red sash hanging loosely around the waist. Her neon green hair was as long as ever and had retained the loose style she employed before.
"Most days I allow one of the others to trail you since your current employ is far from thrilling viewing..." she said with a smirk.
I began to protest her spying on me, but she continued to speak over me uninterested in my objections.
"...but, I'm glad I chose not to delegate today in light of your sudden meeting with our errant prince."
Annoyed at her interruption I replied in an irritated tone. "What do you want? I already told you I have no interest in helping you."
C.C. smirk grew a little wider before saying. "Yes, but that was before this little encounter. I'm sure you have questions regarding the seemingly free Lelouch." She allowed me to process this before continuing.
"Besides I'm not blind I've seen the turmoil you've been going through. I was privy to many of Lelouch`s plans. I may be your only hope of silencing those doubts."
I looked at her with an expression of uncertainty. I was trying so hard to move on with my life, yet my lingering doubts were preventing that. This encounter with her former classmates only added more questions that would surely drive her insane if left unanswered.
After all, C.C. did spend most of her time with Lelouch, rumours of her being his mistress aside, and may consequently know his true motivations.
I came to a decision.
"Ok I'll hear you out in return for answering all of my questions." C.C. began to reply, but I cut her off determined to make the situation clear.
"This doesn't mean I`ll help you. Once you have said your piece I don't want you or your allies hounding me anymore. Understand." Apparently amused by my response C.C. replied.
"Of course, I'll meet you the day after tomorrow at your apartment, say around twelve. "Without waiting for a response she slinked back into the shadows as if she had never been there.
I made my way back home. Not even a walk in the park would quell the maelstrom of thought that now raged within my mind.
Two days later- Kallen`s apartment
I had hoped that my need for answers would dull over the course of the last two days. I truly wanted avoid meeting C.C. again and expose myself to her silver-tongue. Sadly it seems my curiosity only intensified in the interlude.
A knock at the door drew me out of my thoughts.
I stopped my nervous pacing and headed across the room to open the door. Without permission or so much as a hello C.C. stepped into the apartment.
"Why don't you come in" I said irritable
C.C. ignored me and continued into the apartment. She was carrying an opaque garment bag which she placed neatly besides her as she sat down on my worn couch. She wore the same outfit from before while I was wearing a loose fitting white t-shirt with black bottoms, which I favoured at home.
C.C. took an appraising look around the apartment. It had admittedly seen better days. Most of the appliances were outdated and thanks to the previous tenet`s smoking habits the wallpaper had turned a sickly yellow. Nonetheless, what would you expect with such a low rent. It was functional and that was all that mattered to me.
"What a quaint apartment you have" C.C. eased out in her usual drawl tone. "It's not what I would expect from a former ace pilot but I suppose it has a certain humble charm"
I let out an aggravated sigh. "Can we just get down business, I didn't agree to this meeting just so you could comment on my living arrangements."
"Fair enough, I suppose I should start with the current situation regarding Lelouch"
I sat down on the couch opposite and looked at her intently, silently urging her to continue.
"After Suzaku left you in the cave he traded Lelouch to the Britannian Emperor for a place in the Knight`s of the Round." She began. "Charles then proceeded to use his Geass to replace Lelouch `s memories along with all his friends. Consequently, the Lelouch you knew currently doesn't exist"
"But why would he do that" I exclaimed.
"Well naturally he wanted to cover up the existence of Geass. Such a thing could cause wide spread hysteria among the masses. While Lelouch seemingly walking free was supposed to lure me out so the intelligence department could capture me."
I couldn't believe the Emperor would use his son like that; but I suppose it must be a family trait to treat people like puppets. Then I suddenly realised that my fears of being conditioned were a very real possibility.
C.C. saw my dismayed expression and quickly added. "Don't worry Lelouch `s Geass can only give single commands not tamper with memories like Charles`s can."
I shot out of my seat and looked at her angrily. "Am I supposed to believe that? I don't even know your real name how I'm I supposed to trust what you say!"
Unfazed she replied. "I suppose you can't, given my agenda, I can only try to convince you of the truth. Will you allow me to do that?"
I kept my fiery gaze upon her for a few moments before reluctantly agreeing to at least hear her out as promised. I sat back down and reigned in my anger, waiting for her to continue.
C.C. waited until my features had softened before outlining her case. "I suppose I should start with his status as a Britannian prince, which I assure you only formed a little part of his decision making."
I kept my anger in check but felt it necessary to interrupt her. "Don't give me that. I was raised in a noble household. I know all about the "survival of the fittest" mentality the emperor encouraged amongst his children and the nobility. I bet Lelouch was using the Black Knights to kill of his rivals for the throne and impress daddy with his ruthlessness."
She gave me that all-knowing smirk. "Competition is encouraged yes; however what Lelouch did was well beyond what is deemed acceptable. Killing off relatives was only fine if you didn't get caught. Admitting he was Zero would place the deaths of two Imperial family members on his head." She paused to catch her breath.
"Besides I don't know if you know this, but Lelouch was 17th in line before his banishment. Even if he could have his claim reinstated he would have to a difficult time killing them all, especially Schneizel."
"Well maybe Lelouch knew that and was planning to free Japan in order to use it to seize the throne directly from his father" I interrupted still not entirely convinced.
She looked at me as if I was stupid. "Do you really think Japan`s striped down military infrastructure could take on the entire Empire. With Lelouch you could probably defend it; but any offensive actions would be swiftly crushed. Even if, by some miracle, Lelouch should succeed in killing Charles the empire would never accept the man who`s actions inspired rebellions across the world."
Feeling foolish I nodded my head in acceptance. "Ok... I guess he probably wasn't using us for that reason, but what were his motives then."
With a thoughtful expression on her face she replied. "It was partly for revenge, but mostly for his sister.
I looked at her shocked. I didn't expect that.
"He hated his father`s indifference to his mother`s death and Nunnally`s condition. He saw the whole system as corrupted and held many of his family members in contempt. Yet, his main drive was his wish to create a better world for Nunnally to live in." The beginnings of an amused smile formed across her face. "Being Lelouch he favoured the most extreme solution to the problem."
It took me a while to reply to that. Thinking about Lelouch`s motives, if C.C. was to believed, humanised somewhat the monster that he had become within my mind. I mean who wouldn't want a better world for themselves and their family? Still, even if his ultimate goal was noble his method`s were still deplorable.
I felt my anger come to the surface once more. "Even if his motives weren't sinister his methods certainly were! How can you defend his orchestration of the special administrative zone massacre?"
For the first time I saw a hint of sadness appear on her face before it was quickly replaced with its usual neutrality. "What if I told you that Lelouch never intended for that to happen"
I looked at her sceptically but remained silent interested in how she could possibly spin it in Lelouch`s favour.
"Geass is a powerful tool but it has severe drawbacks as well. Lelouch like many others discovered how dangerous it could become once used excessively. While talking to Euphemia his Geass activated permanently losing all control of the ability. An unintended comment was uttered and Euphemia was compelled to initiate the killing of the Japanese."
I began to angrily retort, but she held up a hand and beat me too it. "I know it's a rather convenient excuse but even you must have noticed how off he seemed during the Black Rebellion."
That gave me pause for thought. He seemed his usual Machiavellian self most of the time. But... there were moments, when he thought no one was looking, that she saw him shake with what seemed at like an uncontrollable rage. Then of course he would suddenly be back to normal as if nothing had happened.
Seeing my anger slip from my face C.C. used the opportunity to build upon her statement. "When he was forced to kill Euphemia he was an absolute wreck. He didn't want those people`s sacrifice to be wasted and so hid his feeling behind the Zero persona. I however, saw him when the mask came off and I can assure you the guilt off what he unwittingly unleashed was tearing him up inside."
I didn`t know what to believe. Zero had always gone out of his way to protect the innocent. His actions during the lake Kawaguchi hotel incident are testament to that. Yet, she couldn't shake the feeling she was being manipulated into thinking that by C.C`s silver-tongue. She could be fabricating a convenient tale that would sooth my hatred for Lelouch. Not to mention my own guilt at serving such a man.
Head hung low I got up and motioned to the door in order to prompt C.C. to leave. I would not give C.C. the chance to confuse me further, even if I wanted to believe her. "As much as I want to believe you there no way I can trust what you say."
She remained firmly in place staring at me defiantly. Her next statement caught me completely off guard.
"Is it me or yourself you don't really trust?"
My head shot up, eyes wide with a mixture of shock, fear and despair. I took a step back and practically fell back into the seat behind me. I couldn't even begin to form a response to that.
C.C. silently made her way across the living room and sat next to me. "Like I said two days ago, you clearly have been having problems. Your reaction to Charles`s Geass only confirmed my suspicious about what was really bothering you".
I stared off into the distance blankly unable to say anything as a variety of emotions swirled within me.
"You want to know if you are the true Kallen and not simply the result of Lelouch `s Geass. Given the doubt this kind of thinking inevitable causes it is no wonder that you have felt lost."
At this point I didn't care if she was manipulating me, I was just happy to have someone talk to me who understood. I slowly turned my head toward her and caught her intent gaze with my own uncertain eyes.
"H-how can I live when I...I have no idea who I really am" I pleadingly asked with a slight sniff.
Her face took on a slight, however minute, expression of sympathy. She let a long sigh. "I'm going to be honest with you Kallen, he did use his Geass on you, but it was essentially wasted."
I looked at her sharply feeling my anger begin to rise once more before melting away as I registered her final words.
"What do you mean it was wasted?"
"Do you remember what made you suspicious of Lelouch after the Shinjuku incident?"
I nodded slowly as recalled what Lelouch had said to me that day at Ashford academy. "He came up to me out of the blue and told me not tell anyone about Shinjuku... and, before that he said something about answers but it's kind of fuzzy." I recalled uncertainly.
"Yes, one of the side effects of Geass is memory lose while being enthralled. Like I said he used his one attempt on you to gather incidental information. At the time Lelouch had not yet tested the limits of his ability which lead to his suspicious question that you recall. I take it you never experienced something like that any other time."
I racked my brain for any other incident but came up with nothing."No, that's the only time I can think of."
"Well then, even if Geass can be used multiply times it stands to reason that he only applied to you once."
It made sense, but there's no telling what he programmed into me while I was under his control. I said as such to C.C.; however she maintained that air of confidence and swiftly replied.
"Lelouch was a perfectionist. Do you really think he would have created a disloyal tool that could easily break? A weapon he crafted would have shot Suzaku without hesitation once he tried to take her master away. A weapon would not have refused to help me rescue him. And a weapon would most certainly not suffer the emotional turmoil you have gone through these last 6 months." She paused to catch her breath.
"The very fact you can doubt proves that every decision you have made was of your own choosing."
At that moment the doubt that had overshadowed my soul for so long was finally lifted. I was the true Kallen and not just some artificial doll. The feeling of pure joy that flooded my mind as a result of this realization almost felt foreign, but was welcome nonetheless. Tears of joy began to fall down my face as the implications hit home. I could move on with my life if I wanted to now. There was nothing holding me back.
However, I knew I couldn't continue on as one of the apathetic masses. I had been living a lie since the incident in the cave. Someone has to stand up to Britannia. If I was honest with myself I had never been happier than when I fought to change the world with Zero. I was the ace pilot of a revolutionary movement that sought to free Japan, the right hand of Zero, A hero. Being anything else would be like denying a part of my soul.
I knew then that I would have to save Zero. It would not only help Japan but also give me an opportunity to confront Lelouch. I still needed to face him and confirm all that I heard today so I could be absolutely sure.
Rubbing my puffy eyes and wiping the tears from my face I turned to C.C. "Ok I'll help you..." Before she could reply I continued in a stern tone. "...but remember I'm doing this for Zero not Lelouch"
"I think I can live with that" she said as if my response entertained her in some way.
I sat there awkwardly not sure what to say or do next. "Sooooo... what`s the plan?"
C.C. got up and headed back to other side of the living room as she replied. "Well it took us a long time to pinpoint when Lelouch was under the least surveillance. So we only have the preliminary stages complete, but..." she picked up the garment bag she brought in earlier and tossed it to me with an impish smile. "...you wearing this is an essential part of the plan." She then added as an afterthought. "Don't worry it's in your size"
"How did you know my..."I let out a weary sigh "never mind" she had a tendency to know things she shouldn't and I really didn't want to know her methods. It would only play into her hands.
Suspicious, I slowly began to unzip the bag and when I saw its contents quickly looked to C.C. in the hope that it was a joke. Her smirk in response to my now crimson face told me it wasn't.
Inside was a form fitting pink one piece bodice complete with skin tight panty hose and bunny ears. I knew that this thing would leave little to the imagination and couldn`t fathom how it would help save Zero. I began to splutter but found myself unable to respond to this outrage. I was the Black Knights ace and she wanted me dress like a glamour model?
My furious thoughts were interrupted by C.C. who was still very much amused as far as I could tell. "I assure you that this is a vital part of the plan. I wouldn`t ask you if there was any other way."
"But I...I..." Stuttering hesitantly I struggle to comprehend what possible use this embarrassing article of clothing could have. Despite my misgivings, however, I knew that C.C. needed Lelouch back. She wouldn't toy with me when so much was riding on this apparent plan of hers, at least not entirely. Resigned to my fate I take the path of least resistance and simple agree, knowing that I would get my answers at some point.
"Excellent, I'll take you to our new base of operations and bring you up to speed." And with that C.C. began to leave the apartment not even checking to see if I was following. I took one last look at the abomination in my hand and then at C.C`s retreating form, still silently irked by her attitude, before reluctantly pursuing.
I rationalised to myself that there had to be a greater purpose to this abhorrent garment. If it was truly necessary to save zero, then like a good soldier I would do my duty and suffer the indignity.
Still, I swore that I would get that witch back for this.
A/N: And with that I end this one-shot. Thanks for reading. I thought it was a good place to end since the culmination of C.C.`s plan is shown in R2 and Turn 0.923 picture drama shows a bit of Kallen and C.C.`s life before the rescue.