Disclaimer: Of course I don't own Code Geass—that honor belongs to Sunrise. I'm just exploring some untouched elements.

Formatting: "Spoken words are in quotes." Internal character thoughts are in italics.

In spite of his pounding heart, the time, when it came, was almost blissfully calm. Always before, when death had hovered in the wings at the very crest of his plans, there had been that crushing sense of paranoia, the urgency to act mixed with a singular desperation to prevent the ultimate destruction of everything he'd worked so hard for. Now, though, he didn't have to do anything but stand there and take the blow.

It was nearly surreal, how he'd gone from having the hardest part to play to having the easiest. Lelouch had long ago memorized his few remaining lines.

Suzaku's entrance on the scene was perfect, with all the swift, dark grace of an avenging legend, a hero straight from the world of ideals, touching the collective unconscious. The sword was a sudden spike of ice into a demon's heart, powerful and true. The only thing that belied the act was the slight trembling Lelouch could feel in his chest—Suzaku's sword arm ever so slightly shaking.

Are you crying behind that mask, Suzaku?

Could you still do that, after everything I've done to you?

There was a reassuring solidness to the body Lelouch fell against, even as the world began to segue into stuttering collages of light and sound, timed with the heart that feebly, futilely struggled to beat. No matter his physical condition, though, the words that would bind his best, oldest friend forever to Zero were delivered without flaw.

Lelouch vi Britannia would die as he had lived: a consummate performer. He heard Suzaku accept his final Geass with a strained but firm voice, even as a hot rush of blood ran out between them, over everything.

I never realized how warm it would be.

It wasn't as if the Demon Emperor were ignorant of biology or of battle, and yet somehow the thought of being, after everything, still so normally, humanly warm inside, made him desperately want to laugh—until the trembling of someone else's arm transmitted itself once more through his chest. He remembered, suddenly, as his vision begun to dim out around the edges, exactly what all this was about.

Suzaku, I've stained your hands so much, the only way I can wipe them clean is by destroying you and making you anew, as well. As Zero, you must live to guide the future—you, and Nunally, and everyone else who has suffered so much, for a precious, long awaited chance at peace.

Lelouch's heart was a draining hole in his chest, failing body wanting to shield the ache and stem the loss of blood and heat by curling protectively around the wound, but Suzaku's shoulder was warm and familiar where Lelouch's weight pressed into it. With the knowledge that his part was complete, the thoughts he'd fought so hard to control were finally breaking free.

Everything was breaking free.

Light, streaming in from the windows of the Ashford Clubhouse, the leather and metal cocoon of the Shinkiro bursting open into brilliance, a countertop sparkling in Sayoko's wake, the fierce smile on Kallen's face as bright as the Core Luminous, the unmistakable flash of a smirk as the smell of fresh pizza filled the air, the glint of a heart shaped locket, Euphemia's shining hair splayed playfully out across the grass, as Cornelia, sword discarded, curled flowers behind her ear—the black king; the white one. In the midst of all those memories, a small, athletic boy with vivid green eyes shared a carefree song that made a tiny girl laugh sweetly...

Suzaku, forgive me. I don't know if I can pay enough, but…

Bloodstained fingers slipped against the smooth surface of Zero's mask, drawing lines down into a future no one could see, but Lelouch had to believe, needed to believe, that after all the loss and pain and death he'd brought, that at the end of everything he was, he had finally gotten things right.

Suzaku pulled the sword out, the motion quick and clean, meant to spare rather than prolong, and then Lelouch was swaying, stumbling, lost. He could hear shouting from behind, and he wondered if Kallen, perhaps, had figured it out. There was no time to know.

The air rushed past him as his body tipped over the edge, robes fluttering like tattered wings.

He remembered how proud the Black Knight's ace pilot had looked, standing free and openly proclaiming the Japanese half of her ancestry. The memory of Nunnally smiling on sunny days spent outside, paper cranes nestled in her lap and birdsong sweetly filling her ears, played across his mind. He thought of Suzaku, the soft, kind side of him that Euphemia's sweet promises of peace had been able to draw out.

He remembered brighter days and warmer times, and he hoped with all his heart. Please, let that be real again.

Lelouch's body had stopped falling. The pressure of so many possible futures crowding against the edges of his mind was nothing compared to the feel of Nunnally's soft fingers, as they found his hand. Some part of him would never quite learn how to let go of her.

"I love you," the innocent maiden whispered in the ears of the demon, and he suddenly wished he had the time to explain, to tell her everything he'd ever thought or felt, in swelling sentences that used to bubble out like pristine mountain springs when they were younger.

There was no time for that now; only a few words about the world escaped his lips. Yet, even as his lungs failed him, his mind still flared with the power of the wishes that were tumbling into memories that poured into dreams, until there was no past or present or future, but just the weight of all that ever was or could be, coming on at once:

The smell of gunmetal underneath Kallen's freshly starched Ashford uniform, and the vivid flash of sunrise that could only be Shirley's hair. Fresh white sheets in Sayoko's competent hands, and the twin reflections of a computer screen glowing on Nina's glasses. Milly's gentle bossing and Rivalz's arm, a warm weight slung around his neck. A looping string of cheese suspended from C.C.'s mouth, as Rolo's fingers flowed across ivory piano keys. A hopeful Suzaku, his hand outstretched in friendship. Ougi and Tamaki, a headband, a dream of justice. Kaguya, a vivacious innocence that reminded him so much of a tiny Nunnally, the sister who used to run after him, her eyes shining, Euphy's joyful voice filling both their ears.

The little sister he wanted to protect, the friendships he wanted to restore…

"Zero! Zero! Zero! Zero!"

Nunnally's screams were filling his ears, now, rough denials of what inevitably was, but beyond that, there was the cheering, like every family celebration and school festival and team victory rolled into one. The collective unconscious of the crowd, for a brief, temporary moment, united in a shared triumph.

It sounded like a nice world.

He was too far gone to feel the delicate hands that clutched at him anymore, but even with his heart gone from his chest, it could never be far from her, and from the depths of a mind that was so masterful at self-deception, a final thought, the last lament of a fallen creature, broke free:

I wanted to see it with you.