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The large, gemmed blade in Zero's hands lunges forward and pierces thin, unprotective white cloth and skin and bone and vital arteries, veins, and nerves before it exits out the other side. Lelouch makes just a small little sound, more like a gasp of surprise than of pain, but that is all. Even now, as he is dying, the ingrained doctrine to not show weakness does not release its hold on him. Blood quickly starts pouring from the wound as Lelouch slumps forward into Zero's arms and the formerly pristine white of his imperial robes stains crimson.

Unbelievably, Lelouch smiles at him and it is as though all the weight of the world has been lifted off of Lelouch's too-thin shoulders. It's almost beatific and something in Suzaku cries out at the utter wrongness of it, smothering even the sting of jealousy that the person to curse him to live is allowed to die.

Suzaku's tears dampen the fabric of the mask he wears under the helmet of Zero as Lelouch anoints it with the emperor's own lifeblood, imperial blood that Suzaku has spilled with his own two hands.

"Thank you…" Lelouch breaths around the wide, cutting edges of the sword lodged in his chest. Lelouch's chin comes to rest heavily on Suzaku's shoulder as his legs collapse and the entire weight of his unhealthily light body is left being held up by Suzaku's strength. Painfully thinner than even Lelouch normally is, Suzaku might as well be holding a feather. His blood soaks into the rich purple of Zero's coat, just as warm and red as any other human being's even though Lelouch has always seemed somehow larger than life to Suzaku.

Suzaku carefully lowers Lelouch back down into his throne, sliding the sword free at the same time as cleanly as he can manage. He sets the bloodied sword aside only for Lelouch's fingers to tangle in his cloak, drawing Suzaku's attention back his stricken emperor.

Lelouch's hand quickly loses its grip and falls but Suzaku doesn't hesitate to reach out and catch it, feeling the way Lelouch's fingers are already growing cold. Relief shines in those suddenly, shockingly unguarded purple eyes and somehow the loneliness there that Suzaku had done so little to alleviate in these past months... lessens a little and it is galling that such a small gesture of kindness from Suzaku could mean so much to Lelouch. Even worse, he realizes that the relief Suzaku can see is the result of Lelouch realizing that, for this small moment at least, Suzaku will not turn his back in disgust as the emperor probably expected him to and leave Lelouch to die friendless and alone as the hated and despised Demon Emperor that Lelouch had played to the hilt for the world that had been made a stage.

Clasping both of Lelouch's hands in his own, Suzaku kneels as Lelouch's eyes flutter closed and the Demon Emperor breathes his last with that peaceful smile on his face. Blood drips down the front of the throne and pools around Suzaku's knees.

Suzaku closes his eyes and bows his head, unable to help but tremble a little as his duty to both Lelouch and Euphemia is discharged, leaving him shaken and empty inside. His anger is gone, as though Lelouch has sucked all the poison called hatred out of him. It hurts, but it is a numb sort of pain that comes after cleaning an infected wound. It is a cleaner sort of pain, but all he feels is that it is going to leave a horrific scar on him. Better a scar than a festering sore that scabs over and reopens to bleed out the hatred and rage in it time and time again.

It's done, just like he has wanted. Just like Lelouch had wanted. The cheers of the crowd, formed of Britannians and all kinds of former Numbers alike, ring tinnily in his ears over the roaring of his blood.

The problem is that the wound Lelouch had closed was far from the only one Suzaku had collected over the years. He had pretended, even to himself, that the hurts Lelouch had given him were so egregious, so deserving of disgust and hatred that he could pretend that the loathing he held only and ever toward himself was somehow lesser.

It isn't, and wasn't, true.

For making Lelouch into the effigy of his own sins… Suzaku has merely compounded his own.

His stomach churns with guilt and bile despite his inner numbness, because... because...

It is wrong.

This isn't that he wanted.

This isn't what he wanted at all, but he was too blind, too bullheaded to admit it until it was too late to change, because Lelouch had asked for Suzaku's forgiveness for Euphemia's death with his life and Suzaku had, in his anger, accepted. It was meaningless though because... Suzaku had already forgiven him.

Sickening. That's what it is.

That Suzaku would drive Lelouch to think that letting Suzaku kill him after making the rest of the world "realize what a monster he is" was the only way Lelouch could earn Suzaku's forgiveness is just sickening.

"Zero! Zero! Zero!" the crowds chant as they cheer the death of a demon, totally unaware that their supposed champion is just as monstrous under the famous mask and elaborate costume as they thought Lelouch to be. Suzaku "The White Death" Kururugi, Schniezel, Emperor Charles, and Britannia itself had driven Lelouch into a corner after taking everything from him. Is it any wonder that he had resorted to such horrible things when he had literally no one and nothing left to lose?

Not his sister.

Not his subordinates.

Not his friends.


Not even Suzaku, as he stood at Lelouch's side physically had been there for him in any meaningful way. He had instead favored leaving it up to C.C.'s ineffectual, emotionally detached attempts at support to keep Lelouch alive long enough to complete this Zero Requiem.

Long enough for Suzaku to kill him.

Never again.

The only thing that Lelouch had had left was his life, and now even that is gone, leaving behind a legend of terror as an object lesson to the world, one written in the blood of countless victims and Lelouch himself: sic semper tyrannis.

It doesn't matter that the tyrant is just another mask worn by one of the world's greatest performers, one of the greatest liars.

It doesn't matter because Lelouch is dead, and it is Suzaku who is the liar now.

He wishes, as the roar of the crowd seems to fade away, he wishes, despite knowing that geass is like a wish, that he could go back and erase all the bitter the loneliness he had seen in Lelouch's eyes. He wishes that the person who was simultaneously his best friend and fiercest, most terrible enemy would not have to do so many horrible things if, for once, Lelouch had someone on his side that he knew would not betray him and stand by his side, taking some of the burden to lighten the weight on Lelouch's shoulders.

If he could change things… no.

Never again…

Never again would he harm Lelouch.

Never again would he turn his back on the one person who needed him the most.

He wishes with all of his heart, but he knows the power of wishes is fickle and it has never granted any of his wishes before, so he does not expect this geass of his to work either.

Only... when he opens his eyes... everything has changed.