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to live or to die

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Lelouch choked back a cough as he hit the ground. The throbbing pain that pierced him was almost unbearable — Lelouch was quite sure something had actually gone through his skin and deep. He’d failed, he’d let the Lancelot’s pilot get him. 

There was nowhere to run. Maybe, maybe he could use his geass on the pilot to make him let him go. Lelouch could only stare as the knightmare’s cockpit opened and the pilot dressed in a white suit descended from it. He expected someone cocky, some arrogant asshole with a smug expression to face him.

What he didn’t expect was the horror that washed over him when he saw a young man with a mob of brown hair and realised it was his childhood friend. It was his best friend. The one that said he was no longer in the army, at least not fighting. Suzaku had told him he had been reassigned to an engineering unit… right

He couldn’t even use his geass on Suzaku. That was something he’d already done. 

(“Live, Suzaku. I need you to live.”)

“So, we meet again, Zero. This time I won’t let you get away. No green-haired women here to save you now, huh?”, he asked, walking towards Lelouch with his gun pointed at him. 

There was no way to get away. Suzaku had got him pinned. 

And…

Zero had lost. 

Once Suzaku was only a metre away from him, he stopped and aimed at his chest, his intention clearly to kill him. Lelouch couldn’t die yet, anything would be better. Even being dragged in front of his bastard of a father and being stripped of his dignity would be preferable to this. That way, maybe he would still have a chance to see Nunnally once more, maybe he could tell her he loved her more than anything and explain why he’d done it all. She wouldn’t be happy about it, that Lelouch was almost sure of, but she’d probably understand. 

But at least it was Suzaku who had defeated him, who had defeated the unbeatable Zero. This way… this way he could tell Suzaku he loved him, too.

Hopefully.  

“Any last words, Zero?”

Suzaku’s voice was bitter, cold, and yet so calm. It was terrifying to see Suzaku act this way. Lelouch had never in his life seen Suzaku like this and right now, he was hoping he’d never had. 

“I—”

“Spit it out, we don’t have all day.”

Lelouch bit his lip and looked at Suzaku with a soft gaze, and with the most shaky, broken voice, he said, “I love you. Please tell Nunnally I love her too, and that I'm sorry it had to come to this”. 

Suzaku’s eyes widened and his mouth fell open. “Who—? Take your mask off, now .”

Lelouch complied. It wasn’t like he had anything to lose at this point anymore. He would be dead soon, showing his face to his best friend (his worst enemy, his love) was the lesser of all the bads he could think of right now. It wasn’t like the entire world wouldn’t know soon as well. 

With trembling hands he reached for his mask and let it fall to the ground as it came off. With a soft, sad smile on his lips, he looked up at Suzaku who seemed to be on the verge of tears. 

Lelouch ? But… Why—? Why does it have to be you ? I—”

“Yes, I am Zero, the man who leads the Black Knights, who challenges the Holy Britannian Empire — the one, who holds the entire world in his hands. Your childhood friend. And I’m sorry that it has to end like this, but I don’t regret whom I’ve become.”

A single tear rolled down Lelouch’s cheek as he continued. He refused to go through his life and the upcoming humiliation when the world would find out who Zero was without ever telling Suzaku he loved him. There was no way. He knew the humiliation was sure to come, because knowing his father, Charles would love to do that to his wayward son. 

“I don’t— I didn’t want it to be you…”

“I’m sorry, Suzaku. I love you. You’re so important to me. Please, tell Nunnally that I’m sorry for how things ended before she finds out from the news. She deserves to know before them, as did you.”

The fury on Suzaku’s face was clear, but it was mixed with sorrow. Tears flowed down his face as he tried to come to terms with the fact his best friend was also his worst enemy, the part of this all Lelouch gave up on trying to understand. It just was so. 

Finally, Suzaku steeled his face even if the tears never stopped. His arms had dropped at some point, but he raised them again, aiming at Lelouch. And, with a few last words, he shot a fond, gentle smile at Lelouch, possibly to make it easier for Lelouch and himself.

“I’m sorry, and I—”

A gunshot echoed against the cliffs surrounding them as birds all flew away, scared. 

“I love you too.”