[identity profile] cybersky.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] flybycontact
Title: A Fanciful Realm
Fandom: Gundam 00
Character/Pairing: Tieria; shades of Tieria->Lockon
Rating: PG (mostly for the subject matter)
Summary: Set at the end of S1. Only when he finds himself near the brink of death does Tieria finally understand why so many humans believe in the afterlife. Spoilers inevitable.

Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam 00 or any of its characters, nor do I make any money out of fanwork such as this.

-

When living things died, that was the end for them. The body rotted away, the consciousness disappeared forever, and there was nothing left after that. Any belief in life after death was ridiculous. Contradictory. Illogical.

In the past, that was what Tieria had always believed. He never could understand why so many humans had to create tales of the afterlife, of paradises that would open for them once they passed on; it felt to him as though they were simply afraid of their inevitable fate, of eventually becoming nothing but a memory to other - equally mortal - humans. After all, everything that had a beginning also had an ending, and human lives were no exception to the rule. That was what Veda used to tell him – it was one small part of countless things Veda used to tell him - and so it was what he believed. What he knew.

Now, though, as he sat barely conscious in the cockpit of what was left of Nadleeh, he was beginning to have his doubts.

His first problem was that no matter how much irrefutable evidence he saw from Haro, and no matter what detailed accounts he'd heard from Setsuna F. Seiei, he still could not accept the fact that Lockon was gone from this world. It made no sense to him; Setsuna had said that he witnessed the death first-hand, and as much as Tieria had always disliked the boy before, he knew that he wasn't the type to lie about such a thing – especially not with such an uncharacteristically haunted look in his eyes. Furthermore, the visual data that Haro had recorded clearly showed that Lockon had been caught in the explosion caused by the damage the GN Arms cannon had taken, and at the very least had the visor on his helmet broken; that would have meant he'd suffocated in the vacuum of space in no time. Humans could not survive without oxygen; Tieria knew that all too well. So why do I still refuse to accept his death, even now?

He couldn't deny the answer, no matter how much he wanted to: he didn't want Lockon to be dead. In fact, he wished for the man to still be alive out there, somehow, through even the thinnest stroke of luck.

It seemed ludicrous to him. Hoping against hope in this way; it made no logical sense whatsoever. It was the sort of pathetic wish that Tieria only expected of humans in the past – certainly not of himself, an artificial being who'd believed in quantifiable facts and following the rules, and who was clearly on a different level from humans in that respect.

Not anymore. This was the most human he'd felt yet – since he first exposed Nadleeh to the enemy, since Lockon took that blow for him and lost his eye, even since he learned Lockon had died. Looking back, he knew that it was all thanks to Lockon that he had this kind of humanity now – Lockon, who made such a selfless sacrifice for him when he'd been effectively incapacitated following Veda's disconnect; Lockon, who treated him the same as everyone else even when he suspected – no, realised - that he wasn't truly human; Lockon, whom he had wanted to protect through any means, even if it meant never letting him pilot a Gundam again; Lockon, who was dead because he hadn't done enough to protect him, had failed to keep him safe...

Lockon, whom he so desperately wanted to see again.

He wanted to curse himself for such an impossible thought. Lockon was dead, and yet he still wanted to see him again nevertheless? That made even less sense than trying to deny the very fact of his death. How could he possibly see a dead man again, the way he wanted? Logic – the logic he would've gone with when he used to connect with Veda – dictated that there was no such thing as a heaven, or any kind of afterlife for that matter, to find him in.

But even if there was a heaven, he thought, could I really expect to find him there? Veda's information always used to have all manner of different accounts of what humans from various cultures and religious backgrounds believed heaven to be like. Tieria recalled that there had also been many stories about other aspects of the afterlife - namely, of hell and purgatory. Surely such places would have been a more likely destination for a man of Celestial Being – which had, after all, just received penance for the sins it had committed in the name of changing the world?

Perhaps, he realised, he simply preferred to think that if Lockon had gone anywhere, it would be heaven. He was unable to pinpoint exactly why he thought that.

He wondered if this meant he wanted to go to heaven in order to see Lockon again. He knew as well as any logical being that heaven, imaginary as it surely must've been, was only supposed to open to those who had passed on; he also knew that, even with these strange thoughts and confusing emotions clouding his mind, he would never go so far as to actively end his own life on this kind of human whim. I wouldn't need to anyway, he reasoned to himself. After all, in the last battle...

As if to remind him of the injuries he had sustained, a burning pain flared up in his right side. It felt to him like several of his ribs were broken on that side; they had somehow managed to not puncture his lungs, but the pain was excruciating enough that he knew it had to be severe nonetheless. Even though he was unable to fully diagnose his wounds then, they were certainly serious enough to require medical attention soon. Otherwise...

He would more than likely die. And then what? Would there really be nothing left for him after that, as Veda used to tell him? Before, he would have thought nothing of it; to him, it would have been just another fact that he could accept and most humans could not. As long as the mission was carried out, death had no special meaning to the old "him".

But he was no longer the old "him". The Tieria who sat in Nadleeh's remains now was feeling far more apprehensive about the so-called nothing after death... and he was convinced that Lockon's recent death had everything to do with it.

Why did he have to die at all? If he hadn't sortied in Dynames in his state...if I'd done more to protect him... he would still be here. But with Lockon no longer here... Tieria still wanted to curse himself for wishing the man was simply someplace else - someplace he could get to - even if that place was somewhere only humans believed existed.

I still have so much I want to ask him. If Lockon was now in a nothing-after-death, he would never be able to answer his questions; Tieria also knew now that if he was destined for a nothing-after-death as well, his questions would forever remain unanswered.

He closed his eyes. Somehow, thinking like that was painful; he didn't understand how or why, but he did know it was one of so many things he wanted to ask Lockon about. There were so many things he wanted answers for: what drove Lockon to head on to the battlefield to his death; why he himself had this ridiculous, human wish to see a dead man again; why he out of anyone else was believing more and more in something as illogical as heaven by the minute; and moreover, how Lockon could draw so many emotions out of him that he'd never felt before, just with a sacrifice and a few choice words before his death...

An aching pain welled up in his chest then. Strange... I don't recall receiving any injuries there in the last battle. Even so, it was distracting enough that he even briefly forgot about his broken ribs. As he clutched a hand over the source of the inexplicable ache – over his heart, as it happened – he felt a slightly more familiar prickling sensation behind his eyes. He was unable to tell at this point if it was from pain or emotion – or both.

When he opened his eyes again, a few tears were floating inside his helmet in the low gravity.

Tell me what this feeling is, Lockon. His thoughts were becoming clouded with a helplessness that he would have never allowed in himself or anyone around him in the past; he hated himself for it. When did I last feel so lost?

He already knew the answer to that question in his heart; that lost feeling was similar to what he'd experienced when his connection with Veda had been severed – only now, it was far more intense.

Does that mean I'm treating him as a replacement for Veda? Or...

He could not finish the thought; it trailed off as though a part of him was beginning to shut down. At the same time, the pain in his side – and his heart – suddenly didn't hurt so much anymore; it was as if it was floating away and separating from his body.

Veda had never told him that death felt anything like this; such a thing no longer mattered to him, as he was no longer bound by anything Veda would have dictated before. Instead, he wondered if humans felt anything like what he was experiencing when they parted for the so-called next world.

Am I... going to where he is, now? He did not reject the sensation at first; with his old thoughts about the illogical concept of heaven all but discarded by now, he simply wanted to hear some answers from Lockon - wherever Lockon might have been - and soon.

But I can't go just yet.

As he was about to drift out of consciousness, a faint, continuous beep sounded in the cockpit – a transmission signal. It was enough to rouse him back into the real world – the world that Celestial Being had been trying to change.

Is that... Sumeragi...? He assumed it was; it felt better to think – no, to know - that she'd made it out of this battle alive, especially after the Ptolemaios had taken such devastating blows. For the first time in his life, he was glad for his tactical forecaster's safety.

He believed it was going to be his last time, too.

Slowly and with much difficulty, Tieria sat up in his seat, clutching his right side as the movement aggravated his injuries and sent pain flaring through him once more. If he was going to die here and now, he knew that there was one last thing he needed to do before he left this world.

"The plan... must go on..."

That's right... Celestial Being's mission still isn't over yet. The GN Drives are integral to that. Even with that in mind, Tieria was in such pain that he struggled to reach his hand to Nadleeh's control panel; with what he felt to be little strength left, he activated the release of his own GN Drive from the remains of his mobile suit.

Without any remaining power source, darkness filled the inside of the cockpit. It felt strangely comforting to Tieria; now he was content that Celestial Being would be able to continue carrying out its plans – plans that he had helped to continue not because Veda or any other entity had ordered him, but because he wanted them to carry on, even if he would no longer be there to see them through.

Now, he decided, he was free to die and have his other wish – another thing he wanted - granted.

"With this, I can finally go... to where you are... Lockon..."

He slumped against his seat and slipped out of consciousness for what he expected would be the final time; as he did, he hoped that he would once again experience that sensation of his pain lifting away from his body, and that his fallen comrade would soon greet him at that imaginary pair of gates that no longer seemed quite so imaginary.

No such thing happened – not this time, at least. He would later realise – with the support of his surviving comrades - that it was for the best; there was still much he could do for this world on his own, after all, and still many answers he could find for himself. Even so, he would thereafter hold on to the belief that someday, when the right time had come and he'd done everything in his power to help fulfil Celestial Being's ultimate goal, he would be able to join Lockon's side in that fanciful realm that humans called the afterlife.

That day would not come for a long time yet. That was for the best, too.

Fin.

-

As always, comments and constructive criticism are both welcome and appreciated. I actually first got the idea for this fic not long after the first season had finished airing; even after the second season came and went, I liked the concept too much to not finish it. I hope it was an interesting read, either way.
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