So, this idea percolated in the back of my brain for well over a year before I actually sat down and wrote the damn thing. It's sort of a fix-it fic, even though the thing that upsets most fans the most (Nia dying) isn't actually changed. I was always frustrated at the show for making Nia's character arc all about how she gains agency, then all but entirely skipping over the parts where she makes her most crucial choices. As much as I roll my eyes at the people who claim that Simon letting Nia stay dead "goes against the themes of the show," I can at least understand why people would be confused about why it happened, because the show kind of glossed over explaining it.
I wanted to explain it, and I wanted to make it clear that it was Nia's choice and the culmination of her character arc. I'm actually glad I waited as long as I did to write it, for two reasons: Lagann-hen came out, and I got a better grasp on the themes of the show.
On to the fic and the ensuing commentary.
It was not the busiest week that Simon had ever had, but perhaps it was the busiest week the two of them had ever had together. Simon could delegate most of the sudden influx of political tasks to Rossiu, and he did, because Rossiu was the sort of person who could handle them best. But he couldn't delegate the preparations for the wedding. Then there was Nia, and she would not delegate at all. She insisted on making her way through the world, apologizing to everyone who had been hurt by the Anti-Spiral Messenger's attacks.
Simon had simple, selfish thoughts about this: he wanted her to spend more time with him. "You don't have to do that, Nia," he said. "The one that hurt them wasn't you."
"It was me," she said, reaching out to touch him with the hand that bore his ring. "Just as it was you who were so close to absolute despair when I became such a thing and did such things. But do not worry, Simon. I swear I will tell no one the moments of your giving up. That is your decision to make."
Two things I'm doing here: setting up the parallels between Nia-at-her-worst and Simon-at-his-worst that I think a lot of people miss, and establishing the theme of people making their own choices. Since, you know, it's pretty integral to Gurren Lagann.
He had not told her that when she had been taken over, when she had denied herself, he had fallen further than ever before. She simply knew. Just as he had known what it meant when she flickered once in that final battle, yet told him to go on.
He wanted her to spend more time with him.
Here I'm trying to get across Simon's simplicity and concreteness in his feelings. I'm actually not particularly interested in Simon as a character--he's an everyman archetype, and those tend not to appeal to me even when they turn out to be cosmic badasses in the end. But when I write him, I want to get him right.
She finished her apologies faster than he'd expected. "Our Spiral friends across the stars sent us knowledge of how to fly across worlds," she explained. "Leeron made a prototype as soon as we returned. It travels even faster than a Ganmen."
Simon smiled. "Someday kids will ride those things across the world all the time instead of running around the corner."
Shout-out to the theme of the next generation that's so important to the series. It's also a nod to how ridiculously fast Spiral civilizations develop in Gurren Lagann. Build an airplane in a day? Okay!
"Someday they will ride them to the moon," Nia said. "Simon, I am concerned about the moon."
"Don't be," Simon said. "We brought back the real moon, and no one will ever have to worry about it falling on them if they reach too high."
"Yes," Nia said. "But it is not made of honey."
Simon looked at her. He was so happy that she was the same confusing Nia he had loved for a long time now. But he was also confused.
"Kiyoh spoke of taking a 'honeymoon' when she was married," Nia said. "But I have stood before the moon that was when you woke me, and I have returned to the earth past the moon that is when we won, and neither one was made of honey. Simon, I would like to take a honeymoon!"
"All right!" Simon said, curling one hand into a determined fist. "We'll take a honeymoon, Nia!"
"But I must beg forgiveness of proper tradition," Nia said, "for I would like to take this honeymoon before we marry. We have a few days left."
He did not need to ask her why. He could see it in her eyes: she would not last much longer.
The gist of this segment has been in my head since I conceived of the fic: Nia asks to go on a honeymoon while being confused about the word. That was always meant to be the start.
* * *
Simon asked her to pick where they would go for their honeymoon. To Nia, there was no question. It all came down to who she had been over the last seven years. As the Spiral Princess--a title she had not asked for, but which had attached itself to her somehow all the same--she had traveled across the world, bringing hope to people who had been beaten down for longer than anyone could remember. But the places she had visited simply as Nia were rare, and only one of them had been with Simon. It was an island they had soared to in Lagann. At the time, it had been bare save for a handful of trees and a few creatures crawling in the sand at its edges. But Nia had planted flowers.
At the time, Simon had asked her why she was planting flowers in a place where people would probably never come. They were still learning things about each other, back then, so she had explained to him: she did not plant flowers only for people to see them. She planted the flowers for their own sake. Whether or not anyone else ever saw it, she wanted to know that a bare island could become home to all sorts of plants and creatures.
At the time, she wasn't sure if it could. She wanted to learn, and she wanted Simon to learn with her. They only knew for sure when Simon landed Lagann at the edge of the beach now, almost seven years later, for their honeymoon. Then, they saw the island overflowing with life. Fish swam in the shallows, feeding on the bugs that flew around the flowers. Birds flittered in and out of the trees, scooping up the worms that turned the dirt.
The island is a metaphor for Nia as a person. Get it? She wasn't sure if her efforts to make something so bare lush and full of life would work, and in the end they did. See? I'm so subtle, you guys. I'm so subtle.
Nia watched a worm vanish between two mounds of dirt before Boota could manage to catch it. "This place has become very beautiful," she said. "I'm happy. I am very happy!"
Simon held her. "Yeah," he said. "You're not worried we're going to mess it up or anything?"
"Not at all," Nia said. "It is not as some people think. Flowers cannot be up-messed. If their petals are crushed, the material will nurture new ones. It is natural."
Nia thinks everything is beautiful. When she climbs out of the box the first time she appears, she's totally enchanted by the way cold mud feels on her bare feet. So when she's talking about the island having become beautiful, she's looking at a worm instead of at some flowers, and she doesn't mind messing the flowers up a bit.
That line also ties in to the theme of the old generation giving way to the new, of course. God, you would not believe how subtle I am.
He clutched her hand tighter. "Let's do this, Nia."
They shed their clothes on the warm sand, until Simon wore only the drill around his neck, and Nia wore only the ring on her finger. They meant to go swimming, but they had not gotten into the water past their knees before they were distracted. The problem was that they had never had the opportunity to see each other naked before.
Nia knew they had had the desire. She had seen how Simon had gone red in the cheeks when she touched him, and she had always felt a pleasing warmth at his arms around her. But there had always been so much for them to do in rebuilding the world: him as the Commander in Chief, her as the Spiral Princess. They had not shared more than kisses. It had seemed sometimes that no one could have needed them more than they needed each other, but they knew that the world did. Besides, Simon had blushed so much. Nia had worried he would trip over his pants if she tried to remove them.
So, opinions differ on whether or not Simon and Nia did the deed during the seven-year timeskip. Personally, I think Simon would have been too awkward. Kiyoh makes a big deal (in the movie at least; I don't know if she does the same thing in the series and it's just the translations that differ) about how hard it was for the simple "Simon the Digger" to work his way up to proposing to Nia. As sure as I am that he's awesome in the sack once he gets down to it, because he's Simon, I don't think he would have brought up sex before then. It would have taken a lot of working up to, and, well, they were both busy.
Also, I like writing first time stories, so whatever, I'll do what I want.
She could see now her fears had been justified. Simon was a greater man than ever, and still he stopped and stared at her body in the sunlight as she stepped naked into the water. "Nia," he said. That blush was coming to his cheeks again. "You..."
"We need not swim for very long," Nia said. "Or at all. There are other activities we may do."
"You're really beautiful," he said.
"I still do not properly understand what makes 'beautiful,'" she said. "Everything I see in this world is beautiful to me." She pointed at the school of fish that darted between their legs. "Those are beautiful!" She lifted her head to watch a bird fly by. "That is beautiful!" She looked over to a tiny cove where great green fronds grew from the sandy shallows, cushioning the shoreline. "That place is very beautiful."
"Uh, that isn't entirely what I meant," Simon said.
"I know," Nia said. "I know what it means now, to feel this way about someone. Perhaps I am really beautiful, but you are really Simon, and that is all I ask." She knelt down in front of him, the water splashing around her belly. "Look! There is a part of you that is rising like a flower which lifts its head to meet the sun. I will kiss it, and it will rise faster."
I'm so clever. Boner jokes always wow the crowds, even when it's Nia making them. Perhaps especially when it's Nia making them.
Simon yelped and stumbled back. "Wait!"
She tilted her head back to look up at him. "Why must I wait? I wish to kiss you and all parts of you now."
It didn't take him long to recover himself. Not anymore. He grinned down at her. "Because I'm going to kiss you and all parts of you first."
I'm trying to balance two things here: one, post-final-battle Simon is a hardcore badass, and two, Nia will always make him blush.
"No, Simon!" She rose sternly to her feet. "We must take turns." She turned to the tiny cove she had seen before. "Please, kind creatures of the shoreline, allow us the use of your home for a little while to be as a married couple might."
"Are you sure that's going to work..." Simon began. Then he stopped, because they could both see that it was working. Grey-green dolphibians hopped off the floating leaves, transformed into their swimming configuration, and left for other waters. Birds scattered in a burst of many colors. A lone eelcatfish climbed up out of the shallows, shook itself off, fluffed its fur, and slithered away.
I enjoyed making up the animals for this. Also, Nia is a Disney princess. But we knew that.
"I was not certain," Nia admitted. "It was presumptuous of me to ask. But the animals were generous, and now we have a place for us alone." She took his hand in hers and drew him to the soft bed of greenery and shallow water. For a little while, before nature took it back, it would be theirs.
"Do not worry if some parts of you are underwater," she assured Simon. "I can hold my breath for a very long time."
"It's okay," Simon said. "I--" He stopped there, letting Nia's hand slip from his.
Nia had lain down amongst the fronds, and now she looked up at Simon with concern. "Is something wrong?"
"No!" he said. "I wish you could see what I see."
"What do you see, Simon?" She was almost-floating, the water lapping around her breasts. They felt strange, as if it hurt not to have Simon's mouth on them. Her whole body felt strange that way.
"I see you," he said. "Only you. Your hair fills up the whole cove."
"I cannot see what you see," she said firmly. "For we are two different people. However, I would like now to join as much as two different people can. Besides, I see you. The sun is behind you, Simon. It makes you glow."
"Sorry, Nia," he said sheepishly as he knelt to join her in the shallow pool. "I've never done this before."
"It is all right," Nia said, "but I wish we would not wait much--"
She didn't get to finish her sentence. Seeing him there, poised above her and ready to touch her, but not yet with his hands warm on her, not yet with that rising hardness inside of her, was too much. She wanted him--but who was she? Who was doing the wanting? She flickered, and she wasn't even sure if she could feel it--
I always meant to include Nia wavering and struggling to hold onto herself in the fic. I was a little surprised it took me this long to get to it.
Simon's hands settled around her hips, where they belonged, and at the call of his voice, she was herself again. Her breasts reappeared just in time for Simon to take hold of first one, then the other in his mouth, his lips fierce and already chapping a little with the saltwater against her nipples. "Nia--" In between kisses, in between tugs at her. "Nia, please stay a little longer."
"Of course," she said, although she suddenly found it difficult to speak. His mouth felt so good like that. "But I will need your help."
He lifted his head long enough to look down at her. "I get it," he said.
"Please come into me, Simon," she said. "Is that how I should ask it?"
"Ask it however you want!" He grabbed her by the shoulders, where a minute ago she had been dissolving. She spread her legs wide in anticipation. "Who the hell do you think I am?"
"You're Simon the Digger," she said, perfectly still save for the faintest trembling as she waited for him.
"That's right," he said. "And I will pierce anything you need me to!" He stopped. "Wait, that sounded kind of--"
Porn, porn, porn. I think Simon would bluster like this for a bit, then realize he didn't need to and get down to the business of being amazing. As he does here.
Also, while I like my sex scenes to be hot, I also can never write them entirely seriously. Sex is funny, and people are funny when they have sex.
She was done being still. She curled her hands behind him, felt the tautness of muscle, realized he was trembling as well, and guided him into her. Anything that would have caused her pain had been lost long ago in the jostle of battle, or perhaps more recently as her body had been changed. There was that shivering awkwardness, but no hurt. He simply slid inside her in a rush of amazing sensation. But this time, she was not afraid it would overwhelm her. She knew it would only strengthen her. Her connection to Simon had kept her real, and now they were connected in body as well as in soul. She was whole. She was--
"Nia!" It helped, also, that he would not stop crying out her name.
"Simon, Simon," she said in response, by way of encouragement, and because she couldn't help it. Her hands slid up him, exploring his sides, his chest, his throat, until finally they reached his face and held tight. "Simon."
"I don't need to say any of that other stuff," he said. She could feel him breathe against her as he spoke. "You already know who I am, Nia. And none of it matters at all, so long as I make you feel good."
"You do," she said. "Please, Simon..."
He stroked her collarbone with his thumb, then trailed it down to trace a spiral around her left breast. By the time the spiral came to a point at her nipple, she felt like the world depended on him stroking her there. Fortunately, he did. "Okay, Nia!"
She arched up against him just in time to feel him thrust into her. That was perfect. The drill, still draped around his neck, fell between her breasts. That too was perfect, because then he rocked his hips again and she understood. Just like the drill, the feelings that coursed between them were a spiral. So was the way he moved inside her, circling and circling faster and faster until they both reached the center. It took forever, not long enough, and just the right amount of time. That, too, was how a spiral worked.
I may be laying it on a bit thick here with the spiral imagery, but then again, this is Gurren Lagann. "Laying it on a bit thick here with the spiral imagery" just means I'm being faithful to the source material.
And then they reached that center, not quite at the same time but within seconds of each other, and Nia was sure she was Nia, because no one else could feel that good because of Simon, and no one else could make that look appear on Simon's face.
"Thank you, Simon," she said.
He kissed her, and they drifted for a while longer in the soft green fronds.
After they had kissed and drifted for a while, they found other activities. Simon caught fish for the night's supper, and Nia made sure to use the best parts of their heads and bones along with the very ripest fruit in her stew. They put some clothes back on for dinner, but not all. They took most of their clothes back off again to sleep in a bed of flowers.
Awkward transition is awkward. I knew where I was going--the rash scene--and was impatient to get there.
That is, Simon slept in the bed of flowers. Nia found she no longer needed sleep, and trying to take it anyway was too much of a risk. The first night she had slept upon their return to earth, she had dreamt of Team Dai-Gurren with Simon at the lead coming for her, and she had been fine. The second night, she had remembered no dreams, and so she had woken with a start in the middle of the night to find herself dissolving, hands and feet first. She was not ready to go yet. It was better not to risk it, though she was sure she would have lovely dreams with Simon at her side. Instead she lay there, nestled up against him, watching him breathe and thinking of all the people who would fly to the moon and beyond because of him, Simon the Digger.
This is the first place where I start to play up how Nia's body has changed, I think, beyond the obvious "whoops I'm dissolving" bits. It was actually a last-minute inspiration when I couldn't think of any other way to transition the scene, but it worked out better than some of the other transitions, I think.
As it turned out, it was a good thing she didn't go to sleep. In the middle of the night Simon began to turn restlessly, and then finally he woke up with a flail of those long bare limbs that Nia loved to look at so much. He scratched furiously at his sides and back, even down into the thin shorts he wore, as he blinked his way to full wakefulness.
Nia reached out to him. "Are you well?"
"Yeah," he said once he was awake enough. "There's no way I'm getting sick just because some bugs bit me or something. I won't let my body let you down now, Nia. I'm just itchy."
Again: it took me a while to settle on the dialogue here, because I find Simon, especially in this peculiar and unexplored phase of canon, difficult to characterize.
"Please, Simon," Nia said. "Allow me to see."
He had no problem with that. With the starlight as her guide, Nia studied the faint red patterns on Simon's skin. They didn't seem like a sickness; in fact, they reminded her of something. She turned a little to look toward the shallow inlet they'd lain in earlier that day. The starlight glittered off the water, the greenery, and the creatures there. It was very beautiful. But now she knew that it was also something other than beautiful.
"Simon," she said, "I apologize very much." She pointed at the patterns on his skin, then traced one with a finger. "These markings are the same shape as the fronds we made love in. They must have been poisonous."
Simon getting a rash from plants was one of the later additions to the original idea of the fic, but I'm fond of it. Even the most perfect couple can't do it in unknown flora without consequences. Also, details like that help ground the fic.
"Don't bother apologizing," he said. "It was worth it. But--"
"It will not be such a bother," she interrupted him, "for I have investigated, and some of the plants here are unpoisonous and helpful instead. I can make a lotion from them."
...I didn't want the consequences to bother them too much, though. Dammit, it's their honeymoon.
But he could see that she had interrupted him for a reason, and now his expression in the faint light was solemn. "Nia, why aren't you itching too?"
Why wasn't she itching? A thought crept across her mind: it was because she was no longer anyone who could itch. She was no longer anyone at all. She was--
"Nia," Simon said, catching hold of her hand just as her face started to blur in front of her, the light of dissolving pixels gleaming at the tip of her nose.
"I no longer have a body that these plants can affect," she said. "But I can still touch you. That is what matters."
More of the identity issues I always intended to base the fic around. I enjoyed making it something so simple and concrete this time.
He held her hands tightly. "Okay. I'll touch you too."
"Yes," she said. "But please let go for a little while, so I may find the unpoisonous plants and make a balm to soothe you."
He had to pry himself off her finger by finger, but he managed to do it somehow, and taking a flashlight with her, she set off to find the plants that would help him. She did not need the flashlight, though. The further she got from Simon, the more bits of her flickered with their own inhuman light. She hurried, and before she could think too much about the flickering, she had found a bristly plant that wept sticky trails of cool lotion from bell-shaped mouths.
"Do not think of it as crying, Sir Plant," she told it as she plucked the juiciest bells. "You will not cry, for you are helping Simon. I will not cry, for I have helped the world."
Nia doesn't angst; she isn't built for it. But she has angst. That's the subtext here. Still subtle, guys.
She smiled and held herself together perfectly as she brushed the gel that wasn't tears over Simon's reddened sides and back. He slept for a little longer, after that, and she could not resist allowing herself to doze at his side. She knew she would dream of him.
When she woke, Simon was not at her side, but Nia knew he was nearby. She found him in a clearing, mixing together and heating up the leftover ingredients from last night's dinner. He looked up at her as she approached. "I know it's not your cooking, Nia," he said, "but I'm doing my best."
"It will be perfect," Nia said, "for you have made it."
They sat down to eat, with Boota joining them eagerly. After a while, Nia became aware of Simon watching her as she ate. "Simon," she said, "you need not watch to be sure I eat. I promise I will. You may eat your own food."
"Can you taste it?" he asked suddenly. His eyes met hers, and she knew she didn't have to answer. She could smile and wave it away, and he wouldn't mind. He would take everything about her that she would tell him and ask for no more. It would be enough.
So she told him. "Yes," she said, "if I believe that I can. I must concentrate sometimes, however." She did not add that there were many other things she needed to concentrate on now as well, and remembering who she was numbered among them.
He nodded, the understanding of what she had not said glinting in his eyes, and he went back to eating his own breakfast.
Score! I included both the identity issues and the way Simon and Nia can communicate with a glance.
They explored the island that day. It was small, but there was still a lot to explore, because the last time they had been there, Nia had planted many flowers and other plants, and since then many more had grown. They swam, and this time they had a better idea which plants to avoid.
More awkward transitioning. Derp derp.
"Everything is so beautiful, Simon," Nia said as the sun sank below the horizon, casting its colors across the water. "Thank you very much for taking me here." He said nothing in response to that; he only held her close. He had something to say, she knew. He had something to ask her. But he was waiting to do it. She understood, because she knew it would be a difficult thing he would ask her.
He waited until the moon had risen and they sat together on a wide tree branch looking up at its silver-white glow through the leaves. Then Simon laid his hand on hers. "Nia," he asked, "can you feel my hand?"
Handporn is a vital part of the Simon/Nia pairing, and it has been since the beginning.
"Of course," Nia said. "It is a little difficult to remember that the bark of the tree should be uncomfortable beneath me, but I do. It is not easy to let the leaves cast shadows upon my body, but I do. Yet even when I can no longer do those things, I will feel you. I feel you now. Your hand is so rough from years of digging, and every callus reminds me that you are Simon the Digger, and I am Nia, and I will be your wife. Also, your hand is warm. You were the first warmth I felt in this world, Simon, and when I can feel nothing else, you will be the last."
This is meant to echo the tone of their conversation at the wedding.
Simon was silent for a little while. But his fingers tightened around hers, and slowly, his free hand crept to the drill where it rested against his bare chest. Finally, he asked, "Do you want it to be this way?"
She turned to look into his eyes instead of at the moon. The light reflected in them was less bright, but more real--and beneath it somewhere was a glimmer of something that glowed more strongly than the moon ever could. "What other way would you have it be?"
He took his hand away from the drill to point past the leaves above them at the moon in the sky. "It could be our kids flying up there," he said. "We could go to the stars together." He waved at the island around them. "It could be like this forever."
I had a dilemma here: in canon, Simon and Nia go through the whole process of understanding what Nia is sacrificing and why with just a glance during the final battle. But I needed to draw it out into a conversation. So I cut myself a little slack and let them be imperfect enough that Simon needs to hear Nia explain it in order to accept it. It was a fine line to tread, because I didn't want to make it seem like Simon was unaware of the consequences of what he was proposing. He knows perfectly well that there's no forever for anybody (except Viral, who isn't human, and can't evolve--more on that a bit later). But he's only human, despite being a cosmic badass, and I think it's reasonable that he'd at least want to put the question before Nia to be sure.
Also, I wanted to mention Simon/Nia kids, because it still breaks my heart that there will never be any.
"No," Nia said. "I will fade, and this will change."
"It doesn't have to be that way," Simon said. With a sudden fierce burst of energy, he pushed himself off the tree branch and dropped to the ground beneath. There he stood looking up to her. With one hand, he lifted the drill. "I could rebuild your body piece by piece until it's filled with Spiral power and won't let you go so easily. You know I could do it."
"Yes," she said. "I know you could." She started to reach for him, but found the distance too great. "It would be nice, to be with you for more time. Then it would be nicer, to be with you forever."
"If you tell me to do it," Simon said, "I will."
This is stuff I went into in my essay over at ship_manifesto, although I cut some of the details to get it to fit into one post. The show hammers it home pretty strongly that Simon's top priority isn't saving the world, it's saving Nia. This is presented as a positive thing, that the love of one human being for another can lead to the salvation of humanity as a side effect.
But even though he took on the responsibility of preventing the Spiral Nemesis when he destroyed the Anti-Spiral, Simon isn't foremost the universe's protector; he's foremost Nia's protector. If she said she wanted to be brought back, I maintain that he'd do it. The fact that he doesn't comes down to respecting her will, not fearing the Spiral Nemesis.
But even sitting high above him, she could see the knowledge in his face: he knew she wasn't going to tell him to do it. He knew it all already. He only had to hear it from her, here on their island, to be sure. "Then will you rebuild the bodies of all the others we have lost? They are in your heart and the hearts of those around you. Dig through reality for a little while and you will find a place where they can come back to this world."
I rambled about this a while back in a bit that I cut from my ship_manifesto essay. Basically, I don't think there's an afterlife in the traditional sense of the word in the Gurren Lagann universe, but I do think that the dead literally become part of the souls of those who knew them--part of their own will. And since Spiral power is the manifestation of one's own will, it can theoretically bring them back.
I also like to think that it could eventually safely allow them to communicate, if the bond is strong enough, because my heart is not made of stone, and I want Simon and Nia to be together at least a little in the end.
"Yeah," he said. "I'll introduce you to my bro." But his smile was sad now.
"Then what of our children who would go to the moon, Simon?" she asked. "Where would there be space for them in this world, if those who came before did not stay dead?"
"I'd dig and dig," he said, "until I found a world with enough space."
"You know what would happen then," she said. "They showed you, too. They did not show me, but I was one of them, so I knew."
"All those Spiral beings," Simon said. "All of them digging up and up and up. Before you knew it there'd be the Spiral Nemesis. I promised the Anti-Spiral I wouldn't let that happen. Sorry, Nia. I can't introduce you to my bro."
Brace yourselves, I'm going to TL;DR.
In just about any canon where the dead can be brought back, there has to be some reason that it's terrible and forbidden. Usually, they fumble out something that only really works within the specific magical or technological rules of the canon, or that doesn't really make sense at all when you think about it. Gurren Lagann, on the other hand, actually puts its finger right on why eternal life and bringing back the dead would be a bad thing for humanity as a whole, as attractive as they seem at first glance. Admittedly, it's a little fuzzy in doing so because they have to make time for more fighting and yelling and phallic symbols, but it gets through eventually.
The Spiral Nemesis seems, at first, like the typical bullshit explanation fiction comes up with for why we can't bring the dead back. If too many Spiral beings use too much Spiral power, black holes will swallow the universe! Woooo, spooky! And totally irrelevant to real life. Except not, because it's a metaphor. The Spiral Nemesis is a state in which there can be no more growth and no more change--no new generation. You know how I said that Viral is the only one who lives forever? Well, his dream is to have a wife and child, but he can't do that, because being immortal means not being able to produce another generation.
And that's how it would be if we found a way to cheat death in real life, too. There wouldn't be the space or the resources for the next generation. Societal change would stop happening, because it often takes the passing of generations to take place. Society and humanity need to keep changing and moving forward, and to do that, new people must be born and old people must die.
This sounds profound, but it only fully clicked for me a few days ago. When I read it in a Cracked article. Yeah. Real profound.
"It is all right," Nia said. "I will meet him in your heart. I feel as if I already have."
"What if it was just you?" Simon asked. "That wouldn't bring on the Spiral Nemesis."
But there's still this question. Even when we apply logic and metaphor to explain what the Spiral Nemesis means and why resurrecting the dead would bring it about, some disgruntled fan is going to point out that reviving just Nia wouldn't create those problems. They'd be right. So I had to address that issue. Fortunately, the answer was pretty easy.
He understood why she would refuse that as well, of course. But he wanted to hear her explain it to him, so he could be sure. So he could understand everything about her in the end. "I was my father's doll once," Nia said, "but I did not choose that, and I was not truly Nia. I was the Anti-Spiral Messenger once, but I did not choose that, and I was not truly Nia. I could be the harbinger of the Spiral Nemesis, the first of many to be brought back until the universe was overflowing, but I would not choose that, because I would not truly be Nia." She paused. "What a selfish reason I have! Simon, I am sorry."
"It's all right," he said.
"You are right when you say there is one last thing I could be," she said. "I could be the one manifestation of Spiral power in its purest form, reaching beyond death like no one else. But I would not choose that, either. It is not Nia. It is not who I have tried so hard to be. Simon, I want to be human! I want to live and love and die like everyone else. It has been very hard, becoming that way. I will not throw it away now, even to stay with you."
It's pretty simple, actually. I read a comment once on TVTropes about how Nia was supposed to be fated to never be truly human--first by her father's using her as a doll, then by the Anti-Spirals making her their messenger--and it stuck with me. She broke free of that intended fate with her own will and her love for Simon. But cheating death with Spiral power would just make her not-human in another way, and then she'd be right back where she started. Which sucked for her. She fought hard to be human, and she'd rather die that way than live as something else.
He smiled up at her more peacefully now. He had heard her decision, and he would abide by it. "That's what I thought," he said. "But so what? You'll stay with me anyway, Nia." He let go of the drill and clasped his hand over his heart instead. "In here."
She realized there were tears in her eyes. "Why, Simon? Why would you offer to destroy the universe for me? Even if you knew I would not let you--I am still only Nia. I am not worth the universe."
"What kind of talk is that?" he asked. "Who the hell do you think I saved it for in the first place?"
The tears were overflowing. She could not stop them. "I know," she said. "I always knew you would. Then please keep saving it for me, even when I am only in your heart."
This is just them being gratuitously epic and romantic. I love it.
"I won't need to," he said. "Some kid who goes to the moon will do it."
Theme of the next generation again. I'm starting to feel like I should do some horrible shoop involving Gimmy and Captain Picard.
"Then I will give you my dream, for when you need something to do," Nia said. "Please plant seeds that will grow into flowers. But do it in your own way. Dig the holes for the seeds with your own hands and your own drill."
"I promise I will," he said. He let go of the drill, then, and held his arms up to her. "Let's go, Nia!"
She blinked down at him. "Let us go where?"
"I don't know," he admitted. "But I feel like we should start with you jumping down from there and into my arms."
"Okay, Simon! Please wait one moment." She squirmed a little to pull the thin shift she wore off her body, and then she let it flutter down to the ground. She was naked again, and in such a condition she pushed herself off from the tree branch and leapt into Simon's arms. He caught her with only the slightest of grunts, but it was enough for her to feel his bare chest shake against her, and she pressed up close, burying her face in the crook of his neck. "Will you carry me out into the moonlight and the starlight? Even if it is only distant rock and fire, not honey as the word says, I still wish to make love to you under that light."
Honestly, the rest of this scene doesn't have a whole lot of purpose, except I wanted them to make love in the starlight so I could write some pretty imagery to describe it. It's my fic, I do what I want.
He said nothing to answer. He didn't need to. Instead, he carried her out from under the shade of the tree into the grass and flowers that lay open to the sky, and he laid her down. She was quick to reach up and pull off his pants. It made him stumble, but that only made her smile and laugh as she kissed him everywhere she could reach.
He started to push her down and climb on top of her, but she resisted. "No, Simon," she said. "I want to see your face surrounded by flowers and earth, and I want you to see mine surrounded by stars and sky. I think that is how it should be."
Because Simon is full of earth symbolism and Nia is full of sky symbolism! I'm subtle like Kamina.
"Whatever you want, Nia," he said, and he moved with her as she pushed him onto his back and sank down atop him. This time, she took him into her at her own pace, which happened to be the same as his pace. He twitched and shivered with every little bit more she moved around him, and she stroked the muscles of his chest as they rose and fell with his eager breathing.
Nia stretched out over him, and he caught each breast in turn in his mouth. That was when she knew that not only were the stars shining above her, they were bursting within her as well. She rocked against him, and that was when she knew the glow of the moon was not only above her but within her as well, whatever it was made of.
Gurren Lagann only sort of touches upon it (as it does with a lot of themes, honestly), but nevertheless, I wanted to include a bit about how people are made of star-matter and therefore we have stars inside us. Or something like that, I don't know.
All those things together, and Simon beneath her: they added up to Nia. She did not have to try not to flicker this time. She was whole, and she was Nia. There was no question about it, nor was there anything more Simon needed to ask her. They knew each other's feelings, and right now, those feelings were something amazing.
"Simon," she whispered. She did not know why she whispered, for in that moment, it was only the two of them in the universe.
"Yeah," he said.
"Please remember this," she said. "That is another thing I wish for you to do."
So the last sex scene had no story purpose, but, I realize, what it is really is an artefact of all that time this fic spent bobbing around at the back of my brain, consisting almost entirely of sparkly starlit sex and Nia reassuring herself of her identity via said sparkly starlit sex.
* * *
After the honeymoon and after the wedding, Simon had many weeks ahead of him that were not at all busy. But he found things to do all the same. He was a resourceful man like that, and now he had new dreams to carry with him into the future. They gave him new things to do.
There was a hill near where Kamina's cape still fluttered ragged and proud off his sword. It was bare, the way Simon remembered the island once being. Little by little, he changed it. He planted flowers until it was covered. Then it was ready to be Nia's hill--but first, he had to add his own touch to it. He brought a stone there, and little by little, he carved it. He did not make a statue. That was something he had done for Kamina, and Kamina and Nia were different. He simply made a smooth, solid slab of stone, with a cross to hang the ring on jutting out of it, and a headstone on which he could carve words.
Simon was not used to carving words into stone. He was more simple than that, and he made more simple creations. But this time, words were necessary.
THESE FLOWERS WERE MADE FOR NIA
AND THE MOON IS MADE OF HONEY
The flowers would die and grow again, and everyone would know that they were for Nia. But only Simon would know why the moon was made of honey. It was better that way.
Finis. I actually pulled the ending out of my ass; I just like symmetry in my stories and therefore wanted to bookend the main Nia POV section with two smaller Simon POV sections. I threw in a few of the themes, though--the hill being bare until Simon planted flowers on it, the flowers dying and growing again. Because I'm a responsible writer.