A/N: This was written for the March round of flashfics on LiveJournal for Haverstock.
This fic has a bit of a special place in my mind. Before I wrote it, while I wrote it, and after I finished it, I thought of it as The Kanda x Allen Thesis Paper. Truly, no thesis was ever so incoherent or poetic, but nevertheless...
I think I was trying to explain my reasons for supporting this pairing in fic format. I may have failed at doing that, but I still like the way the fic came out. I hope you enjoy it too.
Ultimately, it all came back to the unspoken promise he'd made.
Kanda couldn't care less about love. Hate was only marginally more worthy of indulging in. Emotions were useless, but something he was resigned to having because he was human. If it were up to him, he would be a soldier only, and humanity be damned.
Unfortunately, it was not up to him, and so he was condemned to feel irritation and anger and pain and contentment and all those other pointless things that only made things more complicated and difficult than they already were. When Allen Walker had first arrived at the doorstep and Kanda had been dispatched to take him out, as he'd fallen slowly through the sky towards the boy's stunned face he'd briefly been thankful that he was about to die. It was clear right from the very beginning that Allen was a person capable of making him feel things. Kanda didn't care whether they were good or bad feelings. He just did not want to feel anything at all.
Of course, he'd gotten called off at the last second and Allen had lived to torment him with his incessant passion for things that didn't matter. Feelings were definitely on that list.
What Kanda did care about was honor, and strength. That was why Allen pissed him off so much-- the kid was weak, weaker than anyone should rightfully be allowed to live with. He would throw away a mission to save a person-- just one, stupid, useless person. He had no concept of the greater good, or the sanctity of the mission.
Also, he smiled too much. But that was beside the point.
Yes, Allen Walker made Kanda Yuu very angry just by breathing and living when by all rights, anything that weak should be dead. He wasn't worth hating, though, not nearly. He was a pain in the ass, but he wasn't evil, and he didn't set out to antagonize Kanda. Therefore, it wasn't worth the effort and distraction it took to hate him.
He wondered, sometimes, what value Allen saw in smiles and forgiveness. He dispensed them like candy to anyone who wanted them, and never seemed to run out. Where did it all come from, all that light?
Kanda made a point of not caring most of the time, but curiosity is a funny thing.
He'd sit down to eat his dinner, laying out his meal with military precision and wielding his chopsticks like weapons. In his hands, as a matter of fact, they really were.
He would get perhaps five bites into his meal, and there the brat would be, smiling at him like an idiot and asking if the spot across the table from Kanda was full.
It was amazing to Kanda how dumb the kid was. If it was him asking, the seat was always taken, whether or not somebody was actually going to sit there. He refused to share his table space with a misfit who didn't deserve to be alive. Especially not one who smiled too much. Forget it.
Of course, Allen would always sit down anyway, no matter what murderous glares or pointed hints Kanda sent his way. Then he would sit opposite him and jabber incessantly about absolutely nothing of value, somehow managing to shovel obscene amounts of food down his throat at the same time without choking.
For some reason that refused to reveal itself, Kanda was utterly incapable of blocking out his voice no matter how hard he tried or how many Eastern meditation practices he used. That high, gentle voice always seemed to ride right over his blocks and burrow its way right into his brain, where it was most definitely not welcome.
It was in this way that Kanda learned hundreds of things he had never wanted to know about Linali and Komui and Rabi and Bookman and Crowley and Jerry and River and Miranda and absolutely everyone Allen had ever come in contact with, not to mention Allen himself. Allen seemed to think he cared, probably because Allen was clearly an idiot.
Unfortunately, Kanda was cursed with an eidetic memory. Every single tidbit of horribly boring and pointless information Allen fed to him over mealtime was carefully filed away by his traitorous brain and could be recalled at any time, should he wish it. He didn't, but he could still tell anyone who asked that Linali's favourite colour was dark blue, and that Komui's favourite brand of coffee could only be purchased in one certain town in South Africa, and that Jerry's hair dye ingredients included essence of cherry blossom, and that River loved to play chess but was prodigiously terrible at it. He also knew, thanks to Allen's endless Fountain of Useless Trivia, that Rabi had a fascination with Kanda himself verging on attraction.
He wasn't quite sure what to think or do about that, and in the end decided to do what he always did-- absolutely nothing. Let him work his hangup out for himself.
Kanda just wanted to enjoy his dinner in peace.
Missions were a trial and a half.
Allen would recklessly rush off and do whatever his conscience dictated, whether or not it was the wisest or most prudent course of action. His heart ruled him. That was why he was so weak.
Despite that, he somehow managed not to die no matter what happened to him. He fought his way out of mortal injuries that even Kanda would probably have succumbed to, and the moment he was recovered, he would race back to the battlefield and continue his passionate, irrational crusade to free the Akuma.
He would frequently run headfirst into a suicidal situation as though he were immortal, flail around with zero consideration for the odds, and get himself all bloody and beat up to within inches of death. It was stupid and senseless, enough to hurt Kanda's head if he thought about it too long.
However... somehow... Allen won every time, and survived in the end, though he might have a few new scars.
Kanda hated puzzles. He could not rest until they were solved. The Puzzle of Allen kept him sleepless many nights, trying to figure out what the hell made him be so reckless when prudence would save him most of those bruises and cuts and eventual scars.
He tried not to care about the solution, but his own personality and curiosity foiled him every time.
Despite how negatively he felt about Allen, more than half of his waking time was spent thinking about him. An annoying paradox, that.
Allen was a horror to go on missions with, there was no doubt of that.
However, Kanda had to admit there were few people he would rather partner with. They had never failed a mission when they went together, despite their means of attaining success being somewhat less than orthodox. They both usually got wounded, and there was usually a huge mess to clean up afterwards. Despite all of that, they never, ever failed. Their missions were always resounding successes, after the fact anyway.
When Kanda went on mission with Allen, he never had to worry about his back. No matter what moral quandary called for him, after Allen got to knew him and deemed him a comrade, Kanda could always be sure of his dramatic entry at the last second to save his ass. It was humiliating, which pissed him off all over again, but feeling safe was a new emotion that he couldn't honestly say he disliked.
He was unfamiliar with trust, but he supposed that was what it was. He trusted Allen to come back for him no matter what.
In Kanda's world of honour and strength, that meant something.
Whenever Kanda trained, it was usually by himself.
He would find a secluded spot on the grounds, make sure there were no white-haired pests hovering around, and work himself until exhaustion set in.
Oftentimes, halfway through his regime he would feel a pair of measuring eyes on him. He ignored them. Let Allen watch. Maybe he'd learn something about economy of motion. Unlikely, but possible, and his presence didn't really bother Kanda as long as he didn't say anything.
When he needed to spar with a partner to test something out, it was invariably Allen. The others were too predictable, too easy to crush. Kanda was very, very good at what he did. Komui knew it, because despite his silly facade, he was deeply intelligent and knew exactly what he was doing every single second. Allen also knew it, though he rarely acknowledged it. The others had no real idea. They knew he was good, and praised him effusively, but they didn't have the depth of darkness in their hearts necessary to understand how perfect a killer Kanda was.
That was why he trained with Allen. There was no worry of crushing him, no reason to hold back. Allen would meet him head-on, eyes determined and passion brightly aflame. Kanda could beat on him with everything he had and at the end of the day, Allen would smile happily and bow to him, thanking him for the learning experience. There was almost always blood, usually on Allen's side, but he healed quickly. Not as quickly as Kanda, but Kanda was cheating anyway.
There was that trust again. He knew he couldn't really kill Allen in a sparring match because Allen would never allow that.
He'd tried sparring with Linali once. She hadn't woken up for three days and Komui had come dangerously close to decapitating him.
Sparring with Rabi was also unsatisfying because Rabi refused to hurt him. He always held back at the crucial second, then looked all hurt and betrayed when Kanda didn't. It was pointless to explain or make excuses, so he didn't, but he also didn't spar with Rabi again unless it was absolutely necessary.
Crowley was only marginally better-- he would go all out if pushed, but if he happened to regain his human conscience during the fight, he invariably collapsed and wept and begged forgiveness for harming him.
Kanda wasn't interested in karma.
Allen wasn't scared of hurting him.
Sparring was the closest Kanda came to having a real relationship with someone, however brief. There was always some sort of connection with the person one fought for most human beings, and Kanda was no different. It was almost like being psychic, but was probably closer to hyper-awareness. He heard Allen's every breath, could predict his every heartbeat, and felt his movements in tandem with his own. It was a sort of intimacy, which was why Kanda trained alone as much as possible. Intimacy was not his thing.
If afterwards they lay together, panting on the ground with their arms and thighs nearly touching, Kanda paid it no mind because it was only part of the battle.
He didn't care if Allen thought otherwise. He could think whatever he wanted, it was none of Kanda's business. He was only there to perfect himself, to become a better warrior and stronger than before.
Long ago, he had resolved that he would never tell anyone his reason for fighting.
Strangely, no one asked. He'd expected Allen at least to be after him ceaselessly, prying and prodding to find the answer. Allen stayed away from that topic, as though he thought it was something deep and painful that would hurt Kanda to talk about.
Ridiculous, of course. It was nothing so special as that.
He simply had nothing else to do, and no reason not to devote himself fully to this.
His family was gone, dead long ago, and he hadn't let himself care too much. After all, they hadn't cared about him. There was no obligation there at all.
The power had always been there within him, the Innocence throbbing in his veins and begging for release, but he hadn't know what it was. The Exorcists had told him that when they'd found him. Since he'd had nothing better to do, he'd given himself completely to whatever the power demanded. It turned out to mean the path of an Exorcist, and that of slaying Akuma in order to free them. Kanda didn't care, as long as he had something to do, something to focus on. His world of honour and strength needed something to revolve around, and Exorcism was as good a gravitational center as any he'd found thus far. And once committed, the same honour would not allow him to abandon it for any other path.
For some reason, he got the feeling Allen understood that, and didn't really expect him to be any other way than he was no matter how much he jokingly preached.
He trusted Allen never to really try and change him. He might poke and him and obviously wish for Kanda to conform more to what he hoped for, but he never really honestly expected anything or seriously tried to make Kanda change.
Kanda appreciated that, in his own silent, unimpressed way.
And then, there was the mission, and the unspoken promise.
It was the kind of mission nobody really thought they'd come back from. Kanda could almost hear the funeral arrangements being made as they pulled out of the harbour, nearly heard the bells ringing and the low intonation of the priest who would read their dry, overblown eulogies.
Had Allen been there rather than recovering from his latest, most spectacular set of injuries, he would have had 'we're going to win!' written all over his ridiculous, optimistic face.
When everything went bad, Kanda had a fleeting though that if only Allen had been there with them, Linali wouldn't have had to fight and wouldn't have lost-slash-won-slash-whatever. Allen would have just beaten it and laughed his injuries off, straining his body to the point of shattering to protect them but coming through all right in the end. It would have been fine if Allen had been there. They would have had the advantage if only Allen had been there. If only Allen had been there.
Kanda slammed a mental door shut hard on that thought, because reliance on other people was something he despised more than nearly everything else, which was saying something.
They made it to their destination. A lot of people died to make it happen, albeit people Kanda didn't care about, but it was still a mark on his honour that he hadn't protected those who had sacrificed themselves to help his goal.
When a little later he decided to sacrifice himself to make up the debt, he hadn't minded at all. Death held no terror for him. On the contrary, it would be almost welcome.
But then, of course, Allen had to go and spoil it for him.
Promise me you'll come back. Promise me you'll survive.
He had no reason to promise, but rather than refuse, he said nothing. He knew Allen would take that as acquiescence, because Allen was stupid like that. He knew it as he said nothing, and in that way he promised.
Survival was now a matter of honour. So the enemy was stronger than he was despite all his training and effort... so what? Allen went up against enemies three, four, five times his strength on a regular basis, and survived on passion alone. Strength was obviously not everything, hard as that was for Kanda to swallow. This Skin creature was stronger than him. That did not mean Kanda would let him win.
It was time for some Allen-type tactics.
Kanda threw himself into the battle, allowing what wounds were necessary as long as it led to his eventual victory. To his surprise, he found the abandon of his reservations to be refreshing. Death skulked just around the corner for him no matter what he did, so since he knew where Death was, why not risk coming a bit closer in order to win? It wasn't as though Death was frightening, far from it. He was just a distasteful character to be avoided as long as possible.
He fought the Noah child with everything he had, more than he had ever dared let loose before. He hadn't realized just how much he'd been holding back before until he truly let go of his safety barriers.
Death came very, very close. Close enough to sweep cold, white fingers across his cheek and coax him with whispers in his ears. Kanda refused to go.
It all came back to that unspoken promise. It wasn't because he loved Allen, or even liked him all that much. He just trusted him.
And besides, a promise was a promise. His honour would allow no less.
The first thing he heard upon waking was Allen breathing.
For some reason, the way Allen breathed was distinctive to Kanda's ears. It was like he treasured every mouthful of air that passed his lips and nostrils, as though every particle was precious to him, every second of continued existence a gift from some higher power Kanda didn't believe in.
He didn't know when Allen had shown up at the Earl's stronghold in Japan. All he knew was that it had been in time to save his life, in time to save the day.
Last minute, as always, but he'd been there.
Kanda didn't trust people, but he trusted Allen for this. He would always, always come back for Kanda, whether Kanda himself wanted him to or not. It was a kind of honour, a kind of strength, though it had taken Kanda months to realize it.
He turned his head to the side with some difficulty, feeling the brokenness of his body with every breath. There was Allen, fast asleep with his head pillowed on his bony hands, inches from Kanda but not afraid. He'd probably been there for days, waiting for Kanda to wake up.
Kanda knew Allen didn't really like him. At the very least, he liked pretty much everyone else better. Yet still, here he was at Kanda's bedside, praying for his recovery even while unconscious from exhaustion.
Him being there and Kanda being alive meant that they'd won. Either the Earl and his family were dead or they were in hiding and powerless for now. He wasn't surprised at all. Even as he'd felt Skin die and felt himself fade into the half-death of unconsciousness, he'd never feared losing the war even though the battle had gone badly. There had been no doubt in his fading mind that Allen would be there just in time to save everyone, probably almost too late but still there in time. His weird, complicated version of honour-and-strength would not not allow him to be too late.
Kanda was not a religious man. For him, there was a difference between faith and trust. He trusted Allen because Allen had already proven himself to be worthy of it despite being personally irritating beyond belief.
The faith came later, when Skin had destroyed him to the point where only a tenuous, agonizingly stretched band of pure willpower held him to the mortal world. That was where the faith came in. There was really no reasonable way for Allen to be there. He'd been taken apart to within an a fraction of an inch of death. It would take months to return from that. By all logical menas, there was no way Allen could make it in time to save them.
Kanda had faith-- unreasonable, fickle faith-- that he would. Just because he knew Allen.
Sure enough, when the crux of the matter came and survival was balanced on a knife-edge with total, utter destruction on either side, there was Allen, with his arm and his passion and his conviction that he could not lose. He wouldn't lose. He didn't lose.
From his position as a mangled wreck on the painfully cold hard floor, Kanda was in no position to witness Allen's victory. Nevertheless, he felt it, the exact moment that Allen won. He felt it as a flaring of sweet white light in his bones, a lightening of his very self.
As a habitually dark person, it was a strange sensation to feel rushing over him, but it didn't hurt so he didn't mind. There was already enough pain.
Because of it, he felt it permissible to fall unconscious and trust a little more in Allen. He would be rescued, he would be resurrected, he would be saved. Allen would see to it because Allen was Allen.
He stopped running and let the darkness catch up.
During his recovery, it was infuriating to him how he was doted on every moment of the day. Linali would come by with gifts and sad smiles, and hold his hand because he was not quite enough of a bastard to kick her out. Rabi was boisterous as usual, berating him for being lame enough to lose to a freak like Skin. Crowley was all cautious smiles of encouragement. Komui didn't come to see him at all while he was unconscious, but that didn't surprise him. Komui understood him very well.
Allen was there all the time, supporting him on shoulders grown strong from having to constantly carry the weight of his mutant arm. He never ran out of smiles or encouraging words, and never seemed to get impatient with helping Kanda remember how to work his body. His legs didn't seem to move quite the way they should anymore. His nerves didn't quite react the way he was used to, they twinged at things he never used to even blink at. Holding Mugen was difficult since his hand didn't seem to remember belonging to him.
Had he been a weaker person, he would probably have died of humiliation.
Had it been anyone else nursing him back to health, he would have been miserable enough to let it end.
He wasn't, and it wasn't, so he somehow found the strength somewhere to fight for the life he didn't really want.
Allen would never forgive him for giving up. Kanda wasn't sure why that mattered, but it did.
Surrender was not an option.
This first time, it was a total accident. Allen had been all up in his face as though closer proximity to his eyes would yield some sort of mystical key to Who Kanda Was. Somebody bumped Kanda from behind, and their faces has collided. Lips had meshed and teeth had tangled in an uncomfortable and socially unacceptable way.
Kanda had kept his cool, difficult though it was, and turned away with hardly a blink.
Allen, of course, was stammering and blushing through strings of apologies that Kanda didn't even listen to.
The second time Allen touched him was a little less accidental, but still not Kanda's fault. Allen told him point blank after a sparring match that he was a jerk. That was true enough, not that Kanda cared at all.
Then Allen had tackled him. Not to attack him, but as an embrace.with a mountain of illogical emotion behind it. Kanda had no idea what to say or do when he heard and felt Allen sobbing quietly into his shoulder, fingernails digging into the skin of his back and hot face pressing into his neck.
He had been so sure Allen didn't like him. God knew he'd done enough to deserve dislike at the very least, if not outright animosity or hate.
When he asked Allen what the hell he thought he was doing, Allen hadn't answered. He'd had to ask again the next day while pinning Allen to the wall by his shoulders to get a straight answer.
What had Allen said? In short, he thought Kanda didn't get enough affection and hugs from anyone else, and Allen was happy to stand in for the absent ones. For some reason, Kanda found it extremely difficult to tell Allen to fuck off, he didn't need any damn hugs. Instead he merely glared at him disdainfully and challenged him to a sparring match.
That one ended in a hug, too. Allen, exhausted but exhilarated, wrapped his arms around Kanda and thanked him profusely for something Kanda couldn't quite catch despite the impressive sharpness of his ears.
The third time it happened, Allen couldn't really be blamed. Komui had plied Allen with mead until he couldn't think beyond basic instinctual reactions.
That didn't mean Kanda wasn't going to ask him what the hell he thought he was doing when he sobered up. Instinctual or not, crowding Kanda into a corning and kissing him like a man dying of thirst was not something most people would do. It was especially strange since Kanda was still ninety-nine percent certain Allen thought he was a cold-hearted bastard, accurately enough.
His reasoning was beyond Kanda's understanding.
When Allen sobered up, he still couldn't get a straight answer, just a grin and a flippant I was drunk.
The memory haunted him in his dreams no matter how much care he took to block it out of his conscious thoughts.
Allen's passion could be reasonably compared to an addictive substance. Once witnessed, life would be empty without it.
When finally they went too far, Kanda was completely unsurprised.
The aftemath of a battle, the flooding of battle-joy in their veins, the euphoria that only comes from victory... all these contributed, but in the end it was just Allen who decided the matter.
Kanda didn't like Allen much. Allen didn't really like him. Liking, however, is not necessarily synonymous with caring, and so it was with them. Kanda, despite his best efforts not to, cared what happened to Allen. Allen certainly cared what happened to him.
Allen had made him promise to live. Every moment he lived now was because of Allen, whether he liked it or not.
Thus, there was enough between them to make it just acceptable enough to go through with when it finally happened. Allen wanted to thank him for being alive. Kanda was just too tired to resist the siren call of his own body's demands. It wasn't like it meant anything dangerous anway, so why not?
There was only grass and sharp-edged stones and twigs for a bed, and only spit to make it tolerable, but Allen's eyes fluttered shut and his spine curved in delicate bliss after the pain faded. He had asked for it. Kanda felt no guilt in impaling him and taking his pleasure as he would.
At one point, he felt Allen's fingers sliding the clasp from his hair and running through it. Another hand traveled slowly, thoughtfully across his bare back, discovering new knowledge and filing it away for future reference. Lips, gentle but insistent, felt their way along his jawline with tender and truthful caresses.The sensation was pleasant.
Kanda had always been a master at understatement.
Even so, honour dictated that he not be entirely selfish in this case, and so he held off ending it until Allen's fingernails dug into his back and his ragged voice sounded in the clearing. Then he let go, still enough in control not to be afraid, coming to completion with a muffled, strained sound against the trembling wall of Allen's throat. There was no real love in it, at least nothing that could sanely be called love. There was trust, and there was caring, and certainly truth, but not anything sentimental or weak enough to be called love.
One of Kanda's greatest faults was arrogance, and included in that was the belief that he understood love and that love was weak.
Sometimes, in his more introspective moments, he realized this and felt obscurely ashamed for judging incorrectly.
Now was not one of those moments. Love was far from his thoughts. All he wanted was to finish this and move on, and possibly to hear to Allen cry out against him and finish with him. It would salve his pride if he could be good at this despite not wanting to do it in the first place. It was a spur of the moment post-battle celebration. It didn't really mean anything. He hoped Allen wouldn't read too far into it, or it would get troublesome.
Allen never said a word, but sometimes when they passed in the hallway he would feel fingers touch his wrist and feel a small smile catch in his wake.
The second time was different.
There was no aftermath of battle, no real adrenaline. Just a decision.
If he was honest with himself, Kanda would admit that it was really two decisions: Allen's to repeat the experience of the other day, and Kanda's not to refuse him. Kanda was fairly honest with himself most of the time, more so than the majority of people, but he wasn't ready to admit something like that.
In any case, Allen won that round, pulling him past the door of his bedroom and persuading him without words that it was possible to do these things without being in love.
Because of the first time, Kanda knew that the release of tension would relax his muscles and clear his mind, making it easier for him to be the perfect warrior. There was hardly any reason to object once he rationalized it that way.
Allen's eyes were closed tight and his face compressed into the expression of some unnamable, doubtless frivolous emotion as he strained against Kanda's implacable form poised above him. His nails carved red paths down Kanda's back, but he was no stranger to pain and this was a beautiful, benevolent pain the like of which he'd never known before. He didn't want to end this pain, unlike every other sort of pain he knew.
There were hands tangled in his black masses of hair, unintentionally tearing and mussing what should have been perfect.
Kanda didn't care.
The third time, he hardly even resisted at all. In his mind, he'd categorized it as a sensible arrangement between warriors and made it acceptable. It was merely a releasing of tension, like a massage or a good sparring match. There was nothing dangerous about it.
If he looked a bit deeper, it was perfectly clear that he was lying to himself.
Thankfully, he rarely had to look there. He could enjoy this without fear as long as nothing forced him to think about what it really was he was doing.
He trusted Allen. Allen would never tell anyone, and even if they found out, he would doubtless defend Kanda to the point of falling into shame himself. Humilation mattered so much less to Allen than it did to Kanda. Doubtless, he would even somehow manage to convince everyone that what they were doing was perfectly normal and acceptable, and reinforce it until everyone really believed it and never batted an eye when Allen pulled him down for a kiss in the middle of the dinner line.
As it turned out, Kanda was completely correct.
Allen's charm was overwhelming and impossible to fight against. Rabi found out first, and was predictably shocked and upset. Allen pulled him aside and spoke to him for many long minutes, a tolerant and compassionate smile on his face the whole while. Afterwards, Rabi looks sheepish and made a point of avoiding the topic whenever he talked to Kanda.
Of course, once Rabi knew, everyone knew. Linali was as accepting and open-minded as Allen had told him she would be. Crowley was bewildered but didn't want to rock the boat. Miranda, wiser than she looked, only smiled knowingly and lowered her face. Komui, as wise as Miranda and less naive, said nothing and acted no differently than he always had. Kanda was absurdly grateful.
Each in their own way, their comrades came to terms with what Allen-- and to some extent, Kanda-- had decided.
Life, as it tends to do, went on.
The thirteenth time it happened-- a superstitious number, some might say-- Kanda forgot to leave afterwards. He fell asleep with Allen curled contentedly in his arms and his body heavy with contentment.
It didn't really matter whether he liked Allen or not, or whether Allen liked him.
This went beyond petty likes or dislikes, and went straight for the realm of truth located somewhere beneath their ribcages.
For warriors, trust will always mean more than love. Because Kanda was human, he was not an exception to this rule.
He trusted Allen. Therefore, whatever happened would be fine. He would deal with it as it came up, because he was a true warrior.
Love had nothing to do with it.
That was another unspoken promise between them.
A/N: Comments and opinions welcome on this one. I'm really quite curious what people think of this pairing. I'd also like opinions on Kanda's characterization. I'm not asking for critique, I'm just curious.
Thanks for reading, see you next month!