Author's Note: Hello again, and thank you for the reviews! They helped me straighten out a small error I made (I meant to write something else, but apparently my mind is faster than my typing XD) and something I realized I hadn't made clear enough.
Oh, and if you can, please review! I love hearing what people think about my writing, because it gives me a chance to improve. I mean, you don't absolutely have to…but I'm generally in a better mood and write more when I get lots of reviews ;D
Chapter Two: Promise
"…Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me…"
It was quiet. The dining hall was packed with people, but no one moved. All except Kanda had their heads bowed, in respect to the dead. And yet despite the incredible amount of people present, Allen had somehow made an impression on them all; A feat Kanda couldn't help but feel dimly impressed with. How could one person know so many people, even over the course of a thousand lifetimes?
Allen was sitting next to him, on the (unsurprisingly) empty bench Kanda had managed to secure at the back. Funerals were nothing new for the Black order; life had to move on, no matter how many exorcists died in the line of fire. But still, Kanda wouldn't be surprised if everyone in Headquarters had shown up. The vacant benches that had at one time held fellow exorcists stood as an eerie reminder of what awaited them all eventually.
Kanda didn't dare look to his side, already knowing Allen was watching the proceedings. Every instinct he possessed was telling him to run, as sickly fear made the hair on the back of his neck stand up. It was something he'd noticed when he was around Allen, a feeling of wrongness that intensified with proximity. Kanda stubbornly fought the temptation to move away; he would not show weakness, especially in front of that damned idiot.
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness…for I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, fear not; I will help thee."
"You can see me, can't you?"
Kanda shook his head, as if to clear away the unwanted memory. Without turning his head, he glanced in Allen's direction. The younger teenager was bent over, his face covered by his hands. Kanda suspected he was crying.
He felt a brief flicker of contempt. Why did the imbecile have to be so melodramatic? Allen was dead, end of story. He should get back to his feet and move forward; take his own advice for once. Kanda had lost track of how many times he'd heard that hypocritical fool carelessly spout such stupid sentiments.
And, being Kanda, he felt no obligations whatsoever to avoid telling him this in the near future. Though the Japanese exorcist was still convinced he was hallucinating, he'd never hesitated to speak his mind before.
"Stop blubbering." Kanda murmured, trying not to move his lips much. Though he didn't particularly care what people thought of him, Kanda had no desire to encourage an reputation of insanity. It made his missions more difficult.
After a pause, Allen straightened, looking over at Kanda. He still looked utterly miserable, but he hadn't been crying.
Kanda nodded respectfully (for once). Good, the beansprout still had guts; perhaps the only trait Kanda had ever admired in the younger exorcist. It was something Allen would need quite a bit of to get through the funeral service, if Kanda's intuition could be trusted. And of course it could.
It was at that moment that Kanda realized Linali had stopped speaking, closing her heavy Bible shut with an audible thud. The sudden sound startled everyone present, and for a moment the Chinese exorcist looked close to tears. Shutting her eyes and obviously trying to collect herself, she sighed before fixing a small, wistful smile on her face. Kanda hated seeing her like this, something he'd never admit out loud or to himself.
"Allen was a good exorcist, and a good friend. He was one of the most caring people I've ever met…and respected everyone around him, no matter their faults or their backgrounds. He was always willing to lend a helping hand, to the point…"
Linali hesitated briefly, tears starting to fill her eyes. She roughly wiped them away, her voice hoarse with emotion as she spoke next. "…to the point of giving his life to save another's. Allen never shied from responsibility, and was an inspiration to us all."
"He let his emotions get in the way of his missions." Kanda said candidly, breaking the attentive silence. He knew rather than saw Allen as he tensed beside him, and everyone turned to give him a disproving stare. Linali looked him straight in the eye, matching his cold, defiant stare.
"It's not polite to mention Allen's faults at his funeral." She said, her tone quiet but carrying an underlying warning tone. "Especially since that very flaw is the reason you're here."
Kanda scoffed, looking away and getting up. "Fine, I'm going."
Allen watched him leave, numb. He was grateful for the lack of feeling; it made it easier to think, and he knew all to well that once he got away from Kanda he'd probably break down into tears. He was dead, and that was that; there was no way he could continue his mission now, no way he could dream of living a normal life someday like he used to.
But Kanda could see him. Why was something Allen hadn't figured out yet, but at this point it was the thing farthest from his mind…
Looking back towards the podium, Allen distantly noted that Rabi was reciting his eulogy now, not even managing to compose himself as Linali had. The atmosphere of the dining hall was oppressive, stifling; full of sadness and old memories. There was a bitterly heartrending pang in his chest, as if his non-existent heart was crying out in pain. His friends looked so despondent, and there was nothing he could do to help, to tell them he was still here.
"Allen w-was…well, really one of the c-closest friends I ever had…"
Turning away, Allen stood up and followed Kanda. He couldn't stay anymore, it hurt too much. Walking a bit faster, Allen quickly caught up to Kanda, falling into step with him automatically. Kanda inclined his head slightly in the younger exorcist's direction for a moment, the only acknowledgement Allen expected to receive. He was quickly proven wrong.
"I'll bring you back."
The whispered words were so quiet, so casually spoken, that for a moment Allen wondered if he'd heard correctly. He stopped, watching Kanda's steadily retreating back with a mixture of anxiety, growing hope and suspicion.
"…What did you say?"
Allen had expected Kanda to continue walking, like the callous antisocial he'd always claimed to be. But Kanda once again surprised him, halting and looking back at Allen…and straight into his eyes.
"You're a valuable asset in this war against the Millennium Earl. No one else has an eye like yours, and no one else is capable of influencing the members of the Order to such an extent. Furthermore, you saved my life, which means I have no choice but to repay that debt as best as my abilities allow." The words echoed in the dusty, vaulted hallway, fading away slowly into silence.
"How? Why?" The words slipped out of his mouth before Allen had barely given them any thought, and he found himself regretting them immediately afterward. Kanda wasn't someone you could question, especially considering he was (strangely enough) offering to help...
Why? Why did he say that he would? Kanda wasn't entirely heartless, but saving comrades (above all one that was already dead) had never been one of his top priorities. He'd said quite bluntly that he wouldn't help Allen on any of their missions together, and had expressed a unmistakable disdain for him time and time again.
Kanda remained impassive as always. "I think I might have some idea where to start…and don't ask something so stupid, beansprout. I already told you why I'm doing this."
And Allen knew there and then that Kanda wasn't hiding anything. There was nothing more to it then what he'd already said. It was so straightforward and simple, Allen wondered why he'd bothered to question it. Having Allen alive again was an advantage for Kanda, and leaving him dead with so many questions unanswered…wasn't.
To put it plainly, logic dictated he needed to be alive. The perfect simplicity of it all was so cold and emotionless…but ironically enough, worked in Allen's favour.
"Thank you." Allen replied softly, though both of them knew the sentiment was meaningless. It implied a comfortable understanding, where only uneasy confusion existed instead.
The eighteen-year-old didn't bother to reply. Looking away, he continued down the corridor, Allen trailing behind him reluctantly.
Kanda slept fitfully that night, drifting in and out of so many nightmares and dreams he could barely keep track of them all. Allen sat on his desk like a silent sentinel, eventually leaving to wander around headquarters. The teenager knew without really knowing how he knew that he couldn't sleep, not that he would have been able to after the events of the previous day. And so hours past with neither of them bothering to talk to another, content to pretend for the moment things had returned to normal.
Later the next morning, Linali stopped by to tell Kanda that Komui wanted him to come to his office for his newest assignment. This was unbeknownst to Allen, who had taken to drifting through the library in the hopes of finding something useful to reverse this all.
In fact, Allen tried to stay out of Kanda's way for the most part. This was to the older exorcist's great relief, though Allen had no way of knowing that. To Allen, it was only a useless gesture of defiance. No matter how much he disliked Kanda, he was someone he could talk to and focus on, unlike everywhere else he went where he saw something that reminded him of-
No, I won't think about it. Allen thought forcefully, after finding himself outside his old room. There was no other way he could deal with it. For the time being at least, he needed to remain strong. Otherwise…well, he didn't want to think of what might happen if he gave in.
With this in mind, it probably wasn't unexpected when he ran into Kanda shortly after breakfast near the science section. Kanda didn't even twitch, his eyes sliding past Allen as if he wasn't even there. After a moment of bewilderment, he abruptly realized that Kanda probably didn't want Linali to ask any difficult questions.
"…reports of strange activity near the…are you listening to me, Kanda?"
Both Allen and Kanda started, the latter's shocked look quickly turning to a glare. "Of course I was."
Komui regarded him suspiciously, obviously not convinced. Kanda cursed inwardly, knowing if even Komui noticed his diverted attention he wasn't hiding it very well. Truth to be told, Kanda was beginning to regret his earlier assurance to Allen…Kanda hadn't exactly lied when he said he'd had an idea where to start, but it wasn't something he was keen on investigating into.
Is this really worth the effort? He thought with more than a twinge of annoyance, watching Allen out of the corner of his eye, who had his gaze firmly focused on the wall. The fifteen-year-old hadn't managed to get on Kanda's nerves much at all in the past few hours, something a nicer person probably would have worried about. It wasn't like Allen to be this…depressed.
Thankfully, Kanda had never really considered himself a nice person to begin with. Although he knew and didn't bother to question the fact that he normally would have considered a mission briefing more important then a semi-transparent former comrade.
"Yes?" Kanda looked back at Komui, a bored expression gradually replacing his irritated frown. Oh well, he supposed having to deal with a bunch of disheartened exorcists for an undetermined period of time was something he wanted to avoid anyway.
Komui sighed, well used to Kanda's unfriendly ways by now. "There's a train leaving for London this afternoon at 1:30. Get on it. I've already written down the finer details of your mission, so be sure to carry a briefcase or something to keep all that paper safe. Normally, I'd send you with a partner…but Rabi and Linali are the only ones available in the near future, and they've been through a lot lately. I'm sure you could take care of something this minor by yourself anyway."
Kanda nodded slightly, slightly displeased that he had been sent on an unimportant mission. Akuma activity had been suspiciously absent in the past few months, besides the fateful mission he'd undertaken with Allen a day or so before. Gathering up the previously mentioned paperwork, he turned to leave.
"Kanda, it's hard for all of us. You don't need to pretend. I know you're dealing with your grief in your own way, but it's okay to ask for support."
The Japanese exorcist felt his eyebrow twitch in exasperation at the cheerful, naïve words, rounding on Komui absolutely livid. "I don't-"
Upon seeing the chief's expression however, Kanda faltered. Looking back, Allen saw exactly why. Tears were streaming down Komui's cheeks, his teeth clenched and a hand gripping his pen so hard Allen thought it might snap.
"It's okay to ask for support…because I'm certain you feel as responsible for Allen's death as I do."
For a moment, the room was completely silent. Allen watched with bated breath, wondering why he was so strangely fascinated by the scene unfolding before him. He'd never really given much thought to what everyone else said about him when Allen wasn't around…but now he was about to find out.
"Che, I'm not a bleeding heart like you are. What sort of supervisor allows himself to fall apart just because of one death? Suck it up, I'm sure if anyone could find some miraculous way to defy death it would be that idiot."
Kanda was smiling. A slight upturn of the lips, close to a smirk but somehow less self-righteous, almost unnoticeable to the naked eye…but there, nonetheless. Allen couldn't help but think it looked painful, and found himself smiling slightly at the thought despite himself.
Komui also smiled, rubbing away the tears and acting as if they had never been there, his tone almost teasing. "I should have known better to expect any genuine compassion from you."
Kanda snorted. "Yes, you should have."
Allen whipped around to stare at the older exorcist. Had he just…made a joke? No, he must be imagining things. This was Kanda, the epitome of seriousness and (questionable, Allen might add) maturity. Either the apocalypse was nigh, or Allen was reading into this too much.
But he didn't get a chance to mull it over for long. Kanda had already set off towards his room to pack, intent on his mission.
As always, let me know if there were any small inconsistencies or errors! Oh, and once the English dub of the D.Gray-man anime comes out (there's been nothing official, but we all know it will happen :3) I'll go back and change the names in this fic to reflect that. Just so you know.
And before you ask, I know everybody else uses 'baited breath', but it's not the correct spelling and sounds silly to me. Nothing much happened this chapter, but at least it's slightly longer than the previous one. I promise (oh, the irony) that things will pick up soon!