Rating: R

Pairing: very slight Allen + Kanda. Mostly Kanda-centric.

Warnings: Angst, Character death, spoilers for the manga series

Disclaimer: respectful of author rights.

A/N: This story was born as an outline for a longer fic, but then it became a fic on its own, in some strange long-and-connected drabbles way. Currently I find myself completely enthralled with Kanda Yuu of D. Gray Man, which is why I took the night to write this.

Summary: "Suicide missions were his speciality, since his curse granted him that extra edge of ruthlessness in battle. And by now everyone at the Black Order seemed pretty confident in his ability of not dying, or rather, coming back to life."

Beyond Thirteen

XIII: The end

The barrier had fallen.

The gates were open.

The Noah were dying.

The only active Japanese Exorcist saw all this, and a small smile curved his lips. It was a soft smile, and it felt alien to him to show such expression in such a moment in time.

Kanda wondered for a second what the others would think if they could see him smiling like this, but he disregarded the thought easily. He was not going to see them anymore. It was better this way, he thought, as his eyes dilated, the light fading and then, the eyes closed.

Inside the Black Order headquarters, inside one dark barren room, the petal number thirteen fluttered down, to join the rest of the dead petals below.

Outside of the Black Order headquarters, outside the barrier, Allen, Lavi, Linali, Miranda, Krory and Marie made their way towards the battlefield, ready to engage in the fight.

It was Allen the first one to spot Kanda's fallen body, and with a strange sense of worry he approached the lying exorcist.

"You alright?" -Walker asked gruffly, resisting the urge to nudge the fallen teen with his boot.

Lavi closed in too.

"Still healing, Yuu-chan? What's taking you so long?"

Silence.

Then, Linali kneeled down, and brushed away the hair covering the Japanese man's face.

His face was extremely pale and his expression was an almost soft, calm one.

"What the?" -Lavi muttered as something started buzzing around his head.

Above them, a black golem fluttered around, attracting their attention as it opened its mouth to release a sound-only recording.

"Tell Komui that I forgot to tell him that there was only one petal left. My bad "

Crack crack sounds of interference.

"And kill the damn Earl already"

The golem closed its mouth and flew away.

Allen Walker's wide gray eyes turned towards Kanda, lying there on the ground, covered in blood and dust and thousands of cuts. That were not healing.

With shaking legs and shaking hands he kneeled beside Linali, who seemed to be frozen in shock.

The rest of the exorcists were exchanging alarmed glances, and Lavi was shaking his head in denial.

Not possible...not possible...

Allen placed a hesitant hand over Kanda's chest, and pressed down, looking for a heartbeat.

He counted to ten in his head, holding back his breath. Then he counted to twenty five.

But it was irrelevant how longer he continued to count. Because that heartbeat that he was looking for...

He found none.

Everyone else stared at him, waiting for something...anything.

Allen Walker's shocked silence was proof enough that Kanda Yuu was dead.

-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-

I. The beginning

When Kanda Yuu became an exorcist, he swore to himself that he would dedicate his life to destroy Akumas and try to break his curse. In that order of priority.

And he also swore to himself that no matter what circumstances he found himself in, he would never reveal his curse to anyone unless it was highly necessary and unavoidable.

Kanda Yuu needed no pity or compassion or tenderness. He needed strength and fortitude and a code of honor.

Kanda Yuu may had been a human sacrifice chosen back in his hometown in Japan to be bestowed to akumas who were supposed to kill him, and had instead suffered a curse from an unknown magic-wielder. But Kanda Yuu refused to play the role of sacrifice so easily anymore.

He would only play that role once he knew for sure that the Black Order would win the war against the Earl.

Those were the thoughts and the silent promises of one Kanda Yuu when he joined the Black Order and became an Exorcist.

Kanda Yuu was only 11 years old back then.

II. Post – Ark

It had been a shock to Kanda, to return to his room after the whole ordeal with the Noah Ark, only to find that the lotus flower had lost 3 new petals. That made a total of 5 petals resting at the base of the clock.

Alarmed, he had whirled on his boots and made his way towards the office where Komui was holding a meeting with other staff members.

Kanda waited outside the room for a total of 10 minutes, feelings of anxiety and anger and fear surging through him.

To think that that idiot Komui was making him wait!!

After 2 more minutes, Kanda finally breathed deeply and managed to control his emotions.

"The fuck I was thinking..." -he muttered to himself.

In a blind panic attack, he had been about to reveal the lotus condition to Komui, who was famous for being a jealous brother, a coffee addict, a crazy inventor and also, a caring officer.

Kanda knew then, that Komui would stop giving Kanda missions in order to avoid putting him in a situation that required serious fighting.

The proud Japanese man was more amenable to the option of dying in battle that being caged in HQ and kept in hiding like a coward.

"Did you want to see me, Kanda-kun?" -Komui's voice shook Kanda out of his inner thoughts.

The man had steeped out of the office to grab more coffee and was now standing before Kanda.

"The lotus lost one more petal" -the exorcist grunted out, eyes trained on Komui's.

The officer nodded grimly.

"You risked yourself quite a lot in the Ark. Be careful in your next missions, Kanda-kun, this might be a serious problem" -the Chinese man said in a mild scowl, and then continued his way back into the conference room.

Outside, Kanda walked away.

III. Post – Invasion

Kanda lay on his bed, alone in his room. It had been a long day, full of annoying fools and even more foolish situations.

Everyone was still in the process of moving all necessary equipment and weapons to the new headquarters. They had only 2 or 3 days at most to live in the old, semi-destroyed building.

Kanda was not particularly excited or interested in the change of location. He only hoped it had good training facilities and a quiet place where to meditate.

And regarding personal rooms, he couldn't care less. He never decorated any place that he inhabited. Even in his current rooms there was no sign of personal items, and he had lived here for almost 8 years now.

The only thing that Kanda would take with him to the new HQ would be the crystal hourglass that contained the lotus flower.

His cursed life energy. So fragile it looked. So...ephemeral.

Kanda fixed his eyes on the bottom of the hourglass, where wilting 5 petals had used to rest before.

But now, under Kanda's cold eyes, 8 dead petals rested at the base of the crystal container.

"It's getting harder to heal, and it's taking longer too" -Kanda mused to himself- "And with every battle I am in, more energy I use. Each new Akuma that levels up takes at least one life out of me...tch..." -Kanda closed his eyes in annoyance- "If only those idiots could learn to watch out for their own backs"

But even if his own words were harsh, Kanda knew that along with his mission to destroy, came his duty to protect.

And no damn flower and tattoo would lead him astray of his duty.

IV. Virus

Lavi flinched, and prepared for the worst.

So this was it. He took his last breath of precious air.

His days as Bookman jr. put to an end by a couple of lousy 2 level akuma.

Surely the Old panda was going to get really pissed when he found out that Lavi had let himself get killed while on a simple reckoning solo mission.

The 2 akuma laughed in sync as they fired their virus bullets to their prey.

And as much as Lavi wanted to get the hell out of the way, the chains which the monsters were using the keep him in place were doing a fantastic work so far.

'Old panda...Allen...Yuu...'

"To the ground you idiot!!"

Lavi threw himself to the ground without second thought, eyes widening when he caught sight of a figure coming down from the skies towards him.

The figure had a black coat billowing in the wind, and equal bellowing dark hair in a high ponytail.

"Yuu!!" -Lavi screamed, but the sound of his voice was drowned down by the firing of the akuma virus bullets.

Lavi crouched lower and closed his eyes for what it seemed a whole hour, but only was three seconds. Two seconds later, he raised his head and saw a cloud of dust around him, and on the ground, the pentacles spreading and disappearing.

But none of them had reached Lavi, because Kanda was standing right in front of him.

"Y-Yuu" -Lavi gulped, green eye wide at the image of his friend's hands and neck and face covered in pentacles. Any minute now, Lavi knew the virus would turn Kanda into ashes.

Kanda shook in some kind of pain and almost fell froward, but with great effort stood his ground. Then he raised his face and Mugen.

His skin was pale as usual. For once, Lavi was speechless.

Immunity to virus from an equipment-type exorcist...unheard of...

Kanda glanced back at him, and smiled one small arrogant smile.

"So tell me, rabbit, if I cut those chains off you, could you actually do your work and fight one of these things?"

Lavi grinned back at him, anxious to release all the power of his Innocence upon those akuma.

V. Butterfly

Allen and Linali watched in horror as that Akuma ran a dark-energy blade through Kanda's stomach, pinning the Japanese exorcist to a wall like if the young man was a butterfly.

The akuma laughed as he ran a second blade through the unmoving Kanda's right shoulder, pinning him more firmly.

"What a pretty decoration you make, with all that blood and that dark hair. Dead things look so nice pinned up" -the level 3 Akuma giggled insanely, admiring his art work.

Then, when the monster made sure that the long-haired human was not moving and not breathing and his heart was quiet, it turned towards the other 2 injured exorcists.

"Now I'll turn you into pretty decorations too! I'll string you up and hang you from the trees!"

"Like hell you will!" -Allen replied, anti-akuma arm growing and attacking head on.

Linali reinforced the attack from air, her crystal-type Innocence in the form of spiky boots allowing her to rip through the Akuma's skin with certain frequency.

"Silly worms, you are not hurting me much" -the Akuma laughed, its gigantic hands making a good work to protect itself from the frontal attacks- "In a matter of minutes you will hang up from the trees and spill your squishy red blood like arti—GUHH!!"

The Akuma burst into dust and light and black ink-like liquid in middle rant, pierced in four neat parts.

"Tch. What a load of nonsense"

Allen and Linali's eyes widened.

Behind the destroyed monster stood Kanda, part of his chest showing, since his black coat and white undershirt had been ripped apart by the blades. The black tattoo seemed to have grown at least one more inch, but the rest of his skin was unblemished.

He was standing there, no blades piercing his chest. On the contrary, his Mugen in the Ningen/two illusions mode, was fully activated. No doubt Mugen had been the one to cut the Akuma down.

"Kanda...your wounds...you were...to t-the wall..." -Allen muttered, eyebrows pinched in suspicion.

The Japanese man snorted, clearly ignoring the other two.

VI. Interrogation

Allen and Lavi had cornered Komui, one sunny afternoon when a strange peace had descended upon them.

The Head Officer was glad to have willing visitors come to him. Almost everyone deemed dangerous to go near him due to the several accidents with his crazy inventions.

"Allen-kun, Lavi-kun, whatever has brought upon this visit of yours? Ah! Ruined weapons? I can fix that pretty easily!"

Both young exorcists were quick to object. Komui grinned into his cup of coffee. Really, kids these days were so easy to scare...

But then, Allen Walker had approached his messy desk, and with a serious, almost adult expression, had delivered a question that Komui had never liked to consider.

"We're worried, Komui-san. About Kanda. And I...I want to know what really is that black mark on his chest?..."

Komui blinked, and tried to prevaricate.

"Mark on his chest? Kanda-kun, a punk? This I have to see indeed!"

Lavi, a couple of steps behind, sighed dramatically.

"Come on, don't play games Komui. We came to you because obviously the one who knows is you. Yuu-chan is as open about himself as a maximum security bank safe. But hey, even Bookman agrees that the Head Officer's gotta be informed of all the exorcists' little quirks"

Komui put down his bunny cup, and decided to reply seriously.

"As Head Officer, I also have the right to withhold all the exorcists' private information as I deem necessary. And Kanda-kun's little quirks, as you call it, fall within those parameters"

Allen spoke up.

"We already have some idea, Komui-san. We only want you to hear us out and if possible, let us know if we are right in our assumptions" -Allen's voice was quiet and contemplative- "We have seen it grow, the mark on his chest. We have seen Kanda complete mission after mission and heal from injuries that would kill anyone. Or at least put them in bed for months. And all he has to say about it is that he heals faster than most"

"So we think it's related to the tattoo on his chest, right?" -Lave added- "It activates when Yuu-chan's is in serious danger and allows him to recover damn fast. And Yuu-chan knows it, and that's why Yuu-chan fights like he has nothing to fear"

Komui remained silent. It was an obvious thing, really, now that Kanda's mark was more visible. Denying it would make no sense...

"But we also think...that the mark not only helps him to heal, it also gives him new life, doesn't it? It's a like a gift, an ability to resurrect. It's fabulous! Think of all the advantages exorcists could have if your department researched the-- " -Allen started in an enthusiastic tone.

Komui raised sharp eyes at those words. His pinched expression took the two younger men by surprise.

"I think you should drop this topic and return to your rooms" -the man said, ending the conversation abruptly.

VII. Refusal

"She...she's dying"

Allen repeated those words several times, as if he could not understand his own words.

Miranda buried her face on her hands, silently wishing her Innocence had reached Linali before the energy blast that the Akuma had shot at the girl.

Bookman took two steps from the bed where Linali was lying, putting away his needles, his Innocence.

"My skills cannot do much more for her, I can only keep her alive for a couple of days. After that, her body will collapse for sure. The internal injuries are too great"

Lavi swallowed hard.

"Old panda..."

Bookman shook his head.

Almost at the same time, the earth shook with the impact of a distant canon being fired.

At the window of the shabby cot where the exorcists had taken temporal shelter, Kanda spoke.

"The Akuma are moving closer. I am going out"

"They won't reach this place any time soon" -Lavi sighed- "We can spare some time to heal and-"

"I am fine. And I won't stay here and do nothing to destroy them. I am going out" -Kanda repeated, effectively silencing the bookman apprentice.

A hand, a red hand grabbed Kanda's left arm before the Japanese exorcist reached the door.

"Kanda" -Allen breathed the name, looking at the other male with wide eyes- "You are fine. That tattoo on your chest already healed you, yes?"

Kanda didn't answer, regarding the Walker teen with serious eyes. It irked him that so many people knew about the faculties of his tattoo by now.

"Don't you understand? If you know how it works, how that black mark works, you could reproduce its effects on Linali. You could try and heal her!"

Dark eyes glinted in suppressed anger as they became slits.

"Not possible"

Allen own expression darkened

"Why? How come you deny it so fast? You must know how you gained that ability, if there is a way to..."

"Don't be stupid, moyashi. Don't say things you can't even begin to understand. I said it's not possible, now let go" -Kanda tugged at his trapped arm, but Allen's grip was vice-like.

"Won't you even consider it or explain to us wh-"

"No. You're wasting my time. Let go"

Allen saw red.

"You fucking bastard. How can you so willingly walk away from Linali when she needs you?!"

"Take her back to headquarters" -Kanda grunted and tugged hard enough to free himself from the Innocence arm of Allen- "They'll know what to do there. And we still have a mission here, so get a grip and move"

The door gave a loud thud as Kanda stormed out of the house.

Allen swiftly turned to his right and crushed an wooden closet in pent-up anger.

Mad laughter rang outside, and more canons were fired.

Bookman walked and leaned up to watch through the window

"Hm. So the akuma were already a few blocks away..."

VIII. Animosity

It took her two full months to wake up, and when she did, Linali was not sure what had happened.

Her last memories were of a fierce battle, where they lost many Finders and her fellow Exorcists had also been injured.

She had been trying to protect the running people from the attack of that 4 level Akuma, let loose in the city of Munich.

And then...white light and pain in huge amounts.

Her dreams after that were plagued with sad whispers and some angry words. And more pain.

But now she was awake, and she could feel her body covered in bandages, and she could sense someone close by.

"A-Allen?" -she barely whispered, seeing through misty eyes the white haired boy lightly dozing beside her infirmary bed.

The teen had jumped to his feet, eyes going wide and teary and happy at seeing Linali conscious.

"You're awake" -he had murmured, kneeling beside her bed and taking one of the frail hands in his.

Linali nodded.

"How long?" -she asked in a wisp of strained voice.

"Too long" -Allen replied quietly, tears brimming- "We all thought we had lost you. Your brother also fell sick for several days, but he's okay now!" -the boy hasten to add at the sight of a worried Linali- "He got his act together when he understood that his strength would also help you. And Miranda has been here everyday, and Lavi almost everyday too..."

Linali smiled, as tears of her own also fell. She had such good friends.

And then, the door had opened and a multitude of happy people had barged in.

Miraculously, Komui did not make a fuss, probably because he was trying to cry as silently as possible, since those were true tears and not his fake jester-like weeps.

The nurse was having a field day trying to shove everyone out or to shut them up at least, but exorcists and finders and scientists and even generals paid her no attention.

Among the sea of happy noises, Linali glanced around, and blinked at what she saw.

Allen, still kneeling on the floor, was looking back at the forgotten entrance door. His eyes were dark and turbulent.

On the door stood Kanda Yuu. Everyone else seemed content with ignoring and turning cold shoulders to the Japanese exorcist.

Linali shuddered, wondering what had happened between Kanda and the rest of the teams during her coma.

IX. Out of love

Life in the Black Order's new building was almost the same as before.

But not quite.

Not after the hurtful exchange of words that took place among the young Exorcists.

And even though the whole argument had started months ago in a shabby cot in Munich, its corollary took place in the Black Order.

Allen was furious, and hurt, and disappointed.

He had always had such a high concept of all his fellow Exorcists, and especially of him, of that person, of that swordsman.

"I thought everyone else was wrong about you. That even if everyone else said that you were a heartless bastard, they were wrong, because you cared about all of us in your own strange, rash protective way. To think that you refused to help Linali..."

The words had not been screamed, they had been whispered. But the force behind them was so palpable that no one dared to interrupt the Walker boy.

Kanda ignored him greatly, barely sparing a glance at the younger teen, whose hands were fisted hard at his sides and who seemed on the verge to snap.

"Does it seem like I care what you or anyone else thinks, idiot?"

The Finders in the room glared at him, Lavi watched Kanda with a neutral green eye, trying hard but not succeeding in masking his disappointment. Linali had her eyes glued to the ground, her hands twisting each other as she fought to hide her feelings of betrayal.

On the background, Miranda and Krory exchanged sad glances. Marie held back a sigh.

After a minute or two of the tense silence, Kanda had stood from his solitary place at the table and walked away.

Allen delivered one more set of scathing words.

"She nearly died, when all you had to do was share with us how to use that damn gift on her too. If you had allowed anyone to research that black mark, something could have been done to help her heal faster. But I understand if you would rather keep it to yourself, since it makes you feel like a fucking untouchable god in battle, you arrogant jerk"

Allen tried hard not to cry, but the sight of the Japanese man as he disappeared into the adjacent halls made another crack on his heart.

Falling out of admiration and respect and almost-love was damn painful.

X. Barrier

Alarms had gone wild, and people ran in different directions throughout the building.

The resident exorcists left what they were doing -eating, reading, training, talking, dreaming- and with Innocence at the ready, gathered at the Head Officer's place.

Everyone knew that the Generals were scheming a joint attack to the Millenium Earl.

No one knew that the Earl would take the fighting right upon them, outside the new building of the Black Order.

"We can't go out"

Akuma flocked in.

"We can't go out"

Multiple attacks turned several finders and technicians into dust. The virus was implacable.

"We can't go out"

Two, three, four level Akuma were wrecking chaos inside.

"We can't go out"

The exorcists fought to their limits to massacre the intruders.

"We can't go out"

In the end, the Akuma attack was nothing more than a diversion, a little game. Because the gates were guarded by Noahs, who in all their fanatic glee, had erected their own anti-Orderlings weapon: a containing barrier.

The barrier was deadly perfect. And Komui had made it very clear that they couldn't go out, unless they come up with a way to de-activate the barrier and, at the same time, start killing the Noahs in order to eradicate the barrier's energy source.

XI. Misunderstanding

They were trapped.

There was no possibility of reinforcements. There was no possibility of escape. Unless...

"The barrier breaks only through innocence and life sacrifice"

Komui had said, and a dark aura had descended upon all the survivors.

Exorcists, finders, scientists. All trapped inside by the few left-standing of the Noah family.

Outside, in dire need of support, the only 3 survivor Generals fought against a frighteningly serious and efficient Millennium Earl.

"I'll go" -Allen Walker had offered, sitting on the cold ground, eyebrows furrowed.

A chorus of voices protested at the white-haired exorcist's words.

He was too important a player in this masquerade to die here...

He was the Destroyer of Time...

He had to fight the Earl...

He was their dear friend...

Among the arguments and pleas, Komui watched as Kanda stood and walked towards the exit.

"Kanda-kun...are you sure..."

Silence was made as all eyes turned to stare at the retreating figure.

Maybe Linalee would have objected. Maybe Lavi would have opined.

But Kanda -as in everything else- beat them to speak.

"It's the more effective and logical course of action"

Allen had glared.

"Maybe you're right, Kanda. You're nearly immortal, after all. Since you insist on keeping your life regeneration gift to yourself, why not use it here, again?"

Kanda ignored the words and marched through the door. Walking away seemed a thing he did so constantly as of late...

Komui worried his lower lip. What a mess of a misunderstanding...none of the other exorcists had -in the end- understood that the tattoo was not a life-giving gift, but a traitorous curse.

Kanda had never made the effort to make things clear, after all.

XII. Suicide

Kanda allowed himself the weakness of looking back, albeit only for a second and with the corner of his eye.

He snorted disdainfully.

Somehow, he knew the others would be okay.

When this battle...when this last epic battle reached its end, the other exorcists -bunch of fools that they were- would be okay.

They would fight the Earl, and win the war. For sure.

Right now, he had his part to perform, to execute. Suicide missions were his speciality, since his curse granted him that extra edge of ruthlessness in battle. And by now everyone at the Black Order seemed pretty confident in his ability of not dying, or rather, coming back to life.

Kanda walked on, towards his enemies, towards the gates.

He mused as he advanced.

"Hmm...I forgot to mention to Komui that there's only one petal left..."

A small mirthless smirk crossed his face.

Tch.

"Whatever"

XIII: The end

The barrier had fallen.

The gates were open.

The Noah were dying.

The only active Japanese Exorcist saw all this, and a small smile curved his lips. It was a soft smile, and it felt alien to him to show such expression in such a moment in time.

Kanda wondered for a second what the others would think if they could see him smiling like this, but he disregarded the thought easily. He was not going to see them anymore. It was better this way, he thought, as his eyes dilated, the light fading and then, the eyes closed.

Inside the Black Order headquarters, inside one dark barren room, the petal number thirteen fluttered down, to join the rest of the dead petals below.

Outside of the Black Order headquarters, outside the barrier, Allen, Lavi, Linali, Miranda, Krory and Marie made their way towards the battlefield, ready to engage in the fight.

It was Allen the first one to spot Kanda's fallen body, and with a strange sense of worry he approached the laying exorcist.

"You alright?" -Walker asked gruffly, resisting the urge to nudge the fallen teen with his boot.

Lavi closed in too.

"Still healing, Yuu-chan? What's taking you so long?"

Silence.

Then, Linali kneeled down, and brushed away the hair covering the japanese man's face.

His face was extremely pale and his expression was an almost soft, calm one.

"What the?" -Lavi muttered as something started buzzing around his head.

Above them, a black golem fluttered around, attracting their attention as it opened its mouth to release a sound-only recording.

"Tell Komui that I forgot to tell him that there was only one petal left. My bad "

Crack crack sounds of interference.

"And kill the damn Earl already"

The golem closed its mouth and flew away.

Allen Walker's wide grey eyes turned towards Kanda, laying there on the ground, covered in blood and dust and thousands of cuts. That were not healing.

With shaking legs and shaking hands he kneeled beside Linali, who seemed to be frozen in shock.

The rest of the exorcists were exchanging alarmed glances, and Lavi was shaking his head in denial.

Not possible...not possible...

Allen placed a hesitant hand over Kanda's chest, and pressed down, looking for a heartbeat.

He counted to ten in his head, holding back his breath. Then he counted to twenty five.

But it was irrelevant how longer he continued to count. Because that heartbeat that he was looking for...

He found none.

Everyone else stared at him, waiting for something...anything.

Allen Walker's shocked silence was proof enough that Kanda Yuu was dead.

-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-

Beyond XIII: Truth

The Earl was defeated by a powerful group of Exorcists and Generals.

It was the Earl's greatest mistake to trust that the Noah Family would come to his aid. Surely the monster never thought that the fact that the Noahs' barrier was connected to their energy life would be the key to take them down.

Once the barrier fell, it was a matter a minutes for one dying Japanese exorcist to cut them all down.

This turn of events left the Earl alone to fight at least 10 enemies. At this point, the Akuma were pretty much useless too.

When the Earl died and everything came to an end, there were no celebrations or hugs or happy sounds.

What the Finders and technicians and scientists and officers saw from the gates of the HQ, was the group of injured fighters returning home, with grim expressions and tears staining their faces.

They also saw Allen Walker carrying the inert body of Kanda Yuu, still dripping lukewarm blood, with his unbound hair flying in the breeze, as if it belonged to someone still alive.

The group entered in silence, and everyone moved out of the way of the white-haired exorcist, who advanced until he found a wide white sofa in the closest living room, where he softly lay down the body in his arms.

"Allen...kun..."

Komui's voice was a soft whisper as he entered the room. The officer looked around, taking notice of his sister's tears, and the crushed expressions of the others exorcists.

Allen turned towards the head officer, eyes bright with unshed tears.

"He left a message: tell Komui that I forgot to tell him that there was only one petal left. My bad"

Komui bit his lips, as one hand came up to cover his face.

The Japanese boy had some nerve!

"Komui-san" -Allen's voice seemed about to go out like a smothered flame- "What does that mean?"

Still hiding behind his hand, Komui answered.

"His tattoo is not a gift, it was a curse. The tattoo helped him to heal and even revived him in dire situations, but it was tied to a lotus, a lotus flower with thirteen petals. The lotus represents his life energy. It's almost as he had thirteen chances to put his life on the line. Today he used...the last one...it seems..."

The Chinese officer raised his head, removing his hand to reveal a sad expression on his fine features.

"He didn't want anyone to know. He didn't want to afflict Linali with that sort of pressure, of course he refused to tell you anything when you suggested to use his ability on my sister. It is simply not possible, since the curse was directly placed on his heart"

Allen nodded, looking and feeling numb.

"He's dead, then" -he said in a hollow voice.

Komui sighed.

"He has no life energy left, but his body is not dead really. It's like a permanent coma"

Allen's eyes shone instantly, and he raised his head.

Lavi and Linali and Marie also raised their eyes, expressions expectant.

"He's alive then" -Allen nearly beamed.

Komui tilted his head sideways, and let out a small smile.

"Not yet, Allen-kun. But if we can find a way to break the curse, even in this state...I am pretty sure we could witness a miracle"

Lavi, ignoring the strict glances that Bookman was giving him, took three steps ahead and puffed out his chest.

"So! When do we start this mission? Lets hurry because I want to bring back Yuu-chan to smack him silly as soon as possible"

Linali and Marie, and even Miranda and Krory gave two steps forward too.

They did not need words.

Allen finally allowed himself to smile as he looked down at Kanda's pale face.

His pale human hand placed soft fingertips over the closed eyelids, and then traced a delicate path down the high cheekbones and towards the closed, chapped lips.

Allen also wanted to go in this mission as soon as possible, because he couldn't wait for the day in which he would be able to see Kanda face to face again, and stare into those dark intense eyes, and tell the older exorcist that he knew the truth about him, and that such truth only made Allen feel awed and humbled.

Allen knew that Kanda would pretty much resent those strong and conflicted feelings that Allen had been developing towards the rash Japanese exorcist. But he also knew that he wanted to be there for Kanda and stand by him when Kanda discovered that he had the opportunity of a new life, one that went beyond thirteen lotus petals.

The Real End