A/N- Not sure how I came up with this one, but I'm hoping you'll enjoy it.
Disclaimer: I own none of the cast of this story; they are characters of Hoshino whom I have taken and messed around with, is all.
Notes: At the bottom of this is an important message in regards to my writing status for this fandom. Please read, especially if you are participating in YULLEN WEEK.
As always, he sits upon the leftmost bench of the park's small but well-cared-for playground, in front of and just a little unparallel with the bright red swing set. He settles down comfortably and in such a manner that one gets the impression he has sat in this very place countless times before, legs crossed at the ankles and hands folded neatly in his lap, clothed in white gloves. It is just past two o'clock, the same time he had come down yesterday, the day before, the day before that, and for as far back as some park goers can recall.
As always, he wears a worn, black leather coat, fraying at the edges of the long, zipper-warped sleeves and the seams of the lower thigh-length bottom coming undone. It is adorned with lines of glittering gold, and an intricate rose cross, an old, obscure symbol of the Vatican last seen over one hundred years ago; it is very rare when one recognizes it for anything other than the fact it is crafted from such a fine metal. His reasons for wearing this coat daily are unknown by the many mothers who visit this site when he does as, while it certainly seems as though it had cost a decent sum to have made, the coat's state of disrepair cannot help but be recognized as well. Plenty of people have run across him in the early morning towards the library, have bumped into him going to the grocery store in the afternoon, or have stumbled across the man as he rushes off into the mysteries of the night. In these times he is wearing a broad variety of different apparels, ranging from a dress shirt, slacks and a vest to foreign, custom-made robes that flow to the ground like white water behind him. He is never wearing this coat, except when here.
As always, he looks beautiful in it. He is lithely built, deceptively slender, and though not very tall, his long legs make it appear, from a distance, as though he could be. In the dappled sunlight, his hair is painted like tarnished silver and glistening snow, a blend of hushed grays and breathtaking white, cut in layers to just past his shoulders, nose-length bangs parted to one side and framing his orbs rather than covering them. The gap reveals a pair of eyes that resemble the skies of London before a rain shower, the gentle type that leaves one feeling refreshed and rejuvenated afterward. A small smile is always on his face, making him appear young and distinctly boyish. He cannot be a day older than twenty-three, if that.
The young mothers who bring their children to the park to play, those who like to look at him with appreciative eyes and then blush to themselves for looking so openly, often speak with each other in quiet whispers. Their words, as always, are the same: Such a shame, one will say, that he always seems so lonely on that little park bench. He's so pretty even with that strange scar on his face, another adds even as he turns their way and smiles a smile that seems to say he knows who and what they are speaking of, so why does he have no one?
He pays them no heed, speaks politely and formally when spoken to or questioned but never begins conversation on his own, and looks to the play set with distant eyes.
The area housing this small play area is surrounded by a ring of thin trees,-currently in the process of losing their leaves, tops on fire and skeletons slowly being laid bare- it being located in the middle of a clearing. It is shaped rather like an oval drawn by the hand of a young child, lines wavering, curving, and very rarely smooth. The benches-painted a color of green that was once very bright, but has dulled and chipped away from exposure to show the gray, rough wood beneath- are only yards away from the children's area, a place for mothers to rest their feet while keeping a watchful, protective eye, while giving their young a false sense of freedom and independence. Most of the clearing is consumed by the playground's many metal play things, and the artificial sand used to pad any tumbles that may take place.
It is farther out than most people like to go in the park, so it is very rare when someone new shows up with the hand of a youth or two clutched in their own or grasping to the back of their coat. Typically, a loyal dozen or so families come throughout the week, nostalgically appreciating the rusting metal swing set and the creaky monkey-bars that the parents can vividly recall from their childhood when they were freshly painted, brand new, and cared for. Since then a new playground has been made, much closer to the city, and this little section has been all but forgotten amongst the trees, left to dilapidate in near peace with nary a struggle or sound of raised protest.
Only two parties come to this playground, this nameless, withering section of the park, on a daily basis, though others would always be there with them. Obviously, the white-haired man is one of them, coming no matter the weather condition outside, in heavy snow or the bitterest of storms. The others are two of the Kanda family, a mother in her mid-twenties of mixed English and Japanese descent and her son, a rowdy child of five years named Yu in a brief recognition of the Kanda line's past culture.
Coincidently, both the stunning young man and mother and child come to the park at roughly two o'clock.
Whenever the man's eyes first catch sight of the two of them, the young boy sometimes walking complacently with his mother, at others pulling her with as much gusto and strength as his little body can manage, or complaining loudly over a trivial childhood hardship, his face at once comes to life. His eyes grow both warmly joyous and sorrowful, and his smile lowers itself until only the barest corners of his lips remain upturned; a smile of loss, of sadness remembered, or phantom pain, but gorgeous in its reality. His back straightens almost imperceptibly, and quietly, he observes the small boy with growing black hair falling to his chin play. Whether Yu is making a sandcastle in solitude to impress his mother, or attempting to climb a very tall tree to prove his disbelieving peers he can while pushing his mother into a fit of panic and worry, the man watches him in rapt attention.
There comes a day when the young boy begins to notice eyes other than his mother and the occasional friend watching him, and defensively, his back stiffens. By now almost six years old, soon to start Kindergarten, the boy knows of strangers and the not-so-nice intentions they sometimes carry for others, and so it is with wary eyes that he looks up from his latest sand creation. His orbs meet with a shade of silver he has never seen before, not even in his mother's jewelry box that he likes to sometimes take things from and hide. The look Yu is given is intense in its complexity, a face twisted by time and left a mess of bits put back together, like a shattered vase repaired too quickly or a puzzle with pieces that belong to another picture. It piques his interest, this funny look mixed between elation and despair, placed upon a pretty, boyish face with old-man hair and a delicate, precise scar that looks like it was put on with a paint brush instead of a blade.
As children are privy to do, Yu follows his curious whim without hesitation or forethought. He walks to the man's bench as slowly as a scientist observing their newest interest, his facing becoming progressively more attentive in growing fascination. How can such a young person have white hair?
Yu sits on the bench without ceremony and without asking for permission, even though his mother tries her best to impress politeness upon him whenever she can, drilling him with her 'pleases' and 'thank you's' and 'may I's' and the like. The man does not seem to mind though, merely watching him with a somber but calm expression as Yu kicks his legs-which cannot reach the ground by many inches- back and forth. Unabashedly, the boy stares at him with wide, blue-green eyes.
Eventually the boy, sick of the serene silence between them, speaks. "Why the heck do you keep watching me?" he asks with all the bluntness of one unversed in the unspoken rules of society. "It's annoying and rude." It seems unimportant to the boy that his tone of speech is just as rude as the man's unwavering gaze.
The man only laughs though, unperturbed by the young child's rough way of speaking, looking gladdened by it if his smile is anything to go by. "I'm sorry," the man apologizes in a soft voice gentle on the ears. "I didn't realize it would bother you so much. I'll stop, if you want."
The boy snorts, and swings his legs harder, his heels hitting the underside of the bench with every completed circuit. "That's not answering why though," he snaps with an annoyed glare.
"I suppose it isn't," the man agrees with a deep sigh, eyes looking back to the playground and past it, deep gaze directed toward something that doesn't seem to be there anymore. "You remind me of someone very precious to me," he tells the young Yu a few minutes later, light voice impossibly heavy. "I lost him a long time ago, right here."
"Then why don't you just look for him or something?" Yu's voice seems to give the impression that his solution is obvious and should have been tried by now, as simple as one plus one equals two. For someone so young, he is oddly condescending. "If I lost someone important to me I wouldn't just sit on a bench and wait around for them to come back. I'd find 'em."
The man's gaze on him is nostalgic, eyes glinting with something Yu cannot see for positive, but he wonders if the man is about to cry. He thinks not, because the man is smiling and happy people don't cry, and neither do men. "I know you would," the man quietly whispers, so quietly it's more like a moving of his lips than him actually saying something, but Yu hears him as if he'd spoken several times louder. "But this is different. I know exactly where he is; he comes here every day."
"Che, if you're still upset even when he comes then you're just being a baby."
"I'm not upset, exactly," the man explains, face brighter, more amused now. Whatever clouds that had came to shadow his mood seem to have parted and drifted away. "He's just different, so it's hard to deal with. But I'm very happy whenever I see him."
Yu nods in response, not quite understanding the man's feelings clearly, but not wanting to appear stupid. Looking again at the man, observing the small changes on his pretty face, he realizes something very abruptly. "What's your name?" he asks in a blundered rush, inwardly kicking himself for not having asked sooner. His mother would have reprimanded him if she knew he hadn't asked that first.
"Allen," the man tells him with a grin and an outstretched hand, "Allen Walker." His grip is firm, but not too tight. Yu cannot help but imagine that these must be the hands of a hero or a savior, secure and strong, but restrained enough that they'll never crush the one they protect. They give a silent promise of safety. He cannot help but wonder why this image seems so strong inside of his thoughts though, because Allen is short and skinny and nothing like the heroes in his comic books at home. Part of Yu just seems to know without needing to think about it that Allen has stood up to things even people like his dad-surely the strongest person alive- could never vanquish.
"Kanda Yu." He tells him, in proper Japanese format because it seems right on his tongue around Allen, and because it would be rude to not tell him.
Allen nods, but nothing flickers on his face to suggest he has taken in the information. He doesn't react in the slightest, as if he already knew his name before he told him. Slowly, his strong hand, fingers long like a pianist's, is placed upon Yu's head, ruffling the hair lightly and laughing as he is promptly swatted away.
"It is lovely meeting you, Kanda Yu," Allen says, still laughing, even as Yu threatens to hit him for messing around with his hair.
He turns at the sound of his mother's call, his annoyance with Allen instantly dropped at the beckoning wave of his mother's delicate hand. She wants him to come and play with a boy he's talked to a few times before, one with red hair that has a tendency to really, really bother him and who sometimes likes to wear an eye patch and pretend he's other people. Aggravated, he turns back to Allen, unsure of whether he should ignore his mother and continue talking to him, or if he should go.
"Go on." Allen pushes him forward with a hand on his back, and he slides off of the bench so suddenly he falls the short distance to the ground, landing with a thump on his butt. A small chuckle is all he receives when he glares at the man furiously while pushing himself to his feet with his hands on the ground. The cement is cold and rough beneath his fingers and the mean part of him wishes he had fallen on his knees so he could get this Allen guy in trouble. For a grown-up he acts so stupid. "Go play. I'll be leaving shortly anyway, and you don't want to get in trouble, do you?"
Yu hears his mother call again. She sounds a little angrier this time, usually a sign that if he doesn't do as she says very quickly, he'll be getting a time out. He sighs a troubled sigh, as if his life is truly one hassle after another. "I'm coming, geez!" he calls loudly to her, and begins stomping huffily in her direction. He'd rather talk to stupid Allen than the stupid rabbit brat. "See you later, Old Man Hair."
Allen murmurs a quiet goodbye before he rises slowly, watching as Kanda Yu reluctantly sits in the sand beside a small Lavi- without an eye patch or other cumbersome identities- feeling nostalgic and lonely, but happy at the same time. Part of him, the less-selfish part that doesn't wish they were in the same boat as him, is glad for them, glad that they finally get to live happy lives in a less troubled world. Even if they're still drawn here over a century later, to the place where the final battle against the Earl of Millennium and the Clan of Noah took place, they still manage to live a life free of the strife and turmoil their past-selves did. For the first time they have loving families unharmed by fighting or death, and they can live like normal children are meant to, and he cannot hate such amazing karma. They all truly deserve it.
Smiling faintly, he begins to walk the large distance to his home, an old-fashioned Victorian affair cramped between two larger, modern houses, connected to the Ark and existing somewhere in every country and outside each of them. While the war is long since over, the threat of left-over Akuma is still a reality, even while a sparse amount of Innocence, and therefore Exorcists, remain. Killing had been programmed into them since their creation, and it is only instinctual that they would continue to slaughter people to grow stronger when left without orders. They still exist in rather large numbers, though no longer in hordes, and have become very widespread over time, touching down in almost every continent. So it is necessary for him to be almost anywhere in no time at all, hence his many houses, though none of them are actually visible to the unaided eye.
Unconsciously, he tugs at the threadbare sleeves of his tattered uniform, his last uniform, presented to him when he was promoted to a General, only months before the Final Battle. Despite the sheer destruction of his fight with the Earl, it has held up incredibly well. Inside of it, he feels the faint threads of his connections to his old friends, killed in combat or dead of old age.
As he continues to gaze at the cracked pavement beneath him, feet on auto-pilot, he recalls the events at the park today, how Kanda finally began to speak with him. It has been hard, sitting on that lonely, green, dying bench, resisting the urge to come up to the boy, to say something just so he could be answered. All of the old Kanda's fire is in the boy's eyes, which, while different in coloration, are much like he would have imagined a younger Kanda' eyes to look. Not for the first time, Allen wishes time would move more quickly so that he can see how this Kanda will grow up, so he can grow to love him as intimately he had the Exorcist Kanda, because while they won't be the same exactly, their soul is shared between them, and that's all he needs.
He yearns for the feeling of strong hands gripping his arms, holding him close, back pressed to a muscled, slender chest while rough lips brush his. In his mind's eye he can still see the two of them, only days away from Kanda's death, sitting close in the library, saying nothing. Allen regrets more than anything else his lack of courage, his inability to say 'goodbye' in front of the merrily crackling flames. He knew Kanda only had one petal left, knew it would not be able to pull him through to the end, but some optimistic mentality within him had overridden his common sense, had given him hope for a future he knew wouldn't happen. So he remained silent, only rested his head upon Kanda's broad shoulder and dozed lightly while Kanda read.
And then Kanda was gone, killed in battle, and Allen was one of few left, suddenly ageless and seemingly immortal after his victory over the Earl, and he could only helplessly watch his dear friends perish one by one, eaten away by the cruel passage of time.
With a sigh, Allen runs his hands through his white hair, taking in the fact that he'll have to cut it soon while marveling at the chill in the air. To him time has become so repetitive things like the changes of the seasons seem a blur to his tired eyes. It feels like just yesterday he was walking the breezy pathways of the Ark to escape the humid summer air (because he refuses to place an air conditioner in his house, condemning himself as old-fashioned or not).
Before Kanda and Lavi and Lenalee and Komui and everyone else had first started to reappear as reincarnations, he had become almost blind to the world; nothing had been able to touch him. He knew of the other Exorcists, but unlike them, who came from this time period, he was different, surviving from a piece of Innocence because, for some reason or another, the Earth refuses to let him leave until his promise to free Akuma is entirely resolved.
He lost himself to countless days of self-induced solitary confinement, stopped making friends because he hated watching them grow old while he stays entirely unchanged. At times it had seemed that he had lost his heart somewhere in the fabric of time, unable to connect with the world or its people as deeply as he used to, no longer willing to feel their pain and sympathize, focusing only on his mission. He tried so many times to end it all, but miraculously, no matter the damage he had received-or on one horrendous account, inflicted upon himself-he would always survive, and heal. Sometimes he would lie awake for days because sleep seemed so unnecessary to him, and let the images of nights with Kanda burn their ways into his dry, lifeless eyes until he felt they would never fade away no matter how many times he'd blink.
It had been a tiring, shattering, numbing century of solitary fighting.
But stepping into his two story house, enchanted by skills in magic he has acquired over his achingly long existence, he can feel warmth touch his body that he does not recall having felt previously. The threshold seems less like a refuge and more like 'home' that ever before. He thinks of Kanda then and Kanda now, slowly growing into the man he once remembered, and smiles because he knows it's fated to begin again. He recalls the Innocence stored within the Ark, alive and gleaming, pulsing a call to their returned masters, and revels in their reawakening, patiently awaiting the day he can present it to them if they choose to take the responsibility upon themselves once more.
The chance of rejection is a faint concern, but for some reason or another –perhaps intuition, maybe a secret passed to him subtly from Fate herself- he does not worry over it, only lets it seep through his blood in a sluggish dance. Because in the end doesn't chance imply choice as well, and isn't that the very things his friends have always deserved? Choice, a truly beautiful thing, something heading progressively forward, toward him, toward them. The chance to select their fate, instead of being forcefully presented with it. No torture, no pain, just choice, freedom.
Inevitability rings true in his ears, and resolutely, Allen Walker looks toward the future, sure in the fact that it, and then they –and he too, especially- will come home.
A/N- So, truth time. This was one of my entries for Yullen Week, and basically, the only one I have entirely completed. My reason for this is simple: I have fallen out of the DGM fandom. It is not that I don't like DGM or Yullen anymore, but simply that I have lost inspiration to write it, and even to read most of it. This is in part due to Hoshino's health-related hiatus and my inability to get character fixes because of it, but mostly because Kaname Kuran seduced me into the Vampire Knights fandom.
To make a long story short, I will not be able to participate in the entirety of Yullen Week, though I will be attempting to finish the two entries I have started, and post them on Christmas Eve and Christmas itself (both entries are long, so I don't feel utterly terrible; the first is currently at 6,000 plus words and the second at almost 7000, and neither are finished yet). It wouldn't be fair to give Yullen fans attempts at writing which I'm not passionate about, because you'd be able to see the forced, reluctant quality to the pieces. Yullen Week is still going, of course, but I will not be a "true" part of it.
However, while I am sorry I will not be participating, I'm not going to apologize for Yullen Week itself. Just because I'm not doing the entire thing does not mean that it is cancelled, and I'm happy that I started such a big congregation, even if I'm not a part of it anymore. I was just the catalyst, and I'm nothing inportant in comparision to all of you guys who ARE doing it. Have fun, Yullen fans; I'm still rooting for the two idiots, even if it isn't so passionately.