Not Quite Paradise

Written by xmystorytime.

Disclaimer: If I owned this animé/manga... I'd've had more funny scenes between Cross and Allen. Alas, I don't and therefore won't get my wish. Sadly.

[Foreign] - Yu's haunted by memories and regrets, but when he gets a second chance at happiness... will he take it?


"I'm going to fight him. I'm going to deal with him on our terms. I refuse to let him kill another member of our family."


The Millennium Earl; a sorcerer; a torturer; masquerading as a salvation, whilst actually their damnation... was dead.

"It's so fucking surreal..." Yu Kanda swallowed, wiggling his shoulders as he tried to get comfortable against the rough, uneven wall with dusty cracks. Unfortunately there was no comfort to come from the wall, especially with it poking in all the wrong places. I should probably move, he thought as he acknowledged the faint ache in his back but his limbs refused to respond.

So he stood there, arms crossed, against the uneven wall with dusty cracks, and merely watched the world pass by. In peace. There never knew how close to death they'd come – and they never would.

The Earl was dead, and had been for two years now. (In fact his death day was coming up soon, and supposedly a gathering of the Black Order – disbanded in the wake of his death – was due to occur on that day. Yu had received an invitation, but the probability of him going was slim to none.) With his death came the deaths of those he'd been connected with; the akuma had disintegrated to dust and mortar, whilst the Noah had fled to remain on the sidelines and return when the world's balance of good and evil was in threat once more.

The war that Yu had been training for, and fighting for, and living for, ever since he'd been picked up by a crazy old man with a contagious smile and a love for painting as a child... was suddenly over.

The absence of his reason for being had been thanks to the beansprout, of course. Who else would manage to inadvertently piss me off like that? He thought, more amused than annoyed when he looked back on it now, although he still felt the frustration when he had nothing to do except walk.

It had been obvious from the start that the white-haired child was to have a large role in events; ever since he'd sworn to Yu, on their first mission, that he would be a destroyer who saved. Yu had scoffed at the time, but the boy'd stuck to it, too.

By destroying the Earl he'd 'saved' his akuma.

Being free of the akuma saved humans who might have been killed by them.

Saving humans meant no tragedy for others, and the absence of a key ingredient in the making of an akuma.

It was just bad luck – or perhaps irony – that Allen Walker wasn't around to see what became of the world he saved. An exorcist with a parasitic Innocence, like Walker had been, rarely survived to old age because their Innocence kept eating away at their life support. In destroying the Earl, Walker had sped up an act that would usually take years to occur, and eventually died a few months later.

A bitter smile found its way to his chapped lips when he realised that, as much as he fooled others, he couldn't fool himself. It had been three months, thirteen days and twenty hours exactly after the Earl's defeat that Walker finally gave up the fight with his Innocence - and yes, Yu would continue to refer to it as give up because in his mind, that was exactly what Walker had done. He was positive that the teenager could've continued fighting a little longer, stayed with Yu a little longer, instead of passing away with a wistful smile.

The slow and painful death wasn't pleasant to think about, but what hurt even more was that, like Walker, anyone directly involved in fighting the Earl's minions (namely exorcists) hadn't got the happy ending they deserved. The ones alive considered themselves lucky to be alive, sure – with their line of work, they chanced with death each time they went out and fought the akuma - but even so, it left a horrible taste on Yu's tongue, and a feeling that maybe all of the suffering, the pain, the loss of innocence... hadn't been worth it.

Was anything worth what remained of them now?


"Was it stupid? To wish that, after it was all done, we'd be able to live life as we wanted?"


"Sir?" there was a soft tug on his trouser leg. Yu was torn out of his bitter memories and his gaze jerked down, seeing a brown-haired child peer up at him and blink with wide, innocent eyes that Yu had only seen from one other person. His breath caught in his throat and his mind went blank.

"Guh?" was not the most intelligent response he could have given, but it was the only one. The child had a slight frown on his face, but when he realised he'd caught Yu's attention he beamed.

"Are you okay, sir?" he asked. Yu swallowed. Idiot. It's just a kid, and how the hell did you not notice him coming up to you anyway!? You're losing your touch! He scowled, crossing his arms over his chest and glaring down at the child.

"Why the hell wouldn't I be?" he demanded. The child remained unperturbed by this black mood.

"You've been here for ages already," he said, his voice cheerful and directly contrasting Yu's morose mood. "And you looked like you were about to cry." Yu's scowl deepened and he bent down, forcefully tugging the boy's tiny hand off of his trousers.

"I was not going to cry," he snapped, standing up again. "The fact that-"

"Yeah you were," the boy interrupted with a grin.

"No, I wasn't," Yu snarled, eyes narrowing. "Leave me alone you bloody pest."

"You were though!" the boy insisted, his grin finally slipping. "Thought I'd come over and-"

"Well then, you can just leave just as easily as you came over here," Yu said with a slightly malicious smile. He'd never been fond of children and the one in front of him was no exception. In fact, something about the child seemed to rub him the wrong way.

"But you looked lonely!" the boy pouted now. "I'm just trying to be nice, but you probably wouldn't know anything about that, would you? Bet all your friends went away 'cause you weren't nice to them!" he demanded. Yu stared at the boy for a moment before looking away and falling back into his casual position.


"You came... I knew you would. I know you care really, no matter what Lavi says about you..."


"Don't talk about things you don't know," he said softly, missing the boy's sudden surprise. There was an awkward silence, and then the child turned around and mimicked Yu's position against the wall. Yu looked down at him, curiosity mingling with annoyance, but the child didn't look up – he only looked out on the street, watching people pass by.

"Did you leave them, or were they taken from you, like mum and dad were from me?" the boy asked, his suddenly solemn and quiet tone hard to hear over the noise of the street. Yu frowned and reached out, pushing the boy's shoulder and sending him sprawling. The image was enough to bring a smirk to his face.

"That's none of your business," he said as the child got to his feet with a glare. "Surely you didn't think I'd spill, just like that?" To his surprise, the child's glare faded into a slightly sheepish expression.

"Yeah, I kinda did actually," he admitted, rubbing the back of his head. "You just looked like you needed to talk to, and I needed to do something other than think about my life," he gave a mocking smile at Yu's confusion. "I've been on the streets for several years now, and there's nothing to do when you're not stealing, other than wander." There was a humorous tone but Yu was caught by the shadows dancing in the bright green eyes.

He'd seen shadows like them before. The first had been in Bookman Junior, the first time they'd met; the second had been with Walker, and only had they been visible when alone; the latest shadows were the ones he saw in his reflection.

They were the shadows that came from knowing there was no home to go back to.

"What happened?" the question rolled off of his tongue, showing none of his internal feelings. The boy hesitated and then re-took a position up against the wall.

"Mum and dad and me, we were in a town on holiday. It was one of the happiest days of my life," a wistful smile grew on the boy's face. "But then there was an explosion, and mum and dad disappeared. Hours later, in the town's attempts to clear up the rubble, we found them." 'Dead' was a word he didn't need to say, for Yu heard it loud and clear.

He wondered what to say, knowing 'I'm sorry' didn't really work. Thankfully, he was excused from the duty. "I don't remember much anymore. Just flashes, of fire and smoke." Yu almost felt sorry for the child. He'd just heard a similar tale too many times to feel too bad about it. "And a girl... she saved me. Dressed in all black, but she was still so pretty... she could even fly away..." he trailed off in memory and Yu tensed. No fucking way... "I always wonder what happened to her. Never saw her again..." the boy paused.

"She died." Yu said, perhaps a little harshly judging from the way the boy jerked.

"You knew her?" he said, eyes widening. "She's dead?" Yu's stomach twisted uncomfortably. Of course he'd known Lenalee, they'd pretty much grown up together. They both understood what it was like, to be a child forced into adulthood out of necessity and a lack of choice. Her death had been devastating... for everyone involved.


"I break a lot of promises, don't I? I don't mean to..."


"She was - she died fighting, refusing to give up. We couldn't get to her in time, reinforcements didn't come fast enough." he said, his voice hollow. There was no longer pain when he recalled her smile, her laughter; it was just an empty ache that never went away. "She was... a good friend."

The child was silent for a long time and Yu was grateful. He regained whatever equilibrium he'd lost and took a deep breath, in and out. Meditating was still a daily habit, although he didn't do it as much as he used to. He couldn't do it as much as he used to; it was that much harder to force his mind blank, to not run over what could have or should have been.

"Do you want to come with me?" Yu blinked at the boy who now stood in front of him, holding up a jade and azure poster for Yu to read. When did he disappear to grab that? Yu wondered.

"No," he said flatly, even as he took the piece of paper from the boy. It was the same poster he'd seen all over town, advertising what fun the festival would be and just what was going to happen earlier. He was about to scrunch it up when a line in the 'acts' part made him blink. The wording was odd as hell, but it couldn't be... she wouldn't...

"What? What is it?" the boy said eagerly, tugging on his arms to look at the poster. "What did you see?"

"I think..." he said out-loud, not hearing the boy as he ran his finger along the line, re-reading it. "I think I will go to this festival after all."

"You will?" the boy brightened and Yu looked up. For a brief second he was thrown back to his past, staring at an equally elated Walker when Yu agreed to go with him to the circus, but a blink rid him of the vision and he was back in the present. He nodded, swallowing past the painful lump in his throat. "Great! We should start going now then, otherwise we'll miss the start!"

"I will leave whenever I decide to leave," Yu said sharply, frowning down at the boy again. "You are not going with me."

"What?! Why not?" the boy demanded.

"I don't like kids." Yu supplied. "You'll be a burden I don't want to bear." The boy chewed his lip, eyes shimmering slightly with tears, and then they disappeared as another idea came to him.

"And how are you going to stop me?" he asked suddenly. "What if I just happen to go to the festival and leave at the same time as you and take the same route as you, huh? Huh?! I'm technically not with you!" he grinned triumphantly. Yu opened his mouth to protest but it died in his throat and he shut his mouth. He almost wanted to smile in amusement, but he was still a bastard and didn't want it to seem like he actually cared.


"I'm going to save them Kanda. I... I have to. You don't know what they're like, you don't hear their souls..."


His smile slipped off his face and he sighed. It had been a long time since he'd been to a festival just for fun and not on a mission. In fact, he doubted he'd ever been to one without a mission – and, to be fair, it was exactly the same now too since he wasn't going to enjoy it, he was going to see her.

Miranda Lotto had disappeared in the final battle, when her Innocence had been crushed by Road Kamelot. The more popular theory was that she'd been sent through time and space and it was unlikely they'd ever see her again in their lifetime.

Yu highly doubted the 'illustrious woman commanding time and space' on the poster was Miranda, but there was a part of him that wanted, that needed, to see someone from the past who was alive, and whether or not it was her, he knew he'd regret it if he didn't go.


The scarlet banners with golden letterings swirled around the samurai, making him reel back and scrub at his eyes to get rid of the colourful blots. The sunlight gleamed on every polished surface, reflecting back a wealth of treasures never to be found anywhere on earth and making Yu wish he had sunglasses.

Adults and children, of all shapes and sizes, hurried by to their own special beat - young ladies out shopping for a new piece of jewellery to dazzle their friends, small children finding excitement from a make-believe world of cops and robbers, weary parents humouring their children's fascination with the world.

Yu soon realised he could be categorised into the latter group, and wasn't sure how to deal with that.

"Look Kanda look! Isn't it cool?!" the child that had latched onto the exorcist said, holding up a magnifying glass like he'd never seen one before. He waggled his fingers beneath it, making awed noises at the grossly enlarged digits, and then held it to his eye with a wicked grin. "Hey, hey! Is my eye really big?" he peered up at Yu who snorted before he could stop himself – but to be fair, the kid did look pretty funny.

He smothered his amusement by snatching the magnifying glass away from the kid and putting it back on the table, before grabbing hold of his arm and holding the other in place when he moved to take it back.

"Forget about it," he snapped, tightening his grip and starting to drag them along the crowded street. "We have a place to be. " The boy pouted, looking disappointed and a bit annoyed.

"Do you even know the word 'fun'?" he asked, wiggling out of Yu's grip and rubbing the sore spot on his arm. "You're so moody – ohwow! Look at this!" he broke off, attention caught by another shiny thing on the latest stall, and Yu sighed. It was getting harder and harder to fight the rising irritation. He really didn't want to snap at the kid, mature enough to know the other didn't mean to be annoying, but their constant stopping and starting was making it much longer for them to find their destination.

They'd already passed by three entertainment stands, noticeable by the larger-than-normal crowds, but none of them had been the one he was looking for. (Although the kid had certainly been appreciative of them, especially the first one which had featured gypsies dancing to their music. Yu had had to keep tight grip on the kid so he didn't go and join them on stage, not understanding why he couldn't do it.)

While the kid – who honestly did have a name, Yu just didn't remember it – wowed over his latest discovery, Yu cast a glance around the crowded street, knowing exactly why he wasn't as comfortable as he should have been in a place like this. When he looked, he didn't see the bright smiles, the twinkling eyes, the good cheer; he couldn't hear the laughter of children, the beat of a drum, the chattering of friends; he couldn't smell the tantalising pies, the faint tobacco, the strong perfume.

All he could see was the possible threat in each body that walked by; all he could hear was the screams of the dead and dying from past experiences; all he could smell was smoke and the stench of burning flesh.

His jaded view of the world... kind of hurt, now he knew there was nothing to fear.


"We lost so many people Kanda. I don't – I can't – their bodies... it was a massacre, and it was our fault."


Places such as the festival he was currently visiting were prime akuma targets - places with a lot of people, places with a lot of happiness; the akuma loved to feast on that, to destroy it, to wreck havoc and despair on the world.

Even if the akuma were long gone, it was hard to get rid of instincts that had been ingrained into his very soul. If he'd had a choice he probably wouldn't even be in the middle of this large crowd of people, but he needed to be here if he wanted to find what he was looking for.

He knew that, had someone told him several years ago he'd be searching for Miranda Lotto of his own free will for no reason other than to see her, he would have scorned them and gone off training.

It was amazing just how things could change.

"You're brooding again!" the boy said, once more drawing Yu out of his bleak thoughts. He had his hands on his hips and was frowning at Yu, like a mother chastising a child. The exorcist blinked and then frowned.

"I was not brooding," he denied, narrowing his eyes. "And you've only been around me a day and a half, so you have no right to say what I'm doing and not doing."

"Well then, it means you're brooding a lot if I can tell when you're doing it and I've only been with you a day and a half," the child said firmly. "You think too much! Don't you ever just live in the now?"

"What's wrong with thinking? Surely thinking things through is better than rushing into something without an idea of what's going to happen." A pang in his chest reminded him that at one point in time, he'd spent far too much time cleaning up the messes Walker and Lavi had caused when they dove recklessly into things. They had all the right intentions, but more often than not chose the messiest way through it.

For some things, however, Yu had refused to bail them out – like with Komui's Komurins. That had never been his problem.


"How can you just walk away?! We're probably going to die and all you can say is 'it's our own fault?!"


"Not when it makes you upset," the boy said quietly, drawing Yu away from painful memories. "The past is over now, there's nothing you can do. Stop thinking and just... look around you. Don't you want to be one of them?" he gestured to the happy people and Yu's frown deepened.

He wasn't even going to bother to explain to the kid why he was the way he was. He wouldn't understand what it had been like for Yu, whose only purpose had been to fight a war, and that now it was over he was left with nothing to focus himself on except the things he couldn't change.

"You wouldn't get it," he eventually said, breaking the silence, and reached out to take hold of the boy's shoulder. "Come on, midget, otherwise we'll end up having to find a place for the night."

"I'm not a midget!" the boy protested hotly, trying to break out of Yu's grip, but the adult had a firmer grip than before and soon the kid gave it up as a lost cause. "I thought we were getting a place for the night anyway," he added on petulantly as they started to walk again. "Don't you have money?"

"Enough to get by, yes," Yu rolled his eyes. "Just keep an eye out for people entranced by a woman with time and space, okay?"

"What's intrents mean?" the kid asked curiously, and Yu bit his lip to remind himself it wasn't the kid's fault he was stupid.

"I'll make sure to use smaller words next time," he quipped. "Just look for a big crowd, okay?"

"Okay..." the boy said, looking a little downcast now, and then conversation between them died. The silence was immediately filled with the pounding of a beat and Yu found his fingers tapping along to it subconsciously before he realised what was happening. He quickly stilled, but had to admit it was a very catchy tune. He couldn't make out the words from this distance, but the beat and the tune seemed to seep in through every hole in his body.

The kid was already hopping along to the beat, not caring what people thought of him. Yu rolled his eyes, unable to believe he was walking with such an embarrassing person, and watched as the kid didn't look where he was going and crashed into an elderly couple.

"So sorry!" he apologised. "Sorry! I didn't -" he back-tracked into a stand and ended up knocking it over, sending all the fruit on top tumbled to the floor, along with a very angry shopkeeper. Yu's eyes widened and he used the ensuing confusion to nip through, wrap his arms around the kid and make a quick get-away before anyone knew what had happened.

He never thought something he'd learnt to do in akuma attacks would help him in something as stupid as this. Ducking into a side route, he waited until they were far enough away before dropping the kid on the ground and glaring at him.


"You always over-react Kanda, just get over it! Besides, it was kind of funny looking back on it."


"Well? What do you call that?" he demanded, waving his arms for extra emphasis.

"It wasn't like I meant to knock over that stand!" the kid defended himself. "It was the guy's fault, he shouldn't have put it there! It was clearly a tripping hazard!"

"You should have been watching where you were going!" Yu snapped back. "What would have happened if I hadn't been there to pull you out?"

"I'd've found a way myself," the kid muttered sulkily. Yu snorted, the anger fading slightly as he remembered things had turned out for the better (and it had been an accident, albeit a rather disastrous one). In its wake, exhaustion remained and he pinched the bridge of his nose, exhaling softly and shutting his eyes.

"Whatever. We'll just avoid that bit for the time being," he eventually said, opening his eyes. "If you just-" he gawked as the kid had already disappeared, and glanced around to see where he'd gone.

"Wow! This is so pretty - what is this Kanda?" the boy said from a nearby stall, holding up a small, folded fan. Yu strode over and plucked it from the kid's grip, putting it back on the stall.

"It's a fan," he snapped, noticing the entire stand was full of the glittery devices. "But they-"

"I like this one!" the child said gleefully, picking up a thin black and white one with a rather decorative design. His wide eager smile soon faded to a frown when he couldn't figure out how to open the fan, and Yu glanced at the shopkeeper nervously as the kid started twisting it in all the wrong ways. If the kid broke it, he'd have to pay for it – and it probably wouldn't come cheap.

"How can you not know how to open a fan?" he scoffed, taking it from the child's hands and pulling it by the sides. "Open it like this stupid," he said as he handed back the plain but pretty design. The smile he got in return was blinding, despite the insult that had accompanied it, and that suspicious lump in his throat was back. Why was this damn kid so much like Walker?

Yu cleared his throat and turned around, uncomfortable with such happiness being directed at him.


"Haha! You have to buy it Yu! Come on, buy it! Please? It'll be a keepsake, of our day out together!"


"Can we buy it? Please?" the boy begged, wide eyes with a trembling lip, and the fan clutched desperately to his chest. Yu's mind went blank as he realised it was that look, a look he'd never been able to refuse. Not from Walker, not from Lenalee... and now here was a third he couldn't seem to say no to.

"Damn it," he cursed, angry with himself and all the reminders that he didn't want, and pulled out some coins from his pocket. He flung it on the stall and it scattered, leaving the seller to drop to his knees and chase after the rolling coins, before spinning on the spot and storming away. The money would almost certainly be enough. "Are you coming?!" he snapped over his shoulder.

"Thank you thank you thank you-" he stumbled forward as the boy threw his arms around Yu's waist, hugging him tightly, before letting go and clutching the fan to his chest with a sense of awe and wonder. "Thank you thank you thank you thank you-" Yu groaned, rubbing a hand over his forehead and already regretting the decision.

"If you don't shut up I'll grab that stupid thing and put it back," he threatened and the kid's mouth instantly shut. To his dismay, the kid went on to further pretend he was zipping up his mouth and throwing away the key. How the bloody hell do I always end up with the stupid, exasperating ones? He demanded of himself, a little troubled by this thought. It seemed that no matter what he tried he was always surrounded by idiots. Did he have a sign that flashed above his head, advertising for his own personal idiot?

Seconds later he narrowly avoided walking into a person, and ignored the kid's snort of laughter. Yu frowned, realising they'd stumbled onto the next entertainers booth if the crowd was anything to go by. Unfortunately he was stuck at the back so he couldn't see exactly what it was, which meant he'd have to get into the crowd.

It was no surprise he hesitated before entering, and eventually the decision was taken out of his hands.

"Come on, let's get closer!" the kid said, shoving his way through the crowds and making a route for Yu to follow. With an exasperated sigh, giving a fierce glare to anyone who looked like they might make trouble, it didn't take long before the pair were near the very front of the crowd and had a clear look at what it was that had the crowd so enraptured – judging from the 'ooo's and 'aah's it was something pretty special.

It took him several seconds to realise that yes, he was looking at Miranda Lotto. After nearly three years, after her disappearance on the battlefield, she was now stood up on stage in front of Yu and looked... nothing like he'd imagined. He had never even imagined the weeping, paranoid woman could look so pretty – who'd known she was hiding a decent body underneath her hideous clothing?

Her hair was tied up in a bun, with a few brown strands to fall over her face. Her skin was flawless and she wore make-up like a doll, pale pinks and blues that suited her complexion. She was in a long gown, clinging in all the right places and had a pair of white gloves on that finished the 'innocent' ensemble.

At first glance, she was perfect; but Yu kept looking at her, searching for the Miranda Lotto he remembered – three years was not enough time for such drastic changes – and found her. It was in the way her hands trembled when she lifted them, the way her eyes darted around as if searching for invisible threats, the way she tried to hunch her shoulders and make herself as small as possible before seemingly remembering where she was.

And, of course, the biggest seller was when she raised her arm and a familiar disc was shown to the crowd.


"Kanda! I wish you'd be nice about Miss Miranda, I bet she'll really surprise you. Give her a chance, please?"


"Time Record: Activate." there was the faintest tremble in her voice, hardly noticeable if Yu hadn't been looking for it, and then his attention was drawn to the broken items behind her. They all repaired themselves and the crowd cheered as the two presenters Yu had ignored before now held them up proudly. Yet he was drawn back to Lotto, and finally saw the defeated look in her eyes.

He hated it. How could someone, like her, who had saved so many lives, allow this to happen after everything she'd done? She was nothing more than entertainment now. Was this what her life had turned into, now the war was over? Was this how she'd imagined her happy ending?

"She's so pretty..." the kid next to him breathed. Yu snorted, knowing the child would be disappointed when Miranda returned to her old self – which she would. Yu refused to let this continue. He wanted the old Miranda back.

"Looks aren't everything midget," he replied. "And she's the woman we're looking for."

"Brilliant!" the kid breathed. "Well then, what're we waiting for?" he took hold of the stage's end and pulled himself up before Yu realised what had happened.

"Idiot!" he hissed, diving forwards and just missing the kid's legs. "This is what I meant about diving into things!" he snapped, before exhaling in annoyance as the kid drew all attention to him. He strode confidently over to Lotto and gave her a grin.

"Hi." he said. She blinked and peered down at him.

"Hello..." she said hesitantly, glancing nervously around her. Yu saw the presenters glance nervously at each other, trying to figure out what they should do, and slapped his own cheek lightly. Damn it all to hell, he was going to literally kill that kid when there weren't witnesses around. Making me do this... "Are you lost?"

"Nope! In fact, I was looking for you with my buddy Kanda here," the kid pointed at Yu, who was just managing to get up on the stage. Getting to his feet, Yu brushed off any dust on his clothes and then met Lotto's eyes. Her jaw had dropped and she looked stunned beyond belief... and he smirked as he walked over. He used the element of surprise to take hold of her arm and then gathered up all his courage and turned to face the crowd.

"Sorry folks, the show's over." he said casually, watching as anger appeared in people's eyes. "Find someone else to ogle." the casual tone faded instantly into a snap and he gave a fierce glare to the crowd, strong enough to stump them all into thinking twice before challenging him.

It would've been more effective if he'd had his sword with him, but an accident a few months ago had broken it beyond compare – and only the scientists in the Black Order had the ability to fix the Innocence-fused sword, and they were dead like everyone else so fixing it was a no-go.

"You ready to run?" he asked his two companions. The kid grinned, looking excited, and Miranda's eyes widened.

"Uh, Kanda, I don't think-I mean-" she gulped. "You should just leave me, I'll only cause trouble-" Yes, this is definitely her, he thought and turned his glare at her.

"Shut up. I'm here for you, so you're coming with us whether you want to or not." he said firmly. "Now, how about we run?"


"Yu... there's something I gotta say. Gramps hasn't said, but I think... I think we might be leaving."


Silence was something Yu had grown accustomed to in his two years wandering from place to place. With silence came thinking, with thinking came emotions he didn't want to feel. It was probably the fact he was used to it that he didn't feel uncomfortable now.

In between the trio the amber fire crackled, burning off the twigs and leaves they had managed to scavenge from the area around them. The flickering light cast shadows on the trees, large and small, odd and plain, but Yu only noticed them every time the kid gasped from surprise and terror. He'd seen much worse in his life, after all, and shadows had never really been something to scare him.

There was no talking between them, not that Yu was surprised. He had only known the kid for two days – not exactly the length of time to ask about topics – and he and Lotto had never got along years ago so why would they now? He'd never had the patience for her and she'd been terrified of him; he'd been content to leave her to Lenalee and Walker.

"U-um..." Lotto was the one to break the silence, surprisingly. Yu's eyes snapped to her, remembering he wasn't the only one to change, and she swallowed silently, but continued. "T-thank you, Kanda, you really didn't have to-"

"I didn't do it for you," he said dismissively, already feeling uncomfortable. "I didn't originally have the intention to kidnap you. I was just passing by, I saw you and, well, you looked like too much of a damsel in distress to not help," he smirked, noting that she didn't look like a doll now after their frantic run. Her hair had fallen out of its bun and now dangled over her shoulders, she was grubby and her dress was a bit torn. She hunched her shoulders.

"Oh..." she said softly, looking back at the fire.

"He's lying," the kid said suddenly, making Yu snap his head, horrified, in his direction so fast he could've got whiplash while Lotto looked confused. "Came looking for you- mmph," Yu's hand settled itself over his lips.

"Shut up midget!" he snapped, with his other hand pinching the kid's ear and then let go.

"I'm not a midget," the kid grumbled, rubbing at his sore ear. "Bastard." Yu rolled his eyes and looked back at Lotto, who was hiding a smile of amusement. Yu sighed, reaching up to rub at his forehead wearily and decided to expand on his original reason.

"Alright, I did come looking for you," he said quietly, dropping his hand. "I wanted answers."

"A-answers?!" Lotto's eyes widened nervously. "An-answers to...?" but Yu could tell she knew exactly what. He bit on his lip, guessing he'd have to drag it out of her.

"You disappeared, Lotto," he snapped a little fiercer than he thought. She flinched. "We tried to help you but we never got there in time. When your Innocence was shattered, you disappeared. Where the fuck did you go?" Lotto was silent for a long time, mouth opening and shutting as she tried to figure out the best way to explain, and Yu was patient enough to wait. It wasn't like he had anything better to do.

This was the most excitement he'd had for a long time, sad as it was to say.

"U-um, well-" she licked her lips nervously. "I-I don't know, for certain, really, and I'm not good at guessing so it's probably completely wrong and-"

"Lotto!" Yu snapped, drawing her back to the present. She squeaked, jumping slightly, before exhaling.

"In some ways, I think, we're the same but – I don't – this'll be hard for you to believe, Kanda, but – what I remember isn't exactly what you remember..." she trailed off hesitantly and Yu stared at her incredulously.

"What the fuck are you talking about?" he asked, pretty damn confused.

"I-I disappeared, like you said, in the battle but-" she took a deep breath in. "I didn't want to go, I needed to help out everyone. You were – so tired – so broken... all of you..." she brought a hand up to her eyes, where tears had started to creep out, and swiped at them hurriedly. "B-but, um, I think my Innocence – it – well, I was, um, sent back to a point where I could choose to change what happened..." she trailed off.

"... what did you change?" he asked, keeping his voice neutral. It wasn't like he was surprised or anything; it had been a theory she'd gone through time, although a month before the final battle was a little... sooner than he'd expected.

"I chose to save you." she said, probably the only firm thing she'd said so far. Yu's eyes widened.

"What?" Lotto smiled sadly.

"You were captured, Kanda, don't you remember?" Yu tensed, his memories of his torture at the Noah still strong. "But you escaped, and alive and bloody you stumbled back to the HQ. You were – you died, on the way back. You never made it home... and the Order lost another exorcist."

"But I'm here now," he said, confused. "I'm alive."

"Because I-I told you the way to go, or don't you remember? The old woman, who directed you off the route you were planning to go-" he inhaled sharply. That had been Lotto? "I-I knew you were being followed, if you hadn't-if you'd gone the way you chose, they'd have caught up and killed you. But I, um, I showed you the quickest route home, and you made it there in time."

"I owed you my life... but you disappeared before I could thank you..." he murmured, stunned. Lotto exhaled, shoulders slumping in exhaustion. Her brown hair tumbled over her face, hiding her expression.

"My Innocence pulled me forward, after I'd done my job. I ended up on a dirt road with a band of gypsies, around a month ago. I've had no contact since, but obviously something turned out right... if you're here..." she smiled a broken but true smile. "Please, Kanda, t-tell me... tell me the Earl's dead." Yu exhaled and and lent forward, resting his elbows on his knees and then his chin in his hands.

"The Earl's dead," he said dully, and Lotto's eyes widened.

"D-did I... I actually did something..." she said, sounding so happy Yu didn't really want to tell her what the price had been. "He never-he won, originally. I knew saving you meant Allen would be able to defeat him..." she was practically beaming. "When you died, he was-he didn't-" she broke off, suddenly realising something. "Where is Allen now?" Well, she asked for it. He thought, not feeling any sympathy for the woman he was about to bring off her high.

"He's dead," he was a little horrified to find his voice broke.

"What?" Lotto's voice wobbled.

"Walker... he destroyed the Earl, but taxed his Innocence too much. He died a few months later, his Innocence finally taking all his life energy." The lump in his throat was back. It made swallowing painful.


"I'm not sad though, because I'll be seeing everyone again – and I'll be watching over you too, so how can I be sad?"


"I'm so- oh Kanda, I'm so-" Lotto wavered, obviously stuck for what to say. "What about Lenalee? Krory? Marie?" she asked, her voice barely a whisper.

"Dead." It was amazing how easily the word slipped off his tongue now. "Lenalee died in an ambush. Alone, overwhelmed, but dealt a massive blow to the Earl's akuma, and took down Road Kamelot too. Krory and Jasdevi found a stalemate, and killed each other. Marie fought alongside me, against Tyki, and defeated him but died from injuries minutes later." Before Lotto could ask about any of the others he decided to expand.

"Lavi... he and Bookman were delayed to joining us at the battle, but we didn't find out why until after. There was a surprise attack... HQ was destroyed, and all the scientists in it died. They were trapped, and couldn't escape, and Lavi and Bookman died trying to save them." he swallowed. "Komui, he was with us... but the akuma virus got him before the battle even began. And the Generals – they're alive, somewhere. Don't think we'll see them again though."

"No..." Lotto put a hand to her mouth, tears trickling down her face. "No, it can't – I saved you! You were – they were – it was supposed to change things! None of you were supposed to die!" she gave a muffled sob. "How... how...?" Yu looked away from the sobbing woman, unable to look, and found himself watching the kid. He'd forgotten he was there.

The kid had his head bowed and eyes shut. Either he was trying to block them out or was just trying to give them some privacy. It didn't matter, in the end.

"I failed... I failed again..." he looked back at Lotto and saw her watching the fire bitterly. "I was so sure, so happy – I'd finally done something, but – I didn't do it right," she sobbed again. "Just plain useless... ugly... unlucky... I never should have become an exorcist. I never should have chosen this life. It – I thought I could help, but I've only killed everyone..." Yu swallowed, growing slightly annoyed with her sobbing. His own eyes burned just from seeing her and he refused to cry.

"Get over it Lotto," he snapped. "You tried to change the past once and it did work out. The Earl's dead. You can't ask for anything better than that."

"How can you say that?!" she demanded, staring at him. Her hands balled up into fists. "How can you sit there and say that?! Everyone - everyone's dead!"

"Yes, but in their death look how many people lived!" Yu snapped back, gesturing to the world around them. "The Earl's death has saved so many more lives. Don't you dare try and imply their sacrifice wasn't worth any of this!"

"You..." Lotto's anger faded as soon as it came. "But... the cost was too high, Kanda. You don't see it, but you – you're not who you should be. You've changed..." she broke off. Yu scowled, not willing to let go of his anger as easily as she had. How can she sit there and say I've changed?

"What the hell's that supposed to mean?" he demanded.

"None of this is supposed to be. There's supposed to be a happy ending." Lotto wiped at her eyes again. Yu was struck speechless as, again, he heard the words 'happy ending'. Hadn't he referred to it what happened with a happy ending? "But don't you want him back, Kanda? You love him, didn't you?" Yu inhaled sharply and looked away.

"I don't know what you mean." he mumbled. Lotto shook her head.

"You never... you never told him, did you?" she said brokenly. "That's where everything went wrong. Of course. I could save you, but..." Yu refused to look back at her. "Yu, Allen... the reason Allen lost the war the first time was because you were dead. He – he fought with vengeance, and acted irrationally, and lost..." she swallowed. "But with you alive, he must have... he must have done it, but if everyone was dead, and you didn't feel the same -"

"Are you saying his death's my fault?" Yu demanded, looking back at her. "Are you saying that because I didn't say three damn words he died?!" Lotto flinched.

"M-maybe..." she licked her lips. "Kanda..."

"Shut the fuck up." Yu said coldly, getting to his feet. "You have no idea what you're saying." Before he could say anything he regretted he turned around and stormed away, disappearing into the forest around them and leaving behind the two silent figures in front of the fire.

When he was far enough away he couldn't see them and they wouldn't hear him, he slumped against a tree and slid down to the ground. His body shook and he bowed his head, to hide the tears, as he tried to convince himself that Lotto had no idea what she was talking about and she had to be wrong, that it couldn't be his own fault that Walker died.

But if she was lying, then why did it hurt so bloody much?


"Kanda, do you have a minute? I... I have something to tell you..."


He didn't know he'd fallen asleep, but he must have done at some point otherwise he wouldn't have been woken up by a loud-mouthed midget.

"There you are!" he jerked, eyes opening after a few seconds of fighting with a sticky substance. He had no time to prepare himself as the child landed on his lap, a wide grin beaming up at him. He narrowly missed eating windswept hair and blinked, trying to understand the situation. "Been looking for you for ages! You fell asleep out here..." the child wriggled, apparently trying to make himself comfortable.

Yeah, like Yu was going to let that happen.

"Get off," he grumbled, shoving the kid off of his lap and onto the cold ground before getting to his feet and rubbing off any dirt that clung to him. A glance at the sky told him it was nearly daybreak, if the streaks of red and pink were anything to go by. And it'll be day three with a bundle of pain, he realised with a sigh, and looked down at the boy who only came to his waist.

He was hopping from one foot to the other, filled to the brim with excitement. When he saw Yu looked at him he brightened.

"Well, are you coming or what?" the kid demanded. "There's something for you back at camp!" In a flash Yu remembered the events of the previous night. His heart twisted painfully, but the anger didn't return and so he could easily see he'd probably overreacted. I should apologise... she didn't deserve that, not when she said the truth I refused to see.

"A surprise?" he asked, a little warily, and allowed the kid to grab his arm and start to lead the way back. It wasn't like Yu had been looking where he was going when he stormed away, after all.

"... I dunno," the kid shrugged. "Probably. But after you left Miss Miranda seemed to have an apif-ipif-hepticimy-" he hesitated and Yu rolled his eyes. He had to remind himself it wasn't the kid's fault he was dumb.

"Epiphany," he corrected.

"Yeah, one of them," the boy said dismissively, already moving on. "Miss Miranda wouldn't tell me what, but it looked like she knew something or other and wanted me to get you. So here we are." he tightened his grip on Yu's arm briefly and a look at the boy showed an incredibly vulnerable expression. "I think... I think... Kanda, if you could go back in time and change things, would you?"

Yu didn't know how to answer that – at least, not eloquently.

"We... we have to deal with the consequences of the choices we make, whether it's good... or bad. We learn from those choices, and know how to deal with similar ones in the future." he paused, trying to sort out his thoughts. "Going back in time and changing things... it would depend on what you were changing.

"Everyone wants to go back in time and change something they'd do, wish they could do something different in hindsight. But... going back in time and changing things, there's no guarantee things'll be any better in the long run."

"But if you could, would you do it?" the kid asked, peering up at him solemnly. Yu's voice chose that moment to not work, and he suspected it was because if he said his answer out loud it would mean admitting to a hell of a lot of other things he didn't want to admit to. His silence was deemed enough of an answer for the kid, who nodded and started walking again, leading them around a few trees. "Thought so. Now, hurry up! You move like an old man!"

If I had a second chance, there's so much I'd change... he thought quietly, and then the comment sunk in.

"I think I should be insulted," Yu said, raising an eyebrow at the kid. "But then I just need to remember that I probably would appear like an old man to a midget like you."

"What?! I'm not a midget damn it!" the kid said, aggravated. "You-you old man!"


"Old man!"


"Old man – ah! We're here!" the boy said, stopping their immature argument. Yu blinked and realised that yes, they were back at the place they'd camped a few hours ago. It was much darker now the fire was almost out, but the rays of light from daybreak gave enough light for him to see the figure standing in the middle of the clearing.

She had her back to him and her hands clasped together just above her waist. On her wrist sat her Innocence, still and deactivated, and Yu wondered if Lotto knew it was probably the only Innocence still in existence. He doubted it. She was staring up at the sky, but as they approached she seemed to be shaken out of her daydream and turned to face them. Yu could just make out the puffy eyes and tear stains, and winced.

"Lotto – Miranda – I'm..." she held up a hand, stopping him from going any further, and shook her head. The one time I go to apologise, she stops me from doing so... he had mixed feelings about how he felt on that.

"It doesn't matter," she said, her voice cracked. "I-I'm glad you're here, Kanda. I thought – when you left, that is – and, um, I think that, well, I might have been – might have been wrong... and right earlier." Yu blinked slowly, trying to make sense of her stuttered sentence.

"This means...?" he asked warily. Is she saying I'm right... or I'm wrong? Lotto-Miranda turned away, looking back up at the sky and didn't reply for a long time. Yu shifted his weight from his right to his left, wondering if he should ask again.

"Time's so funny, don't you think so?" Lo-Miranda said, breaking the silence. "It always passes at the same pace, but our perception makes it go by fast or slow... and once a second had passed, you'll never get that second back."

"Miranda..." he started but trailed off, not sure what he could say.

"I spent so much time staring up at the stars when I was younger," she admitted, but it was like she was talking to herself rather than Yu anymore. "They've been there since time began and they'll remain there until time ends. I never... I always wondered why, someone like me, unlucky, ugly, just plain useless... had something so powerful as time." she paused. "And it turned out that the talents weren't permanent, and I understood. A useless person for a useless Innocence, what a great pair."

"That's not true!" he protested hotly. Her Innocence has bought so many of us time to get back to a hospital and heal, or brought closure to families that needed it. She didn't seem to hear him.

"I-I think... no, I know... I-I was meant to go back in time, and – and things were meant to happen the way they did," she glanced at him, smiling despite the tears that trickled down her face. "So... so I could be here now to send you back, and make it perfect." Yu's jaw dropped as she stepped toward him until she was a mere centremetre away. Wet brown eyes stared pleadingly at him. "Would you do that, Kanda? A second chance to get things right?"

"I..." he stuttered, unable to look into the eyes anymore and took a step back. "I..." his gaze fell on the kid, who was watching with an undecipherable look on his face. "I..." he glanced up at the sky, to the stars that were starting to fade with the morning light.

"I've always thought we make our own destinies, Kanda. Mine... mine was to keep walking, to save the akuma. I've done that, so what is there for me to live for now? I don't..."


"History repeats itself far too much Yu. If a second chance's given, and you regret the first chance, take it with both hands and hold on with all your strength."


"Kanda, will you... tell brother I'm sorry? I didn't want – I didn't want to die..."

"Yes." he whispered brokenly, shutting his eyes and wrapping his arms around his waist, a false comfort, as he remembered Lenalee's tears when she died in his arms. "I want them back..."

He wanted to see Lenalee's smile, see that gleam in Komui's eyes when he was creating mischief; he wanted to hear Lavi call him Yu, hear Marie's wonderful advice for any troubles; he wanted to smell Jerry's cooking again... he wanted to tell Walker what he'd been too scared to tell him last time.

He didn't want any regrets anymore.

"Okay..." Miranda whispered, stepping back and shutting her eyes as she used her Innocence, probably for the last time. It sparkled, desperate to be used, desperate to obey its conformer's wishes, and Yu barely felt the ground meet his knees as a wind started to pick up around them. The kid suddenly moved from where he stood, diving into Yu's arms and burrowing deep, shaking fiercely. Automatically Yu's arms circled around him, shielding him from what might happen.

"Let's go out with a bang, Innocence..." Miranda whispered, clutching her disc to her chest, before opening her eyes and looking straight at Yu. "Time Record... Activate."

A bright light shot out of her disc and there was the sound of a gong, a sound Yu hadn't heard for a long time. It kept ringing, and ringing, and ringing... he shut his eyes, his only comfort being that this wasn't the biggest mistake of his life because he'd made that one a long time ago.

He hoped it wouldn't be close, though.


The first thing he became aware of was two voices, a girl's and a boy's, and they appeared to be arguing if their tones were anything to go by. The second thing he became aware of was the horrid pounding in his head and he groaned, silencing the arguing voices, only to find his mouth felt like it was stuffed with cotton.

"Nngh," he grunted, having intended to tell the two who couldn't seem to let the injured sleep 'fuck off', but his mouth wouldn't really work. There were hurried footsteps, then cold, gentle hands on his cheeks, and really, whoever it was disturbing his sleep should know better so he opened his mouth to tell them exactly what he thought... only to have the words dry up in his throat.

Lenalee's tearful gaze had always been something he tried to avoid. It was the only thing that could make him feel bad about being a complete bastard and this time was no exception; the only problem was that he had no idea what it was he'd done. In fact, if he remembered correctly he probably had more reason to be crying than she did because last he knew, she'd been battered and broken and dead in his arms. At least, he was pretty sure about that.... but already it was feeling like a very realistic dream rather than a memory.

"I'm so glad you're awake Kanda," she said with a wobbly smile and let go of his face to wipe at her eyes. "How are you feeling?" she took a step back, showing Yu more of his surroundings, and his eyes widened. He was back in the hospital at HQ, a place he only saw in his dreams now, and it was... as disgustingly white as he remembered. But he was pretty sure it had been destroyed... right?

"What the fuck?" he said eloquently, and then tried to get up into a sitting position. His arms trembled, almost refusing to support him, and he refused to admit he was grateful when hands pushed at him and helped him up. It took several seconds before he realised that two of the hands were far from feminine, and he turned his gaze to the other person in the room.

Lavi grinned widely at him, his one green eye sparkling, and Yu's breath caught at his very alive best friend.

"Jeez, you shouldn't do something like that!" he said, in that annoying tone of his as he punched Yu's shoulder. "Do you any idea how worried we all were Yu?" he laughed and Yu glowered at him, wondering how the hell he'd missed this stupid idiot.

"Don't fucking call me that rabbit," he rasped, but with his voice as hoarse as it was it didn't have the same effect. He supposed he shouldn't be surprised – if Lenalee was here, why shouldn't Lavi be? Both of them were dead, and HQ was destroyed... but he refused to believe he was in fucking heaven. "What happened?"

"Well..." Lavi paused, his grin fading. "What do you remember?"

"I have a feeling that what I remember isn't going to be what you remember," he said cryptically, brushing back some of his hair and grimacing at how greasy it felt. He was vaguely remembering what had happened now – he remembered Miranda, and a child, and... and going back for a second chance.

That explained a lot.

"You were kidnapped, Kanda..." Lenalee said after an awkward silence, and then she scowled and slapped his arm. "How could you let yourself be kidnapped?! Do you have any idea how worried we were?"

"It's not like I meant to get kidnapped!" he snapped, frowning back at her. "Why aren't you happy I managed to escape either?!" So, I'm back here again... and if I'm here, it must mean Miranda helped me back before I could have died. I'm back at a time before the war really kicked up a gear. How... confusing.

"I am!" Lenalee replied, a blush working its way onto her cheeks. "So, so you escaped, and somehow found your way back to us, only to collapse at the gates. You've been asleep for nearly a week." Yu blinked a few times and then decided to stick to the truth, for now.

"An old lady helped me back," he murmured. "But she disappeared before I could thank her..." I've got to treat Miranda better after this. I guess she really is surprising after all... he suddenly realised he was missing a very important person. "Where's Walker?" Lenalee and Lavi shared an amused look and he narrowed his eyes at them. They looked far too mischievous and happy – just what, exactly, did they know?

Could they know?

"He's been worried sick over you," Lenalee explained with a fond smile. "But Lavi and I managed to kick him out an hour or so ago, and now Miss Miranda and Krory are making sure he's eating. He'll probably be back up here soon Yu, so don't worry!" Yu furrowed his brow and then realised the answer to his question. They did know something.

I guess everyone else wasn't as oblivious as I was... except maybe Walker himself...

"Oh," he said quietly and then changed the subject. He already had a memory of waking up after being kidnapped, and he certainly hadn't had such a nice welcome then. "I'm surprised you two haven't asked me about what happened," he said and their smiles faded.

"C'mon Yu, do you really think we'd do that?" Lavi asked with a false smile and slung his arm over Yu's shoulders. "All we want you to do is get better, right Lenalee?" Lenalee nodded, blinking back tears again, and Yu ducked his head. Last time he'd woken up, it hadn't been Lenalee and Lavi, it had been Komui with several of the Vatican, and to be fair Komui hadn't looked very happy when he asked...

... just what else had changed?

"Lavi! Lenalee! Look what I brought for us to eat!" Yu's heart skipped a beat as the door banged open and Allen Walker seemingly bounced into the infirmary. His face was hidden behind the piles of food in his hands so he couldn't see Yu was awake, and Yu wasn't sure whether to start laughing or to start crying at the knowledge that yes, he really was back.

Miranda and Krory soon followed Walker carrying lots of plates of food, although much less confidently than Walker had, and Walker continued to babble. "I didn't really want to eat in the canteen when Kanda was supposed to be waking up soon, but Lenalee told me to eat and I thought – why not get food for everyone? And I didn't want Krory or Miranda to miss out!" Walker put all his piles of food on an empty bed.

"Allen..." Lenalee said, trying and failing to hide a smile. Lavi had already started to laugh loudly, wobbling precariously on his chair. Walker turned around with a wide grin, obviously intending to say something else and froze when he caught sight of Yu.

"Ah..." he said, blinking a few times. "Kanda's already awake..."

Yu's last memory of Walker had been the teenager being nothing more than skin and bones, tiny and fragile in a bed too big for him, and smiling a big smile up at Yu, so he drunk in this healthy, happy Walker and, despite the dark shadows under his eyes, couldn't help but think it was almost perfect. He was exactly like Yu remembered, and the thought made his eyes start to burn again.

He hurriedly ducked his head, refusing to be caught crying, and blinked rapidly to force back the tears.

"I g-guess it's a good thing we, um, we brought soba then..." Miranda said nervously and Yu used her as a distraction against the welling of emotion inside him. She was glancing between everyone nervously, like she always did, and seemed to have no idea what her future self had done.

Maybe it was for the best...

"I guess so," Walker grinned and then gestured to the wide pile of food. "Lavi, Lenalee, what would you like?"

"Ooo, is that chocolate cake?" Lenalee gushed, spotting the chocolatey dish. She bounced off of Yu's bed and hurried over to the large cake, refusing to let anyone else get there before her.

"Aha! I see chicken drumsticks!" Lavi said gleefully, scrambling off his chair in an attempt to be the first to get them. Walker ducked out of Lavi's way just in time, and Yu watched him grab a plate of sausages and a tray of soba before making his way over to Kanda. He dumped the tray and plate on the table next to Yu, and started to munch on a muffin already in his hand (from where, Yu had no clue).

"You must be hungry Kanda!" he said, sitting where Lenalee had been sitting. "I know I'd be after sleeping a whole week-" Yu tuned out the babble, focusing more on the body posture, the look in Walker's eyes, the way he was acting, and finally spotting what he'd chosen to ignore before.

"Not all of us are a bottomless pit like you beansprout," he said, enjoying the way the nickname rolled off of his tongue. "Shut up."

"My name's Allen!" Walker said with a frown and pout, twirling a fork around in his fingers. Yu had to hide a smirk at how predictable the smaller teenager was. "And you only get away with it now because you just woke up, but you better remember it next time!" he waved the fork in Yu's face, and the samurai raised an eyebrow.

"Whatever beansprout," he smirked, watching Walker's frown deepen, and then gathered all his strength. He brought his arm up, wrapped it around Walker's neck and then pulled the boy against him and into a deep kiss. The fork and muffin tumbled to the floor but Yu didn't really care, and when Walker got over his shock and started kissing back he figured Walker didn't really mind either.

Breaking free to breathe, he rest his forehead against Allen's and gave a smirk at the dazed look, although he couldn't deny his body trembling for an entirely different reason other than fatigue now. Why the hell did I try and deny this for so long? He wondered as he took in Allen's half-lidded eyes.

In that one kiss, the emptiness that had been surrounding him since the Earl's defeat had faded and, even if it meant fighting and defeating the Earl again, he knew that this was definitely worth it.

"That was so cruel..." Allen breathed and then bent down for a second kiss, swinging his legs over Yu's lap and straddling the older boy in an effort to get more comfortable. Yu didn't protest, moving to wrap his arms around Allen's waist and tugging him close. They didn't hear the doors open and close as their friends vacated the area.

Yu refused to let things turn out the same way they did last time, and as soon as he was free from this bed he would go and tell Komui all about future attacks, the ambush Lenalee would die in, the secret to defeating the Earl...

... but that's for later. Yes, kid, I think I will focus on the now... he thought with a faint groan as Walker's tongue slipped in his mouth, and then he decided that thinking wasn't worth a damn thing and focused on the lithe body on top of him.

A/N: Ahahahah, you would not believe how happy I am to have finished this. I swear, no more will I do lots of one-shots like this story is - at least, to a deadline anyway. I, apparently, suck at it. But. Nearly 4 months after the deadline, I FINISHED it. It was hell, literally - this chapter... god, it went through so many versions, and writing, and JEEZ. I don't even think this version has the theme 'foreign' in, but pretty please will you lovely readers ignore that? I made up for it with length! XD

Thank you to all my very patient readers, who've put up with the slow updates and still stayed encouraging. To those who reviewed every chapter, just once, or even if you read and enjoyed. I really appreciate it.

Now. I think I might go collapse now this weight is off my shoulders. See you later! x