The Story of a Life
Disclaimer: Don't own DGM... and with me writing this kind of fic, aren't you happy that's the case?!
Notes here: Please review, as always, with whatever you have to say. As for the ending, it's not necessarily what it looks like. Imagine whatever makes you happiest, you know?
Her fingers gripped the black material of his coat tightly, as if she could somehow keep him with her by doing so. Or maybe it was simply to occupy them, unable as they were to move from his warm back. Pressed as tightly against her as he was, it did not seem strange for her to hold him in that way, too.
"I'm sorry, Lenalee," came the muffled whisper into her shoulder, and she felt him shift as he turned his face closer to her neck.
"Why are you apologising," she murmured in response, releasing her grip with one hand to stroke his back gently.
"You're crying." He pulled away slightly, and she loosened her grip to keep her arms around him. The support was still needed, and he still lay mostly on top of her, but she could face him now.
"So I am." It was something of an understatement; the tears were pouring down her face at that moment, never stopping. Yet somehow, she still felt strangely calm, as if it were someone else shedding those tears, or as if the skies had opened and it was rain cascading down her cheeks instead.
"Because-" He reached up to touch her face, but she caught his hand before contact could be made. She'd had to release her other hand's grip in his coat for that.
"Just stay still for now, Allen-kun." She lowered their hands down, and he smiled weakly, watching the act with a vaguely amused look. "Doesn't it hurt? You should-"
"No, not at all."
She gave him a stern glare, and Allen chuckled sheepishly.
"You always know when I'm not being honest," he muttered wryly. "…Yeah, it hurts."
Lenalee was about to reach over to touch the source of that pain, knowing it would probably hurt even more if she did so but unable to stop her natural human curiosity, when Allen's hand abruptly slipped from her grip and reached around to grasp her hand. She sighed, not wanting to pull away, but aware that she couldn't free her other hand without removing Allen's only support. It wouldn't be good for Allen, either.
Allen's smile widened when her fingers slipped in between his and she grasped his bare right hand tightly.
"Do…" He didn't finish the sentence. Only an immense curiosity, propelled by worry, had driven him to even consider asking it. It wasn't like him.
"Do what?" Lenalee's free hand curled up in a loose fist and she continued stroking his back with it.
"…It's nothing." He tried to smile again, but didn't quite manage it. Lenalee would see straight through it anyway.
"Do you think they'll be here soon, you mean?"
He laughed weakly. Just as he'd predicted. And she'd even finished his sentence for him, too.
"…I don't know, Allen-kun."
One time, another time, she might have answered differently. She'd have told him yes, they would, because she wasn't sure how to lie to someone and see that sadness in their eyes. She'd always wanted the last thing they felt to be happy, even if it came from a false hope that she'd created.
That time had passed. Not that she could lie to Allen, anyway. He'd somehow managed to reach deep inside her and drag out the emotions she'd never shown to anyone, and she'd never been able to pretend ever since.
There were a few moments of brief silence as they simply enjoyed each other's company. Nothing needed to be said; nothing they could have said would have felt right anyway. After a second or two, Allen's head dropped back onto Lenalee's shoulder, now facing in the same direction as she was.
"The sunset's really beautiful tonight," he finally said, with just a little bit less energy than before.
"Isn't it," Lenalee agreed. As she nodded, strands of dark hair brushed Allen's forehead, tickling him just enough to make him want to squirm. He didn't have the will to muster up the strength for it. "I like how the colours blend together like that. They're so pretty… it's really peaceful."
"I always thought…" He went silent again. This time, however, Lenalee pulled back to look at him curiously, and a dark blush coloured Allen's cheeks. "I-it's nothing. I'm acting strangely right now…"
Lenalee knew very well that this was a very different kind of thing he was hiding, the kind that wouldn't worry her, but she couldn't resist asking. After all, she might never know what he was thinking of. Every other time, she'd respected his privacy. Just this once… "What is it, Allen-kun?"
He hummed a low note, then squinted at the dying sun. "R-really, it's… just something silly. I'd sort of hoped for it, but… well, everyone has dreams, right?"
"Yeah…" She exhaled in a long sigh, squeezing his hand as the breath escaped her. "You've never told me about your dreams, Allen-kun."
"I… guess I never really thought I could afford to have them," he admitted, still watching the sunset instead of her. Somehow, though, Lenalee couldn't keep her eyes off of the white mane of hair beneath her chin. There would be another sunset for her, and probably many more to come. She didn't need to watch this one any longer. "Being an Exorcist, there was never time for anything but missions."
"When things are over, what did you think you'd end up doing?"
"I never thought about that," he pointed out. "Everything was for the sake of saving the akuma, saving humanity… defeating the Earl. Somehow, I never thought there might be something after that."
Lenalee didn't voice the obvious unspoken conclusion: he'd been sure he'd die at the end of it all. And maybe he would.
"…I did have a dream," he added, squirming ever so slightly in her arms. "More of a hope, actually. But sometimes, it was nice to think about it."
He didn't tell her everything, of course. He didn't tell Lenalee how that thought had been all that kept him going sometimes, knowing, if not believing, that just maybe that future was a possibility. He didn't tell Lenalee how inexplicably happy he became just from imagining it. It wasn't like Allen to speak of having a dream at all, much less describe it, but he didn't feel much like his usual self at that moment. For one, there was a sliver of hope now that he could believe in. That future had never seemed so close and yet so impossible.
"We all need to dream of the future," Lenalee murmured, half to herself. "That's what kept everyone going, after all. If we didn't believe in the future…"
"Did you have a dream, Lenalee?" He almost corrected his slip – her dream probably wasn't impossible just yet – but kept quiet. The future wasn't quite here yet. For now, they were still together and alone on this little piece of the earth, watching the sunset.
There was another brief silence as Allen straightened up a little, still mostly supported on Lenalee's right arm and still facing the sunset, but far enough to turn around at any moment.
"I can't remember if I've ever mentioned it to you before, Allen-kun. When this is all over… the only thing I want is to be able to live with Brother again. I've even wished that this was all a dream so that I could be there, with him." She rocked the hand clutched tightly in hers ever so slightly, careful not to disturb him.
"I'm not surprised," he said, a wry smile audible in his voice. "Komui-san's very important to you."
Lenalee nodded, humming a sound of agreement.
"You'll achieve that dream," Allen added, a little more softly.
She hummed that note again, just as softly as he'd spoken. She also hadn't told him everything: how there was more to her dream than just being with Komui. How living with just one other person seemed so lonely to her now, how just the thought of her once-desired future almost brought her to tears that were no longer of happiness… there was so much she could tell him but never did, and perhaps never would.
"…I hope you will, too," she told him a moment later. "It's still possible."
And at that moment, he turned to face her, sitting up so that she had to move her arm to keep it wrapped around him. The unidentifiable look in his grey eyes nearly made her forget to breathe; it was somehow hopeful and desperate at the same time, and… honest. Even when he tried to hide what he was thinking or feeling, she could always see the truth in those expressive eyes. He was hiding something this time, too. Not out of worry or consideration, though, or even the usual desire to deal with things by himself, but out of the embarrassment that arose from wanting something so much that when the opportunity finally came, it was impossible to know how to deal with it.
Lenalee wondered if he could see the same thing in her, because she certainly believed she felt that way too.
"…Yeah." That was all he said.
Lenalee couldn't help but worry that he wasn't even able to try. Perhaps she was lucky, then. She didn't need to try to attain her future with Komui anymore. Or was that just the easy part of her dream? "Allen-kun?"
He raised his eyes up to meet hers in response.
"Aren't you going to…"
"To… um…" Allen glanced off to the side again, answering her question by not meeting her gaze.
"You can do it, can't you?" she pleaded. "Allen-kun, you're one of the strongest people I've ever known; surely, you…"
"…I don't really know…" he whispered, almost brokenly, "…if I know how to be strong for myself."
"You can, Allen-kun. I know you can."
"I've never tried." When his eyes met her again, there was a new vulnerability there. As he grew weaker, the mask slipped and exposed a little bit more of him than he had previously been comfortable with. "Things have always been all right as they are for me, so…"
"I know," Lenalee agreed. "That's how it is for me, too."
His eyes widened a little. "So you… there's more to your dream, too?" Had she accidentally revealed it there? Of course; living with Komui took no effort at all, just as for Allen, doing nothing was the easy path, and one that provided just enough comfort and happiness to be acceptable.
But it wasn't enough, either. The heart would still yearn for the dream it always desired.
Lenalee didn't know that her dream was just as possible as his was. She did know that dreams didn't come true without that burst of courage to take those first steps, and the willingness to risk oneself in doing so. Allen, as he was now, couldn't do that. She didn't think she could, either. The way things were now, though, if she didn't act now, gather it all up and take that step, it might never. And then it wouldn't matter how much courage she could find.
"Lots more," she whispered. Finally, she became fully aware of her tears that had just suddenly intensified into a raging torrent. They'd washed away the calm within her and exposed those vulnerable emotions that felt so wonderful and painful, and filled her with life. She felt.
And she became aware of Allen, too, of how he was crying just as hard as she was, the sobs and sounds replaced by water pouring from those innocent, scared, loving eyes that always revealed everything to her. He was just as – no, he was even more terrified than she was. Even if her dream never came true, there was still a future for her. His certain future had already happened, and for Allen, everything rested on what happened now. He could only hope for the whole.
It was all or nothing.
"You're a strong person, Lenalee," he whispered, and she believed him, believed in him, as she always had.
With that strength, with the love she felt and the fear of losing him, her dream, forever, Lenalee closed her eyes and pressed her lips to Allen's, softly but firmly. And, like her, his eyes slid shut as he responded, having just enough of the courage he didn't believe existed to accept the future he'd always wanted.
The honest feelings in their eyes had now moved to their kiss, and desperation soon took hold of them. This time, it was Allen who moved first, pressing a little harder as his lips parted ever so slightly. Just as he'd done moments earlier, Lenalee answered him in the same way. Inhaling in what may have been a sob or simple anticipation of the meeting to come, Lenalee pulled him closer, fingers latching against his back and hand, and Allen met her by pressing himself against her, equally desperate. The kiss was salty from their tears that continued to fall, and powerful enough that both pairs of lips ached from the pressure whenever they were forced to part. Neither knew if it was love and hope, or fear and worry, or perhaps even a combination of both that drove them to each other. At that moment, neither even wondered if it mattered.
When they finally pulled apart for good, both breathing heavily in short gasps, Allen slumped down to tuck his head under Lenalee's chin again. It wasn't exactly a position a man should usually take, but Allen no longer had the energy to care. He'd grown too weak to even kiss her, and perhaps that discouraging thought had drained his strength even more.
Instead, Allen spoke to her. He told her everything about his dream that he'd never had the courage to say before, about how he'd always hoped, wished, of sweeping her up into a hug from which he'd never let go, of finding the courage to kiss her just once before it all ended. He told her of how he'd always spent a few extra minutes in every village they'd visited as Exorcist, eyes lingering over the scenery and imagining what it would be like to have a little house there where they could settle down, always knowing that bad memories of their time in the Order would eventually taint that happy life. He told her about when he'd finally found the perfect little town not too far from London, and for the first time was really able to visualise them living there, never needing to be reminded of the Order again.
He told her about how much he hated seeing any other man besides Komui get near her, because it threatened that little dream he'd harboured for so long, probably since that August night when she'd saved him from Komrin and his heart had stirred in an unfamiliar way. He told her about how much he loved seeing her smile, and how he'd always do whatever it took to see it again, no matter how dishonest he had to be. He told her while laughing of the fantasies he'd entertained about their wedding, their family, the years they'd share together. He told her with tears soaking her coat about how hopeless he felt whenever he looked at his reddened left arm and knew he probably wouldn't get to see the smiling faces of their grandchildren.
And she spoke to him in return, when he'd grown too weak to continue. She told him about the conversations she'd been having with Komui since he'd first arrived at the Order, and how her brother had accepted his presence in her heart and her life long ago. She told him about the day he first opened up to her and began to rely on her, as she trusted and relied on him, and how she threw her arms around him and held him tightly with the knowledge that there were no emotional barriers left between them anymore. She told him of the day she made the final decision to stay with him forever, even if it meant never returning to China again as she'd once believed she would, and how Komui would never force her to make the decision between the two most important and beloved men in her life.
She told him about their engagement, about him finally paying off all the debts Cross had left him so they could finally marry. She told him of the adventures they'd have in foreign countries on their honeymoon, and how she'd always looked forward to being that close to someone, to him. She told him while laughing about their first child, and she told him while crying of the day she would lose him forever, with nothing but decades of happy memories and the faces of their children to remind her of that precious part of her life that had suddenly gone missing.
Finally, there was silence. Allen had turned to face the setting sun, watching it slip under the horizon completely, and Lenalee watched it with him. There was no need to say anything more, for they'd done all they could. As each of them enjoyed the warmth of the other's presence and the warmth of their own love, so old and yet so new, the tears stopped flowing and a new calm settled over them. They'd shared their hopes and dreams, the things they'd never dared speak even to themselves, and in doing so, shared themselves. At that moment, it was as if Allen and Lenalee were as close as two people could ever be, regardless of physical proximity. In sharing their dreams, it was almost as if it had become truth. To them, it had all happened.
They'd already lived their lives together with each other.
And, like that, they watched the sun set, not knowing if the following morning would dawn upon the future that would repeat itself for them or whether the story would continue from the ending they'd already created.