Title: Secrets and Sacrifices
Disclaimers: Ah well, we own them in our dreams…
Warning: Post M-Preg, you might view this as OOC, AU
Note: This is the sequel to our story titled 'Shattered Innocence' so we suggest you read that first since none of this will make any sense without understanding what event formerly took place. Oh, and this story is AU based on the manga…
Chapter 5 – After the Battle
There was always a sense of disconnection nagging at the back of his mind every time he came back into consciousness after a medicine-induced sleep. It felt almost as if it was the divine's way to tell him that his body still needed rest and he better went back to sleep. Yet, he thought, since when had he ever bothered to blindly follow what people called divine's way, anyway?
With an admirable effort, he forced his eyes open, only to regret his earlier decision as what seemed like overly bright sunlight greeted him. After blinking his eyes several times, he was finally able to see his surrounding better. And the first sight he focused his gaze upon was a certain man sitting at his bedside, watching over him with a smile on his face.
"Good morning," the man, his spouse, his Allen, said with a relieved tone. "Finally decided to join the living again, Yuu?"
He decided to give a snort. "They don't serve good meals for the dead."
The sound of his voice made him frown. His throat felt parched and it was uncomfortable. Allen seemed to notice his discomfort, and he was really relieved when he saw his spouse moving to pour him some water into a clear glass.
"Here, let me help," Allen said before he carefully helped him to sit propped against the head of the bed. He sighed in appreciation at the gesture, moreover when the glass of water was presented to him.
The cool water did wonder to his throat and when he tested his voice again, he was pleased to find that it was not as hoarse as earlier.
"Seeing that everything seems normal," he began. "I guess we won the battle then?"
"Rabi and Rinali were the ones who should receive the credit for that," Allen replied lightly yet the look of worry was apparent on his face. Kanda knew, he had known the other long enough to tell that. "So, how are you feeling?"
Upon being asked that question, he felt the need to sit back and contemplate for a while before answering. And it was then that the full events of those few recent days came to him. He closed his eyes as he recalled the sudden arrival of their daughter. He remembered the battle. He remembered the time when they nearly lost their child for the second time.
He released a sigh. "I guess I can say I feel so messed up."
"That's a bit of an understatement," Allen said. But his tone was serious when he spoke up again, "Lucy… she knows about us being her parents."
His frowns became deeper at that revelation. Numerous emotions were forming in his heart, surprise, worry, but mostly, concern. He questioned Allen silently and he could see his spouse seemed to be straining to explain it to him.
"You were unconscious back then, when The Millennium Earl spoke about her being an innocence, her conception, her… specialness, and she overheard it." Allen said softly. Kanda had his eyes narrowed at hearing that particular piece of information and he could feel his rage building up.
They had wanted to explain to Lucy about them being her parents. Indeed, they had wanted to do that. But now their daughter had to know such important information in such a terrible way. He could already imagine how The Millennium Earl would have phrased his explanation on Lucy's so-called 'specialness' and he knew he did not like it. To think that their daughter needed to know her heritage from that Akuma freak of all people…
"That fucking piece of meaty ass!" he said crossly.
It seemed that Allen shared the very same sentiment regarding the so called 'fucking piece of meaty ass', if his sigh was any indication. "I had no time to explain anything further to her because we were still in the middle of a battle and I had to save you both. But that sounds like a lame excuse, doesn't it? I mean… we have decided to tell her the truth, indeed, but for her to know it in such a way… and I don't know what to do, how to explain. I thought we could talk about it with her carefully, not like this, and perhaps that time I was merely trying to run away from explaining it to her… I just could not. Not like that, not after she heard about her heritage like that."
"Hey…" he called softly. He reached forward until he could rest his hand on Allen's and clutch it even though such act brought a great deal of pain to his injured body. "Stop fretting."
"What if she hates us?"
"She won't," he said resolutely. "I hate to hear that she has to know it in such a way. But you said it yourself that we have decided to explain ourselves to her so we would do that. She won't instantly accept us eagerly as her parents, I know that. But I thought I have enough confidence in my own daughter that she won't hate us."
"I wish so too."
Kanda gave a gentle squeeze to the hand he was holding, the best thing he could do without seeming to hurt his body too much. It was strange. He did not recall that he was hurt that badly during the battle. But from the pain he could feel from nearly every part of his body, it seemed that his injuries were not something that could be dismissed lightly.
"Have I been out for long?" he asked.
Allen shook his head. "No. You're probably only unconscious for two days. We did move you to a safer place, though, after Rabi and Rinali managed to clean the enemies up. We have called for some back-ups. The innocence has been in safe custody of the finders. There have been no activities involving Akuma during the day you've been out. And…"
Kanda noticed the deliberate halt on Allen's explanation and realized that his spouse was having a hard time continuing his sentence. "And?"
"And I haven't told Lucy the full explanation," Allen finished. "I just feel it's only right to wait for you so we can tell her together… she's not my daughter after all, she's our daughter."
Allen, Kanda thought grimly, was not someone gifted with the ability to hide his emotion well, especially around those close to him. And with him being his spouse for nearly thirteen years, Kanda could easily see the troubled emotions behind Allen's eyes. He could see the fear there. He could see Allen's distress, no doubt caused by the so many things happened to them lately. He could see something akin to relief there but also a hint of anxiety.
He sighed and released his hold on Allen's hand. Without sparing any thought on how such act might hurt his body, he grabbed the back of Allen's neck and pulled his bewildered looking spouse to him.
There were two things that his mind registered when he managed to have Allen rests his face against his shoulder. One of them was, damn, his body hurt like hell. And the other one was, damn, he had really missed that.
"Yuu…" Allen said as he tried to move his head but Kanda would not let him. Instead, he brought Allen's face even closer to his shoulder and dropped a chaste kiss to the top of his head.
"Stop struggling, will you?" he said. "Damn, my body hurts."
"Then perhaps you would like me to move considering I only make your pain worse," Allen grumbled.
"No chance," he replied. "You stay here."
"The doctor said not to put pressure to your body…"
"Your husband says he wants you to stay," he cut Allen's sentence off. "Honestly, why are we even arguing about this?"
"Oh, I don't know," Allen sneered but he stopped struggling. "Maybe you enjoy having domestic fights with me."
"The joy of married life," he said with a dry tone, and he could hear Allen chuckling. "Feel better now?"
Allen had stopped struggling in his somewhat loose one armed embrace and his spouse had even snuggled deeper to his shoulder. A sigh, somewhere between contentment and resignation, passed from Allen's lips. And afterward, there was silence for a moment for them both to merely savour the moment together.
"I have learnt several things… many things about Lucy during these recent days," Allen said after a while. "I guess you probably want to hear it too."
"Try to change 'probably' into 'definitely' and you'll be correct," he said, but he knew he surely had a rare smile on his lips. Thinking of their daughter, their long lost daughter, who had so recently met up with them again always managed to make him feel tempted to smile.
"They named her Lucy Ellen Reinhart, do you know?" Allen wistfully said. "Ellen, her mother has explained to her, after a dear person that they knew."
"Ellen," Kanda said then snorted though he felt certain tightness in his throat. "After you."
Allen chuckled though there was also a hint of mournful sadness there.
"Lucy Ellen Reinhart," he continued, savouring the words. In his mind he could remember a certain smiling face which had in the past assisted him in his several missions. "I only know one finder in the entire organization bearing the last name Reinhart."
"Thomas Reinhart," Allen said, confirming that they both had the very same thought. "Yes… I still remember him. I remember how I used to talk to him in the past. He oftentimes brought news on Lucy for me since he frequently went to the Western Branch Headquarters. He was so kind, always so eager to share his news. I always thought of how kind he was, sharing the bits of news he could get about Lucy to me--to us."
"And of course he could get those 'bits of information' easily, considering that he's Lucy's foster father all along," he replied, remembering the past. "He's a nice man."
Allen smiled. "Yes, he's a nice man. Lucy also told me that he's a nice father figure for her and I know it's the truth. She loves him so, just like how she loves her departed mother. She had a happy life with them."
"And that's the only thing that matters," Kanda finished it for his spouse. "That was the only reason why we agreed to give her up that time, was it not? So our daughter could have a happy childhood times, a happy life, a normal life with no complication, something that we cannot give her back then."
"I know that," Allen said. "But could she accept it?"
"We will have to try to find out, right? We still owe her our explanation after all," he said. "Where is Lucy, by the way?"
"She's with Rinali," Allen answered before he added worriedly. "Are you saying that we should tell her the truth now?"
Kanda thought over that question for several moments. He thought over it well and through. Did he dare to finally reveal the story to his daughter? Could he finally stop hiding the truth from her? Would he finally able to admit that he was her father? There were so many questions but, he realized, the answers to all those questions was one and the same.
A small smile broke on his lips, and he gave his yes to Allen. They had been withholding the information from her long enough already. She had the right to know, and Kanda would make sure that his daughter got what was rightfully hers.
Allen had gone to fetch Lucy after he heard his affirmation and that left Kanda some alone moment to think. He thought over the past days before his mind wandered even further, taking into account every detail of his life ever since that fateful mission he and Allen had done thirteen years ago. Thirteen years, he thought amusedly, so many years had passed and what had started as a stupid rivalry between him and Allen had developed into a relationship of love and loyalty, what had started as a normal mission had progressed into a starting point of so many notable life changing experiences in his life, and what had been their little baby daughter had grown up into a beautiful young girl.
He greeted the aforementioned beautiful young girl when she entered the room with Allen a moment later. Lucy looked apprehensive but she returned his greeting cordially. She seemed to be better than the last time he saw her even though he still noticed the slight wince that she had when she sat on one of the chairs near his bed. Allen took his place sitting on the edge of his bed, grasping his hand as if to remind him that they were in that together, and Kanda knew it was time to start the explanation.
He had planned to tell her, true, but that did not mean that he knew exactly how to begin explaining all those well kept secrets to her. And so for several minutes after Lucy's arrival to the room, there was nothing but silence. Neither of them seemed to know how to start the conversation or where to begin. It almost felt ridiculous that Kanda decided to just go with it and talk something, anything, if only to break the silence.
But his daughter beat him to it.
"Are you really my parents?" Lucy asked softly, yet her voice sounded so loud in the silence. Her somewhat straightforward question made Kanda smirk inwardly. He thought he could definitely guess from whom she got her forthrightness.
As for the answer for her question, he thought, it was not so hard to answer. He could feel Allen's grasp on his hand tightened the slightest bit.
And he answered firmly, "Yes, we are."
"But that's…" Lucy stopped her words as if in distress before she continued. "How can that be possible?"
How could that be possible, indeed. Even after that many years had passed, Kanda could not say for sure that he understood exactly how that could be possible. It felt like a miracle back then and he had a distinct premonition that years ahead he would still think of it as a miracle.
"I would be lying if I told you I know what exactly happened until we could have you," he answered, keeping his tone gentle but firm. "But we can tell you everything that we remember and comprehend about us having you back then."
Lucy stared at him expectantly. He even could feel Allen looking at him. He took a breath, suddenly regretting why he did not ask for some painkillers first before he began the whole talking business.
"This would be quite a long story," he said, almost to himself. "And it all began that certain day when we were doing a mission roughly thirteen years ago. It was during this month too, I believe."
He glanced to Allen's direction, silently inviting him to take part in the talking. He did not want to rob his spouse's chance to explain things to their daughter. Like what they had talked with each other, they would do that together.
And Allen's smile upon receiving his somewhat discreet glance was the surest sign for him to know that his spouse cherished the invitation.
"Yes, it was November thirteen years ago, somewhere in Russia, that we had that mission," Allen said. "Our mission was to retrieve an innocence from a certain chapel there. A group of Akuma obstructed our plan and we pretty much overexerted ourselves trying to fight those Akuma on our own. I don't remember much about what exactly happened. I remember reaching out for the innocence, and then there was a blinding light before I passed out. The next moment I opened my eyes, we're already on board of the ship sailing back to the Headquarters. We thought that we had lost the innocence back then."
He stopped his narration at that point and Lucy asked, "Did you?"
Allen blinked, "Did we what?"
"Lost the innocence," she explained. "You said you had thought you lost the innocence…"
"No, we did not lose it," Kanda took it upon himself to answer their daughter's question. "But we did not know it by then. As a matter of fact, we did not know about that fact until several months later, on the exact same time when we also became aware of your existence."
"My…" Lucy seemed about to ask for further explanation before her eyes widened. A look of dawning apprehension passed on her face and Kanda noticed how she had her hands gripping the material of her dress tightly. "That man… that man back then with the Akuma… he spoke about how I was born from an innocence… is that… was that really what happened?"
"The innocence that we thought we had lost was actually residing in my body that time," Allen explained. "We don't know how it could happen or even why it happened. But a human body is not suited to hold more than one innocence at a time, or so we've been told. So it's our theory that the innocence created its own host… within my body."
Lucy lowered her face, staring intently at her lap. "So I'm not even… am I only a host for innocence?"
"No, you are not," Kanda said sternly. "You are our daughter. The innocence made it possible for us to have you. But no matter how enormous the power of innocence is, human creation still requires an important factor that involves people doing certain something."
He could hear Allen coughing discreetly and see Lucy blushing slightly after he finished his words. If the situation was not so dire, Kanda would have chuckled seeing the scene. But sadly, he still had his explanation to finish and his injured body also had been signalling him that he had to end the whole talking thing soon so that he could have his much needed rest.
He cleared his throat and continued. "That's how you were born to this world as our daughter. And it was really an amazing experience, to have you as our daughter. But even though we love you, even though we never want to be separated from you, reality had different opinion on that matter.
"The organization had arranged ever since the very first time they became aware of your existence that you should be taken under their care as soon as you were born. You are a child born from the grace of innocence so you have a high potential to be an exorcist, and I have seen it with my own eyes that you have a potential to be one very great exorcist indeed. I tried not to let them take you away from us so soon and I somewhat succeeded, or rather, Cross and I somehow managed to do that."
"You were with us until your first birthday," Allen continued the tale. "But I think you wouldn't remember those times, you're too little to remember. After that we trusted your care to your foster parents, not because we don't love you but because… because we thought it was the best for you… at least that time we thought it was for the best. We wished that you might get a happy and normal childhood, but we knew that you would not have that with us, no matter how much we wished for you to stay with us forever. The Headquarters was really not a suitable place to raise a child and we're most often than not away to do our mission so that the idea of raising a child seemed nearly impossible.
"We might sound like we're making excuses now. And maybe indeed we're making excuses. Maybe we've been wrong in thinking it was the best for you. Maybe we should have tried to protect you more, you and your foster parents, in whatever way we could. But Lucy… you asked if you were an unwanted child and now I answer you: no, you are not an unwanted child. You are loved by so many people and we never lied when we said that we love you."
Allen's words rang earnest and true for his ears and he did not doubt that Lucy too would never doubt his words. His spouse was indeed more gifted for words than him, Kanda mused fondly as he let his gaze directed to Lucy's face, trying to figure out what she might be thinking or feeling about the revelation so far. He had been a bit worried that she might have a hard time accepting the truth yet for all he could see, their Lucy seemed to take it nicely. She seemed to be able to keep herself composed and calm for her most part. She even was still able to look at them directly on their eyes.
"When I went to Headquarters years back, did you recognize me?" she asked.
"We did," Kanda answered honestly. "And we were thankful for that brief moment during which we could see you again."
"I guess I could somehow understand, then, why my father said it was really a happy coincidence when I told him about my meeting with you," she said with a faraway look on her face as she seemed to recall the past. Kanda could see it on Lucy's face. The way her eyes seemed to hold a sense of melancholy told him that she was at that moment remembering her happy childhood days with her parents when they were still alive, when she was no more than a girl with loving parents doting over her, unmindful of the complicated and somewhat tragic aspects of her life.
It felt too cruel that she had to have those peaceful life robbed away from her during a short span of time like that.
"We're sorry about your parents," he said carefully. "We knew your father, had been working with him several times in the past."
"He often informed us about you," Allen joined in, his voice was wistful. "We did not know that he was your foster father, the organization didn't let us know the identity of your foster parents. And your father was also under an oath, we believe, to keep it a secret from us and from you too."
"But in the end my father told me," Lucy said. "In the end, yes."
He did not know how to reply to that statement and he observed how Allen too kept his silence after hearing their daughter's sentence. Silence dawned upon them again, just like how it was before he began his explanation. But the silence was not uncomfortable, no, far from that. If he was even more daring he could even say that the silence was welcomed.
Perhaps it was because he knew that one needed to think in silence after such a big disclosure being revelled to them. He knew the feeling. He had been there too when his mentor, General Theodore, first explained to him the news about the death that took everyone from his household except him. He remembered his grief, his determination, his feeling of confusion that he experienced back then.
Yes, he remembered it. And he too still remembered the exact question that General Theodore had asked him after he gave him his moment of silence. So, looking somewhat tenderly at his daughter, he allowed the very same question pass from his lips.
"What are you going to do now?"
The silence dragged on for a moment longer before those grey eyes that never failed to remind him of Allen's own eyes stared at him.
She said, "I will become an exorcist."
There was a small smile on her lips, even though it still held a hint of sadness, as she looked at him and Allen both, unblinking, and continued her words.
"I will become an exorcist not because it's what has been destined for me but because I want it," she said. "I will move forward not because I'm afraid of going back but because I have so many people supporting me to go on. But for now…"
Noticing how Lucy stopped her sentence halfway, Allen asked, "For now?"
There were tears in Lucy's eyes but the small smile she had persisted when she said, "I want to mourn my parents… I want to mourn them properly…"
Their daughter, Kanda thought fondly, their Lucy was really a brave young girl. To see that glint of determination in her eyes, the eyes of their daughter who was so young yet also so much of an adult already, Kanda felt really proud of her. He loved her, he thought with warmth spreading in his heart. He loved her and he was proud of her.
Their Lucy would be okay. It might take time for every wound needed time to heal. But they would be there for her and he knew that everything would be fine, somehow, someday.
"Do that," he said. "They deserve your respects."
Lucy looked at him then and a flush of something akin to embarrassment swept over her face. "I'm sorry, but… I mean, I am thankful that you have told me about the truth… about me and my parents and… and you. I believe you, I believe everything you said, but it's still new for me."
Allen was quick to take on the situation and he hastily said, "We understand. Don't force yourself and don't feel bad about it. We know… it must be hard for you to be informed of all these things so suddenly like this."
"We just want you to know the truth," Kanda said. "And we also want you to know that we would be there for you, we promise you. You are not alone. You will never be alone."
Lucy smiled sincerely at them both. "Thank you. Thank you for telling me the truth. And also thank you… for everything."
Somehow Kanda could hear the unspoken statement that followed those words. Somehow he could hear it clearly as if Lucy was saying them out loud.
'Thank you for telling me that I'm loved'
'Thank you for telling me that I will not be alone'
'Thank you for giving me time'
'Thank you for promising me that you'll be there for me'
He knew that none of those sentences was really spoken out loud but he could sense it, hear it, nonetheless. And he was content with that. They had finally unveiled the secrets that they had kept for Lucy's sake along those years. They had finally unburdened themselves with those sacrifices they made in the past to ensure Lucy's happiness and safety.
He offered a silent prayer for the late Thomas Reinhart and his wife. He promised himself to pay his respect to their grave someday soon. They had taken care of Lucy, protected her, raised her, and loved her when they could not do that with her. But their Lucy was back to them, back as their daughter, as their family. It was his happiness.
Thus when Rinali knocked on his door and informed about lunch, he could not help to tell her to just go without them or send the meals to his room. Allen too voiced his agreement on that and even Lucy was telling her 'Aunt Rinali' that she still had several things she'd like to talk about with her 'Uncle Allen' and 'Uncle Yuu'. All in all, it seemed that none of them really had the need to leave each other's company for any time soon. But who could blame them?
They were, after all, having their first family gathering after years of separation.
- end -
(A/N: so… yeah… sorry that this chapter took so long to finish. But we managed to finish it during this week. That should count as an accomplishment (sweat). Anyway, we hope you had a good time reading. We wish to hear your reviews, as always. And also, we would like to announce that we've written some prequel to Secrets and Sacrifices. It took place between the end of Shattered Innocence and the immediate beginning of Secrets and Sacrifices. We post the prequel in our writing journal in livejournal, you can see the link in our profile page, and we would be forever honoured if you would spare a bit of your time to read it. Sorry that we cannot post it in this site due to the fact that the prequel is dealing with Lucy and her family, meaning pure original characters with only slight connection to canon that we presume should not be posted into a fanfiction site. And we've rambled enough, it seems. Thank you for reading and we hope to see you again next chapter.)