Well, what do you know- I have written something! This was orignally going to be a one shot, then one became two , and two became three and I'm buggred if I know where it's going to end!
Nothing has changed- I am still a poor student. I cannot afford to replace the milk that some asswipe stole from the fridge in the communal kitchen, and thus do not own D. G-M. K? K.
Allen stared at the mirror, an ugly expression twisting his usually pleasant face. He reached pale fingers out to his reflection, touching the cold glass, tracing the outline of his face that all at once seemed both familiar and new to him. The shadow lurking behind him grinned in response, but the features were nearly lost, the shadowy silhouette almost overlapping his own reflection. He sighed dejectedly, letting his hand fall to his side, away from the glass, but he didn't look away from the mirror, instead cataloguing the old-new characteristics of his face. His eyes no longer held the innocent shine they had when he first joined the Order. It wasn't such a long time ago, but the sparkle, the joy, the life that they had contained, even just a few short weeks ago was missing. They were flat, blank, empty. Jaded. No longer naï'd seen too much in such a short time to still be untainted by life. He'd once thought that life could not change him- he'd already seen so much even before he joined the Order, a childhood on the streets made that inevitable, but he knew different now.
Though somehow, he also knew that this lacklustre expression was not all down to him. He was there too. Lurking in his head, sharing his space, his body…
As much as he denied it, as much as he kept smiling and pretending that nothing had changed, it had, it still was. He didn't know if anyone else had spotted it- he rather suspected that if anyone had, it would be Lavi, sharp eyed apprentice bookman that he was, but if the redhead had noticed anything, he'd not mentioned it to Allen yet. Perhaps he'd got away with it after all.
He met the cold cynical eyes of his reflection, trying not to flinch at the lack of expression he saw there, on his own face. As he raised his head, the warm sunlight flitted across his face and for the briefest of moments his grey eyes flashed gold.
Kanda caught sight of a rather despondent looking Allen Walker trailing into the dining hall, his hair in disarray and his clothes rumpled and shirt untucked. It was strange to see Allen as anything but neat and tidy- something that had been handed down from General Cross, who had passed on his slightly obsessive-compulsive need for cleanliness and order to his apprentice in their travels together, no doubt. Even during his time in Headquarters and away from the red-headed general, it was rare to see Allen as anything other than well turned-out.
The white haired exorcist dragged himself to the food hatch and placed his order, collecting the usual mountain of food before slumping to an empty table. Kanda observed Allen discreetly as he ate by himself, more picking at his food than eating it. Normally the younger exorcist was not one to refuse company, but his whole stance was screaming that he wished to be alone. His shoulders hung wearily, as though he was carrying a heavy burden, and not once did he raise his gaze from where it rested on the table.
Now Kanda was not normally one to be concerned about anyone else, but lately he had become aware of the changes occurring with the white haired teen, changes that no one else had seemed to notice. Perhaps they saw what they wanted to, while Kanda had no such expectations, but whatever the reason, it was Kanda Yuu who was the one to spot Allen Walker slowly buckling under the weight of whatever demons hounded him.
He watched as Allen frowned slightly before looking up and letting his gaze sweep the room, as though he felt eyes on him. Kanda dropped his own eyes to his cup, not wanting to be caught staring at the other exorcist. Unexpectedly Allen stood, his meal only half finished and left the dining hall, looking like he was on the verge of breaking, and Kanda came to an abrupt decision.
Placing his still full cup of green tea on the table in front of him, he swung his legs out from under it and stalked from the room, his long graceful strides carrying him after the departed exorcist.
Allen sat at the table in the dining hall, staring morosely at the plates in front of him and trying to convince himself that he really could eat everything before him while his stomach told him in no uncertain terms that if he attempted to put anything else near his mouth it was going to rebel in a spectacularly disgusting fashion. Or maybe it was the other way round, and his stomach was trying to get him to eat while his mind threatened to mutiny. Either way, if he carried on eating he was going to be sick, and he couldn't allow that to happen- he had to remain as inconspicuous as possible.
He clutched his left hand into a fist beneath the table, glad for once that no one was sitting nearby. He supposed he should have been upset that he was being avoided like the plague, but right now he couldn't bring himself to care. His whole rigid posture demanded that he be left to sit by himself, and though he usually enjoyed the company of other people, right now he welcomed the solitude. The less people around, the less people he had to pretend that nothing was wrong to.
He had never thought his acting skills were particularly good. Though he knew that he was able to maintain a perfect poker face, real life demanded more than the ability to keep up a blank façade, and to be honest the daily need to be happy and smiling was wearing him down just as much as trying to conceal just how far the Noah was encroaching into his mind did.
The lack of reaction confused him a little, not sure whether to be grateful or not that no one seemed to notice his daily struggle to be nice and kind and positive when all he wanted to do was curl up in bed and scream for someone to pay attention to the fact that he was slowly losing his mind, quite literally. Was it too much to ask for just one person to realise that he was losing himself to this thing inside him?
The one thought that kept him from seeking out someone to confide in was that maybe they did know, and the reason that no one had confronted him about it was the fact that they simply didn't care about what was happening to him- an inevitable future that they couldn't change, so why bother to try? It couldn't be so hard to notice, could it?
He felt eyes on him as the hair at the back of his neck tingled, but when he looked up he couldn't see anyone who was even glancing in his general direction. He hardly knew anybody in here as more than someone he'd once said a passing greeting to, in fact the only one he could identify as more than a faintly recognisable face was Kanda, and the older exorcist was merely glaring (as usual) into his cup. Not that Kanda would be looking at him anyway.
With a sigh he laid down his fork, knowing that he wasn't going to be able to eat any more, and made his way out of the dining hall, turning left down the corridor. His thoughts swirled dangerously in his head, making it hard to think at all. He raised his eyes from the ground beneath his feet and caught sight of his reflection in one of the small stained glass windows. The shadow leered at him from its position behind him and he felt the barely suppressible urge to smash the bloody thing to pieces so he wouldn't have to look at it. Instead he clenched the hard cold stone of the window sill in his hands, bowing his head and trying to get his harsh ragged breathing back under control. He wasn't doing very well at calming himself down, and looked up, glaring all his hate and anger at the reflection staring back at him.
He didn't have to go far before he found the object of his search.
Allen was standing at a window not far from the dining hall, leaning heavily on his arms as his hands gripped the sill unnecessarily hard. No doubt the knuckles of his right hand were clenched white under the glove.
He didn't appear to have noticed Kanda's approach, his grey eyes fixed firmly on his reflection that was split with the bright colours of the stained glass. Whatever he saw there was not favoured with a pleasant expression- the glare was full of loathing and Allen's face was twisted in a bitter smile.
Allen visibly jumped, startled by the samurai's silent approach, but he didn't turn to look at the other exorcist, nor did he correct the hated nickname. "What do you want?" he asked. His words were meant to sound snappish, but all that came across was his extreme tiredness. Having not achieved his goal with his voice, he turned to the dark haired man and attempted a glare, which also fell flat. His shadow-rimmed eyes and exhausted face did not carry the expression well.
Kanda swept dark eyes over him, taking in every sign of fatigue and weakness before meeting the barely tolerant silver gaze. "You're not looking after yourself" he said in an inscrutable voice.
Allen raised an eyebrow questioningly, the implied concern in Kanda's words confusing him a little. He wasn't sure how to respond to that. In all his time at the Order, he'd never heard even the slightest trace of worry come from the older man. "What's it to you?" he asked eventually when studying Kanda's unreadable face heralded no answers.
Kanda's face twitched slightly, as though he suddenly realized how out of character it was for him to be expressing concern over another person. "You'll be useless if you die because you're too stupid to take care of yourself" he said in his usual biting tone, though the words seemed awkward on his tongue.
Allen smiled slightly, a sad, wistful expression that passed before it had chance to settle on his face. He turned back to the window, and whatever he saw there affected him deeply, the shutters falling over his eyes and all expression wiped from his features.
"I'm not myself, not anymore."
The words were whispered, the sound nothing but the faint trace of noise on the air, but Kanda heard it, a frown flickering across his forehead as the defeatist tone and hopeless words registered in his mind.
"What the fuck are you talking about?" he snapped, grasping Allen's shoulders and spinning him away from the reflective surface of the window, holding him steady as he felt the slighter man stumble.
Allen didn't immediately look at him, preferring to keep his eyes fixed on the floor even as the hands on his shoulders shook him violently.
"What. The. Fuck. Are. You. Talking. About?" Kanda growled, his voice low and threatening. "You better fucking talk, or I swear I'll beat it out of you!"
"Please do" came the muttered response as Allen finally looked up at him with a cold blank expression. "Do us all a favour."
Kanda dropped his hands in surprise, having not expected such a response from the usually optimistic bean sprout. "What..?" He stared down at Allen as the hairs at the back of his neck prickled in warning, though about what he couldn't say, and his hand automatically drifted to Mugen belted to his side.
Allen watched movement and seemed amused by it. "Go ahead, I won't stop you."
Kanda whipped his hand back, unsure as to why he had reached for the sword in the first place. He looked down at his hand for a moment before bringing it back into a fist and punching Allen in the face. "What the hell is wrong with you?" he snarled, watching the bead of blood gather at Allen's split lip before being wiped away, staining the pristine white of the glove red. Allen looked at it interestedly, licking his lip and erasing the evidence. "Huh, still human after all" he said quietly, gingerly touching the small wound with probing fingers.
Kanda huffed out a frustrated breath, watching Allen examine the cut gently. He sucked his lower lip into his mouth, apparently savouring the metallic taste, his eyes sliding shut and a slowly spreading expression of calm sliding across his face. Despite his apparent apathy, Kanda was slightly worried about this strange development, and against his better judgement, reached out a hand and clasped Allen's shoulder, giving him a light shake. Allen's eyes snapped open and something in them made Kanda withdraw his hand quickly, a frown flashing on his face before it was gone and the impassive mask was back.
Allen looked up at him, and there was nothing unusual shining from his eyes. He looked concerned about Kanda's reaction before seeming to realize what he had been doing before the touch had brought him back. His hand flew to his chest, landing over the newest scars caused by his own innocence as he turned away, shoulders hunched and posture defensive, rejecting everything around him.
Kanda said nothing. He wasn't entirely sure what he could say. Eventually he stepped closer to Allen's back, watching him carefully in the window, waiting for some form of reaction, but Allen's eyes were clamped tightly shut, a faint tremble shaking his stiff shoulders and his hands gripping the windowsill so hard that the force of his left hand had already cracked the aged stone.
"What the hell is happening to you?" he asked quietly, not really expecting an answer. He reached out, almost tentatively, wrapping his long fingers over Allen's quivering shoulder. He couldn't say what had made him make the gesture, but even he found he couldn't just remain emotionless and unfeeling as Allen stood there and tore himself to pieces for reasons that Kanda could only barely understand.
Allen's eyes met his in the glass of the colourful window. "Why are you still here?" the younger exorcist asked, his words cold but the tone honestly perplexed, as though he couldn't understand why Kanda hadn't just walked away.
Kanda sighed and for a moment his blank expression slipped. He looked tired, conflicted, as though puzzled by his own actions. "The hell if I know" he mumbled, but his hand remained where it was on the shorter youth's shoulder and his eyes did not leave the pair of silver ones watching him via the window.
Allen smiled softly and turned to face him. Kanda dropped his hand and stared down at him, clearly at a loss as to what was going on.
Allen leant forwards, resting his forehead against Kanda's shoulder, heaving a deep sigh. Neither moved, their arms hanging limply at their sides.
"Thank you" Allen said at length, leaning back a little so that he could look at Kanda's face.
"What for?" Kanda asked, his arms moving to clasp Allen's shoulders without any conscious command to do so.
Allen raised his right hand, laying it over Kanda's where it rested on his shoulder, giving it a brief squeeze before removing the limb entirely and stepping back. "For noticing" he said quietly, dropping Kanda's hand and turning away, walking back to his room feeling a bit lighter, just knowing that someone in the whole Order cared, if only a little.