Last Refuge of the Complex
Simple pleasures are always the last refuge of the complex
Oscar Wilde

Allen stares at Link. Link stares at Allen. Allen thinks he has an unfair advantage over him, with the fact that he's kind of certain that Link was trained to blink just once every minute, if. He sighs.

"Link, come on. It's just a bath. I'm not even going to the onsen, I'm just taking a shower. It's less than twenty minutes."

Link doesn't blink. "I appreciate the fact that you won't take long then, Walker. We still have several forms to fill."

Allen sighs again, shaking his head, but he knows when to give up and so he just picks his things again and heads towards the bathroom, telling himself that Link is just doing his job and that it's quite possible that he dislikes it as much as he does, but that, just like Allen, he cares too much about his duty to show it.

Even if said duty is to become his second (... third?) shadow, apparently. Not his fault.

Allen thinks about saying how unnecessary it is for Link to come inside the bathroom with him again – what is he expecting him to do, run away through the tiny, tiny window that comes out to a really, really, really steep fall, when he doesn't even have Timpampy with him? -- but when he glances at him, the set of his shoulder and even the slight frown on Link's face tells him that he has a better chance of Kanda suddenly becoming an agreeable human being than Link waiting outside, so Allen just shakes his head.

While it's not his first bath since they came back from the Arc, it is the first one where the matron or another nurse won't be waiting nearby, just in case that he'll get dizzy due to blood loss and/or head trauma, and Allen had been waiting for the chance to be alone. Partly to be able to get a grip on everything that has happened, to see if he's able to think about Mana for at least one minute without feeling the quiet bitterness of betrayal creeping everywhere, and partly because. Well. He had looked forward to being alone.

He glances at Link, who's waiting standing up near the benches. Yeah, not a chance of that happening now. Allen doesn't sigh again, instead he just shakes his head as he takes of his shirt, wincing a little when the way he has to move his arm pulls at still-very-new scar tissue, at bruises that are still not quite healed. At least Link is not looking at him; he's facing at his general direction, yes, but not at him which, Allen supposes, is what passes as courtesy in a situation like this. Other than for his hair, Allen is not really self-conscious (it's something that growing up around whores and prostitutes breed out of you, really) but he'd still find it weird, he thinks, if he was to suddenly find himself being stared at with the quiet intensity Link seems to have for everything concerning his duty.

Allen still glances at him as he takes of his clothes, and he wonders for the first time what do Komui's reports say about him, if there's a map of the scars he has. He wonders if Link is glancing when he doesn't notice at his arm, at the way the black not-quite-skin stretches over unto his shoulder, at the way the innocence shines upon the back of his hand, and before he gets to think too much about just what it says and what it doesn't, he moves inside the shower, tilting his head upwards before he even starts the shower and to the blessing of the hot water upon his skin.

He moans in relief, for a moment forgetting everything and anything that doesn't have to do with the steady rhythm of water falling against his body, taking away grim and perspiration and exhaustion. Allen waits perhaps a little too long before he leans to pick up his soap, but even when he starts with the soap, it's still more of a caress than any actual attempt on his part on getting clean, barely aware that Link's still in the bathroom since he's keeping quiet enough to almost, almost not be there.

Just for a moment, Allen almost wishes that he was as shameless as Cross to just touch himself without a care that there was someone else in the room, that he'd just move the hand with the soap down his chest and over his stomach, that he'd actually dare to move it towards his cock, but there's a difference between not being self conscious, he thinks, and being a pervert.

God knows he remembers the first time he came inside the bathroom where Cross was taking a bath because master had wanted a cup of his favorite wine as he rested in the tub, only to find the lecherous pervert with a lovely woman on his lap, moaning as she rode him, her pretty face flushed and the idiotic pervert he had as a master just telling him that he was going to pay for the glass he had dropped as if it had had diamonds inside. As Allen keeps on washing himself, letting the hot water steal his worries away and the soap to just move over his skin, he remembers the way he blushed and the way he tried ever so hard never to think about it again, and how it was that eventually he just got used that Cross just didn't care about privacy or giving free – traumatic – shows.

It had been, after all, one of the reasons why Allen had just stopped being embarrassed. There was only so much you could take before you just got used to the people you were around. Sure there is something like being modest, and certainly being embarrassed if you see someone naked when it is obviously an accident, but some other things like getting injuries fixed or taking baths is not really such a big deal that merits embarrasment. Especially if you're expecting someone to follow you all the time.

But still. It's not the same thing, Allen thinks. Link is just doing his job; it's not his fault that Allen's body has another mind of his own, and it's not a need, not exactly, it's something that he can ignore perfectly fine, especially since he's not sure just what details are involved in what Link has to report and Allen would rather something like 'how many times a week Allen Walker masturbates' wouldn't find it's way into the public light--

Link clears his throat loudly enough that Allen startles away from his own thoughts, shaking his head to actually focus, blinking water away from his eyes and turning to face the other man. Link's still not-quite facing him, but he looks flushed and a little bothered. Allen considers the steam inside the room and he thinks a little guiltily that he probably had the hot water on for far longer than he absolutely had to, but it had simply felt so damn good that...

"Link?" he asks when the other man doesn't say a thing.

Still not looking at him, Link straightens himself, and you'd think he'd at least take off his jacket if he's going to wait inside a bath...

"You have five minutes to come out, Walker! I'll be waiting outside, so be sure to be done!"

And almost before Allen can manage a startled 'sure' he's striding out of the room, almost as if he is rushing outside which has Allen confused for all of a minute before he decides that, whatever the reasons Link had to decide that apparently some privacy was okay, he's not going to question it just then.