Disclaimer: DGM belongs to Hoshino Katsura et al.
A/N: I'm sorry, I couldn't help it.
Lenalee had not thought about visiting Kanda for a long time. She tosses in her bed now and thinks she is having a night terror now, and it is now, after years of trying to grow up, that her breath hitches and she starts to choke on it, as if her heartbeat is getting away from her, as if she'll die.
There is a monster under her bed.
The monster being, she doesn't know how to grow up. There's only so much fruit to bear from a question-and-answer session with her brother. She can't take any more of his sentimental requests to stay his baby sister, because more than likely, his wish will come true despite her actions, like this one, to grow up.
She can feel those eyes on her, the presence of something heavy like dead Akuma carcass.
She has the option of sitting in a corner of the room for a spell before predictably figuring that, never growing out of such things, the eyes are not getting farther away. They never do. The weight is still on her, pressing her into the coldest floor. Her fingers are twitching and that's not exactly a good sign. Her twitchy fingers go to her face to cover her own glaring eyes, blocking out whatever could be watching her.
Spying on her.
"Go away," she whispers. The shadows press in. "Go away!"
Lenalee can hear her heart pounding, as if her blood is about to spill from her eyes, spill from her mouth. She keeps it closed for good measure. She crosses the room before It can get her.
She is ten again.
Once her feet hit the threshold, she remembers to step over it but forgets to avoid the splinters that stick out from the old hallowed wood. She is ten again, and it is like the door is attacking her.
This is when and where things come alive. This is where her feet are her own tools, how Lavi would agree, as they take her places, wings at her heels. They take her to Kanda's room down the corridor, the hidden sentinels and demons sleeping away her presence as she races, races, races for him.
She outraces the waking things, breathing quick and uneven and trying not to breathe at all.
All she has to do is close her eyes and they'd be there, claws at her neck.
She can hear the Lenalee inside of her, a version of herself, battened down into the very heart of her. She has suffocated for so long. When awake, things could scatter. Possibly.
"Kanda?" she whispers, over and over. She knocks with the cushion of her hand; knock, knock, please, knock, please help me. She scratches the door to the floor with her nails until she just sits there, hugging her knees to her eyes. Maybe all she needs is his door.
People can get so tired around here.
Then she hears his mattress crunching and his feet padding. It is salvation to her ears. She could get on her knees right now. The splinter kind of hurts. She could get on her knees right now.
She squeezes her eyes tighter than what's safe and the door creaks open.
"Did something happen?" he says.
She looks up. "It did."
"It. Can I sleep with you?"
He looks down both ends of the corridor. The lights have been extinguished.
"Lenalee," he says, as if to admonish her.
I am ten again.
"I promise I won't do it again."
He makes a throaty sound, one that tells her, it's fine, just come in, just stop it.
Inside the room she can't help the way she freezes up and stands there by his bed, heart thrumming at the unnatural beating, unnatural everything. His room is bare. It is cold. It is stark and sadly misunderstood. Because the room is inside the beheld. Buried very deep.
Most people do not know this.
"What are you doing?" He puts a fist to his hip. She fidgets. He closes the door. "I wasn't really sleeping. Don't worry about it."
For a moment she forgets. "You couldn't sleep?" He never sleeps.
His hand goes to her elbow, coaxing her the way he'd learned when she had become a liability for them all. "You should have grown out of this." It's been years.
"But his eyes!"
"H-his eyes are evil."
He feeds her silence. Lenalee can't hear what he is thinking. She shifts on her toes.
"Is this about—?"
She nods, finally shifting into the bed, close to the wall. She mentally counts the rooms and which one it is. "Evil," she whispers.
His presence by the bed is her chance to start breathing again.
She tries to breathe in his sandalwood, his sass, his smoke, his soap. God, she could take it all in and forget everything else. She tries to pick the splinter out of her big toe. She lifts her foot to eye-level to inspect her work.
"Lee, pull yourself together," he says firmly. It is a make-me-hate-you firmness because she's heard that tone before. Oh it's neither exactly pretty nor ugly. Oh.
Lenalee rubs an eye. "You don't know. You didn't see him!"
"So it's Walker." But his voice is very, very low and she must read his lips to understand, like they're standing cities apart and only inches apart at the same time.
"His eyes. They made—they make me feel. . ."
"They make you feel? There's not much of a difference. They make me feel like hanging him by the scruff. By the ears."
She makes a disagreeable sound.
He makes a noncommittal sound.
Then he flattens himself on the bed beside her and turns to face his bureau with the built-in crucifixion.
She glares furiously at his back. "Kanda. What if. What if he comes after us?"
"What if." They are the damned.
"He's not a monster."
"You should understand."
"I do. I don't believe he's a monster. Your imagination is getting away with you."
You should always understand.
She leans over him, studying the hollows of his eyes. She knows he knows that she is studying him and he decides to close them so she cannot see what he is thinking. The unknown shudders a little below her stomach. She reaches out to smooth his hair from his cheek, laying it over his ear so the demons and bedbugs of the night won't crawl inside. She lays his hair over his neck, contouring it to his shoulder so that vampires won't be tempted.
She used to do this as a child. She loved being protected and doing the protecting.
She might, if she could disappear for a day, still love it, sacrifices and all.
Then she watches his face again. He might still love it, secretly. Dear secrets.
He takes a deep breath and sits up, nearly knocking her out of the way. "What."
"I can't sleep. I'm scared. Which one's Allen's room again? Do you think he can actually see through—?"
"He could see right through you because you're being—"
"I don't want to tell anybody else. Lavi might rat him out." He might, but Link surely would.
"Lavi has bigger things to worry about," Kanda says, close to her ear.
"I can't tell anyone else," she whispers. "They'll put him in. . . They'll." They'll imprison Allen. They'll torture him. They'll make the monster come out.
Lenalee Lee does not want to panic.
He sits up fully to force her to lie down. She puts up little resistance; it's hard to put up resistance.
"Sleep. Clear your mind." His hand, bandaged of recent, brushes her forehead like sandpaper and gauze and body oil.
"But I close my eyes and he's watching me. When I woke up that one time? He was watching me. He looked like—you know, I can't even say. You would recognize it. You know what I mean."
"But I didn't see it. So there, just close your eyes." He gives her a pointed don't-make-me-point-something-out-for-you look.
"And it's like, he knows. Not the other part of him. The evil e-eye knows what it is doing."
"That's insane. Do you hear yourself?"
"Mm-mm. I saw," she adds. Maybe she is going insane. Again.
It's about time.
He sighs, making to cross his arms and then dropping them. "Lenalee. Listen to me. Will you listen to me?"
"But you didn't see," she says, feeling an unstoppable pout.
"Listen. I've seen what that brat can do. He would never do the same to you. You are not the enemy."
It takes a while for this to soak in. A part of her refuses to believe it. It's happened. What about Suman?
Though that was different. But!
"Okay," she says. But fine. She will take matters into her own hands if it ever comes down to it.
Sacrifices and all.
He nods. She presses her chest against the wall. He faces her back just so she can sleep. He makes a huffy sound and tucks the covers around her, like a pinching, possibly so she can't, won't, run out, screaming throughout headquarters about rogue Exorcists who have gone to the dark side. Spreading conspiracy theories? He only touches her hair with his fingers, like tips of wings, and only to pull it away from her face completely.
She can't suffocate that way.
She's trusted Kanda before. She doesn't know why she can't do it now.
His bare chest touches her spine now. She should feel safe.
His arm, hesitating, wraps around her ribs, like a vine, jerking out to grab her and secure her to slumberland itself.
"Um, aren't you scared?"
The vine tightens. "Mm," he says. "Mm," he whispers. "Mm," he breathes.
She can smell him in the pillow they are sharing.
At least she lives in beats of wonder and fear and fortitude.
Ground zero is where Lenalee sleeps.