A/N: I realize that Lenalee is kinda OOC. My interpretation of her in a different environment/time period was a bit off. ;_; I'm working on it best I can, but I dug myself a bit of a hole with the plot being what it is.
Thank you everyone who's reviewed and all that good stuff, and sorry it took me so long to update ^^"
Seven o'clock could not come soon enough.
Lenalee didn't remember how or when she left the dinner table and crawled into bed. It must have been sometime between when she could stand without her knees collapsing from under her and when she finally regained the ability to breathe normally. She didn't remember when the bright red numbers on her clock changed from 10:57 to 3:02, or when she sent Lavi a cryptic text message demanding he treat her to large quantities of alcohol, or when she silenced her phone and stuffed it in her bedside drawer after she was fed up from that red light flickering every time he sent her a response.
She grabbed her headphones, turning up the volume on her iPod loudly enough that every stray noise in her building didn't send her into a frenzied panic over whether or not there was a mythical, bloodthirsty man with stupidly pretty hair hiding in a dark corner waiting for her to drop her guard. She squeezed her eyes together, willing sleep to free her from what she could only imagine was some sort of nervous breakdown. Sleep never came.
Tomorrow (or, today, in approximately four and a half hours,) she would tell Allen. She would tell him everything; about Kanda, and Tyki, and the silver, and - it seemed ridiculous to even think it - the vampire. And he would think she was hallucinating and recommend she write herself a prescription for an anti-psychotic. It was perfect - he was kind, and giving, and trustworthy, and bound by law to keep his mouth shut about her medical issues. She refused to believe that there was any truth to what Kanda was saying, and Allen would surely agree. She groaned and mentally scolded herself for even having entertained the notion.
When her alarm finally went off she stumbled from one thing to another, her anxiety over the impending conversation with Allen growing with each minute. Would he recommend that the agency send her home? Would he tell them that she couldn't handle the isolation of a small town after living for so long in a big city? And what then? Even if she was forced to return home there was nothing left for her there. It would be nearly impossible to find another job with this incident mucking up her resumé.
Too nervous to eat, and having sped through all of her usual morning activities, Lenalee ventured over to her couch in hopes that the TV would offer some distraction.
And there it was, tainting her lovely white couch like a giant brown ink stain. The jacket.
She picked it up and violently threw it at the wall, sinking into the sofa and sifting through the cushions for her remote. She ran through her small selection of news channels a few times, finally settling down on one of the morning program's cooking segments. Cooking could never be depressing or frightening or confusing. It proved to calm her mind enough for the twenty minutes she had to spare that she didn't make herself anymore crazy than she already had. She even found that it inspired her to eat half a bowl of cereal.
Once the time came to go to the clinic Lenalee dragged herself downstairs, her stomach giving a lurch as she noticed the haphazard hose snaking around on the floor. If someone had taken the time to roll it up properly or if she managed to avoid tripping over it last night none of this would have happened, she thought. Kanda wouldn't have been burned by her ring. Her morbid curiosity wouldn't have gotten the better of her and she wouldn't have brought up that night with Tyki. She would have returned him his jacket and he would have left, hopefully never to be seen again.
As usual, the unlocked front door let Lenalee know that Allen was already in the clinic. No Miranda yet though, she noted. Good. It would be easier for her to talk to him if she didn't have to worry about other people bursting in. Admitting her bout of crazy to one person was going to be painful enough.
Allen was puttering around the empty exam room, rolling a clean sheet of paper over the exam table. "Good morning," he said casually, greeting her with his usual carefree smile.
"Good morning, Allen," Lenalee replied, walking inside and gently closing the door behind her. "Listen," she began, hardly able to control the quiver in her voice as she leaned against the counter. "There's something I have to talk to you about."
"What's wrong?" asked Allen, hopping up onto the exam table and cringing a little when he realized he would now have to replace the paper again.
"I think…I know there's something wrong with me," she said, eyes brimming with tears. Hearing herself speak it out loud added an entirely new dimension to the situation. "I've been having hallucinations and - and hearing things that aren't real, and now I can't sleep," she explained miserably, plucking a few tissues from the stack behind her and sweeping them across her cheeks.
"Sit down," Allen directed, leading her by the shoulders to the chairs meant for family members. He took the one opposite to her and covered her hand with his own. "Tell me about what's been happening."
"I don't even know where to begin," said Lenalee. She told him about the argument her and Lavi had with Tyki and Kanda in the bar, the incident (or incidents) that followed in the forest, and finally the events of the previous night.
Allen glared back at her, his already pale skin devoid of any lingering color. She expected him to look concerned; frightened, even, but…angry?
"S-say something," she prompted, almost begging.
"…Kanda drove my car? And broke the windshield?" he said after a long moment.
"No, actually Tyki broke your windshield, Kanda fixed it…wait, that's what you're concerned about?" Lenalee jerked her hand back, bolting out of her chair. "After everything I just told you, that's what you need clarified? Allen, are you KIDDING me? I never should have told you any of this," she lamented, pacing around the small room. "Just forget this ever-"
"Lenalee, wait! It's not what you think," Allen said, jumping up to meet her. "What you saw was…it was real," he said, shrugging sheepishly.
Now it was Lenalee's turn to glare. "Shut the fuck up," she said sharply, mentally noting that she would have to apologize for her bad language later.
"Let me explain," pleaded Allen, dragging her back to her chair. It took Lenalee all of the energy she had left, which wasn't much, to keep herself from fainting. "Remember how I told you the doctor here before you, Dr. Delaney, just vanished with no warning?"
Lenalee nodded slowly.
"Right, well…the night before that, Kanda came up to our apartments with Tyki slung over his shoulder. Tyki was in a bad way…he'd lost a lot of blood and had some bad internal injuries. Kanda told me he'd accidentally run him over in his car."
Lenalee laughed grimly to herself. Oh, the irony.
Allen, oblivious, continued. "Kanda asked us if we could save him. We tried, but…we didn't have the resources to treat him here, and he wouldn't survive a transfer. So Kanda told us he was sorry, and that there wasn't any time left, and he…well, he bit Tyki. Then he bit his own wrist and poured some of the blood into the wound. He threw Tyki back over his shoulder and said, 'If either of you go to the police I'll fucking rip your throats out'. The next morning Dr. Delaney was gone."
"Oh my god…oh my god," whispered Lenalee, her hands clinging to the sides of her chair in an attempt to hold herself upright. On the one hand, at least she wasn't crazy. On the other, however…there were two vampires living in close proximity to her apartment. And one of them wanted her dead.
"Take the day off," Allen said quietly. "I'll tell Miranda to cancel your appointments because you came down with the flu." He stood up and helped her out of the chair, pulling her into a tight hug. "Don't worry about Tyki anymore. Kanda may be stupid, arrogant, and stubborn; but if he told you not to worry about Tyki I wouldn't. At least not too much," he added with a smile. "But keep mine and Lavi's numbers on speed dial just in case."
"Does Lavi know about this?" Lenalee asked, suddenly curious. Her stomach twisted uncomfortably again. Of all the people she'd met so far, he was the one she least expected to have kept this from her. It hurt to think about it.
To her relief, Allen shook his head. "Not that I know of. Now go home and get some sleep."
Lenalee was only too happy to oblige.
At six in the evening Lenalee woke up, thoroughly confused by the inky sky outside her window and the numbers on her clock. It wasn't until she noticed the red dot illuminated next to "PM" that she remembered the conversation she'd had with Allen earlier and the promise she'd gotten from Kanda the previous night about returning to pick up his jacket and "setting her straight". She didn't particularly feel like seeing him, though, and she didn't expect he would tell her anything she hadn't already heard from Allen. Besides, she didn't really want to know too much more.
She dragged herself out of bed and got dressed, figuring that while Kanda's visit was inevitable she could do her best to dull the impact with a few drinks in the meantime. With a pang she remembered to check her phone, still buried in her drawer after it's violent dismissal from her line of vision the previous night. Of course the screen was full of missed call, voice, and text message notifications. It was a surprise Lavi hadn't tried to bang her door down, Lenalee mused, although in his defense some of the messages were from patients wishing her a speedy recovery from the "flu". Allen even left her a very sweet voicemail apologizing again for having to deliver her such upsetting news and telling her that he'd understand if she wanted to take tomorrow off as well.
Almost as if he knew she was standing there to answer it Lenalee's phone began to buzz, Lavi's number lighting up the screen.
"Hello?" she said, trying to sound like someone who didn't just sleep off the strangest news she'd ever heard in her life.
"Hello yourself," replied Lavi, a slight amusement to his voice. Lenalee hadn't anticipated the relief she felt upon hearing it. "The flu, huh?"
"In a manner of speaking."
"I think you're bullshitting me, Dr. Lee. And I think you need to get your ass down here and explain to me what gave you the desire to text me at two AM this morning."
"I'm sorry, Lavi…maybe tomorrow."
"Too late. I've already uncorked a bottle of that wine you like," he said.
Lenalee smiled - really smiled - for the first time that day. "Believe me, I want to. But I've got the flu, remember? Drinking at a bar on a weekday is not something you'd expect to see your doctor with the flu doing."
"All right," Lavi sighed, "but you owe me. With interest."
"I got it. Thanks for calling."
Lenalee hung up, sorry to end the conversation but definitely favoring ending it now over being interrupted by Kanda (whom she had no idea when to expect) later. She flipped on the television and threw a frozen dinner in the microwave, wondering how many glasses of her own wine she could get through before Kanda arrived. It didn't make sense for her to be so nervous, she thought to herself. When all was said and done he'd never been anything but helpful, even if his efforts proved to be more trouble than they were worth. He must be at least somewhat of a decent person, seeing as how he'd gone through so much trouble to save Tyki, someone he presumably didn't even know, on the night that Allen had told her about.
Of course, it was entirely possible that Allen didn't know the whole story. Or that Kanda wasn't telling the truth. Or some combination of the two.
All Lenalee knew for sure was that she definitely needed more wine. She nervously sipped away for an hour or so until she moved to refill her glass and found that there was no more to be had. With the remainder of her good judgement still intact, she stood up to fetch herself a glass of water only to see Kanda standing stiffly in her kitchen.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, bracing the corner of her couch for support. Under normal circumstances she would have reacted in a number of different ways: scream, run for the door, attack him with the empty wine bottle, but in this moment all she did was laugh. "I was expecting you," she said pointedly, stumbling across the floor. The action of standing up combined with the shock from seeing an intruder in her house served only to enhance the effects of the alcohol. "I don't even want to know how you got in. Let's get this over with." Lenalee swept her hand grandly toward the kitchen table and plunked down on one of the chairs.
"…You're drunk," Kanda stated, leaning against the counter and crossing his arms. His nicely toned arms, Lenalee noted approvingly. He was hardly suited for the bitter night air in plain dark jeans and a brown t-shirt with far too many words for her to care to read. "I can't talk to you like this."
"Allen already told me everything," Lenalee said, holding her head in her hands. The room was spinning far too much for her comfort. She was not normally a big drinker, and the small amount of food in her stomach paired with her slight stature certainly didn't help matters.
"Allen has no idea what the fuck he's talking about," spat Kanda, sifting through her cabinets for an empty glass. He filled it up with water and placed it down in front of her. "Drink," he ordered.
"What are you talking about? You're the one that told Allen everything he knows about…you know. Stuff."
"That has very little to do with what you need to hear. I don't want you running around telling people that Tyki killed that girl you found a couple weeks ago. You'll get yourself killed. Now get sober so you won't forget it the moment I tell you how to stay alive."
"I don't get you," said Lenalee, looking at the man sitting across from her. "Shouldn't you be living in some big city somewhere? Somewhere people won't ask questions or even look at you twice? What do you want with this town?"
"If you hadn't gotten drunk off your ass you'd already know," Kanda replied, getting up to refill her glass. "Not that it's any of your business."
"Stop telling me that! It's your fault I'm even having to ask! You were the one who pulled me into this." Lenalee was out of her chair, trapping Kanda where two branches of her counter met to form a corner. She placed one hand on either side to brace herself. "Everything you've done-"
He glared at her, jaw set in a hard line. "Everything I've done has been to keep you safe. If you want to blame me that's your own damn problem. You would have died if I left you alone."
I would have died. Lenalee had told herself the same thing over and over again in her attempts to justify not shutting Kanda out of her life completely. But hearing it out loud, from the mouth of another person, brought her to her knees. She crumpled onto the floor, the walls spinning furiously around her. A pair of hands firmly held onto her arms.
"Come on," Kanda said, slowly pulling her up. His hands remained as they were for a few seconds once she'd climbed back to her feet, making sure she wouldn't sink back onto the ground.
In an act Lenalee would later convince herself was spurred solely by alcohol and adrenaline, she brushed her thumb across his cheek and leaned in to kiss him.
And, although briefly, he let her.
His hand floated down from her shoulder. She shuddered as his cool fingers brushed against the bare skin between her shirt and sweatpants, lingering for a few seconds before cupping her hip and gently moving her away.
The next thing Lenalee remembered was furiously scrambling off her couch, fiercely woken by a violent wave of nausea. She barely made it into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her before paying her respects to the porcelain deity. Her - a doctor! - she thought bitterly. She of all people should know how prevent this from happening.
Flashes of the evening played in her mind. Kanda had definitely been there, and they had argued, and she briefly recalled being on the floor.
Well, that certainly wasn't helpful.
After her stomach had seemingly finished emptying itself Lenalee brushed her teeth a few times and set out to return to bed. She opened the door and jumped, an action that nearly sent her back into the throws of illness. Kanda's silhouette floated towards her from her kitchen.
"You done?" he asked, making no effort to hide his contempt. Lenalee nodded, not feeling well enough to argue.
"What time is it?" she asked, lowering herself onto the couch and wondering how long she had to recover before work tomorrow. A blanket dropped messily over her shoulders and a glass of water was thrust into her hands.
The cushions shifted lightly as Kanda sat down at the farthest possible end of the couch, keeping his face directed forward while he spoke. "Listen well, because I'm only going to say this once."
"Allen already explained some of it to you. I made Tyki…like myself…a little while ago after an…accident."
Terrible liar, Lenalee reminded herself.
"Those of us that have just been created have bad impulse control. They don't know how to control themselves."
"Had I not been responsible for Tyki there's no way I would stay in this fucking backwater town. But raising a new vampire in a big city with a lot of people would be hell. Besides, this place has certain…resources…for us. Don't ask me what they are," Kanda said quickly. "Even so," he continued through gritted teeth, "he still caused some problems."
"Will you leave, then?"
Kanda shook his head. "The Viceroy of this area prohibits the assault of unwilling humans. Once he got word of what had happened Tyki was called in to stand trial," he said bitterly. "In a few months."
"And what will he do until then? Keep attacking people and trying to kill me?"
"No," Kanda said sharply, his eyes flashing in her direction for a split second. "The Viceroy's people have him in their possession. And you…will be protected," he mumbled.
"I'll be protected?" Lenalee began to feel dizzy again, and she didn't think it was the remaining alcohol. What on Earth had she gotten herself into? "What about Lavi? And Allen? They saw that girl too on the day that she died! And Allen…he must have known it was you," she added, a little disappointed that he had hid it from her at the time (or at least acted ignorant).
"Just worry about yourself. They'll be fine." Kanda fidgeted a little in his seat, crossing and uncrossing his legs a few times before settling down.
"There's something you're not telling me," Lenalee said carefully, remembering his nervous maneuvers the other times she'd caught him in a lie. "Why would I need to be looked after if Tyki was taken away?"
"That's not something-"
"LISTEN to me!" snapped Lenalee, far too irritated and nauseous to play this game. Kanda sat up straight, his head finally turning to face her. His perpetual scowl fled for a few seconds in favor of a look of utter bewilderment; he was obviously not used to being spoken to this way. "You can't just tell me all this - that my life is in danger, that I need someone to protect me, that my friends need someone to protect them - and expect me to sit back and hear it quietly! What do you take me for?"
"Someone smart enough to stay alive and not ask the wrong questions," Kanda said coldly.
Lenalee sighed. She knew she wouldn't win this, at least not in her current state. She decided to change the subject.
"So who will be 'protecting' me?"
Kanda said nothing.
"Is it you?"
"I'll take that as a yes." She felt him roll his eyes. "Where will you be - staked out in the bushes?"
"Perfect." Now Lenalee would have to go to sleep every night with the knowledge that Kanda was hiding out in the shrubbery protecting her from some unseen evil. She looked over as he glared at the air in front of him. He didn't seem to like the idea any better. Even vampires probably found hours of standing around outside unappealing. "You know," she said, testing the limits of her better judgement, "if you ever get bored out there, and it's before, say, midnight, you can come visit me. I'll make you…something." What did vampires eat, anyway?
After a long moment Kanda finally spoke. "Aren't you afraid?"
"Yes." Lenalee leaned against the back of the cushion. "But I think you're more than some monster to be scared of."
Kanda stood up, taking his jacket in one hand before heading to the door. "You're wrong," he said. "Don't forget to lock the door."
And with that, he was gone.
Lenalee fastened all of her locks and trudged back to her room, wondering why in the world she'd extended Kanda a nightly invitation into her home. She meant what she'd said to him before he left, but that was hardly reason for her actions. What exactly did she see in him?
And then, she remembered. She remembered the way her skin shivered under his fingertips. She remembered standing so close - too close - to him in the kitchen. She remembered…