Dr. Yok: Okay, I don't own -Man or any of its affiliates. Hoshino-sama has that honor. I only own the five hundred boxes of cookies in my house.
This story was inspired by the movie 'Moon' staring Sam Rockbell. Watch it. Now.
He hadn't thought much of it, at first. It hadn't been anything. It'd just been…a twitch. A slight movement. Nothing more than a tick on the graph. There was nothing to worry about. A muscle had moved in the wrong direction, and that was that. That's how it always starts though, right? It was always something small. Something common. Something overlooked.
A twenty-four year old Kanda stood up after defeating the Level Four he'd been battling for the past hour or so. He'd been forced to use Shouka and Sangenshiki, but it had been worth it. The Akuma had succumbed easily after that, and now it lay in pieces at his feet. His golem fluttered by his ear annoyingly, bleating about a message it was receiving.
Kanda snatched it out of the air, aware of a strange feeling he'd encountered when he'd activated Shouka. He was back to normal now, but the sensation in his chest hadn't left. Still, he'd decided to leave it be. It'd fix itself, as always. He clicked a button on the golem. His finger could still feel the nicks where the stupid Moyashi's golem, Timcanpy, had chewed on the poor communications device.
There was a crackle, and a voice suddenly cut in to the air.
"--ello? Hello? Kanda, is that you? Where are you? We were looking all over the place, but we couldn't track you down," Komui chirped. Kanda glared at the golem as if it would melt the man on the other end of the line.
"I'm busy. I'll be back to Headquarters soon."
"Ah, right, right. Don't be late, Y--" The connection dropped as Kanda clicked the off button. The golem fluttered around his head for a little bit before settling in his pocket. Kanda walked down through the rubble and the grit he'd left behind from his battle.
Everything within a five miles radius was decimated. Trees, rocks, and other significant land features had been obliterated in the ensuing fight. Nothing was left. Akuma fights usually got messy, but this was pretty heavy demolition work. The townspeople wouldn't be particularly pleased, but then again they never were.
Kanda headed towards the church where the Ark was 'parked'. The priest greeted him kindly despite Kanda's lack of conversation.
"You are doing well, I hope?" A grunt was all the answer he got.
"And you need no medical help?"
"No. This is the password," Kanda stated tersely, tapping it out on the old man's hand. The priest was used to this gruff behavior already from the Exorcists that came and went through this church. He nodded to Kanda as he passed into the white light of the Ark.
The Mediterranean houses greeted him with their whitewashed walls and their pristine streets. Kanda passed through them quickly. He jogged slightly, looking for the Ark's Door 12. This one led to the European Headquarters for the Black Order where Lenalee and Noise Marie were at that moment. As he ran, Kanda noticed that he was getting short of breath. He frowned deeper, slowing down until he finally came to a stop. His breathing still felt tight, restricted.
Kanda ignored it. He'd gotten a chest wound, and he probably had a broken rib pressing against his lungs. He told himself he'd get it checked out, but if he wanted to be honest he'd have told himself he was going to his room to lie down and sleep it off. That was just Kanda's way.
He kept running, slowing down when he got out of breath, but never breaking his stride. Finally, he reached Door 12 and pulled it open. A bright light bathed him and he was suddenly in the middle of the Science Department Headquarters. Everyone's head turned…then promptly turned back to their computer screen. Kanda was not one to be messed with after a mission.
He walked down the aisles steadily, trying to regulate his oddly out-of-wind breathing. As he headed up to Komui's office, he also noticed a strange lurch in his stomach. Kanda frowned, amazed at the fact he was getting a stomachache. What was going on? Was he sick? He'd been fine when he had left the Order, that was for sure.
He opened the door to Komui's office, and the smell of coffee and ink washed over him nostalgically. He'd been coming in here less and less often as the number of Akuma began to dwindle. There were still several, but it seemed that they were winning the fight. Komui looked up from his dazed stare at the ceiling. His face brightened at Kanda's entrance.
"Kanda-san! So happy to see you!" Komui fluttered. Kanda rolled his eyes and didn't answer. He slapped his report (which had been done prior to his fighting the Akuma) on Komui's desk and did an about-face. Komui frowned at the paperwork and whined, "Kanda-san, why don't you stay? You never come out of that dusty room of yours!"
Kanda grunted back, holding his stomach. The door shut behind him and he was off to his room, where there was peace, quiet, and an absence of people. As he walked, though, he noticed something different about his gait. It was much slower, a bit more awkward.
Suddenly, a memory replayed through his mind. Unlike most humans, Kanda could still remember the first steps he took. Biologically, he'd been nine years old, but in his mind he had hardly passed his first day by. His steps had been like this. Awkward, almost as if he'd forgotten how to walk. His legs had been weak and unresponsive. As of now, they were nowhere near that stage, but it felt like he'd been jogging miles and miles.
How long had it been since that first twitch? Perhaps an hour? Two hours? Kanda walked into his room and flopped down on his bed. The ceiling seemed to spin over him. The room was thankfully dark because he was starting to get a headache. His stomach didn't feel all that well, but now that he was lying down it had settled. Erratically, his foot would twitch, but he didn't notice. All of the sudden, Kanda was very, very tired. Bone-tired, in fact. So tired that all he wanted to do was fall into a coma and get some well-deserved rest.
Kanda's eyes slowly slipped shut. It'd been a long day. That stupid Akuma had basically ruined his evening. He'd been the only Exorcist able to travel that far, kill it, then come back in less than a day. Everyone else was in the Infirmary, dead, or out doing something other than their job. At least, in Kanda's mind that was what everyone was doing.
His brain finally shut down, allowing him to move into a sense of easy sleep.
The air was cold. Why was it so cold? And why was he shivering? He never got cold. At least, he'd never gotten like this. This was arctic. Even on that mission into the blizzards of Germany…
Kanda's skin seemed to be crawling as he shivered underneath the covers of his bed. The sheets were too thin, and the air was too frozen. He couldn't hardly feel his toes or his fingers any more. He got up and looked out the window, trying to find the source of the draft that had caused this sudden drop in temperature. His feet hit the floor, and he almost cursed as the cold raced through his feet once more.
Why was it so cold? The window was closed. The door was as well. There were no rushes of air. There were no unexplainable spells of immense cold in pockets of the room. It was just….cold.
Kanda sighed through his nose in an annoyed fashion. His head was blurry, and he could hardly think clearly. Stumbling around, he found a spare blanket he kept in the closet, but which he never used. Why? Because he never got this cold, dammit…
He grumbled as he tried to climb back in bed, but for some reason, the bed seemed a lot farther than it actually was. His brow knitted together as he tried to touch the bed, but found that his hand kept touching air instead of cotton sheets. At least, he managed to reach it. Kanda sat down on his bed with a tired whump, and wrapped himself in the spare blanket.
And he was still cold.
What was wrong with him? He couldn't think straight. It was like every time he tried to string words together into coherent thoughts, something cut them short or dismantled them as soon as he had them arranged in the proper order. His hands were shaking because of how cold it was. Was that really why his hands were shaking though?
He'd warmed up a little bit. He could feel his fingers and toes. All of his extremities were no longer numb, but his hands couldn't seem to stop shaking. Idly, he stared at a wall. He did this for several minutes. And then he stared longer. Minutes synthesized together into an hour. Great, now he couldn't sleep either.
Letting out an angry groan, he cast off the blankets. Kanda angrily opened the door to his room and stumbled off to the cafeteria to get something to eat. His stomach roiled furiously, and he gripped his abdomen in brief pain. He must have a stomach bug. That'd explain everything.
As he barged into the kitchen, he leaned against the counter, breathing hard. Again, his breathing felt constricted and difficult. It'd only been a short run. He'd hardly had to run very far to get to the kitchen from his room. Why was he so winded?
Kanda flung open a cabinet, flipping on the light switch at the same time. His hands searched the dark for a moment before he could find it. The cabinet was another story. His hand missed it entirely.
Finally pulling out some ingredients for hot chocolate, he started to heat up water. However, as he put the water on the stove, he burned his hand. He hissed in pain, nearly dropping the small pot. The water sloshed and hissed as it hit the hot stove. Kanda put the burnt hand to his mouth. He ran to the sink and ran it under the water. It was now an angry red color, and it was already beginning to blister. Blood rose the surface of the burn, coloring it darker than before.
Kanda stared at it in a sense of almost awe. He'd never burned himself. This new sensation of being burned was explosive, painful, but also like a bright new understanding. For a moment, Kanda could imagine that this must be what an infant might feel like after sticking a finger in a candle.
However, he was pulled back to the present situation. He needed to dress the burn quickly. He found some napkins and decided that would have to do until morning. The water hissed quietly in the pot. Wearily, he glared at it, almost wishing it would just leave him alone. He rubbed his arms unconsciously, noting for a moment that it was still cold.
The burn ached now as he put chocolate and the other necessities for the drink inside of the pot. The door to the kitchen opened, and Kanda's head whipped around to see the new arrival. Allen stood in slight surprise.
"Oh. I didn't know anyone was in here." Kanda didn't bother to grace the comment with one of his own. He turned back to his chocolate and let it simmer. The silence continued awkwardly as Allen moved around the kitchen looking for leftovers or snacks.
Kanda put his empty pot into the sink as he stumbled back to a table in the cafeteria. Allen watched him curiously. His actions were erratic, almost sloppy. Kanda always moved with a profound sense of elegance, a sort of marker for one who had spent their entire life training to fight. This was strange.
Kanda stared into his cup of hot chocolate morosely. Why did he feel like this? What was going on? He'd never gotten this sick before. And it had all started with a muscle twitch. Was he overdoing it? Maybe this was all over the top, and he was blowing this out of proportion. It was a simple stomach bug, that was it. A stomach bug…
Allen walked into the cafeteria with a huge plate of food, his usual fare. He slid the plate down on the opposite end of the table Kanda was currently presiding at. His eyes curiously cast over to the silent Exorcist as he seemed to ponder something.
Kanda felt Allen's eyes on him and turned to him. He scowled deeper at the white-haired boy and growled, "What?" Allen frowned back and mumbled, "Nothing." Kanda turned back to his chocolate.
Suddenly, his stomach was hit by another bout of pain. His breathing turned shaky. His lungs burned as he tried to breath. He'd never really caught his breath after getting into the kitchen. It only seemed like the oxygen in the room kept depleting…
He asked himself again: What was happening?
"Kanda, are you okay?"
Kanda looked up without moving his head. Allen was standing next to him, his face still frowning, but in a more concerned way rather than angry. Kanda's lip twitched at him and he said, "Go away. I'm fine." Why was he denying that he wasn't fine? Was it because he was afraid of losing the illusion that he was indestructible? Maybe he was afraid to admit that he wasn't.
What was happening to him?
"Are you sure? You look pretty pale. I didn't see you at dinner," Allen said self-consciously. Kanda rolled his eyes and said, "Unlike you, I don't have to eat an elephant a day." Allen huffed angrily, and Kanda hoped that would be enough to get the younger Exorcist to leave.
But Allen was stubborn.
"Bakanda, you haven't even drunk your hot chocolate. You don't look so good," Allen fretted. Kanda suddenly leapt up and stormed off. Allen backed up in surprise. Kanda's footsteps resounded down the hall as he sped towards his room.
Allen was left standing in an empty cafeteria. He looked confused as his rival left without a word, his breathing huffing loudly as he walked away.
Kanda got to his room, the pain in his stomach almost unbearable. That idiot Allen wouldn't stop asking him questions! It was just a stomach bug. Nothing more, nothing less. There wasn't anything to worry about. He slammed the door shut and leaned against it. He slid down the door wearily, his breath whooshing in and out like wind from giant bellows. It was harder for him to breath. Why couldn't he just get some damn oxygen?!
Kanda literally crawled to his bed, climbing into it. He curled up into a ball, holding his burnt hand closed against his stomach. The night finally began to pass, and Kanda slept fitfully, tossing and turning. In his dreams, he could hear voices whispering in his ear a question. It was always the same:
Two weeks later, Kanda walked into the cafeteria once more. His headaches were worse. His stomach continually tried to shred itself into pieces. He couldn't find the will to eat. This was more than a digestive illness, but Kanda couldn't bring himself to get to the infirmary. Occasionally, one of his friends would look at him with an expression of concern, but he ran them off as soon as they started to look at him too closely. Even Lenalee was staying away from him due to his foul mood.
His gut wrenched at itself as he coughed into his elbow. This had been happening more often as well. He mused at himself, his dark eyes squeezed tight as he painfully continued to cough. His breathing was labored, and the burn on his hand wouldn't heal. It was still blistered and a nasty shade of brown-red.
His clumsy feet stumbled as he tripped over the doorstop. Blindingly quick, he caught himself before anyone noticed. His heart hammered in his chest as his usual scowl was intercepted by a blackness. The cafeteria's lights were all out. He frowned. Why would the lights be off? Everyone was supposed to be at breakfast. Maybe some accident had occurred, and now the cafeteria was off limits.
Heh, go figure. This just added to his already crappy morning. He was about leave when the lights flipped on, and large bunches of people jumped out of nowhere shouting, "SURPRISE!" Kanda's hand immediately flew to Mugen, but when he realized that there was no threat, he calmed down. His heart continued to run a mile a minute, no matter how controlled Kanda tried to breath.
Smiling faces and pleasant expressions herded him to a table with a giant bowl of soba that had 'Kanda' written on it in green noodles. He smirked at it, amazed. He'd forgotten all about his birthday. Usually it was something he passed up. Well, he wasn't getting out of it now.
The party went semi-smoothly. Kanda was vaguely depressed that there were now twenty-five candles in the soba. He was getting old.
Kanda almost forgot about his pain. He almost forgot about his spinning headaches and his gut-scrunching pains. For a while, he didn't seem to notice that his hands were shaking or that his burn was aching again. But, all of that came back. All of it hit him tenfold, and all it took was one little thing.
The Exorcist hadn't eaten properly for the past two weeks. Everything he tried to stomach either came back up or ended up laying uneaten. He'd lost his appetite and his stomach. He'd hidden it by creating the illusion that he was eating by getting food and slowly, piece by piece, hiding it until it seemed like half the plate was gone. In reality, he'd eat small bites of food every once in a while, only enough to keep him from passing out of sheer exhaustion.
But now, he was surrounded by people and all of them were watching him. He couldn't not eat. If he did…if he did…What would happen if he did? He couldn't just push everything away. How was he supposed to get out of this one? He picked up the chopsticks shakily. Lenalee was smiling, holding a camera. Noise was standing off in the distance with a strange look on his face, and Allen was beaming proudly as he told him how he'd made the soba with Jeryy's help. Krory was away on a mission, and Lavi was as well. Kanda's dark grey eyes darted around the room self-consciously as he took a tentative bite out of the soba. He swallowed it, wincing for a moment as it passed down his throat.
For a few second, there seemed to be no problem. Kanda grunted without a smile, pleased.
And suddenly, he was grasping his stomach, his hand flying up to his mouth. His taste buds exploded with the distinct flavor of blood and bile. His abdomen spasmed as he suddenly flew off the bench. He ran for the bathroom, leaving behind the room full of astonished people.
He was dying. That was the only description he could give the feeling. He threw up again and again into the bathroom's toilet, leaving a handprint stains of blood on the sides of the stall. His hands were stained brown-red, and his hair was sticky. He collapsed and leaned his head next to the toilet, his forehead leaning against the rim of the bowl.
His throat was on fire, and he was helpless. He could do nothing except lay there. His friends came in. He hid his face with his hair and his arms. He couldn't let them see him like this. Not like this, so defenseless and vulnerable. He had to get back up.
Legs of rubber attempted to hold up his body, but they slipped from underneath him. Air was becoming a luxury by now, and smell had all but left him. Lenalee and Allen were supporting him as the shouted for help. He looked up, his vision blurring.
He tried to move. He couldn't let them see him like this…
Lenalee was shushing him now. He hadn't realized that he'd been speaking. Allen was still yelling for help. There was a new voice now, too. One that was easily recognizable and had annoyed Kanda since the day it had arrived. Lavi burst into the bathroom, his face a mess and his hair crazy as a hedge-hog's. Hysterically, Kanda wanted to laugh. Lavi was always looking like this, but his face was wrong. It wasn't supposed to look like that. It was supposed to be happier. Goofier. Stupider.
"Ugh…Idiot usagi…you're supposed to be laughing," Kanda grumbled groggily. Black was narrowing his vision inwards. He couldn't hold on any longer. Was this what dying felt like? He remember something like this when he'd fought Skin Boric. The Ark had disappeared. Allen brought it back, though, and he was alive again…
A giant starburst of pain blossomed in his throat. He coughed viciously, and a large bout of blood suddenly spilled like a crimson rain out of his mouth. Lenalee gaped at the steadily growing pool. In the back of his mind, Kanda wondered how someone could contain so much blood in them.
His vision spun one last time-- and then he was gone.
There was something on his face.
That was the first thought Kanda encountered when he woke up. Something was over his mouth and nose. He breathed in, noting the hissing sound he was making. He was confused. How did he get here? Why was he in a hospitable bed? What was…
His train of thought wrecked as he realized that he was surrounded by machines. There were monitors all around him. In chairs next to his bed, Lavi, Lenalee, and Allen were asleep. A nurse was watching his vital signs. There were tubes stuck in his arm, and he was wearing one of those idiotic looking hospital gowns.
As he became more and more awake, he realized that he wasn't in pain. For the first time in a while, he was no longer aching or panging. It was like the pain had never existed. Yet, at the same time, it was like someone had numbed his brain as well. His thinking was blurred, like ink on a paper that was wet.
His sluggish brain tracked movement in the hallway outside of his hospital room. Kanda watched curiously as a woman came in. She wasn't very tall, hardly the Moyashi's hieght, and her hair was cheek length and darker than night. Her slanted eyes belied her Asian heritage, though her bone structure was European. Her eyes were bright brown, and she was chewing on a pencil as she looked over a clipboard in front of her.
The woman seemed to feel Kanda's eyes on her because she turned to him. Her gaze bored deep into his own, and he realized that this was a doctor whose willpower could probably match his own. She narrowed her eyes at him and strode towards the edge of the bed.
"I see you're awake," she stated tersely in a dry voice. She didn't bother waking up anyone else in the room.
Who was this woman? Possibly his doctor. Possibly a nurse. Maybe some acquaintance he'd pissed off and now she wanted revenge, though that was highly unlikely. His breathing continued to be regular and unstrained. It was so strange, being able to breath without restriction.
The woman flipped through her clipboard with a puckered set of lips. Her gaze flicked back to Kanda and said, "You're a mess, you know that? You had a compound fracture of the ribs, as well as a tear in your stomach lining, and that burn of yours wasn't healing properly. The rib fracture was digging into your lungs, but they were already bleeding from the inside anyways. The burn was probably some form of atrophy, though I wouldn't understand how that happened. You were perfectly healthy before. Something's been eating you, that's for certain." Kanda frowned. The others were still there. Why was she ignoring them completely?
"Shouldn't…you….wake them…up before…telling me what's…wrong?" he slowly pieced together, forcing his thoughts to form something that made sense. One intubated hand shakily lifted itself to point at the three Exorcists in the chairs asleep. The woman lifted one sculpted eyebrow at him and asked saucily, "Are they the patient? No." She kept flipping through the clipboard. Kanda frowned.
The flipping was getting old.
"Quit…that," he grunted, annoyed that his voice came out muffled by the gas mask over his face. She looked at him innocently.
"What? This?" She purposefully flipped through the clipboard. Suddenly, she stayed her hand, and the flipping ceased. Her eyes were unreadable as she stated, "Well, I'm sorry if I disturbed you."
She started to leave. Kanda realized that she had yet to tell her what was wrong with him. He commanded, "Wait." The woman stopped. She turned her head to look out at him with one eye.
"…What?" she asked brusquely. Kanda frowned and was tempted to flip her the bird. Then again, she was the one who could tell him what was going on.
"What's wrong with me?" He was starting to regain his ability to speak. It was raspy, but it was getting better. His mind was starting to unfog itself, but the pain was also coming back. Despite that, he sat up and looked at her. She didn't look at all worried that he was trying to move after such an ordeal.
"I'm not supposed to tell you," she answered truthfully. Kanda's face darkened.
"Because…" Her face seemed indecisive, hardened. Then, it changed to something different. Puzzled.
"--because we don't know. We haven't got the slightest idea what's wrong with you." Kanda's breathing didn't change. His mind swirled in a maelstrom. This was all weird. They had no idea?
"What do you know?" he asked, vaguely thinking that this sounded like some lame hospital drama. Life was so full of clichés.
But the answer after that wasn't cliché. It was downright cruel.
Her smile was sardonic and maybe a bit sad.