Disclaimer: D. Gray Man belongs to H. Katsura.
A/N: Thanks to tightgrip from Aarinfantasy for being my beta :)
"Allen, you should slow down when you eat." Lenalee advised gently at the boy who was devouring his meal at his usual pace, making the gargantuan mountain of food vanish within a few minutes.
"Sorry, it's kind of habit." Allen replied between two mouthfuls. "I simply love eating, all the more since it's Jerry's cooking!"
"It's still a miracle you don't get fat at all, you know?" Lavi noticed thoughtfully.
The younger Exorcist merely chuckled as he proceeded with emptying the countless plates on the table. His two friends would never understand the satisfaction he could get from each meal; every dish he ate gave his palate a unique pleasure. Sweet or bitter, warm or cold, his tasting buds would always make him shiver in delight whenever he tried a new recipe, combined with the many delicious aromas given off by the dishes.
He didn't eat only to survive, he also enjoyed those moments when he recharged his batteries with delectable food and beverages. For him, being able to eat Jerry's cooking after a mission always was his favourite reward, though not many people could understand his passion for food. Normal people ate because they had to, and if the food tasted good, then it was only a bonus.
It didn't mean that Allen was picky and only wanted refined cooking; he simply took more pleasure than anyone else in the act that was commonly called 'eating'. In a way, he was grateful for his parasitic Innocence for giving him an excuse to enjoy his meals.
"Shall we go, Allen?" Lenalee asked. "We're all done eating."
A few minutes later, Allen waved his friends good-bye and headed for the Order's entrance. Outside, the weather was fine, with a faint and refreshing breeze caressing his face. He liked the feeling of fresh air brushing against his skin and blowing across strands of hair like thin threads of silver flowing carelessly under the wind.
His steps led him to the training grounds, where a certain Japanese Exorcist was – unsurprisingly – practicing with Mugen. Furtive gleams flashed in Allen's eyes every time Kanda moved his blade, reflects of the pale sunrays kissing the landscape. The warm temperature was perfect for Allen, neither too hot nor too cold, and he found himself gazing at the moving figure in front of him for several minutes, filling his eyes with the graceful and swift motions of that flexible body.
It was only after a while that Kanda finally paused and directed his eyes towards Allen.
"Want to spar?" he merely asked, not even surprised to see the boy standing there. The latter nodded happily and joined him on the ground.
Kanda dropped his sword on the side and got into a fighting stance, waiting for Allen to be ready. Both Exorcists then started charging at each other, attacking and parrying restlessly. Bruises were sure to appear on Allen's body, yet he didn't care because the mere contact of skin against skin was filling him with contentment. Among all contacts, human touch was by far his favourite, for it was the best way to convey messages without needless words. A quick brush on the hand could mean 'I don't mind your company', a pat on the back meant 'I'm with you', a punch in the face was a clear sign of dislike while a gentle caress on the cheek indicated comrade affection. Truly, gestures spoke for themselves more than anything else could.
And last but not least, Allen had come to realize that he liked it most when the one touching him was Kanda. It had been clear in his mind for ages: what he felt for Kanda was going far beyond comradeship. However, he always made sure not to let the Japanese man know about his feelings, for he was certain the latter wouldn't appreciate them. Yet Allen didn't mind, as long as he could stay close to Kanda.
"Pay attention." Kanda's sharp voice brought him back to reality.
"Sorry." he quickly apologized before focusing on their fight again.
After each sparring session, Allen could feel more alive than ever, even if his muscles often ached and his limbs turned numb under the countless hits. It was a sign that he merely was a normal human being, not some kind of indestructible weapon. And it pleased him.
How did it happen? Even Kanda could hardly tell. A second before, he and Allen were destroying a swarm of akuma which had invaded a town, and the next moment the younger boy was sent flying by an accurate blow on his back. Kanda could only watch with widened eyes as the unconscious body hit a building and fell on the ground with a loud thump. He was sure he'd heard something crack as the body fell on the ground and as he rushed by his side, there was something not right in the way Allen was lying.
The remaining akuma were quickly disposed of by Kanda before he hurried back to Allen. He knelt down and scooped him up delicately for fear of making any further damage to the already injured boy, and carried him to the location where the Ark was waiting for them, trying not to pay too much attention to the blood dripping on his clothes – blood which wasn't his.
The sentence fell.
"His right arm is broken but this is not the most serious injury since the bone is only cracked. Some nerves have been damaged. He won't be paralysed but I fear his nerves and some muscles may start malfunctioning. It could affect some of his senses." the doctor explained gravely.
"Is there no way to cure that?" Komui asked.
"I've tried my best operating him." the other merely replied, shaking his head.
Biting his lip, Komui turned his eyes to the sleeping silver-haired boy with a pained expression, wondering how he was going to manage the difficult task of telling him the terrible news.
Allen was sitting on the bed in the hospital wing, staring blankly at his sheet, his mind empty of any thoughts. He didn't know whether to laugh or cry at his current situation. It sounded too unreal for him.
He was told he would be able to walk and move freely like before but the odds were high that he'd progressively lose the use of some of his senses. How was it possible? He lifted his valid hand, the one bearing his Innocence, closing and opening his fingers. Everything was normal. For now.
His palm rested on the linen sheet and ran lightly over the white fabric, feeling the reassuring softness from the tip of his fingers. He could still hear, neither his eyes nor his nose were defective, and when he brought the cold glass of flavoured water to his lips, his tongue didn't have any trouble identifying the faint taste of orange. He could even feel the throbbing pain in his broken arm. Everything was normal.
Then what was this odd feeling making his stomach tighten and feel so uneasy? Not a single anomaly had showed up as far as his body was concerned. There was a chance – no matter how thin – that the doctors had been wrong, after all. He had overcome far worse damages before – a hole in his heart wasn't a minor injury – and he was still in perfect shape.
But what if he was really going to lose part of his senses? He shut his eyes tight, focusing on every single noise he could hear – even the slightest, the feel of his own warmth as he put a hand on his chest, the typical smell of a hospital room. No, he couldn't forget these sensations. Yet, the lump in his throat wouldn't disappear.
A knock on the door made him jump slightly.
"Come in." he said, and the door opened to reveal the familiar face of his friends.
"Allen!" Lavi almost ran to his bed, concern reflecting in his single emerald green eye. Right behind him was standing Lenalee who didn't look less worried as she approached Allen.
"How are you feeling?" she asked.
"Fine." Allen lied.
"You must be a bit tired, aren't you? Does your arm hurt?" she insisted.
"I'm fine, really." Allen repeated.
"It's good to hear, then." Lavi nodded. "Very good. Well, we hope that you'll get better in no time!" he added with a grin.
"Oh, you certainly will, right Allen?" Lenalee added.
Allen had to be plainly stupid not to notice the awkward atmosphere surrounding the three of them. It was so obvious that his two friends knew about his state and didn't feel comfortable enough to ask him about it. Seriously, what did they think he was? A china doll? Fine, if they didn't want to mention it, then he wasn't going to either. Inwardly, it upset him more than he was willing to admit.
Therefore, they talked about everything and nothing, exchanging platitudes and commonplaces for a few minutes, until Lavi and Lenalee ran short of inspiration. Out of pity, Allen showed them the exit:
"I'm feeling a bit sleepy now. I think I should take a nap."
"Oh, then we'll let you rest." the two other Exorcists hurriedly replied before leaving the room.
As soon as the door closed behind them, Allen let out a loud sigh and sank back in his bed, staring at the nude ceiling with his grey eyes wide open. Minutes passed before his eyelids started getting heavy and he finally closed them, reassuring himself with the thought that he could still feel sleepy. Everything was going to be fine.
Allen's first examination confirmed the good function of his limbs and indeed, he could move his arms and legs perfectly; the main muscles were responding well and not a single part of his body was feeling numb. The Exorcist's hopes rose a bit though he didn't want to believe that the matter could be solved that easily.
He was soon allowed to leave the infirmary and naturally, the first thing he did was to head for the cafeteria. As soon as he stepped in, he found Lavi and Lenalee waving at him from a table where Kanda was also sitting. He nodded at them before taking his order from Jerry's kitchen, filling his tray with the usual load of appetizing food. Fortunately, Krory was also present and offered him to carry his tray since his arm was still bandaged. The aromas were just as rich as in his memories and he was already enjoying the meal in advance.
As he sat in front of a silent Kanda and next to Lavi, the latter welcomed him with a pat on his back:
"It's nice to see you here again!" he exclaimed.
"Well, the doctors said I have completely recovered except for my arm so there was no reason for them to keep me at the infirmary any longer." Allen explained as he plunged his fork in the plate of pasta and brought it to his mouth.
It seemed to him that the pasta tasted less salty than usual, and he blamed it on the drugs he had taken during his stay at the hospital wing. Nevertheless, after several days of abstinence, all the dishes filled him with a thrilling delight, as usual.
"Your appetite hasn't faltered at all!" Lenalee teased him.
"Man, during the few days you didn't eat here, Jerry kept complaining that his food supplies weren't emptying at all." Lavi added cheerfully.
Kanda merely shrugged and Allen laughed, relieved to see that nothing had changed at all. When his arm would be healed, everything would be like before.
His arm was barely hurting now, and he assumed that it was almost healed. In a few days, he'd probably be able to remove his bandages and resume a normal life. However, as he went to see the doctor for a confirmation, the latter frowned:
"No, the bone still isn't repaired yet. Did you take some painkillers?" he asked.
"I didn't." Allen replied.
"Well, I suppose you Exorcists must be so used to feeling pain that this is nothing to you." the man went on, visibly trying to make a joke.
"That must be it." Allen forced himself to chuckle. Or something else.
"Anyway, for now you have to keep your bandage on. That put aside, did you notice anything that seemed abnormal to you? A drop in visibility or any trouble hearing?"
Allen shook his head.
"Everything is fine. I have no problem with anything whatsoever." And even if I had, you wouldn't be able to do anything for me, would you? So why do you even bother asking?
"Very well. I'll check your arm again in a week."
The young Exorcist nodded before exiting the infirmary and started walking back to his room; then he suddenly changed his mind and decided to go out to the training grounds, even though he couldn't practice yet. At least he'd be able to see Kanda training. Even if he didn't want to admit it out loud, he enjoyed watching the Japanese man wield his blade in neat and accurate movements, and he liked listening to the sound of the whistling air with every slash of his sword.
As expected, Kanda was in the middle of the training field, a blindfold covering his eyes and Mugen in both hands. On that day, the wind was almost absent, barely refreshing Allen's cheeks. However, as he took a closer look at Kanda, he noticed that the long strands of dark hair were floating gracefully in the air as if blown by a soft breeze that didn't exist. It was probably Kanda's continuous movements that were the cause of it. Or so Allen wanted to convince himself.
He sat down on the grass without making any noise and watched. At some time, he closed his eyes in order to focus only on the sound of the air being cut by the sharp blade. The sounds were always the same, and after listening to them for the hundredth time, Allen was even able to guess which movement of the sword matched with which sound. After all, Kanda always did the same sequences over and over again, creating his own melody as Allen liked to call it.
After a while, the music stopped and not so long after, a faint rustle of the grass getting louder indicated him that Kanda was walking towards him. And indeed, as he opened his eyes, the Japanese man was standing in front of him, staring at him with his dark blue eyes.
"Want to spar instead of lazing here?" he asked abruptly.
"My arm's broken, Kanda." Allen stated flatly.
"It shouldn't be a problem to you, unless your stay at the infirmary turned you into a chicken." the other replied.
Allen raised an eyebrow, then smiled.
"You're right. It's not a problem." he said, standing up and following Kanda to the centre of the field. "What are you doing?" he then asked as he saw Kanda tying his blindfold back.
"You fight with a handicap, so do I."
"You don't need to."
"Che, shut up."
Allen chuckled and got into position, raising his valid arm in front of him. Kanda did the same and waited for Allen to move first, only using his hearing to locate the boy's position. Allen attacked first, but Kanda easily blocked the blow with his forearm before retaliating. Given that he was currently blind, he had to stay as close as possible to his opponent to be able to keep a physical contact, which Allen wasn't used to. He didn't dislike the closeness though, nor did he dislike Kanda's legs constantly brushing against his, or his fingers grabbing his wrist in an attempt at immobilizing him. It could have been on purpose, or maybe unconscious, but Allen only managed to dodge Kanda's attacks by a few millimetres, at the risk of getting hit actually.
Which happened after a short while. Allen winced at the shock between Kanda's fist and his jaw and stepped backwards.
"What do you think you were doing?" Kanda asked sharply as he removed his blindfold, visibly pissed. "Why did you keep staying within my reach when avoiding contact was the best way to get me?"
"I don't know." Allen replied. Or maybe I do, but would you understand if I told you that I like feeling you close to me?
"Che. Let's stop here for today. Go treat your injury."
"My arm is fine, Kanda." Allen sighed.
"I'm not talking about your arm, stupid moyashi."
"My jaw is fine too. You didn't hit that hard, you know." the boy replied as he rubbed the said spot. "There will be a bruise at most, that's all."
Then he felt something liquid on the tip of his fingers and looked at them with disbelief. Crimson stains covered them. It couldn't be that serious, Allen had barely felt the punch! It wasn't even painful, just slightly unpleasant as if his jaw had turned numb. Biting his lower lip, he tasted the metallic trail in his mouth, trying not to draw hasty conclusions. Some injuries could bleed without being painful, couldn't they? Yet Allen had to make sure.
"Kanda, hit me again." the words went out of his mouth before he even thought of them.
"Please hit me again. I'd like to test something out." Allen insisted.
"Che, instead of experimenting, you should train a bit more before you become a useless moyashi."
Allen barely paid attention to Kanda's last words. He shook his head and without wasting another second, he hurried inside the building, leaving a frowning Kanda behind him, and ran back to his room, a sudden feeling of panic rushing inside of him. There, he clenched his fist and hit the wall. He felt the shock, but his fist wasn't hurting him.
He tried again, and again, almost breaking his fingers, but the result was always the same: he couldn't feel any pain. He dropped on his knees.
"No..." he whispered, incredulous. "It can't be..."
He remained there, not moving and wishing with all his might that it was only a bad nightmare and that he was going to wake up soon. Little did he know that it was only the beginning.
The sun set to rise again on a fine day of early spring, yet Allen couldn't care less about admiring the weather as he entered the cafeteria for his breakfast. Barely noticing the person who had offered to help him with his tray, he sat down at a random table and started eating, trying to force himself to enjoy at least that short moment of break. However, his usual display of appetite and cheerfulness was nowhere to be seen and it was only after a while that he realized someone had been calling out his name for quite some time now:
"Allen! Hey, Allen!" Lavi's voice finally reached him.
"Oh, hi Lavi." the boy merely replied.
The redhead as well as Lenalee had sat down and were looking at him with a hint of worry on their faces.
"Allen, what's that bruise on your cheek? Did you spar with Kanda?" the girl asked.
"Yeah, I did."
"You should be more careful, you know. Your arm isn't healed yet." Lenalee gently scolded him.
"I'll pay attention next time." Allen replied flatly.
"Are you feeling well?" Lavi inquired.
"Yes, don't worry, I'm just a bit tired, that's all." the boy lied, forcing a smile.
"Oh, then you should have some rest after eating."
And here they were again, acting as if it was nothing serious, avoiding the critical topic on purpose and therefore embarrassing themselves all the more. Out of kindness towards his friends, Allen stifled his irritation and managed to keep a smiling and deceiving face until they were done eating breakfast. Strangely enough, the food had seemed more insipid than usual.
Two weeks had passed and Allen's arm had completely healed though the Exorcist hadn't notice any difference between before and after the bandages were removed. No matter how hard he tried, the pain he so wished to feel was non-existent. And as expected, his state worsened.
During those two weeks, it seemed to Allen that he was losing part of himself, a bit more every day. Even now as he was letting the cold water pour on his body, to him it barely felt lukewarm and the usual goose bumps on his skin were nowhere to be seen. Hot – almost burning – water didn't affect him much more, the sensation of relaxation which was supposed to soothe a strained body was replaced by mere emptiness. Whenever he tried, he could see his pale skin progressively turn red and that was about all the reaction he could force out of his organism.
On that day, what could he had answered when Lenalee had asked him what the red marks on his arms were? That his body was now incapable of telling him the correct temperature of the water and consequently that he could burn himself without even noticing? What would she say if she knew about the many bruises covering his legs that weren't related in any way with some sparring with Kanda? How could he tell her that he had been kicking whatever he could – from his furniture to random metallic objects in a futile attempt at feeling some pain?
Not even the wind could stir any reaction from him, though the locks of hair flying in his face still managed to tickle him somehow; and the once warm rays of sunlight left him as impassive as ever. He had stopped going outside for several days, for it didn't bring him anything but the bitter memory of what he would probably never be able to experiment again.
Oh, his eyes, ears and nose were still functioning perfectly, and he was still able to tell if something made contact with his skin, but most of the time he failed at making the difference between the softness of the cotton shirt he was wearing and the roughness of a tree trunk under his fingers. To him, the touch of Lavi's hand on his wrist as he dragged him somewhere felt about the same as holding Timcampy in his palm.
How many people knew about his state, he had no idea though he supposed that the doctors had only told Komui and therefore, the two other people who knew were Lenalee and Lavi. The mere thought of being looked at as if he was a soon-to-be disabled infuriated him and he had to continuously act as if nothing had changed.
Of course, the doctors had confirmed their own lack of knowledge to treat Allen, prescribing him stimulants that had as much effect as drinking water, and when he had asked them if they had pain enhancers to give him, they had given him the same look an insane person would have received. He was probably insane anyway.
He couldn't even console himself with Jerry's cooking anymore. He had to add impressive amounts of seasonings – to his friends' utmost horror – in order to finally eat something that his tongue could react to. But it definitely left Allen unsated, no matter how many dishes he emptied.
But as days went by, a new realization slowly surfaced in his mind: what he was missing the most were the traditional sparring sessions with Kanda. He was torn apart between his longing for the contact of the other man on him and the fear of facing the reality that it didn't stimulate his senses any longer, unlike before.
However, sometimes, he simply couldn't resist and ended up going to the training grounds. And perhaps it was his imagination, but he could swear that Kanda almost looked relieved at his sight, as if the older Exorcist had been waiting for him. Therefore, he couldn't disappoint the man and let him know that he had partly lost his will to train. Instead, he tried his best to hide the bitterness clenching his heart every time Kanda landed a hit on him and he could barely feel the blow. Pretend nothing has changed.
He had come to enjoy Kanda's touch but now all that was left was a painful void. It was the only kind of pain he was allowed to feel, and it was slowly destroying him.
Soon, he started avoiding Kanda as much as possible for he couldn't bear having the man he longed for within his grasp yet with no hope of reaching him. A Tantalus' punishment.
It seemed to him as if he was gradually fading from the world, falling inexorably in the depths of nothingness.
Kanda wasn't blind, nor was he stupid. From the moment he had heard the doctors' diagnosis, he hadn't missed any sign of Allen's worsening state. It was obvious that the kid was progressively losing his sense of touch and – seeing how he ate – of taste; the reason why Lavi and Lenalee kept acting as if nothing had changed was beyond him. Their acting didn't even fool Allen though the stupid moyashi always pretended never to notice. There wasn't any indication that his sight and hearing were at threat, though. Still, Kanda hated it.
He hated the fact Allen came less often to the training grounds, while the few times he did, the way he kept seeking pain desperately by letting himself get hit on purpose irritated him to no end. And always, always, those pale grey eyes reflecting nothing but the void slowly taking over him.
There was nothing Kanda could do, he knew it, and for some reasons, it only added to his frustration.
He had kept silent so far, for it wasn't in his habits to concern himself with others' problems. Yet there were limits regarding how long a human being could pretend not to care, and Kanda's were soon to be reached.
Allen looked in the mirror, wondering if the ugly face he always saw next to his own could even understand the situation his host was sinking into. The sick, white smile that would never disappear seemed to be mocking him, as if to tell him that he had never been meant to exist in the first place and therefore he was simply turning back to that state of non-being.
A surge of rage coming from nowhere seized him and the next second, a crack was heard and the mirror was shattered with several streaks. Allen's right fist was still clenched and thin trails of blood were dripping from his knuckles on the floor of his room. Then the boy sighed, looking at his injured hand with an eerie indifference before he remembered that even if his nerves had turned insensitive to the cuts, it didn't mean the wound couldn't get infected. Shaking his head at his own silly gesture, he went to his bathroom to wash the injury. However, the wound wouldn't stop bleeding. He had to go to the infirmary for some bandages. The idea didn't please him for he'd certainly be asked how it happened and Allen didn't feel like telling the truth. After a moment of hesitation, he wrapped his bleeding hand in his shirt and walked out of the room, choosing to go to the infirmary anyway.
By a curious twist of fate, his steps crossed Kanda's in the corridor. Allen quickly walked past the older Exorcist, trying to ignore the insistent gaze on his red-tainted shirt. Don't ask. Please don't ask.
Allen froze on the spot and bit his lip at the sharp tone, not daring to turn round. He kept silent, waiting for Kanda to speak, which he did soon after:
"What do you think you're doing?" The question fell like a blade on him. The tone was almost... angry, which surprised him. He kept silent during several seconds for he truly had no clue as for what to reply. Then, feeling that trying Kanda's patience wasn't the smartest idea he could have, he finally answered:
"I cut myself accidentally. I'm simply going to wash the wound." while attempting to take his most casual tone.
"And you actually thought I'd believe that?" Kanda retorted.
The next second, Allen felt his wrist being grabbed and pulled without diplomacy, forcing him to turn around and face the one man he wanted to avoid at all cost.
"I don't understand what you mean." Allen said, looking away. He didn't even try to pull his wrist back.
"Don't play dumb with me. You think that by hurting yourself repeatedly like this you'll be able to feel something at some point?"
Opaline eyes opened wide. So he knew. Kanda knew about the degradation of his physical state. Something shattered inside of Allen, silently shaking him with a gnawing fear. So the whole pretence had been pointless, hadn't it? Kanda was aware of his torments since the beginning and had feigned ignorance. Was it out of pity for Allen? So in the end he was no different from Lavi and Lenalee, was he? In that game of fooling and deceiving, Allen was the loser.
Cold fury hardened his grey eyes and he opened his mouth, letting the words flow out:
"Don't speak as if you can understand, Kanda. If you knew about my current state, why did you keep acting as if nothing had happened? You never imagined even once that I may feel hurt by your supposedly kind behaviour towards me? You, Lavi, Lenalee, even Komui, for God's sake! Can't you understand I'm fed up with this? Oh, of course you can't, you've always been an insensitive bastard after all. At least now we have something in common." he spat out, wishing for a short moment that the poison of his words could affect the Japanese Exorcist, but if the latter showed signs of flinching, his cold and impassive face quickly took over again.
Allen waited for a reaction that never came, and with an exasperated sigh tried to snatch his arm away from Kanda's grip, but the older male didn't let go.
"Wait." The tone was abnormally composed, which surprised Allen and pissed him off at the same time.
"What? Having fun touching me while knowing I can barely feel it?" he asked. "I thought you couldn't stand touching a cursed person like me."
The trick worked. Irritation was now clearly painted on Kanda's face.
"Stop being a brat and shut up for a second!" he snapped before adding on a cooler but nonetheless cold tone: "Come."
"Where to?" Allen inquired suspiciously.
"My room." Kanda replied, pulling him by the wrist. "I have bandages. Better than having to go to the infirmary."
Once again, Allen was puzzled by Kanda's behaviour. Was it concern he was trying to show? Why did he even bother? It troubled the boy but at the same time, he was grateful to Kanda for his offer. Thus he let himself be led by the Japanese man without a protest.
It was when he stepped into Kanda's room that he realized it was the first time he was allowed in. Actually, chances were high that Kanda had never let someone in, which meant that he was doing Allen a huge favour. As expected, the room was clean and simple, with the bare minimum. Allen wasn't allowed more time to examine the room as Kanda's voice interrupted him:
He tossed a gauze roll to the boy who caught it in mid-air.
"Thank you." the latter merely replied before sitting down on a chair nearby and unrolling the long piece of white fabric.
As he started wrapping his right hand, he failed to notice Kanda's gaze on him. The man was leaning against the wall, cross-armed, marine eyes locked on the boy who seemed oblivious of his presence. When did he start realizing he couldn't act indifferent towards the kid, Kanda couldn't tell. What he could tell, however, was how annoying it was to feel powerless when facing those kinds of delicate situations. Showing consideration for the others wasn't part of his training, and the mere thought of caring for someone seemed far too awkward.
Yet, for Allen Walker, he was willing to make an exception. He was always willing to make as many exceptions as needed whenever it came to Allen Walker.
"Can't you really feel anything?" he regretted his question as soon as the words came out. The weariness and melancholy he read on Allen's face stirred something unpleasant in him. Allen didn't say anything at first, busy finishing his bandage.
"I can." the boy finally replied with a sigh. "When it's strong enough, I can. But it's been a long time since I last remembered how it feels to have the wind blow on my face, or someone brush past me, and many more details like that."
He stood up and walked to Kanda who hadn't moved the slightest bit.
"And the worst of all..." His hand hesitantly approached Kanda's cheek but stopped an inch away from it.
Kanda didn't move, waiting in vain for the contact. The sentence was left unfinished, but words weren't needed to express his regrets. The yearning in his eyes was as clear as crystal for Kanda as he gazed at those wide pools filled with resignation. Even the way Allen slowly lowered his head and removed his hand before turning away left no doubt in Kanda's mind what it was that Allen wanted.
His hand moved on its own to reach Allen's but the boy was already walking away and his fingers only managed to caress the back of his hand. At that moment, Kanda didn't know what frustrated him the most: Allen's lack of reaction at the touch, or his own cowardice as he let the boy slip between his fingers – both literally and figuratively.
As the younger Exorcist reached the door, Kanda finally blurted out:
"I'm not as insensitive as you may think."
Allen stood still at those words and despite the fact he still had his back turned to Kanda, the latter didn't have trouble hearing the barely audible answer:
"I know. And that's what's killing me."
The door closed, leaving a troubled Kanda behind.
"Allen, I heard that Komui has allowed you to go on a mission again, right?" Lavi asked cheerfully.
"Yes, I'm leaving tomorrow morning to Wales." the boy nodded with a smile.
"That's great to hear, Allen!" Lenalee added. "I'm relieved to know you've recovered enough to be sent on a mission."
"Indeed, but it's supposed to be a mere investigation. No akuma were spotted." Allen replied, trying not to stiffen at the girl's words.
"Of course. My brother doesn't want you to exert yourself right from the beginning."
"I suppose he doesn't. Well, I have to prepare my stuff for tomorrow now." Allen excused himself as he stood up from the table.
Not so far from the three Exorcists, another one was closely watching as the white-haired boy left the library, frowning. Not so long after, he stood up and exited the room as well, heading for Komui's office.
"I don't mind sending you along with Allen at all; actually, it'd be better if he didn't leave alone, but may I ask why you're offering to go, Kanda?" Komui inquired, amused. "I thought you two could never stand being in the same place without going at each other's throat."
"Che, I just need some exercise. You haven't sent me on any mission for days."
"Well, that's true. However, I want you to promise you won't try to kill Allen over there."
"I don't give a damn about that kid." Kanda replied, shrugging with disdain.
The supervisor laughed, then his face suddenly turned serious again.
"You know about his state, don't you? It wouldn't surprise me if you do, since Lavi and Lenalee kind of wrung the information out of me."
Kanda stared at Komui during a second before nodding silently.
"Then may I ask you to look after him a bit? Just make sure he... well, he won't do anything stupid." the Chinese man finished with a sigh.
"Che, stupidity is part of him."
"I know. I'll do it." he replied dryly. You didn't have to tell me.
As planned, the mission was a mere investigation. No akuma, no fight, nothing. Both Exorcists would return to the headquarters on the following day; for now, they were resting at the hotel where they'd spend the night.
Allen was standing by the window, gazing at the moon which was partly hidden by thick and dark clouds, harbingers of a coming storm. Rumbles of thunder could already be heard in the distance and it wouldn't take too long before the whole town was covered under a veil of rain.
With a sigh, the boy drew the curtains and walked to his bed, then put out the lamp. Next to him, Kanda was lying on the second bed, hands behind his head and eyes gazing at the empty ceiling. Since the moment they had arrived at the hotel, the man hadn't moved a single finger, merely lying there without pronouncing a single word. He hadn't even removed his coat.
Allen only wished to talk to him, but what could he say? There was nothing they could share at this point. Empty words maybe, pointless gestures, pretending, faking, lies... As he dropped on the mattress – was it soft or hard? – , weariness seized him; weariness from longing after something irretrievable mixed together with the ever-present feeling called 'hope'. If hoping brought about that much pain, then Allen wished he weren't able to hope at all; yet, he couldn't erase the annoying and torturing sentiment from his being.
Funnily enough, the one who was considered the incarnation of hope didn't want to believe in that word anymore. What would Lenalee say if she knew? Allen didn't care since to her, he was merely a convenient person who was there when needed, but it didn't work the other way around. What would Lavi say if he knew? Allen didn't care since Lavi wasn't meant to show concern for anyone. What would Komui say if he knew? And Johnny, and Reever, and Miranda, and all the others? Allen didn't care since they'd probably try to cheer him up in order for them not to lose hope either.
What would Kanda say if he knew?
I don't care.
A faint smile graced Allen's lips. Yes, that's probably what Kanda would say. In the unlit room, Allen held out his hand towards the silhouette of the older Exorcist as if he could touch him from that distance. How he regretted the many missed opportunities to feel Kanda under his fingers... he was ready to give up on anything simply to experience the warmth of Kanda's skin again, even if it was only a faint caress or a hard punch in his face.
He slowly lowered his hand, wondering if Kanda was asleep now. He most likely was, luckily for him. He didn't have that many problems to deal with, after all, and he certainly couldn't care less about Allen's own. Typical of him.
A flash of lightning seared through the sky, startling Allen. A few seconds later, the steady rhythm – at first slow, then quickly accelerating – of drops of water hitting the ground filled his ears. He felt tempted to let the monotonous music cradle him, but it seemed that even nature didn't want to grant him with some rest, for the sound of the storm kept reminding him that he couldn't even feel the sensation of being drenched by water pouring over him anymore.
Minutes passed, then an hour, and sleep still wouldn't find its way to Allen. It was certainly cold outside, and the few people still out were probably running as quickly as they could to avoid getting soaked. Lucky them. At least, they'd be able to feel the warmth of a home and a good meal to make them forget the sad weather.
Frustration spread within him. As silently as he could, he got off his bed and tiptoed to the door, not even bothering to put on his coat. Without making noise, he grabbed the handle and turned it with a faint click.
"What do you think you're doing?" a sharp voice rose in the dark.
I want to drown myself under the crying sky until I finally remember what cold means.
Allen closed his eyes and bit his lip. A sigh, and his hand released the handle.
"It's the second time you ask me this question." he said softly.
"Then give me an answer."
The faint rustle Allen heard indicated to him that Kanda was sitting up on his bed.
"I cannot give you one, Kanda."
"Che, I guess stupidity really is a part of you."
The statement made Allen twitch.
"Why do you even bother with me?" he asked harshly. "If you think I'm so stupid, just leave me and mind your own business!"
"Can't do that."
"And why not? It should be easy for you not to care."
"Komui ordered me not to let you act stupidly."
"Oh, is that so? Then Komui doesn't know shit about me. He doesn't understand what I'm going through now, so how can he decide on whether what I do is stupid or not?" Allen snapped.
It was unusual for him to lose his temper so quickly; even Kanda had to admit it. He remained silent, for the simple reason that he didn't know what to answer.
"Have you ever felt both alive and dead at the same time?" Allen went on. "Because it's exactly what's happening to me. I breathe, I move, I think like any normal human being, and yet I could be a mere rock and it would barely change anything to me. No one can help me turn back to who I was before." He walked to Kanda while being careful not to come too close to him. "If I were to cut my leg, I wouldn't even feel a difference. I'd die of blood loss without even realizing. Pretty convenient, isn't it?" he sneered. "I bet many people would be jealous of me if they knew I can't feel pain. I'm like a box with a pair of eyes and ears! Now, tell me, Kanda, what do you expect me to do if it isn't something stupid?"
Silence fell between both of them before Kanda finally stood up and walked closer to Allen.
"You could let me try, though it'd be stupid anyway."
In spite of the darkness surrounding them, it wasn't difficult for Kanda to guess Allen's widening eyes.
"I fear... I don't understand what you're implying." the boy replied hesitantly.
"Or maybe you actually fear you do understand."
Allen stepped closer and rested his hand on Kanda's chest – had he removed his coat? Was he bare-chested? – then murmured:
"Don't play games with me, Kanda. Tell me what you want to do, or show me, but don't play with me. I can't take it anymore. Tell me clearly: can you make me feel?"
"I can try."
"Then please, try."
Was it hope that was making his heart race? Or simply the fact that he was pulled closer by Kanda's arm around his waist? Or at least, he guessed that it was around his waist, the feeling was too faint to tell exactly. Then his chin was lifted up, and he waited, forcing all his senses to remain alert, to feel something when Kanda would lean over and...
His focus was lost once he started having trouble breathing. With effort, he perceived the presence of something on his insensitive lips and pressed himself as much as possible against Kanda in an attempt at seeking more of the contact. He waited for the dizzying and warming sensation that was supposed to take over his body during a first kiss, expecting his cheeks to flush and his limbs to tremble slightly – that's how Lenalee had described it to him, after all.
Both his arms were wrapped around Kanda's neck but to him it was as if he was embracing air. And the chest he was leaning against was no different than a mere pile of matter. Even when he pulled back, the only sign that their lips weren't connected anymore was that he was breathing more easily. Nothing else. He was enclosed in a shell of void isolating him from the outer world.
And it drove him to despair. Had his state degraded to that point? A few days ago, he could still feel tingles in his fingers, but now, it was as if they were frozen – minus the sensation of cold.
"It's no use." he whispered, stepping back and shaking his head. "It's simply useless. I'm sorry, Kanda. You tried, and it's not your fault. I was just foolish enough to believe a miracle would occur. Let's forget all of this." he added as he headed for his bed with heavy steps. "Thank you for trying, though. You don't know how much it means to me."
Kanda remained still, not even turning around to try and stop Allen when the latter walked past him. He could perfectly imagine the pained expression on his face, and dull grey eyes filled with disillusionment. At that moment, he was slowly grasping the full meaning of the word 'powerlessness', and for the first time, it carved an invisible wound into him that no spell in the world could heal. He heard the boy climb on his bed and silence filled the room again. The stupid moyashi didn't even pull the blanket over him despite the low temperature.
The Japanese Exorcist folded his fingers over his palm, as if to enclose the fleeting traces of warmth of Allen's body. His lips were soft, Kanda thought, and so was his hair, though he suspected that Allen hadn't even realized that he had slipped his hand in the white locks. The kiss left a bitter taste. The bitterness of disappointment. It was all Kanda had managed to offer to Allen. Pitiful, indeed.
Once more, Allen found himself in the torture chamber, namely the cafeteria. How was it possible that his nose could identify every dish with an almost scary accuracy while all his tongue could detect was the presence of food in his mouth?
"You've been eating less lately, Allen."
The boy raised his eyes to Lenalee who was looking at him with a concern that she was obviously trying to conceal.
"Well, my Innocence has been less gluttonous for the past weeks so I suppose it makes me feel less hungry." he replied casually.
"Oh, I see."
An embarrassed silence lingered between them during which the Exorcists – including Lavi and Kanda – merely busied themselves by filling their stomach. Until Allen decided he was completely fed up with the pointless act. He swallowed a spoonful of blueberry cake – the same one Lavi and Lenalee were eating – and exclaimed:
"This strawberry cake is absolutely delicious!"
"Straw- oh! Yeah, yes it is. Jerry is as amazing a cook as always!" Lavi replied a bit too hastily.
"You're right, no one is a match for him when it comes to cakes!" Lenalee nodded vigorously.
As Kanda raised an eyebrow, Allen's face suddenly darkened. He stood up and slammed both his hands on the table, startling the two others. A few other people also turned their heads at the noise.
"Wh-" Lavi started, but Allen interrupted him:
"I've had enough of your silly game. Has anyone ever told you that you two are terribly bad actors?" he asked coldly. "I'm not completely stupid, you know. Do you think it makes me feel better when you pretend not to know about what's happening to me? Well, I thought we were close friends enough for you not to treat me like a special guest who shouldn't be offended because he's told he can't feel a damn thing anymore." He didn't raise the tone, because he didn't need to; the icy stare glistening in his silver pupils was enough to make his point.
"Stop it. I don't feel like discussing about this. Once you start understanding that I'm not a kid anymore, we'll see."
And without waiting for an answer, he stormed off, leaving two speechless Exorcists behind him. The cafeteria was almost silent, then progressively started filling with the usual noises of people chatting and eating. A single table was still quiet.
"Lavi... I think we made a mistake." Lenalee finally managed to articulate miserably.
"No kidding." the redhead said with the same tone before turning to Kanda: "What about you?" he asked.
"What kind of question is that?" the Japanese man asked back sharply.
"Well... it seems that Allen was only angry at us, so I was wondering if you knew about his... problem."
"Che." was the only answer Lavi received as Kanda stood up, taking his tray and leaving the table.
"Hey, Timcampy, what would you do if you were me?" Allen asked his golem which was resting on his finger. The boy was lying on the floor of his room – it didn't feel any different from his bed anyway – talking more to himself than to the golden ball. Now that he had turned Lenalee and Lavi against him, he could rightly claim that he was alone.
His thoughts drifted in spite of himself to Kanda but he quickly shook the man's image out of his head. Since their return, not a word had been exchanged between them. It was useless to rub salt into the wound, he knew it; yet he couldn't forget about that night during his mission with Kanda and it was only pushing him a bit more into a bottomless pit of despair.
"If I could disappear for real... it'd be so much better than bearing with this semblance of life, don't you think, Timcampy?"
The golem fluttered its wings feverishly as if to show its clear disapproval of its master's reflexions.
"Just kidding, just kidding." Allen chuckled, though deep inside, a part of him actually considered the relevance of his thought.
"Allen, I know you came back from your mission only three days ago, but the higher-ups ordered me to send you on an important one in Spain." Komui explained. "Akuma have been spotted and they fear trouble is soon to ensue, therefore I'm sending you along with Kanda to..."
"Please, not Kanda." Allen cut in, making the supervisor raise an eyebrow.
"Why not? The last mission went well, if I remember correctly. And he keeps complaining about the lack of missions recently."
"I understand, but for now, I don't think I can stand being partnered with him again. You know, we still keep picking on each other so I'd like to avoid that." Allen added jokingly.
"Well... I don't really mind sending you with someone else. Will Krory be fine to you?"
"Yes, absolutely fine." the boy replied with a smile. "When do we leave?"
"Tomorrow. I'll inform Krory right now." Komui replied, then after a few seconds of hesitation, he went on: "Allen... to tell you the truth, this mission may be dangerous."
"That's why the higher-ups want me to be sent." Allen continued bluntly.
"Well, yes. But Allen, please be careful." Komui said, and he suddenly looked embarrassed. The man sighed, then looked at Allen straight in the eyes: "I know I have been acting quite distant towards you, and I apologize for that. But I'd like you to understand that I'm very worried for you. And so are Lavi and Lenalee."
"I know that." Allen replied reluctantly. It didn't mean he could forgive them easily.
"Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that the higher-ups want you out there for a specific reason, that is... they think you'll be more efficient than the other Exorcists because... well..."
"Because I can't feel any pain." the boy finished for him with a sigh. "I told you there's no point in trying to be delicate with me."
"Allen, I beg of you, please be careful." Komui repeated. "I don't care about what my superiors can say, you're not a killing machine, you're a human being. So don't be reckless."
"I won't. I promise."
A poor smile graced the Chinese man's lips as he nodded to Allen.
As planned, both Allen and Krory were in Spain twenty-four hours later, walking down the main street of a small town which looked as normal as any other town. People were passing by, chatting, shopping, having a break at a tea house, or simply enjoying the warmth of the radiant sun on their skin. Allen kept trying to convince himself that he wasn't jealous, not at all, yet his eyes would always find a way to look somewhere else, where he couldn't see a woman pinching her baby's cheek or a man patting his son's head.
Next to him, Krory was looking around him like a curious child who had never seen so many people living without suspecting the presence of akuma in the vicinity. Allen's eye had spotted them for quite some time now, and to his utmost relief, they were far enough from the town not to cause too many damage if a battle were to start. He wanted to deal with them as quickly as possible and go back to the Order, but Krory had pleaded with him to enjoy sightseeing a bit and Allen had found himself unable to refuse.
However, the increasing number of akuma gathering from a distance worried him; they couldn't afford wasting more time visiting the town unless they wanted to put the inhabitants at risk.
"Krory, we should go now. I've detected a lot of akuma coming nearer; we have to stop them before they reach this place. I fear we've been dawdling for too long."
"Akuma here?" Krory frowned. "They must be too far away for my nose to smell them, but if you say so, then I suppose we should get going. We can come back here afterwards."
Allen sighed inwardly; he really didn't feel like lingering here among those people who were oblivious of their luck, still able to enjoy warm and nice days like this one.
"We'll see later on." he merely replied. "Now let's go. They are gathering right behind the small hill over there."
About a quarter of an hour later, Allen's eye activated and started buzzing frantically, warning the boy that the confrontation would soon take place. And not only a minute later, a dark and eerie cloud was looming from behind the hill, floating like an army of lifeless machines and heading for the Exorcists' location.
"Level one and two. About fifty of them. We should be able to handle them quite easily" Allen identified as a white cloak fell on his shoulders and a silver mask covered his eyes.
"This is fine by me. My teeth were aching for some akuma blood." Krory replied, baring his white canines with a predatory smile.
"Then let's go and settle this quickly." Allen concluded before rushing to the swarm of akuma.
It was then, when his blade slashed the first akuma down, that Allen realized he enjoyed fighting against them, for it didn't require functioning nerves to sense the relief of the souls that were finally freed from their shell of metal. Each destroyed akuma was filling the boy with a contentment that had nothing to do with the satisfaction that Krory could feel after assuaging his thirst for akuma blood.
At the same time, focusing on his mission prevented him from letting his thoughts wander further into the burdens hammering themselves into his mind. His body was acting – or rather, reacting – instinctively, out of pure reflex, following what each of his training experiences was dictating him. It was easy not having to think too much; to simply be lead by the flow of the battle with a unique goal in mind: destruction. To leave nothing behind but smoke, ruins and burnt grounds. Easy to wield his sword to the rhythm of the multiple explosions tearing the stretches of grass into gaping scars, not worrying about the craters created by the collisions of an akuma with the bare soil, simply to keep on slashing, cutting, avoiding the blows and cutting again.
Was it how Kanda felt in the midst of battles? Like a hurricane sweeping everything on its way until no power remained to replenish it? For if that was the case, then Allen was finally beginning to understand why Kanda was always looking for battles. By bringing death, he could feel alive.
Another blow on his right side made him turn his head as he readied his blade to feel a bit more alive. Then, as he saw the burning grass at his feet, a question suddenly crossed his mind: could plants feel something? They were living things after all, so a flower had to feel it somehow when someone would pick it up and cut it from its nutritive soil, a tree had to scream silently when the sharp edge of an axe penetrated its wooden flesh.
As Allen's sword fell on the akuma in front of him, a chuckle escaped his lips at the thought of the daft question. There's no doubt I'm turning insane. And so what? Who would care about the state of mind of an almost disabled Exorcist whose body was soon to give up on him? Bunch of idiots. They pitied him, yet they didn't understand that Allen was the lucky one. He could feel no pain, no suffering, nothing. Tyki Mikk can rip my hear as many times as he wants, I wouldn't care. Road can throw as many candles in my eye as she wishes, I'd simply laugh. Talk about convenient.
After all, everything that mattered to an Exorcist was to fight, and the ability to feel no pain was a great asset that anyone had the right to envy. If Allen wasn't able to feel anything, then what? Feeling someone touching him was useless for his job, and knowing the taste of food didn't help him get rid of akuma.
Yes, they were all wrong. All of them. Lavi, Komui, Lenalee. He didn't need their pity. And Kanda.
Allen's fingers unconsciously tightened on the handle of his weapon. Kanda was an idiot too, thinking that he could actually have 'helped' him somehow. Allen didn't need help. And certainly not from Kanda.
The young Exorcist was panting heavily; well, he could still feel breathless. How troublesome. He inhaled deeply to let air fill his lungs and it was at that moment that a spasm shook him from inside his chest. A second later, spurts of blood tainted the gloved hand he had used to cover his mouth, though his tongue was now immune to the metallic taste of the liquid.
Allen frowned, not remembering when he could have been hit. Well, it didn't matter, it was an injury like any other. He glanced at Krory who was taking akuma down at a respectable pace, then checked the sky to notice that only a few of them were left. A pity, the game would soon be over.
Allen stepped forward to take care of his next target, but as soon as his foot touched the grass, his knee failed him and the next second he found himself on the ground, to his astonishment. Frowning, he made a first attempt at standing up but his head started spinning and the last thing he saw through his blurred vision was a crimson pool spreading around him.
It hadn't escaped Krory that Allen had collapsed and his eyes widened at the sight of the amount of blood around the boy's body. How come he hadn't noticed it earlier? Allen hadn't showed any sign at being injured at all, and even if Krory hadn't paid much attention to him during the battle, he was most certain that the boy had had no problem destroying the akuma charging him. It had even seemed to him that Allen was putting quite an abnormal amount of stamina into the mission, so why was he lying unconscious on the ground now?
It took Krory a few minutes to finish off the remaining akuma before he rushed by Allen's side. His eyes widened at the number of bleeding wounds on his body. Some of them were serious and could become life-threatening if not treated immediately. How, just how had Allen managed to stand for so long with such severe injuries? A sharp rock was literally stuck in his shoulder, how come he hadn't removed it? And that long gash on his cheek, the deep slash on his chest with blood pouring out, just what was the kid thinking?
Fortunately, the city wasn't too far from the battlefield, but moving the boy there was going to prove difficult. After applying rough bandages around Allen's minor injuries, he scooped him up delicately and headed for the town.
What's this sudden silence? Why am I here?
Someone's there? I heard a voice.
What did you say? I can't hear you.
Within myself? What do you mean? It doesn't make sense. Who are you?
No, I heard you. I'm asking what you meant by 'I'm a part of you'.
C-Crown Clown? Are you really my Innocence?
But what do you want?
I know that I'm dying, but you can't do anything about it, can you?
No, I don't care if I die... It's better for me that way. At least, I can definitely escape from that half-life of mine.
You don't understand... I don't feel pain... I'm dying without feeling any pain, what else could I ask for? Look at my body, do you think I'd have been able to stand so many injuries if I still had my sense of touch? God, I didn't even realize I'd been hit back then. I hope Krory managed to finish the job.
What? He's bringing me to the hospital?
But... I'm going to die anyway, so what's the point?
No, please no... I don't want to come back... Can't they simply let me go?
Sad? Who? Komui? Lenalee? Lavi? I'm just a convenient tool for them to cheer themselves up. I'm tired of this... So tired... If they really were my friends like they claim to be, they'd let me go in peace. They know I can't feel a damn thing, they know my death is painless. Can't they at least grant me that one wish?
Why are you talking about him? I hate him, that's all. He's the same as all the others. Pretend, pretend and pretend.
Oh please... forget it... Why did you have to remind me of that night? He couldn't do anything for me, not that I'm blaming him for that though. Hey, this is funny, I can open my wound and see my bones. Hey, I can even touch it. It doesn't even hurt. See?
I was just trying to kill some time until I die. Do you know when I'm going to die? It's taking too long.
Are you developing an obsession on this man or something? I told you I don't care about him anymore. I don't care if I couldn't feel his lips kissing me back then, I don't care if I couldn't tell whether his arms were on me or not, I simply don't care anymore!
You could... you couldn't... the doctors said my case is irreversible.
Yes but... mending a pierced heart isn't the same as repairing a whole nervous system.
I-I don't know. It feels quite good like this, you know. I may be dying, but it doesn't bother me. And if I were to go back to them, it'd mean I'd have to suffer again and again... I'm... fed with it. Even if... you could cure me... I don't think I'd like to go back to this kind of life again. It's funny, isn't it? At first I was complaining about my state, but now I think I got used to not feeling pain, and I have to admit that... it's not that bad actually.
Yes, even if I can't feel good things either. Pleasant things don't last long, only pain remains indefinitely. It's a small sacrifice to do. But it doesn't matter anymore, does it? I'm letting myself die.
Why? But I've just told you why! I'm fed up with this life! I'm fed up with having to bear the pain for everyone while they merely stand back and look at me being butchered on the battlefield because they think I'm some kind of saint or something! I'm fed up with always having to smile at everyone to reassure them while I feel on the verge of breaking down! Is it so wrong wanting to avoid suffering?
Oh please! Once and for all, leave Kanda out of this! He doesn't have anything to do with this.
Don't insist. Darn, what's taking me so long to die?
I said no.
Crown Clown... don't make me repeat myself. I don't care about him. And he probably feels the same, you know. It'll take him about a day to forget me after I die. That's the kind of man he is.
Stop this. It's not funny anymore. I don't care about him, end of the story.
... ... ... ...
Fine, fine! I love him! So what? You're saying that I should live for him? It's not like my death is going to sadden him that much!
What do you know about my sufferings? You may be a part of me, but you're just an Innocence.
Yes it hurts me whenever I think of him! Yes I only wish I could feel him holding me, even once! Of course I'd give anything to be able to touch him again! But... is it worth the pain of staying alive?
I-I don't know. I keep thinking that nothing matters anymore since I'm going to die, but... now I don't really know if I want to die that much. I keep hoping that Kanda will be pained over my death, even a bit, and I can't stand the thought of it. Why do you want me to stay alive so badly, anyway?
...I see. Hey, look at me. I'm disappearing. Does it mean death is near?
Stubborn, aren't you? You'll give me back my lost senses if I keep on living?
And to Allen, it was as if thousands of blades pierced him all at once, making him feel alive, so alive it hurt. His body awakened to the violence and the mute despair of pain searing through his whole being, tearing his limbs apart and causing his brain to saturate with the sudden stream of nerve impulses that made him yearn for death. He was dying, yet had never felt more alive.
And he screamed, he screamed like never before, until his throat couldn't stand it anymore.
"Give him a morphine shot! Hurry up or we're going to lose him!"
Neither the doctors nor the nurses had expected to hear Allen scream while a second earlier, he was still lying unconscious as they were almost ready to mark him dead. And now they were doing everything in their power to keep him alive, to prevent him from leaving this world.
"He's reacting!" a nurse exclaimed, calling a doctor.
"What?" the latter asked with disbelief.
"Look, I touched him and he reacted."
"You're right! Are his nerves active again? That'd be a miracle!"
"He's fallen back asleep."
"Perfect, I'm going to make some tests on him to make sure. But this is truly a miracle."
"Mister Walker! You're in no shape to stand up, let alone walk out on your own!" The nurse hurried to Allen, prompting him to lie back on his bed.
"I'm fine, really." he assured her with a smile.
"You certainly are not fine at all. You suffered serious injuries back then, and they haven't healed yet. Please be reasonable and rest. If you want to see your friends, I'll have them come here."
"No need to!" a familiar and cheerful voice rose next to the infirmary door.
"Lavi!" Allen's smile broadened.
"Yup, and Lenalee's here too!" the redhead stepped aside to let the girl in.
"Allen, it's so wonderful to see you in perfect shape!" Lenalee exclaimed.
"Well, he's not exactly in what you could call a perfect shape. He looks like a mummy or something." Lavi retorted, which made Allen chuckle then wince as his ribs were still hurting.
Seeing that, the nurse frowned and gently though firmly pulled Allen back to his bed.
"Now, now, this is the infirmary so I'll have to ask you to quiet down a bit otherwise I'll forbid any visits. Mister Walker, please go rest for now. Your friends are here so it's not necessary for you to remain standing."
But Allen was now laughing out loud despite the wounds on his body, for he was simply too happy to finally be able to feel something again, even if the first sensation he got to experiment was pain.
Alive. It was the only word that came to him. And it felt good being alive. His body was numb along with the pain, there wasn't a single spot that didn't hurt, each of his movements stretching his damaged skin; and yet, he couldn't help but laugh.
"Allen?" Lenalee inquired, looking both worried and relieved at the same time.
"S-Sorry, I'm fine." Allen replied after a while. "It's just that it feels so good to be healed now."
"You're not healed yet, mister Walker." the nurse said sharply. "Now for the third time, please lie down."
"Yes, yes. I'm sorry." Allen complied though a bit reluctantly. With a sigh, the nurse left the three Exorcists alone.
"The doctors said it's a miracle that you managed to get your senses back." Lavi reported. "What do you think?"
"A miracle?" Allen tilted his head on the side. "Maybe..."
To the inquiring look he received from his friends, he replied with a mere smile.
The following day, Allen along with Lavi begged – or rather, harassed – the doctors so much that the latter finally allowed the boy to leave the infirmary, though not without giving him multiple recommendations of all kind.
And of course, the first thing Allen did was to rush to the cafeteria, much to Jerry's greatest pleasure. As he put the first piece of food in his mouth, a sigh of delight escaped him and it didn't take too long for the entire dishes to be emptied.
Sitting in front of him, Lavi was watching him with clear amusement in his single eye.
"It's nice to see that your appetite is back again, Allen. But you shouldn't strain your body too much or your wounds will take more time to heal."
"Yeah, I know. But I just can't help it. It's been ages since the last time I got to taste Jerry's food!"
"And when you're done eating, what's the next thing you're going to do?"
At the question, Allen paused, thoughtful, and his eyes suddenly brightened.
"So?" Lavi asked again, curious.
But again, the only answer Allen gave him was his usual smile.
Allen stopped in front of the door, praying with all his might for him to be there. He knocked twice and waited. A few seconds after, the door opened and the man facing him didn't even look surprised at his sight.
There was a second of silence during which both of them merely looked at each other, pale grey staring at dark blue.
"Good afternoon, Kanda." Allen finally spoke. The other Exorcist remained silent, though he was still staring intensely at the boy in front of him. "Hm, well... I was just wondering how you were doing and..."
"Che, I'm doing far better than you, at least." Kanda cut in on him.
"I guess you are." Allen chuckled. "Well, can I... come in?"
During a second, he feared that Kanda was going to refuse, but the latter finally moved out of the doorway as a sign for Allen to enter, which he did. The door closed behind them and the next second, Kanda was pinned against it and a pair of lips landed on his. If he had been caught off guard by Allen's sudden action, he barely showed it; instead, he slipped an arm around the boy's waist and his other hand in his white hair, feeling its softness for the second time in his life.
Allen hadn't been able to resist. Even if he had wanted to, he couldn't have. But this time, he didn't want to resist or wait, going at a slow pace like any new couple would. They weren't a couple anyway; they were simply two persons who had been stupid enough to waste so much time after realizing they wanted each other. And at that moment, Allen wanted Kanda more than anything else, and it didn't matter to him that Kanda was mercilessly pressing his hand against the wound on his back, or that the slash on his chest was rubbing against the fabric of his jacket at the risk of reopening.
The only thing that mattered to him was that he could finally feel Kanda's lips on his, Kanda's tongue on his palate, and Kanda's lips again, again and again. Then, his fingers reached for Kanda's cheek and to him, the mere fact he could now feel something warm on the tip of his fingers filled him with an indescribable happiness. His other hand slipped recklessly under Kanda's open jacket and rested right on his heart, enjoying the steady pace of its beats against his palm.
He pressed himself closer – if that was even possible – in order to allow every single inch of his body to be in contact with Kanda. He winced as his injuries were screaming at him to stop rubbing over them, but Allen couldn't care less. He was welcoming the pain like manna from heaven; it was the proof that he was human, and it was all that mattered to him.
"Kanda..." the name came out like a plea from his mouth as Kanda's tongue started trailing on his jaw and down his neck, raising goose bumps on his skin despite the warmth spreading within him.
"We were both idiots for waiting all this time..." the older male whispered in his ear, and Allen could only nod.
Their lips met again, violently, without any trace of compassion, in the sole purpose of feeling each other like they never did before. If he had been able to, Allen would have devoured Kanda to make up for that night when despair had swept over him. Right now, they were nothing but two beasts craving for each other's touch, biting, licking, biting again, sucking and moaning as their bodies felt the ascendancy of desire awakening in them.
Then Allen decided that what they were doing wasn't enough to satisfy him anymore.
"Kanda... will you give me more?" he asked between two pants.
The Japanese Exorcist slowly pulled back though their bodies were still locked in each other's embrace. He looked into the two expectant eyes and asked back:
"Do you want me to?"
As Allen nodded, Kanda's patience vanished and he led the boy to the bed and pushed him down while sealing their lips again. He pinned Allen's wrists down on the mattress with one hand while discarding his jacket, then his shirt with the other hand. Allen winced again but he quickly forgot his pain as Kanda's hand started running over his chest. As expected, Kanda's hands weren't soft nor delicate, but rough and callous as they made contact with Allen's smooth skin.
Or at least, it was smooth where it wasn't injured and bandaged. Kanda suddenly stopped and pulled back, frowning disapprovingly.
"You're far from being healed."
"It's nothing I can't handle, Kanda."
"Your wounds will reopen."
With a sigh, Allen sat back and put his hand on Kanda's chest. Then staring at him, he said:
"I'm fed up waiting for this or that before I can do whatever I want to do. If they open again, then let them open again."
And to prevent Kanda from replying back, he silenced him with a kiss and slid both his arms around his neck, shivering a bit as the low temperature of the room wrapped his nude skin with a thin cover of chill.
He had almost forgotten the sensation of cold, but what he had missed above all was the comforting warmth of Kanda's chest against him as he pulled the older Exorcist closer, not wanting to let even an ounce of that human warmth go to waste. He lay back on the bed, pulling Kanda over him. The long strands of ebony hair covered and tickled him. He grabbed a few of them, twirling them with his fingers and enjoying their silky texture. Kanda let him play with his hair silently for a while, before he finally spoke:
"Oi. Weren't you the one who said you didn't want to waste more time?"
Allen gazed at the man above him and smiled.
"Indeed. Then Kanda, I'll ask you for the second time: can you make me feel?"
And this time, as Kanda put his lips close to his ear, Allen knew he wasn't lying when he whispered:
It was all Allen needed to hear to surrender himself completely to the man holding him. He simply couldn't get enough of Kanda's kisses on his neck, his collarbone, his shoulder and his chest. Small pants were escaping his lips in spite of himself whenever he felt a tongue warming his skin where it wasn't bandaged, and each time Kanda's hand ventured between his legs elicited the sweetest of gasps from him.
It didn't escape him how Kanda seemed to treat him with utmost care, as if he were afraid of breaking him with any rough gesture, and once again, he decided it was time to teach the Japanese male that he wasn't as fragile as he thought. Without a warning, he pushed Kanda on the side and rolled over, exchanging their positions.
"Moya..." Kanda started, not expecting it.
"Don't worry." Allen merely replied with a smile.
He then started undoing Kanda's pants which had clearly become too tight given the circumstances. His eyes shimmered with satisfaction as he noticed that Kanda was already more than hard, and he decided not to make him wait any further, grabbed the erect member before Kanda even had time to protest and took it in his mouth.
The Japanese Exorcist arched involuntarily at the unexpected flash of pleasure that shot electricity down his spine and gasped.
But the said moyashi only focused on his job, enjoying the sensation of the throbbing member between his fingers and in his mouth, taking great delight while tasting the liquid beading from the tip. He was having a good time running his tongue along the whole length, his satisfaction increasing with each of Kanda's silent gasps and jolts. He wasn't insensitive, indeed, far from that. And Allen was the one who had the honour of trying how sensitive Kanda could be.
He pressed a bit at the base of the member and immediately after, a hand grabbed his hair and roughly pushed him down, almost making him choke as he had to take in the hot organ deeper. But he didn't care, he was the one who had told Kanda not to treat him like porcelain. Instead, he worked harder at bringing the older male on the edge by literally eating him with unsuspected greed, until he heard him hiss between two pants:
"Moya...shi... Damn it!"
These last words were the only warning Allen received before Kanda released in his mouth, filling it with a warm and sticky fluid which taste made the boy wince. Nevertheless, he found himself drinking it as it kept flowing in his mouth, and was rewarded when Kanda said with a ragged breathing:
Allen finally pulled back and wiped his mouth before replying:
"We already know that, don't we?"
"Che. Now it's my turn."
"Please sit up, Kanda."
"Just sit up."
The older male complied reluctantly. A mere smile, and a second after, Allen was on his knees and on Kanda's lap, unbuttoning his own pants and unaware of the heated look in his partner's eyes. For Kanda, there was something perverted in the way Allen was acting, oblivious of the loosen bandages around his arms and his chest, oblivious of the few drops of blood dripping from the cut on his cheek, and only focusing on sating his own hunger for another's body. Crazy. Twisted. Whatever, Kanda didn't care.
And when Allen freed his own erection and was about to grab it, Kanda slapped his hand away and took care of it instead, smirking as the boy's eyes opened wide and a single gasp was heard.
"I told you it's my turn, Moyashi."
Allen's mind was a complete mess. If he had believed that pain could make him feel alive, then he was about to discover that pleasure was the epitome of his existence. The biting twinge of each of his wounds was battling against the ache converging to his member which was left into Kanda's care. He felt Kanda pulling him against his chest and didn't resist.
Again, the contact of bare skin against bare skin made him shiver despite the hotness that was engulfing him into a feverish madness. He had come to realize how much he craved for such a contact only after the accident; inwardly, it made him laugh sarcastically. It was always the same, it was only when one lost something that one realized how much it was needed.
That's why Allen swore not to let this chance slip between his hands; why he could ignore his bleeding wounds so easily only to concentrate on Kanda's touch. And god, Kanda knew how to touch him to trigger all his most sensitive parts. His hand, now slick with Allen's pre-cum, started moving a bit further behind to reach the boy's entrance. Allen froze, forcing himself to breathe normally and relax, but couldn't help but wince and tense up when a first finger was inserted in him.
Out of reflex, he arched back, pulling on his stitches and soon, the bandage over his chest was tainted with a small, pink spot.
"Stay still." Kanda ordered in his ear as he rested his free hand on the boy's hip.
Allen nodded, trying to loosen his grip on Kanda's shoulder. A second finger was inserted, and he gasped at the unknown yet strangely pleasurable sensation; he buried his face in the crease of Kanda's neck to stifle a moan, but when Kanda pushed in deeper, he couldn't remain silent anymore:
He couldn't say it hurt, since it was nothing compared with his reopening wounds. But it was unpleasant, and yet Allen didn't care for he was welcoming any kind of sensation that his body could receive, pleasant or unpleasant.
Right under him, he could feel Kanda's arousal again, and at that moment the last bits of patience in him vanished.
"Kanda... I want you... now... ahh..."
"It'll hurt if you're not fully prepared." the other man retorted.
Even in his half state of dizziness, Allen managed to chuckle.
"I'm already hurt... in case you haven't... noticed..."
"Che, you asked for it."
Kanda removed his fingers and grabbed his own erection to position it right under Allen's entrance. He barely had time to adjust himself that Allen was already pushing himself down, wrapping Kanda with a tightness that almost made him come on the spot, but he managed to keep a semblance of control somehow. Above him, Allen was having trouble breathing, and sweat was beading on his forehead. He clenched his teeth while forcing himself down a bit more, but the obvious tensing of his muscles only made more wounds tear open again. Thin trails of blood were slowly sliding down his chest, making Kanda frown again.
"I'm fine... Kanda..."
And as if to prove his point, Allen completely sat on top of him, exhaling deeply as he did and too intoxicatedly drowning into a whirlpool of newly found sensations to notice that Kanda had embraced him tightly again and was leaving trails of kisses all along his neck and over his shoulder. Allen had both his arms wrapped around Kanda's neck when he started moving, at first slowly to get accustomed to the intrusion in him and taking his time feeling the foreign member pulsating against his inner walls.
Was it because his nerves had been disabled for a while that he was now feeling as if he was going to die from hyper-sensitivity? Because it was exactly what was happening to him. It seemed that the exquisite pleasure he was receiving was about to make him burst from the inside. Every part of his body was being stimulated by Kanda's hot organ moving inside of him and he soon increased the pace of the thrusts in a desperate attempt at feeling Kanda taking him again and again, at feeling his own body being lost in streams of passion, at feeling more, more and more.
Now that he could feel again, he made sure to experiment the most intense sensations possible, as if to burn them into him for good. And burning he was, thanks to a fire named Kanda that didn't seem willing to go out anytime soon. And then, as he thought he was already reaching the paroxysm of bliss, Kanda gripped his erection and started stroking him again.
"Kanda!" Allen gasped loudly. At the same time, he tensed up around Kanda's own member, making him hiss at the unexpected wave of pleasure.
"Damn it... Moyashi..."
Allen rocked against Kanda with more ardour than ever, each movement adding twice as much ecstasy since both of his most sensitive parts were now in Kanda's care. The continual moans filled the room with a sweet melody of 'Kanda' and 'Yes, there' and 'More' and...
The whispered name had been barely audible but Allen didn't miss it. Surprise displayed on his face before a smile adorned his lips.
"Say it again, Kanda." he whispered in the other man's ear.
And Kanda complied. More than anything else, it was the ring of his name coming out of Kanda's mouth that drove him to his limits, and with a last 'Kanda!', he finally found release, followed soon after by Kanda's. Warm shots of liquid filled him, making him jolt, but he soon relaxed against Kanda's chest with a sigh of delight.
Kanda was still inside of him and for some reason, Allen didn't want him to pull out just yet. His whole body was still slightly trembling at the remnants of his orgasm while he was trying to recover his breath. Some of his wounds had partly reopened, but it was nothing that time couldn't heal. Kanda wasn't in a much better shape, though the tremors of his body were less visible.
For several minutes none of them moved, except for Allen's hand which was running lightly over Kanda's bare torso in ghostly and teasing touches. The tip of his fingers followed every curve of the well-chiselled chest several times, as if to carve each detail in the memory of his touch.
"Having fun?" Kanda finally asked after a while.
"I like touching you." Allen merely replied.
"Yeah, I noticed that."
"Do you mind it?"
Allen chuckled, then raised his eyes to Kanda.
"Then touch me again." he said as he wrapped his arms around Kanda's neck.
Touch me, touch me as many times as needed for me to forget everything else and remember your touch only.
ooooooooooooooO The End Ooooooooooooooo
So, what do you think? It's my second long one-shot, I hope you liked it. :] Oh and btw, if you want to, please check my profile in a day or two, you may find a little surprise (I don't know when I'll be done, but it should be soon enough!) Thanks for reading this!