Title: A Taste of Home
Characters: Kanda, Allen, Lavi, Lenalee. A bit Kanda-centric and friendshippy OT4.
Genre: Friendship, I suppose.
Summary: "What is birthday to you?" Damn right, he has never thought his birthday was important. It's just numbers anyway. It's not like he knows for sure if it's even valid.
Warning: This is a "Timeline? What Timeline?" fic ^^;;. Also contains artistic liberties in characterizations. *cough*OOC*cough*.
Disclaimer: Hoshino owns them all. Rawr.
A/N: Belaaated birthday fic for SheilaLuv, because if she had not mentioned about Kanda's birthday, I would've forgotten about it altogether *fails*. Therefore, I wrote this OT4-ish fic at her suggestion. I hope this is enjoyable anyway? :D Also, a bunch of thanks to Evanescent Silence for beta-ing!
Also, take this as an awfully early birthday fic, Eila? XD
- A TASTE OF HOME -
It is a few seconds after he has pulled his blade from a level two he has just slain that Kanda realizes that the monotonous drops of rain falling on himself and the earth has slowed down and stopped altogether. A soft, 'Pitiful Akuma. May your soul find salvation,' can be heard not too far from his left and he glances aside to find the bean sprout looking up to where Kanda guesses he's seeing the soul of the akuma.
Sometimes, judging by the tone Walker has always whispered those words of finding salvation, Kanda has to wonder to whom those words were actually aimed. In his personal opinion which he doesn't bother to share with the others, they all need salvation.
He looks up to the sky and sees the grey clouds slowly part with each other and give way to slivers of light. The sky is not so blue and vast right now. Kanda likes it better this way.
"Hey look, a rainbow!" Lavi cheerfully informs, and Kanda looks behind him to see three of his companions standing near the edge of a cliff overlooking a dense forest, gazing up at the brightening sky.
Kanda watches how their faces are slowly adorned by soft smiles and bright, joyful eyes, how their profiles are kissed by the gentle lights. Kanda looks at the beauty of the rainbow sky above and the view of greeneries down there. Then he looks at their tattered clothes dirtied by blood, he looks at the remnants of the battle they had just won behind them; smoke and dried blood and wounds—so, so many wounds—and he thinks, such painful contrasts.
"Hey Kanda," Lenalee calls, "Can we rest here for a bit? Brother said we don't have to hurry back."
Kanda looks at his childhood friend for a few seconds; at her innocent, kind smile then at the tired, sad lines around her eyes, and says, "Fine."
"Link, we can stay, right?" asks Walker as he turns to call out to the inspector who stands a few meters away behind them—Kanda always almost forgets about him, really.
Link sighs, but he nods anyway. "I'll go wait in the village's church," he informs before walking away to give the teenagers some privacy. Kanda notices that Link has been cutting the bean sprout some slack, lately. He's getting soft. Kanda would never have guessed a member of Crow could get soft before. Walker is clearly a bad influence.
"Hey, Yuu, come sit with us here!" Kanda hears the obnoxious voice of the stupid rabbit and glares, crossing his arms stubbornly and answers with a simple, "Hell no."
Lenalee gives him The Look. The one that looks like a cross between a kicked puppy and an angry mother—it's a mystery how she ever manages to do that—and Kanda has no choice but to relent with a sigh. He hears the bean laugh softly at him—at him! —and it's totally not his fault if he smacks the boy in the head as he sits down on the space Lenalee freed between her and the brat.
He doesn't feel guilty even when Lenalee reprimands him with her own version of the Glare of Doom. And he feels ready should the bean dare to hit him back anytime now—
"Kanda, stop it. Here," says Lenalee while thrusting a wrapped… something onto his chest.
He frowns. "What—"
"Your birthday gift," the girl smiles up sweetly at him; the smile she has started using at him every now and then ever since the first time he let Lenalee hide in his room. "I bet you forgot it's your birthday again, right?"
Damn right, he has never thought his birthday was important. It's just numbers anyway. It's not like he knows for sure if it's even valid.
He looks at the blue wrapping adorned with a small white bow for a few seconds before Lenalee pokes his chest again with the gift. Slowly, he retrieves the gift with a very brief, "Thanks."
"It's a new hair band," Lenalee says when Kanda makes no move to open the gift, "try it on."
"Che. You give me a hair band every year. This would fit just fine," Kanda sighs.
"Every year?" asks Allen, amused. "Wow Lenalee, that's…"
"Uncreative," the rabbit chirps in with a wide grin from Allen's right side. "And she gives Yuu new sets of clothing every Christmas too!"
"Well I'm sorry, but do you see anything else that he would actually wear? Non-usable items would just add up to the pile of junks in his room."
"You have a pile of junks in your room?" the brat asks wide-eyed. "Wow Kanda, I never knew…"
"Hey. Shut up."
"Many of them are Lavi's fault. He keeps on bringing weird stuff every now and then from his missions and for whatever reason, Kanda keeps them."
"Oooh, you keep them all, Yuu? I'm touched."
"They're in a bag ready to be thrown away. I just don't have time for it."
"Right," Lenalee smiles—actually, it's more like a smirk—knowingly. Kanda really has to wonder how Lenalee knows what's inside his room. She doesn't go there that much. And those junks are placed under his bed.
"Don't worry, this time I'm giving you a usable item," Lavi says proudly, before rummaging the small bag on his hip. Kanda sees him taking out something thin and paper-like before presenting it to him. "Tada!"
It's a flower. A weird-looking flower pressed onto a paper and wrapped in plastic that would do as a makeshift bookmark. The flower isn't beautiful—not that Kanda has a particular sense of beauty. It's rather bluish and has many petals with brownish green leaves and the center of it looks like a mouth with fangs, and it's just… weird.
Kanda doesn't want to admit that maybe he's just a tiny-little-bit fascinated by it. After all, it's not his fault that he hasn't gotten to see that much of the world in his ten years of living. Well, the ten years he has the memories of anyway.
"That's one weird flower," Walker comments as Lavi shakes his right hand with the flower-turn-bookmark in it, signaling the Japanese boy to take it.
"Yuu likes weird-looking stuff. He just would never admit it," Lavi whispers in Allen's ear, but Kanda can still hear it anyway. He just chooses to ignore the comment.
Grunting his not-so-much-of-a-thanks, Kanda finally takes it and puts it inside his supply bag along with Lenalee's gift. He's just finished zipping his small bag close when he hears the brat say, "Why didn't any of you tell me it's his birthday? I don't have anything for Kanda."
"I don't want anything from you, brat," he scoffs in reply.
Walker snorts. "Of course you don't. That's why I want to give you something just to annoy you."
"I would have thrown it away."
"You're such a prick, did you know that?"
"Boys, come on," Lenalee sighs and shakes her head.
"Hey, I know something you can give Yuu that he wouldn't be able to throw away!" Lavi suddenly says a little bit too cheerfully. Kanda can so see that gleam in his single eye and he knows it means trouble.
"And what would that be?" judging by the wary tone the brat is using to address Lavi, Kanda thinks Walker knows it too.
The grin on Lavi's face widens, and it doesn't bode well. Not at all. He suspiciously creeps closer to Allen, who in turn unconsciously inches closer to Kanda.
"A hug!" says Lavi, and with that he pushes the brat over to Kanda who doesn't expect the sudden contact of another body with his. His reflex once the smaller boy collides with him is to catch the brat, but the next second, his brain catches up with him and Kanda immediately shoves Walker away, hard, forgetting that they're sitting on the edge of a cliff and that the younger boy could easily fall off.
Which is exactly what happens.
Walker's reflex kicks in, he immediately grabs Kanda's arm and the sudden weight makes Kanda lose balance and he would've fallen with the brat if not for both Lenalee and Lavi grabbing him by his other arm and waist.
"Fuck, bean sprout, I told you before that if you're falling, then fall on your own!" he yells at the brat, although his hand automatically grabs Walker's arm back, not letting the boy fall. Kanda thinks that his body needs to learn to be in synch with his mouth, really.
"What the hell, Kanda? You pushed me!"
"That's because you're invading my personal space all of a sudden!"
"Well blame Lavi! He pushed me! Why do you guys love to push me anyway?"
"Maybe if you weren't so weak then you wouldn't be so easily pushed around."
"I was caught off guard!"
"Boys, can you maybe fight later when you both aren't hanging off of a cliff? It's hard enough to pull up your combined weight as it is!" the only girl in the group exasperatedly scolds.
"You heard the lady!" Lavi adds while tightening his arms around Kanda's waist, and starts pulling them up with Lenalee's help.
"You dare say that when it's clearly your fault, Lavi," Allen scowls when Lavi and Lenalee have managed to pull Kanda back and now Lavi was grabbing his other arm—the one that isn't still holding Kanda's—to help him up.
The redhead only grins at that, and with reluctant help from Kanda, they finally manage to lift Allen back up. Heaving a relieved sigh, Allen continues to scowl at Lavi as the redhead tries to appease him by dusting him off. Kanda merely clicks his tongue.
"Now, be good and sit still. All of you," Lenalee authoritatively commands, crossing her arms under her breasts and making a great impression of the Head Nurse when she's pissed.
With a grin from Lavi, an apologetic smile from Allen and a soft 'che' from Kanda, the four of them finally settle back on the edge of the cliff, facing the now pinkish sky.
"Say, what is birthday to you guys?"
Three heads turn towards the Asian girl, who only gives them her soft, wistful smile in return. Then Lenalee turns to look at the fading rainbow in front of them, and continues, "For me, it was the day I was taken away from my brother."
The silence that settles after that is a little bit unnerving, and even though Kanda prefers silence, he finds himself not liking this one, so he says, "It was also the day he came for you."
At that, Lenalee smiles at him; soft and beautiful and sincere. "That's right," the girl simply answers, absently tucking some strands of shoulder-length hair behind her ear. "And that is why for me, my birthday is even more special."
"That's great," Allen comments, to which Lenalee replies with a closed-eyed smile.
From her left side, Lavi—who has sat down beside her after the falling incident earlier—reaches out his hand to ruffle her hair with a soft smile.
"For me," the redhead begins, "my birthday changes every time I change my alias, so it doesn't matter much. I don't know my real birthday, anyway."
"Lavi…" both Lenalee and Walker mutter, but there is a difference between Lenalee's and Walker's tones, Kanda notes. Lenalee honestly doesn't know what to say to that, while Walker… Walker's tone is like someone who knows exactly how it feels.
"Mine is just the date given by the order to fill up administration papers," Kanda says simply. "It could be the day I woke up, the day I was created or maybe my birthday in the past life," he shrugs.
From his right side, Kanda can feel Walker tense up at that. Right. The brat has seen his past, hasn't he? His mind must have been pretty screwed up back then, having witnessed all that.
Kanda knows that Walker has seen his past, and Lavi has, at some point, found out about it too, due to his position as a bookman apprentice. And Lenalee… he doesn't quite know how she found out about it, but, well. She's Lenalee.
And really, sometimes, it's hard to keep something hidden in the order. He wonders why.
Still, it's different to only have heard the story and to actually see it happening before one's eyes. And it's probably why Walker looks the most distraught at the moment.
"So I'm the only one with a valid birthday, huh?" Lenalee starts again, trying to lighten up the mood.
"Oh, that's right," Walker adds, "My birthday was decided by Mana."
"Who the hell is Mana?" Kanda finds himself asking before he could help it.
"Oh yeah, you probably don't know," the brat smiles at him but it's pretty clear to Kanda that something in his eyes is off, though he can't really pinpoint it. "Mana is my foster father. He took me in when I was about eight years old."
"About?" asks Lenalee.
"I never really knew my real age. But when I met Mana, he estimated me to be around eight, so we started counting from there," the brat explains with his bloody fake smile plastered on. Kanda thinks,really, he's not fooling anyone.
"Then you could be actually younger and just not have hit puberty, huh, bean sprout?" Lavi teases with a cocky grin on his face. Kanda recognizes it as an attempt to distract the brat.
"I'm not a bean sprout!"
…And what do you know, it works. Idiot bean sprout, indeed.
Kanda snorts. "Yeah right, and you could also be actually older and he just really is a bean sprout, after all. We'll never know."
"Hey! Like you are one to talk about real age!" the bean replies hotly, but then suddenly all color is drained from his face as his brain catches up with what he has just said. "Ah… I mean… umm…"
It figures, Kanda thinks, that Walker would feel guilty for bringing that up. Stupid bean sprout. Like Kanda cares about that. What happened in his past stayed in his past. He isn't one to look back. He has learned not to look back. Well, with a few exceptions, that is.
"Yeah," Kanda starts again, "if we count my previous life, I could be 50 by now, for all I know. And you brats are just brats to me," he finishes flatly.
Lavi coughs to disguise his laugh at the idea of an old Kanda while Lenalee presses a hand to her mouth. There's a series of expression changes in the bean's face; from surprised to understanding to relieved, and finally, grateful. For what, Kanda doesn't care to know.
With a smirk of his own, Walker says, "Then you're the brattiest grandfather I've ever met, grandpa."
"Boys will be boys, no matter how old they are," Lenalee laughs softly. "Seriously, men are so immature."
"Can't argue with our Lady here now, can we?" Lavi agrees with a laugh.
Walker just gives them a sheepish smile while Kanda merely clucks his tongue and says, "Whatever."
"You know," Lenalee suddenly starts again, with a gentler, more subdued voice while looking at the distance. "I actually asked my brother to send us together for an easy mission so we could just go and hang out like this to celebrate Kanda's birthday. Although there were more akuma than we expected," she smiles sheepishly.
"Yeah. A whole lot more, if I may add. We're such a mess now, aren't we?" Lavi says as he points at their general appearance; torn uniforms with blood and dirt and everything.
"And it was raining too, we're not really dry," adds Walker.
Lenalee nods her agreement, and says, "But now, we get to just sit here and talk," here, she turns her head to smile up at Kanda before continuing, "It's fun, isn't it?"
Kanda looks at her for a moment before looking away to the now barely-visible rainbow again. "It's unnecessary."
"Yeah, but not unwanted, huh?" Lavi chirps in smugly.
"I didn't ask for this."
Lenalee pats his shoulder as she says, "But you don't dislike it either, do you?"
"Give it up, Kanda, you're losing," Walker adds with a smirk, and Kanda decides he doesn't care anymore.
"He's totally losing."
And maybe he is. After all, he doesn't hate this as much as he thought he would—as much as he wantsto hate it. Even though the four of them are dirty with mud and reek of blood, even though the wind is chilling and the ground is hard – just sitting here with his comrades—fellow fighters, companions,friends—and hear them laugh like the teenagers they should have been, it makes him content and maybe, just maybe, a little warm inside.
And Kanda wonders if this is what 'home' feels like.
- NeverEnding -
A/N: Forced plot bunny is… rawr. Anyway. First time attempting gen-fic. Feedbacks would be appreciated. If you're faving, leaving me some comments would be loved too. :D