Disclaimer: DGM is H. Katsura's property and chapter 197 was awesome.
Slowly, very slowly, as if it was floating, the pale-coloured petal detached itself and landed silently on the wooden support of the hourglass.
Marine eyes gazed almost absent-mindedly at the ineluctable fall, and looked away. One more. Not like he cared. There were still plenty of them left. Plenty.
But lying at the bottom of the flower were even more of them.
A sigh, before eyelids closed to a dreamless sleep.
"Hey Lenalee! Wait for me!" the cheerful Bookman-to-be called, catching up to Lenalee in the corridor.
"Hi, Lavi. Aren't you busy at the library?" the girl greeted him.
"I escaped to take a break. Is this a book you're holding?" Lavi pointed at her hand. Lenalee showed him the cover.
"Yes. It's a book about the meaning of every flower species, it's quite interesting." she explained. "Did you know that, depending on which kinds of flowers you choose to offer someone, you can convey different kinds of feelings? And they can range from jealousy to friendship, and even love!" she added with a bright smile.
"Oh yeah, I heard about that." Lavi nodded, then on a teasing tone, he added: "Well, if I were to offer you a red rose, what would you say?"
"That you don't value your life that much, because my brother wouldn't let you live long enough after that." Lenalee replied, chuckling as Lavi's face turned white.
"I guess you're right… Well, I'll be off before Panda finds me slacking here!" He waved her goodbye before disappearing from the corridor.
Lenalee chuckled again as she resumed walking, not noticing the door in front of which she had stood a second ago.
On the other side of the door, Kanda collapsed on his bed. Bunch of idiots. As if flowers could 'convey different kinds of feelings'. He wasn't an expert in that area, and he didn't particularly wanted to be. Flowers were simply cells put together to form an item which most women were fond of, nothing more. Flowers wilted quickly, their fragrances were ephemeral and their beauty fleeting. It only required the strength to pick them up to destroy them and all that was left afterwards was a mere, petal-less stem.
To Kanda, if flowers were to be given a single meaning, it would be chains. Chains that bound him more and more loosely to that thing that people called 'life' and that Kanda called a bother.
Within the Black Order could be found a small garden. It had been Komui's idea to design a place with some greenery for everyone to come and relax; because life at the Black Order wasn't only a matter of training against akuma. The garden was pretty simple; gravel paths, grass, more or less common flowers, miniature trees and stone benches. Yet it was a good spot to spend some time in a peaceful and quiet atmosphere, to forget one's concerns while bathing in the pleasant fragrance of the many flowers.
Allen had never found any particular interest in plants, though he didn't mind gazing at a field of multicoloured flowers from time to time. And now on this early morning of late autumn, as he was walking a bit dreamily on one of the gravel paths, a faint – very faint – smile adorned his lips.
If one believed that the smile was a sign that Allen Walker was currently happy, then one had better pay more attention to the glint of misery in those gentle silver eyes of his. And if observant enough, then one would have noticed that the boy's current state wasn't something new; rather, it had started a few weeks ago.
A few weeks ago, he started having nightmares. At first he thought it was only punctual, but after spending the fifth consecutive night turning and tossing in his bed and waking up with a start, sweating and panting, the young Exorcist understood that he wasn't going to be given some peace any time soon. He hadn't told anyone about it, and no one had noticed any change in his behaviour, which was perfectly convenient for Allen. He disliked it when people started worrying about him, especially Lenalee, because the girl was often inclined to stalk him until she had a satisfying answer. And she never considered 'I'm fine' to be a satisfying answer.
The garden smelled good. Allen stopped near a small flowerbed of red and white blossoms to inhale their scents.
A Pierrot face as white as the two lines of make-up on his cheeks were black. Grinning eerily.
Spots of red marring the vision as an insane laugh tears the heavens apart.
Familiar figures lying on the ground, eyes wide open and reflecting panic, fear and hatred. One with flaming red hair, another one with long and dark strands, another one with short and blonde locks, another one and another one and another one... Too many to count them.
In front of him, another person with the same face as his. Except that the eyes are pure gold and the skin is sickeningly dark.
Allen shut his eyes tight and shook his head vigorously, dismissing the memory of the nightmare that had been haunting him for days. His nightmares were never exactly the same, yet they always ended in the same way. They always ended in an ocean of blood, bodies scattered at his feet, sometimes barely recognizable; and he was standing alone in the middle of the desolate landscape. Then he would appear in front of him, perfect copy of himself save for the colour of his skin and eyes as if to tease him and taunt him into something even more gruesome.
Again, Allen shook his head.
"I won't lose to him." he declared firmly as he stood up.
"Lilium. Lily Cockail Twins." Lenalee spurted out, nodding at her book.
"Huh?" Lavi raised an eyebrow at the girl's sudden words.
Both Exorcists were at the library and trying to kill time, one by reading, the other by dozing off on the table.
"It's the flower that I think would fit you best." Lenalee explained.
"A flower? Fitting me?"
"Yes! Here, have a look." the girl said, showing Lavi a picture on her book. "See? I think the bright orange colour is what describes you the best."
"Hmm, the flower looks nice." Lavi commented. The bright orange was actually almost red, with thin swirls of gold on the petals. "But why orange?"
"Well, it's a bit intuitive, but orange is usually matched with enthusiasm, energy and warmth. A bit like fire; and since it's the element you use the most, I believe your colour is orange. The way you always look cheerful and try to make other people be as cheerful as you is representative of your passion for life. Also, orange flowers held a notion of vibrancy, and…" Lenalee paused, her cheeks turning slightly pink as she pronounced the next words: "…you've always given me the impression of being a sort of vibrant flame that tries to keep our own flames alive restlessly and without ever fading out. And that's not all. See why the flower is called 'Twins'? It's because each stem actually has two flowers; they always go by pair. It's… It's a bit like you, as if there were actually two of you. I don't know how to put it, but whenever I see you, I can feel there's… someone else beside the cheerful you. Someone that isn't you though is a part of you. I guess I'm not making any sense." she added hurriedly with a small and embarrassed laugh. "Oh, forget what I've just said."
Two seconds of silence followed her words as Lavi blinked once, then twice, obviously not expecting such a description of himself. Someone else beside his cheerful self? That sentence took him by surprise. It's not like he had tried hard to conceal his past, but no one was supposed to know about it; and yet, right now, Lenalee was telling him that she could perceive his former self? Or perhaps it was only a coincidence. Perhaps Lenalee simply wanted to force an explanation that matched her choice of the flower, as most people did – unconsciously – whenever they tried to explain something.
Then, remembering that he still hadn't utter a single reply and seeing that the girl was now trying hard to direct all her attention at her book, a grin appeared on his face.
"Really? That's how you truly see me?" he asked, chuckling and scratching his head. "Well, I'm flattered because Panda keeps telling me that I'm more an idiotic clown than anything else. Anyway! Let's find your flower!" he added on a happier tone as he picked the book from Lenalee's hands.
He started flipping through the book, frowning slightly and looking deeply concentrated, until his face lit up and he let out a small exclamation of victory.
"Ah! Found it!" he said, tapping a picture with his finger. "This one. Epilobium angustifolium, or Fireweed."
"Weed?" Lenalee pouted. "I don't understand how this can be called a weed."
"It's just a name, Lenalee. The small flowers and thin stems along with the colour fit you perfectly. See? It's lavender, and lavender symbolizes grace, feminine beauty and elegance. Yup, that's exactly you." Lavi asserted firmly with a satisfied nod.
"I-I'm not elegant or-or…" the girl started stuttering.
"Graceful? Sure you are! Lenalee, think for a second. If you weren't the cutest thing on this world, why would your brother keep being so overprotective?"
"Overprotective is an understatement." Lenalee deluded the question. "He's completely paranoid."
"That's not the point. Lenalee, you told me what you think of me, so I'll do the same. Your book says that flowers which bear the lavender colour are delicate and precious. Well, among all the people I've met so far, you're the most delicate and precious one, and I'm not the only one to think so." Lavi said very seriously, ignoring the full blush on Lenalee's cheeks. "It's not only because you're a girl, if you take that head nurse for instance, I'd say she's anything but delicate."
The female Exorcist chuckled shyly at those words.
"Yes, but I don't think I'm…"
"Trust me, Lenalee, most of us here would do anything simply to have you and your smile around. In the middle of the damn mess we're in with the Earl and everything, it's a real relief to know that there's someone like you among us; someone strong yet fragile and sensitive enough to be worth protecting. I'm serious, Lenalee."
"Lavi, this is…" the girl was at a loss for words. "Well, I-I never thought of myself that way."
"Of course not!" Lavi laughed. "And that's exactly the reason why you're such a kind girl, Lenalee. Anyway, I think I should go back to work before Panda hits me." he added, standing up.
"O-Ok… See you later, then." Lenalee mentally sighed of relief. Lavi could be so blunt, at times.
By a turn of luck, they happened to cross path in the corridor leading to their rooms. A smile on a side, a short nod on the other, no words exchanged, each of them heading for opposite directions.
At the corner of the corridor though, one stopped and leant against the wall, silver eyes gazing at the ceiling without really seeing it. A small sigh broke the silence. Would he never find the courage to finally talk to him? It was almost ironical how he was able to face thousands of enemies without flinching and yet, found himself powerless when it came to start a conversation with him.
And what would I tell him?
His feelings… he wasn't even sure these were his own, he wasn't even sure of who or what he was, or where the limit lay between himself and… well, himself. And the nightmares that kept tormenting him whenever his eyes closed were a clear reminder of the little time he had left as Allen Walker. Soon enough, that same Allen Walker would be nothing but a mere memory and in his stead would stand the one whom he had sworn never to lose against.
Unfortunately, it was one promise he knew he'd fail at keeping. Time fled him like sand between his fingers, with no hope of it returning back. And that was the main reason that prompted the young Exorcist to talk to Kanda. He could snap at any time now, and before he did, he wanted Kanda to know the nature of the feelings he bore for him and which were tearing him apart.
And yet, courage failed him.
With a new sigh, Allen resumed walking. If he had chosen to peak behind the corner of the corridor, he'd have seen a standing silhouette with long and dark hair, and maybe, maybe he'd have found enough will to go talk to him.
When he was sure the footsteps weren't audible anymore, Kanda stopped in the middle of the corridor and clenched his fists. Again. Once again, he had failed to stop him; he had failed to call him, tell him to wait, tell him that there was something important he needed to know.
But again, how could he possibly tell Allen Walker such a thing without smashing his own pride? He, Yū Kanda, figure of impassiveness, stoicism, and insensitivity, had crumbled to pieces when the younger Exorcist had entered his life. Semblance of life. Closer to death. Human by name, unnameable by nature.
And yet he felt. Feelings which were not his usual contempt or disdain, feelings which linked him to Allen Walker in a way he had never suspected. It had taken him ages to finally realize what those feelings truly meant, and what they implied. Still, knowing it, he refused to let anyone know, not even the boy.
However, there wasn't much time left for him. Another battle, maybe two if the enemies weren't too tough – which he doubted highly – and his chains would be finally severed. Kanda hated it when he was urged like that, because the chances were higher that he'd make a mistake in his hurry. On the other hand, it didn't really matter anymore if he made a mistake, for his existence was going to vanish before most people realized it.
He'd tell him. He'd tell the younger Exorcist what he had never wanted to admit. But not today. Another day. There was still a little time left.
Kanda resumed walking. If he had chosen to turn round and walk behind the corner, he'd have seen a melancholic face framed by silver locks of hair, and maybe, maybe he'd have changed his mind and talked to him.
"Allen! Come sit with us!" Lenalee waved at the boy in the middle of the cafeteria.
As usual, Allen granted her and Lavi a bright smile as he put his tray on the table and sat down. He glanced curiously at the book lying right beside Lenalee's arm and asked teasingly:
"A book about flowers? Do you want to replace the gardener?"
The Chinese girl laughed.
"No, I simply found this book by chance. It's really interesting."
"Hey, how about we find Allen's matching flower?" Lavi intervened.
"Why not? I guess I already have an idea about which flower would suit him." Lenalee nodded enthusiastically.
"My flower?" Allen asked. "What do you mean?"
"Flowers are like symbols, they have different meaning depending on the species and the colours." the girl explained quickly as she skimmed through the pages. "Ah! Here, this one."
Allen glanced over the book and saw the picture of a white flower with lotus-shaped petals, but smaller, enclosing a yellow stamen.
"Magnolia Virginiana Glauca." he read out loud. "That's a rather strange name for a flower. It sounds like a girl's name."
"But I guess it really fits you. The flower, I mean, not the name." Lenalee added hurriedly as she saw Allen cock an eyebrow. "Here, read by yourself."
The young Exorcist grabbed the book and started reading the text commenting the picture:
"White magnolias such as the Glauca are the flowers of the pure and kind-hearted ones. The magnolia flower is often associated with nobility and the virtue of dignity; people who are offered magnolias nourish a deep love for everything created by Nature. Therefore, the caring and compassionate ones are best to receive a bunch of magnolias as an acknowledgement of their charity.
Gifting someone with white magnolias is the final sign of recognition of the person's merits. The untainted white colour adds purity to the noble bearing of the magnolia, and symbolizes the innocence of the undefiled. The ones associated with white know the value of silence and humility, and the sincerity of their feelings is undisputed."
Allen slowly closed the book and put it back silently on the table. His head was slightly lowered, and his face was partly hidden by strands of hair, which made it impossible to determine the expression he was displaying at that moment.
After another second of uneasy silence, Lenalee spoke again:
"A-Allen?" she asked tentatively. "Is there something wrong?"
Hearing his name, the boy raised his head and Lenalee could have sworn that she saw something nasty flash on his face. Yet, as she blinked once, Allen was smiling again.
"Nothing's wrong, Lenalee." he replied. "Say, could you lend me this book for a few days? I'd like to read it a bit."
"Oh, of course! I'm sure you'll like it!" the girl said, reassured.
"Thank you. I'll give it back to you soon."
If only you knew, Lenalee, how far from the truth this book is.
"We've lost two Generals, Sokaro and Nine; and Tiedoll is between life and death."
It was a mere statement, yet the way Komui had pronounced those words made his dejection obvious. The atmosphere in his office felt suddenly heavy on his shoulders, and the icy stare he could feel on him didn't help ease the matter.
"We cannot afford any more useless deaths." Leverrier declared sharply.
"Useless deaths?" Komui's temper rose as he stood up from his desk. "How can you say…"
"They died without bringing down even one Noah. In other words, they died for nothing because of their incompetence." the other man went on, unflinching.
It was more than what Komui could bear hearing.
"They died because you sent them out without even knowing what was awaiting them!" he retorted back, barely able to contain his anger.
"Some risks need to be taken in order to achieve our goals." Leverrier declared coldly. "They were trained to face any kind of situations so they're the only ones to blame."
"They weren't trained to be sent on suicidal missions!"
Leverrier didn't reply immediately, instead he darted Komui with an icy glare and the eerie shadow that flashed on his hardened face could have made anyone step back in fright; but the supervisor's anger was such that it only added fuel to the fire. Little did he know that Leverrier's next words were going to crush him completely.
"I thought three Generals were enough to destroy the Earl's hideout. I'll admit that one mistake." the man said. "Well, the damn Earl and his minions must still be weakened by the battle and I don't want to give them time to recover. Komui, I want Allen Walker and Yū Kanda sent to the hideout tomorrow evening. They'll attack at night. I didn't want to use them, but given what they are, it's the best asset we possess."
Komui's fists were white and trembling with repressed rage. It took him two seconds only to fully grasp the meaning of those words. For Leverrier, Allen and Kanda were very dangerous tools and therefore, they had to be disposed of carefully. And the most subtle way to do it was to have them die on the battlefield.
Disgust seized Komui at the sight of that man who was a man in name only and he had to call forth all the remnants of his self-control in order not to act stupidly.
"Allen and Kanda are mere humans." he said, and the tremors of his voice were clear enough to reveal his current state. "You can't expect them to…"
"Oh, I certainly can, Komui. Because they are not human." Leverrier cut Komui in. "And I'm not continuing this discussion any further. It's an order."
Komui didn't know what the worst was; having to tell the news to his two Exorcists or seeing them agreeing to the order without turning a hair.
The moment Allen's eyes set on the picture, he knew it was the perfect flower. His lips moved silently to read the name written underneath. Iris Chrysograph.
'In the kingdom of France, the iris, often mistaken for a lily, is the symbol of royalty. As such, faith and valour are also associated with that flower which was chosen for the majestic bearing of its petals. Present someone with an iris flower if you believe in their strength to remain faithful to their duty, even if it means sacrificing themselves for the greater good. They are not necessarily kings in appearance yet their actions speak for themselves.
The iris chrysograph is a rare kind among all irises for its black colour isn't commonly found in natural species. Because of its rarity, black bears a triple meaning: self-confidence, strength and power. Therefore, the merging of the qualities specific to the iris and that of the black colour allows the birth of one of the most valuable blossoms which other name is well deserved: the Black Knight.'
Allen closed the book and lay back on his bed, looking at the ceiling. A small sigh broke the silence of his room.
"The Black Knight, huh?" he murmured softly. He chuckled. Could there be a more fitting flower? At first, Allen had borrowed the book as a mere entertainment, thinking that it could be amusing to try and search for a flower that would suit the man he longed for. Who'd have thought that he'd actually find one? The words were branded in his mind; majestic', 'self-confidence', 'strength', 'power', 'knight'.
"Kanda..." The whisper melted among the words.
The order fell on them like a blade. None of them were stupid enough not to foresee the outcome of that mess and both of them also knew that there was no way out of it. The mere sight of Komui's miserable face and the trembling of his hands as he handed them their mission sheet was eloquent enough.
Seconds passed and no one moved, Komui's hand still held out to the two Exorcists who were as immobile as statues. Until a smile finally distorted the youngest one's face.
"I don't think we will be needing this, Komui." he said coolly, looking at the sheet. "Well, I'll get ready for tomorrow."
He left without adding a single word and was grateful that the supervisor didn't try to call him back. Or perhaps he did, but Allen hadn't wanted to hear.
The way back to his room seemed to take him an eternity. Each step were heavier than lead and the corridor had somehow turned into an endless path to nowhere. Time had slowed down, his brain's functions seemed to freeze progressively as he was walking closer to his room, even his limbs were giving the impression of turning numb.
So that was how it was going to end, wasn't it? A suicidal and desperate attack on the Earl's hideout 'while he was still weak'. That was to be expected. Allen had known it for ages, though he sometimes hoped that his story could have finished like those children's tales in which the hero suffered a lot but with a happy ending waiting for him.
Nice tales, but tales only.
Though his face was impassive, the turmoil ravaging him inwardly threatened to take over him and shatter him from inside. Kanda didn't have time anymore. In a bit more than twenty-four hours, he'd be dead; and so would be Allen.
Then again, if they were both going to die, what would be the point in talking to the moyashi? It'd be over soon anyway. Kanda bit his lip, resigning himself to stifle his own feelings a bit longer.
However, it seemed that his luck didn't want to go according to his plans, for on the way back to his room, he saw the familiar silhouette of the silver-haired boy who seemed to be walking in slow motion. And the mere sight of the young Exorcist was enough to shatter his wavering decision to keep silent.
He hurried after Allen and caught up to him, grabbing his wrist before he even thought of the gesture.
"Moyashi." he called out.
A pair of surprised silver eyes turned to him, and the moment Kanda saw that round and not-so-young face, he was struck by the emptiness of the expression he read on it. There was nothing; not even resignation or fear or despair. Only a void face like a statue of marble sculpted by an untalented artist.
Kanda frowned, but for the first time, it was a frown of concern.
"Moyashi..." he repeated.
And then, after an obvious effort, a tired smile stretched Allen's lips.
"What is it, Kanda?" he asked softly.
"I... need to talk to you." the Japanese Exorcist said with uncertainty, his hand still on Allen's wrist.
"Yes?" the boy replied, visibly waiting for Kanda to go on.
"Not here. Your room?"
"My... room? Well, I guess we can go there, yeah." Allen nodded, more and more confused. He also noticed that Kanda hadn't let go of him and a very faint blush tainted his cheeks. "Let's go then." he added. "Hm, if you could... let go of my wrist..."
That seemed to startle Kanda, as if he had just realized that he was still holding the boy and he quickly withdrew his hand, obviously embarrassed, which made Allen chuckle.
They went to Allen's room without pronouncing a single word, Kanda following the boy silently. As they entered, Allen presented him with a chair, which he refused by shaking his head.
"Don't bother with that." he said. "I won't staying there for long."
"Oh, fine." Was it disappointment Kanda perceived in Allen's voice? He couldn't tell precisely. "Well, what is it that you wanted to talk to me about?" he asked, sitting on the bed.
Kanda leant against the door, arms crossed and gazing at some part of the floor which looked particularly interesting. He opened his mouth as if to say something, but no word came out, for the simple reason that he didn't know how to say it. It was the first time he was put in that kind of situation and his training had never included any lesson about laying bare his innermost feelings.
He gritted his teeth, upset by his own inability to express himself despite the little time allotted to him. He hesitated, frustrated because words seemed to be failing him at a time when he needed them most, until a soft chuckle broke the silence.
He raised his eyes to Allen who was obviously having fun looking at Kanda's incapacity to speak and a sudden fit of anger rose in him; but it was quickly put out as he heard the boy's next words:
"Don't force yourself, Kanda. I can understand that you dislike talking to me."
"I'm not forcing myself." the older Exorcist replied immediately. After a second of silence, he asked: "You know what our next mission means, don't you?"
A sigh, and silver eyes looked away. Allen nodded.
"Yes, I do."
"And you're fine with it?"
"Of course I'm not. But can we really help it? Leverrier sent our Generals, and it ended with an utter failure. Now he's sending us, hoping to kill two birds with one stone. But if we fail, he'll probably send all the remaining Exorcists, and I doubt they'll have more chances of surviving than us."
"I don't care about the others." Kanda let out dryly. "I didn't come here to talk about them."
"I guess you didn't." Allen chuckled again. "Then what did you come here for?"
Kanda bit his lip. He couldn't afford wasting any more time.
"Before both of us die, I just want you to know that... I don't despise you as much as everyone believes." he let out, his eyes still not meeting with Allen's.
Silence followed his words. Then:
"Maybe we won't die, Kanda..." Allen murmured, almost to himself. "Maybe we'll manage to survive somehow, maybe..."
"That's not my point, damn it!" Kanda's temper rose. "I just told you..."
"I heard what you told me, Kanda." Allen cut him in softly. "And here is my question: why did you bother telling me this if you don't even believe that you'll survive?"
"I bothered telling you because I know we won't survive!" the older male snapped. "Damn it, I knew it wasn't a good idea." he muttered to himself as he turned round, ready to leave.
But as he grabbed the handle of the door, a hand on his own stopped him.
"Kanda, wait. I also wish to talk to you."
"Che, about what?" Kanda asked, annoyed.
"Just... stay and sit, will you? Please." Allen pulled him slightly by the arm.
After a short moment of reflection, Kanda complied though his face clearly showed irritation. Allen took place in front of him, on the bed, fidgeting nervously with his fingers. He took in a deep breath before speaking again:
"I'd like to know what you meant exactly when you said you don't despise me."
"Che, find the answer by yourself." Kanda replied dryly, making Allen sigh.
"Fine. Then my next question is: why did you choose to talk to me now? Why not earlier? Why not later?"
"Later would be too late, idiot."
At Kanda's lack of answer, Allen stood up and walked to the window, gazing outside.
"Don't you think we've wasted enough time like this? We're probably going to die tomorrow – yes, Kanda, I wasn't trying to fool myself earlier – and we're still beating about the bush. Kanda, I wanted to keep my feelings for myself until the very end; but then you came to me and now I can't remain silent."
Turning round to Kanda, he went on:
"Kanda, I lo..." But he was cut abruptly as warm lips silenced him. His eyes opened wide before closing slowly as he melted into that pair of arms wrapping around him and pulling him closer into a tight embrace.
He moaned softly when Kanda's fingers slipped in his hair, and wrapped his arms around Kanda's neck. The kiss was sober, and yet the way Kanda pressed his lips against his own with unsuspected gentleness was enough to make Allen drown under the sudden rush of emotions seizing him.
After a – too short – moment, Kanda pulled back, and now his deep blue eyes were locked on Allen's silver ones.
"You're right." he said. "We've wasted enough time like this." And he leant forward to join their lips again.
"Let's make up for all this time, Kanda." Allen whispered between two kisses. "I don't want to have any regret when the time comes..." he added, pulling Kanda to the bed.
The older Exorcist nodded, letting himself be pulled. Allen lay on his back, his arms welcoming Kanda's body against his and his soul filled with desire for Kanda's whole being. Soon enough, the only sounds filling the room were rustles of sheets, low pants and soft cries broken with gasps calling for a never-ending game where giving and receiving were the only rules.
During the few hours they had left, all that mattered to them was to feed on each other until both their beings were completely absorbed by the other; and then, their bodies would join in the most passionate and desperate embraces, bringing them to the pinnacle of a rapture which neither of them had ever dared imagine.
Then they would start over again, without any interruption, simply because they didn't have time anymore, and every time their bodies merged together, it was as if tidal waves of raw desire were overwhelming them with enough strength to shake them to the height of ecstasy, until they lost themselves into the depths of a pleasure which they knew they wouldn't be given a second chance to experience. They forgot they were only mortal beings, doomed to vanish from this world like fleeting flames blown by the wind of misfortune; only remembering that they were humans before anything else, humans who could feel and live intensely before turning to nothingness.
Allen was clinging to Kanda for fear of drifting away from the world of living to a world of complete surrender and Kanda was holding Allen as if the boy was the last link of the invisible chain keeping him sane. Together, for the first time, they could finally feel more alive than they had ever felt, while sinking deeper and deeper into the maze of a hopeless dream.
And like any dream, that one had to end at some point. The awakening felt like a wrench; calling them back cruelly into a no less cruel reality which only bore the promise of death and oblivion.
The two Exorcists were lying on the bed, one cuddled against the other, fingers intertwined, silent. Suddenly the younger one buried his face in his partner's chest as tearless sobs shook his body.
"Moyashi?" Kanda asked cautiously.
"Kanda... promise me... promise me that you'll do everything to stay alive, promise me that after the battle, we'll go back together and we'll argue again, we'll spar again, you'll call me 'Moyashi' again, you..."
"Stop it." the older male interrupted it, though there was no roughness in his tone. "Just stop it. You know my answer already." he added, stroking Allen's hair as if to comfort him despite his words held no comfort in them. "The only thing I can promise you is that I'll stay with you, no matter what happens."
Allen's heart sank at those words, but at the same time he felt as if a heavy burden had been removed from his shoulders. At least he wouldn't be alone anymore. Poor consolation, but enough to soothe him temporarily and allow him to let sleep take over him.
Kanda noticed that the boy had fallen asleep in his arms, and a silent sigh escaped his lips, trying not to think about how screwed up they were. Minutes passed, and Allen's peaceful breathing was the only sound that could be heard in the room. And at some point, Kanda swore he heard the boy mutter in his sleep the words 'Black Knight', though he didn't even try to understand the meaning of those words.
Lenalee was in a complete, hysterical state.
"Brother! How could you... how could you... You saw what happened with the Generals! And now you're sending Allen and Kanda to get killed too?" She slammed her hands on Komui's desk, unable to contain her fury. Behind her, Lavi was trying to calm her down though it was clear that he was sharing the same thoughts as Lenalee.
"Lenalee, if I were given the choice, I'd have never sent them out." Komui replied miserably. "But the orders came from too high for me to be able to do anything about them." He held his head between his hands. "Believe me, I'd have offered anything to keep Allen and Kanda here. But Leverrier made it clear that it was either them, or..."
"Or what!" Lenalee urged him, her cheeks red with anger.
"Or he'd have sent you instead!" Komui let out, exasperated.
"Then you should have sent me!" the girl yelled.
"Don't speak nonsense!" Komui started losing his temper. "How could I do such a thing? You're my sister, for heaven's sake!"
"So you chose to send Allen and Kanda to be slaughtered instead? Is that it?"
"I'm telling you I wasn't given the choice!"
"Yes you were! You..."
It was Lavi who had cut in. He shook her by the shoulders in a futile attempt at reasoning with her.
"You can't blame your brother for caring for you!" he snapped.
"I can't stand the fact that Kanda and Allen were sent out to that damn suicidal mission either, but don't put the blame on Komui!"
Lenalee gritted her teeth, trying to find harsh and hurtful words to spat back, but in the end she merely shook her head violently.
"This isn't fair! This isn't fair at all! Why them? If Leverrier wants to get rid of the Earl so much, he should go there by himself! Damn monster!"
"We know it's not fair, we know it!" Lavi replied. "But there's nothing we can do about it!"
"Yes there is! I'm going with them!" Lenalee decided, freeing herself from Lavi's grip.
"No!" Komui jumped out of his desk at once. "You won't be able to do a thing there, and I don't want to lose you too!"
"I refuse to leave them alone!"
"Lenalee." his brother called her name with his most serious tone. "Try to consider – no matter how hard it is – try to consider that they will succeed. They've never failed a single mission they were given, even when we thought that all hope was lost. I want to believe that they will manage this one somehow as well. I want to believe in them. Don't you?" he asked, gazing straight at her.
Lenalee blinked and looked away, her fists shaking.
"I-Of course I want to believe in them. But... this mission... it can't even be called a mission! Brother, how long since they left?"
"About five hours, why?"
"Then I'm going there anyway. Even if I'm late, five hours is more than enough to decide the turn of events. I want to see the outcome with my own eyes. If... if they're still alive, then I want to be there to help them. Please let me go, Brother." Lenalee requested almost pleadingly.
"I'll go with her." Lavi added suddenly. "We'll be careful."
Komui was visibly torn apart between his desire to protect her sister and the remorse gnawing at him for sending the two male Exorcists to their deaths. In the end, the latter prevailed and it was with a more than reluctant tone that he finally spoke again:
"Fine. You may go."
It was almost night. The stones were crunching under their feet. The traces of a recent battle was still visible.
"So this is where our Generals fought and lost." Allen commented, gazing around him at the broad field of burnt soil. "And the manor right in front of us is our target." Turning to Kanda, he added jokingly: "If we're lucky, the Earl will be too busy taking care of his family that we'll be able to surprise them."
The Japanese male nodded, not really paying attention to Allen's words, until the boy exclaimed:
Kanda turned his eyes to where Allen was pointing, and to his surprise, he saw a flower in the middle of the rubble. It was small, looked so fragile and yet had managed to survive despite the carnage that had occurred there.
The petals were round and white with black dots on them. Allen crouched and picked the flower up, staring at it as if it was a precious jewel.
"It's a Nemophila Menziesii Atomaria." he said.
"I beg your pardon?" Kanda cocked an eyebrow, making Allen chuckle.
"I read it in a book Lenalee lent me and – oh no! I completely forgot to give it back to her! Oh well, I guess I'll do it when we come back."
"You read books about flowers?" Kanda inquired, smirking. The boy blushed slightly.
"Well, I had some free time so... but well, I saw a picture of that flower in the book. It's also called 'Baby Blue Eyes'."
"Blue? Why blue?"
"Well, the black dots you see can sometimes turn dark blue and they look like small eyes. Like yours." Allen added, chuckling.
"Oi, don't start comparing me with a flower, Moyashi." Kanda grunted.
"But I really like this flower, you know... The mere fact that it managed to grow in such a place, all alone is already a miracle in itself, and..." Allen hesitated.
"Don't you think... it fits us well?"
"I mean, the colours. I was told that... my colour is white, and I think yours is black."
"Sounds pretty silly to me."
Allen sighed. "I guess it does."
"And anyway, it'd mean that I'm the bad guy marring the purity of your whiteness?" Kanda sneered.
"No! You don't get it at all! I was just thinking that this flower bearing our colours and which managed to survive here... was some sort of sign..."
"Che, I don't believe in that crap."
The silver-haired Exorcist raised his eyes to Kanda and stepped closer to him. Then he leant his head against his chest, sighing.
"I'm sorry, I know what I said sounded childish. I guess I just wanted to give myself some hope."
Strong arms wrapped around him, pulling him into a comforting embrace.
"Why do you need hope when you have me?"
Those few words were a mere whisper in Allen's ear, and yet they were the only words he needed to hear. Snuggling closer to Kanda, he closed his eyes and nodded. Kanda was everything he needed.
A hand lifted his chin and lips met his. A gentle kiss, with no pretence, simply there to remind the two beings that they still had each other. And suddenly, nothing was left but them. There was no battlefield, no manor, no Earl, no Noah, no mission; there were only two people lost in a world from which they didn't expect anything anymore, lost in their own world built by their own thoughts, their own desires and their own longing for each other.
They made the kiss last, never willing to break it for fear of breaking the charm as well. If they could have stopped the flow of time at that moment, leaving them securely enclosed in each other's arms, they'd have done it without the slightest bit of hesitation. Hands cupped a round face, caressing the soft skin and feeling the long scar marring the cheek, lips still sealed together; a slender body pressed itself against the warmth of a reassuring chest.
But they had a mission to accomplish and soon found themselves separating reluctantly. Their gazes met, speaking silently for themselves as words were now rendered useless.
Then, facing the manor looming in the darkness of the approaching night, fingers interlaced, the two Exorcists moved forward with a single thought in their minds: never letting go of each other.
Never had Lenalee and Lavi run as fast as they were now. They could see huge columns of smoke rising from afar, but as no sound of battle could be heard, it could only mean one thing: it was over.
The two Exorcists rushed there until both were out of breath, and even then they kept running, too anguished about their friends to even think of slowing down.
'Please let them be alive, please oh please!' Lenalee kept repeating mentally as she was getting closer and closer to the scene.
And finally, after what had seemed to be hours for them, they arrived and saw... nothing.
There was nothing left; a deserted land with ruins of what looked like a former mansion, gaping craters on the ground and the sinister smell of destruction floating in the air. The moonlight was enough to give Lavi and Lenalee a clear view of the desolate landscape spreading in front of their widened eyes. A soft breeze brought the faint smell of burning though no fire could be seen.
Lenalee gasped and covered her mouth with both hands, suddenly seized by nausea. She stepped forward, searching frantically for traces of Kanda and Allen, her state of panic increasing gradually as she could see nothing.
"There!" Lavi exclaimed suddenly, pointing a finger in front of him. Of course Lavi's eye was far sharper than any normal human being's. He hurried forward, followed by Lenalee, but when the girl saw him fall on his knees as he reached the spot, her body turned limp. Despite her legs were refusing to carry her, she approached Lavi hesitantly and looked over his shoulder.
At their feet were lying Allen and Kanda, injured beyond healing, not moving save for their hair blown by the wind.
"Allen! Kanda!" Lenalee exclaimed, kneeling at their sides though not daring to touch the broken bodies. Words died in her throat; she didn't even have enough strength to cry out her despair at the sight of her fallen comrades. Her face turned apathetic and she started trembling uncontrollably. Seeing it, Lavi pulled her in his arms, seeking as much comfort as he was giving it. In his embrace, Lenalee had turned as limp as a corpse, barely reacting to the words he was murmuring at her hear, barely feeling the gentle strokes on her back.
Then, slowly, very slowly, she turned her eyes back to Allen and Kanda and her eyes widened. She hadn't noticed it at first, but now she could see their peaceful faces, as if they had welcomed death as their salvation, and for a short moment, she thought they were only sleeping. Then Lavi tugged her sleeve and pointed at the two Exorcists' hands.
Allen's hand was tightly enclosed in Kanda's one, so tightly that it seemed that no one would be able to force them apart.
Lenalee smiled weakly:
"So that's how it was..." she murmured softly. Her eyes drifted to Allen's free hand, and to her surprise, she saw something sticking out of the balled fist. As she got closer to see what it was and managed to identify it, her smile broadened.
"What is it?" Lavi asked next to her.
"It's commonly called 'Baby Blue Eyes'..." she replied, her hand closing on Allen's fist.
On Lenalee's request, the bodies of Allen Walker and Yū Kanda were burnt together.
A day after, she and Lavi slipped out the Headquarters with a huge bag of fabric which content was unknown to everyone but them.
There was a hill not far away, always battered by a strong wind, and as the two Exorcists climbed at the top, tears started flowing abundantly from Lenalee's eyes. She couldn't stop them and didn't even try; it felt good not to hold back. A faint smile graced Lavi's lips. Her tears certainly reflected sadness, but there was also the strange relief of awakening from a never-ending nightmare.
"Ready?" the redhead asked her. As Lenalee nodded, Lavi opened the bag and immediately, ribbons of black-dotted white flowers rose in swirling coils, carried away by the wind and filling the sky with butterfly-like petals.
And as Lenalee and Lavi gazed at the sky, they could have sworn they heard voices among the flowers, one calling out for a moyashi and the other one laughing back cheerfully.
A/N: No, don't kill me. That was my first time at writing that kind of fics, and I think it'll be the last too. But do drop a review to tell me your thoughts? :]