Love hurts. Death doesn't.
Disclaimer: I do not own D. Gray Man or any of its characters; what I own is just fanfiction.
. Break .
There was just so much she could take before she snapped.
A sharp ripping sound tore the air; in her hands were two torn pieces of a photograph with a messy, irreparable fissure slicing through the middle, not quite accurately, more diagonal than anything so that it cut off more of the smiling girl in the picture than her male partner. She remembered that day: they'd squeezed in some time for a trip to the beach under the excuse of being on a mission together, and Lavi had somehow gotten hold of a camera for the occasion. Hey, they were young – there wasn't much they wouldn't do, back then.
Her fingers curled around the halves of the photo, crumpling them in her shaking fists. Tears rose, unbidden, to the corners of her eyes, crowding until they overflowed in twin rivulets down her face. I've been so, so naïve….
You promised me, didn't you? And you said you wouldn't break promises, you liar.
"Allen, you liar," she sobbed. The torn pieces of the photograph fluttered to the ground, babied by the wind. She cried harder.
She thought they could finally be together after the fall of the Millennium Earl and his Noah sidekicks, despite the mystifying presence of wild Level One Akuma (Komui suspected that was the reason they still had their Innocence). They – the Exorcists, the scientists, the finders – were set free from the shackles of the Vatican, able to find and lead their own lives. Everyone had been happy when the Black Order was dissolved. One by one they crafted lives of their own and moved on: Jerry became a chef at a hotel; Miranda and Krory settled down in a quiet village in Britain; Lavi, much to the chagrin of his friends, was no longer Lavi the moment he moved on with Bookman. She remembered how hard she cried after his emotionless goodbye. Allen had been her pillar of strength then.
Like a child she had clung to him, sucking up the warmth he always seemed to have. He let her do so, comforted her openly, even. For once, Komui did not object. They became a couple after that – but only after Allen received a 'brotherly', man-to-man talk with her brother which included giant drills, threats of a physical nature, a lot of screaming and a number of hasty, terrified agreements. She remembered how she had laughed at Allen's description of the ordeal even as she yelled Komui down.
But despite all that, Allen couldn't - didn't - even share that being with her was killing him inside, that martyr.
"You should have said something," she whispered to no one in particular, her vision clouded and watery. She rested a hand on her chest, where the pendant he'd given her hung between her breasts. The metal was warm to the touch – just like him, she'd like to think, but she knew that it was her own body heat she felt. She tugged at the chain, hoping to pull her pain out with it. It just hurt her more.
Allen was a master actor and an idiot. She was a bigger idiot for loving him.
Looking back, she should have noticed the signs. She should have suspected something amiss when he always was the one who pulled away from kisses; when he shied from prolonged contact, and eventually from contact at all; when he slowly inched away from her when they were in bed. But then again, his actions could have been interpreted as him falling out of love…no one would have suspected the true reason for his staying away. Allen had always been a crafty liar.
Though how he'd manage to hide the fact that the Fourteenth was never properly purged from him, she'd never know. Some fragment of the Noah must have stayed within his body, because unbeknownst to everyone around him, the boy became increasingly allergic to Innocence. At first it was minor, he'd confessed minutes before his death: a tingle whenever he activated, a burning sensation whenever he came into contact with Innocence, raw or otherwise. Then it began to consume him alive.
It was still bearable at the time they hooked up, but his condition deteriorated a few months into their relationship, so that merely being near Innocence hurt him. Often she bombarded herself with questions after his revelation. Why didn't anyone notice that he'd stopped training with Kanda? Why didn't anyone realize Allen was getting hurt more often from his skirmishes with wild Akuma? Why-
-why didn't he tell her earlier?
She didn't find out until the day she and Allen went out for some ice cream. The queue was rather long, and as they stood side-by-side, hands locked together, she'd noticed a gradual trembling. It wasn't long before Allen suggested that they buy ice cream elsewhere instead, subtly loosening his grip. She acquiesced; the next ice cream shop looked empty, anyway.
They bought their ice creams then retired to a nearby bench to enjoy them. She had to let go of his hand to hold both cones while he searched his pockets – for his hair tie, he explained , after which Lenalee suggested she cut his hair (it never happened). Upon failing to find it, he resigned himself to dirtying his hair and took back his ice cream. Lenalee sat beside him, shoulder to shoulder.
It must have hurt like hell, but Allen didn't move away as he normally did when they were in bed – it also meant that she felt his growing tremors. She was about to ask him about it when he clawed at his chest, face pale and eyes closed, his breaths carefully measured. He muttered something about having a stomachache and attempted to go off to the washroom alone, but she was adamant in helping him, supporting him with an arm across his back. How was she to know that she was causing him more pain?
Allen's steps kept slowing until he finally stopped altogether a few meters from the washroom. Lenalee tried to nudge him in, but he shook his head, the simple motion making him sway and stagger. A giant shiver ran down his body – and down hers, through her arm. She felt a stab of fear, but all he said (with a smile) was, "Let's go back" and a moment later, "I'm sorry."
Without thinking, she scooped him up, activated her Dark Boots and ran, chalking up his choked groans to his ailing stomach. Once at the infirmary she watched the nurse help Allen into the intensive care room, wringing her hands with worry. She learned later than Allen had sneaked out when the nurse had her back turned. How he did it baffled her to this day.
Why he did it, on the other hand…she learned it from Timcampy quite by accident a few days after his death. She'd been pining for a reminder, any reminder of him, and it occurred to her that the golden golem might have records of him. With a combination of pleads, bribery and coercion, she managed to get it to show her what she wanted.
Timcampy, it seemed, loved to record its master's actions. She was treated to a variety of recordings, mostly hilarious ones (did Timcampy sense her feelings?), when towards the end the mood took a somber turn. She watched a record of Allen in a washroom, panting and white as a sheet, slumped against a wall. The video was jerky and dizzying to watch; Timcampy was probably frantic when it filmed its master. She didn't blame it.
"It isn't getting better," she heard Allen say in the recording. He turned tired eyes to look straight at Timcampy, and her heart almost stopped – it looked as though he was looking at her instead. "I don't…ngh…think I'll last much longer," he muttered, head drooping. The video dropped abruptly and zoomed in on Allen's hand: the golem had bitten his finger and was pulling as hard as its little body would allow. Judging by Allen's shouts, it must have hurt.
"Oi, Tim!" he protested before curling into a ball to ride out another bout of tremors, panting and coughing. Blood speckled the golem's lens; its attempts to clear it just made the blood spread. She'd whimpered when she saw that. The fit lasted a few minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. At the end of it Allen sighed and threw his head back with a dull thump. "It doesn't get better when I stay far away from Innocence anymore," he whined to Tim. His words smote her heart. "Why, Tim? Why?"
'Why' had become a constant echo in both their lives, it seemed.
She was crying long after the recording dimmed and Timcampy flew away.
She was there by his side in his final moments – and thus became his unwitting murderer. If she had known what the catalyst was, she'd never have snuggled down beside him. If she hadn't-if she'd left him alone, he might have lived another day. If, if, if. If meant nothing more than a world of possibilities she did not and now could not explore, and it killed her to know it.
As it is, she watched, horrified, as Allen reacted to her proximity within seconds, first spasming then falling off the bed with muffled groans of pain. She'd screamed then, scrambled down to hold him, caressed his face as she called desperately for help. His breaths stuck in his throat as blood bubbled out of his mouth, choking him. His hands scrabbled the floor blindly until she grabbed one, crying, then his jerking calmed down.
Choking and gasping, he babbled about anything and everything to her, swimming in and out of awareness of her presence. Unable to bear it, she activated her Dark Boots to run to the infirmary when he screamed, convulsed and went limp in her arms.
"Allen!" she cried, shaking him. No response. Sobbing, she stood up and rushed out of the door, running on adrenaline and sheer leg muscle strength. "Allen please don't die on me, please, please I want – I need -"
"I'm glad I…" She froze when she heard his voice "…glad I didn't marry…you, Lenalee…." She sobbed harder.
"Don't say that Allen, I love you!"
"Be free," he whispered. His body shuddered in her tight grip. "L-Lo…."
She kicked the infirmary door open and yelled for the nurse, begging him to please hold on, help's coming, Allen stay with me-
"I'm sorry," the nurse said, shaking her head. She let go of Allen's limp wrist. "Why – how…?"
But she was already bolting out of the door, crying her heart out.
"I'm glad I didn't marry you, Lenalee…."
Life was downright unfair.
She stared at the torn photograph through a haze of tears, her mind racing with memories of them together. They won the war with the Earl, but they'd lost the war with Allen's own body. She didn't know that the even score could cause two such different emotions to swell within her, but it did.
And it hurt.
Her tears dried.
Okay I am back (for a brief moment) to fanfiction – and trying a new fandom, hope you readers like this oneshot!
In case anyone's wondering, yes, 'she' is Lenalee; I didn't mention her name in the narration to show how insignificant she felt to Allen because he didn't trust her enough to share his pain with her. But ah, that's the Allen we know, yeah?
Also, since Tim can record stuff I'm assuming he has lens somewhere on his body. Hahaha.
Reviews will be loved, and critiques will be great. Thanks for reading!