Disclaimer: D. Gray-man and its characters are Katsura Hoshino's, but I hereby claim this AU plot as mine xD
Beta-readers: Becca and Syu_bear
Susohiki: a kimono worn by a courtesan/performer. It's longer than any other kimonos.
Geta: a slipper used when wearing kimonos.
Tatami: Japanese plaited mats.
A/ N: when taking a customer, ancient Japanese courtesans used incenses. After one incense burnt out, the time is over and the customer should pay more to lengthen the time. And Yoshiwara is the name of Edo's most famous pleasure district, I just snatched the name lol.
Also, this is AU, so I made Leverrier to work for France although he's British lol. And although this story is about a courtesan (Allen), it's not based on that Memoir of a Geisha movie. Because I haven't watched it, so I have no idea how the story goes. I just got this idea for Carnival because I imagine that carnivals are red from madness, and so are the pleasure districts.
And please remember that this story is set in a new era (the world once died). Everything is back to the old culture, but it has differences with the 'real' ancient time =)
Last but not least, please enjoy this fic ^^
The first time Allen saw him, the snow had just melted its soft layers and the cherry blossom petals had started to float along gentle spring breeze. Also, it was when the entire Yoshiwara was boisterous, for a young man with a certain history with the red district had just showed up for the second time.
"Why does everyone look so uneasy?"
Allen's white hair was loosely blown in the wind, as his pale neck was revealed from under the flabby susohiki's collar. Yes, despite being a man, he was wearing those clothes—the kimono specialized for that of a performer's, or in other words, a prostitute's.
"Because of that man, Allen," Daisya, one of the male servants in Satsuki-Ya, where as Allen worked at, whispered tentatively. "I heard he was evil enough to make Madam hate him."
Allen craned his neck to see past the annoying wooden partition, as across the yard the tall man walked through the gate with several men tailing behind.
"But, see? That Madam is welcoming him by herself. And with such a broad wide smile," Allen commented sarcastically, now leaning his weight on the partition and standing on his toes. "She looks really happy."
"No, she is not." A low voice from behind almost made Allen and Daisya jump, pressing against each other from the surprise.
"Krory!" Allen huffed in relief as soon as he saw who had just spoken, and Daisya hurriedly excused himself; scared of being scolded for getting too close to one of the male-prostitutes. "Are you finished?"
The man with sickly pale skin walked up from the door, his long susohiki trailed against the tatami floor, the corner of his mouth twitched and a line of red was marked from his lips, down to his chin.
"Men don't like an old man like me anymore, though," he wiped his lips with a wet cloth. "This is the peak of your career, Allen, or it should be."
"Hmn..." Allen slid down to the floor, fingers ruffling the peak of his kimono. "Well, maybe if that man wants to hire me," he peeked outside through the tiny holes on the wooden partition.
Krory raised his eyebrows. "As your senior, I prefer you not to be near him," he folded the damp cloth into a triangle, and gracefully turned on his feet; walking out of the door.
Allen pursed his lips at this.
Krory had always been graceful. He was, from the rumours Allen heard in the past few years being Krory's young apprentice, a noble from a far away country. What had made him become a prostitute, Allen didn't know. But he did have the slightest idea of why Krory was introduced to this business.
The same as Allen, maybe.
But Allen did not have any more time to enjoy his musing, though, for Daisya had once more emerged from the door, looking pale and short of breath.
"Allen, Madam wants you to serve that guy!"
"This is Allen, our most beautiful," the madam bowed lowly; Allen had never seen her like that before. "He is still young, however. Please guide him and bear with his naiveté."
Allen was about to nod respectfully to the man. Almost. But he swallowed back his action as those penetrating dark-eyes shone with mockery.
"This is your most beautiful one?" snorted the so-called evil man, his feature that was wrapped in fine western clothes only added his arrogance.
The madam was stupefied; hurriedly calling Daisya and the other male servants to call the other boys—or girls—from her other brothel.
"Well, this kid is sure a beauty, Yu," a guy with red hair and an eye-patch spoke up from behind that cocky Japanese-faced-westerner, observing Allen from head to toes with naughty eyes. "I'll take him if you don't want—"
A hand raised just to halt the redhead from speaking any further, concurrently stopping the Madam from her panic attack.
"No need for such a hassle. I'll take this kid."
And oh, the opposite of the Madam's relieved sigh and the redhead's shrug, Allen was not pleased at all. But sure, he was just a prostitute, and his curiosity regarding this guy might be answered if he could do his job nicely.
"All done. So this is you, Mr. Kanda Yu," Allen hummed; his brush sliding on a thin, white paper with rustling sounds.
Kanda glanced at the painting—black invaded almost all of the white area. His hair, his suits, his background...
"Do you associate me with black?"
Allen cocked his head up, eyebrows connected in response. "Don't you think you are wearing too much black? And this room is dark as well."
At this Kanda snorted, sitting with crossed legs and his back leaning on the wall. Reddish light from the paper lanterns outside slipped inside through the open window, glowing the dark room in dimmed red, as pink petals flew in from the nearest cherry blossoms tree.
"I overestimated your skill, then."
"Excuse me?" Allen raised his voice one pitch higher. "I'm sorry, sir, but I'm only a prostitute and you came here to sleep with me, but weird enough you asked me to paint you."
"Because your face makes me lose my will to do it."
"Excuse me?" To hell with modesty. This guest was such a bastard.
"Shut up, beansprout," Kanda sighed, his back sinking further against the wall. When Allen was forced to shut his mouth up for the sake of serving his guest, Kanda gazed outside the window through his half-lidded eyes.
"The world once died..."
Allen tilted his head to the side, pursing his lips in question.
"Are you talking about this world's history, sir?"
"Drop the 'sir'."
"Just drop the 'sir', it makes me feel old. I'm only twenty-one, kid."
Allen shook his head wearily. "Oh really, but your attitudes say otherwise, Kanda."
"You mean I'm old?" his glare was just as dark as the room was; Allen gulped at this.
"What was it about the world, again?"
Kanda threw an inaudible 'tch', though he did not really mind the lame way Allen tried to divert his attention. He exhaled silently, back into gazing outside the window.
"Before this world we live in, was a world where people were free to go anywhere. Even abroad. Even flying through the sky."
Allen nodded slightly. "Yes, I heard that story. But it's only folklore. I mean, people could fly? Really?"
"Of course they could, stupid beansprout."
Allen was about to retort, but bit back his words as Kanda's eyes turned lively for a second.
"People have found ships, and in Europe there are trains already. Soon, we will find the things we need to fly."
It was funny for him to admit, but putting aside all the silly talks Kanda had forced him to listen to, Allen found himself fascinated by the man. Beautiful, yet masculine enough for him to be called a man—the opposite of Allen with his long kimono, he smiled bitterly.
"So where's Europe?" Allen slid nearer to where it was Kanda sat, looking quite excited in seeing what kind of expression Kanda would show him next.
"What?" Kanda faced Allen incredulously. "Isn't that where you came from, brat?"
Allen blinked, then shook his head in response. "Unfortunately I don't remember a thing. When I was twelve a man found me in an empty street, and when I was fifteen I was brought here to feed my own self."
"And how old are you now?"
"Eighteen. I just turned eighteen last December and this past April I became the most wanted male partner in this place," Allen flashed a cocky smile, yet under Kanda's judging glare, his smile dropped, inviting deep silence to embrace the room for a while.
"...You want to escape from this place?"
Allen did not answer to Kanda's sudden question, instead he just sent his eyes far through the window, observing the stars.
"Abroad, artists are much more respected."
Allen snapped his face to Kanda at this, finding the man tardily close his eyes as he spoke.
"Painter. You want to be one, don't you? You have inks all over your hands."
Therefore whilst Kanda started to doze off against the wall, Allen could only wonder... How stupid the man was for judging him as wanting to be a painter, while in fact he dirtied his hands with ink from trying to learn calligraphy.
But it was not that bad... Because Kanda let him paint and had not slept with him for that very stupid reason, didn't he? Well... It was indeed not so bad, Allen mused deep within.
"It's this season already."
Red light from the paper lanterns mixed with yellowish light fire used for the festival lanterns, glowed through the neighbourhood in midst summer night. Crickets had come out from their hideout, streaming their harmony in gentle, warm air.
Allen narrowed his languorous eyes, throwing his gaze to the temple stairs, where up above a summer festival was held.
"Did you say something, Allen?" Daisya caught up to him in little jog, hands carrying a bag of incenses. "It's almost time, we should go back to Satsuki-Ya."
"Hmn, have you ever tried going to a summer festival, Daisya?" Allen tilted his head to the side, letting his hair fall freely along his neck. Sometimes he was grateful for having such weird hair colour. His customers wanted him to let his hair loose and not wearing any kind of heavy accessories on his head.
"Of course! What, you've never been there?"
"Cross, my ex-master, said he would take me to the festival, but in fact he sold me to Yoshiwara," Allen pouted, skipping lightly despite the annoying geta he wore. "Since then festivals are always red in my eyes."
"Because Yoshiwara is a red district and you thought it was the festival?" Daisya almost burst out laughing, if not because Allen's smile had another meaning like, 'if you laugh, you'll suffer', or something along the lines.
"Alright, stop it. The Madam would kill me if I don't deliver these incenses on time. Why the hell did you insist on coming with me anyway? This is just a nearby market," grumbled the male servant with a weary sigh.
"As long as the sun's still up, I'm not the property of Satsuki-Ya," Allen muttered quietly. "Now the sun has set though."
"But you seem happy with that evil master Kanda Yu."
Allen gave him a simple shrug, his collar fell loosely around his shoulders.
"You know Allen, Krory told me that you really shouldn't be too attached to that guy."
That topic again. Allen couldn't care less about it. Ever since he met Kanda, everyone kept on showering him warnings, if not jealous glares. But nobody could actually explain their reasons.
"That Kanda guy is..." Daisya stopped his steps; and Allen somehow got the feelings that something wasn't right.
"He has killed—"
"What is it with me?"
The voice of someone very familiar made them stop in their tracks, immediately they settled their eyes on the man who was now cutting their distance. Speak of the devil: Kanda Yu.
Panicked and scared, Daisya shook his head as though he was choked by his own spit. Being a low servant for as long as he remembered alive in this world did not really take all of his bravery, naughtiness and easiness; but it was only in front of his one and only friend, Allen. But to be caught up by the one he just told Allen a killer, obviously made all colours on his face drain into blue.
"Kanda," Allen stated, not really sure of what to say further. Said guy just continued walking until he was now right before Allen and Daisya, expression drowned in darkness.
"What is it about me?"
"Well, it was—"
"We've got to go back to Satsuki-Ya!" Daisya interrupted Allen's words, acting as a wall between the prostitute and Kanda. His colour was back; it was red from anger, or maybe nervousness this time. "So we don't have time to be here any longer!" He took Allen's arm in his quite roughly, pulling said boy to go anywhere, or wherever, just away from Kanda.
Yet, Allen resisted.
"Kanda is going to our shop as well, Daisya."
"Well, who cares—"
"Who said I'm going to that shitty place?"
At Kanda's remark, Allen tweaked his eyebrows and Daisya felt somehow relieved by the revelation.
"But you promised to tell me more about the other countries today!"
Kanda raised his eyebrows in mockery at Allen's protestation. "Did I tell you I'm going to babysit you in Satsuki-Ya today?"
"Wha—what?" Allen blinked. "Well, in case you hit your head somewhere... I'm only available if you go to Satsuki-Ya."
"Allen, let him be!" He sensed Daisya pull him harder; yet he resisted just as harder.
"No, Daisya. I think low of those who break promises," persistent he was, even Daisya couldn't drag him from the spot his feet had rooted on.
"Silly beansprout and his low servant," Kanda lifted his chin with a slight smirk, obtaining angry glares from Allen and Daisya—the latter had fear mixed up with anger, obviously. But upon those empty threats the two gave him, Kanda merely snatched Allen's arm from the other guy out of a sudden that Allen felt his body pulled right into Kanda's embrace—not too gently. A faint scent of musk invaded his nose at once; Kanda's scent.
"We're having a date outside that boring place."
Accompanied by Daisya's yell in the background, Allen could only stay wide-eyed as he was dragged mercilessly through the crowd, until Daisya was no longer inside his line of vision.
No kidding. That Kanda Yu had just kidnapped him from his duty as a brothel number one. From the loyal friend he had. From the night routines he thought to be deadly and painfully killing him slowly but sure...
... To a lively place named summer festival.
People's laughter and chattering turned into buzzing sounds in Allen's ears as he let his hand in Kanda's warm one. The redness in his vision—he was supposed to hate the colour—blinded him, making Kanda's figure blend into gorgeous scarlet as they walked past the gate of pleasure district. Translucent it was, Kanda's skin under the glowing lanterns. And somehow, seeing him like this from behind made Allen forget the blackness Kanda might have hidden within.
"Change your kimono."
"Excuse me?" Allen asked haltingly, confused and surprised for the sudden stop they made in front of a traditional store. Or a kimono store, to be precise.
Kanda didn't answer. The kimono merchant; a middle-aged man with rounded belly came out of the store and greeted the frowning Kanda with much care—or was that anxiousness?
"Welcome, young master, what could I do for you today?"
Allen narrowed his eyes at this, peering at Kanda's stillness. So Kanda really was someone with... authority. Well, if he weren't, then the madam's wouldn't overly-respect him like that, Allen nodded to himself.
"Pick a kimono for him," the long-haired man pushed Allen's back slightly, encouraging him to step in to the store.
"Oh, yes, we have new patterns for young girls—"
"Male kimono. Please."
Allen raised his eyebrows over Kanda's order; missing the merchant's baffled eyes—either from hearing the arrogant guy say 'please' or from knowing Allen was actually a boy.
Well, first of all, Allen thought Kanda was embarrassed to walk with him—with a low performer who wore a cheap and long susohiki. Thus, it was plausible if Kanda wanted him to dress as a respectful woman. After all, Allen was supposed to be Kanda's date tonight. But out of every coherent thing Allen could think of, Kanda chose to dress him as a man?
"What? Or do you prefer western clothes like mine?" Kanda scowled at Allen's stupefaction.
Allen eyed him grudgingly, shaking his head in bewilderment. But he obeyed anyway, when the store owner led him inside and chose a plain grey kimono for him. It was indeed plain, but the fabric felt soft and Allen almost dropped his eyeballs when he heard the price. It required him to work day and night for more than one year, to have such amount of money.
"Why do you want me to dress as a man?" Allen inquired as their feet climbed the temple stairs, occasionally brushed past flood of people who were climbing down the stairs. Gentle summer breeze blew Allen's hair away of his forehead and cheek, and he fiddled his kimono sleeves with his fingers. It felt weird. Just how long had he been wearing those susohikis?
Kanda's forehead creased under the lightly blown fringe; his pony tail swung along with each of his steps. "Have you forgotten that you're male, beansprout?"
Allen tweaked his brows in disapproval, having no idea of how far Kanda's stupidity was. "Of course not. I'm always reminded every time I go to the wash room, you know?"
"Good," Kanda nodded slightly, pulling Allen's arm towards him as he saw a group of children ran down the stairs clumsily. "I'm asking a man out. Not a woman. Or a drag queen. What's so weird for wanting you dress up as a man if you are a man?"
Following Kanda from behind as his hand was tugged by the guy, Allen could only stare in stunned silence. It was not that it was weird. And it was not that he purposefully let the 'drag queen' part go as it was. But somehow, the fact that Kanda saw him really as a man, and not being embarrassed of that fact, sprayed water to his heart.
Again, how many years had he spent being recognized as a woman-male in Yoshiwara? When was the last time people saw him truly as a man?
"We're here, beansprout."
All the red was gone; it was yellow from the stalls' lanterns that brightened the whole place. Cries and squeals from children as they played, giggles from the girls and some boisterous laughter from their men mixed into one lively place.
No incenses smell here. No flirtatious lines or some dirty nudges, pokes, and spanks as he danced for his guests. The reeks of alcohol were faintly noticed, not as sharp as the ones he smelt every day and every night. Somehow, everything lightened his heart and he was awed at the view.
"Shut your mouth, you look like an idiot!"
Allen nervously clapped his mouth shut and found Kanda's glare right before him.
"I can't help it, this really is my first time going to a festival..." Allen pouted, yet his eyes lingered around the booths again. "What will we do here?"
"What will we do?" Kanda harrumphed at Allen's question. "Obviously we're going to eat soba!" and with that he continued dragging Allen, searching for a soba stall, not really minding when Allen almost tripped because Kanda walked too fast.
"Doesn't the food at Satsuki-Ya taste better than this?" Allen commented as he slurped a good strip of soba. The place they were sitting at was a secluded one, far from the noise and quite dark for the lanterns almost couldn't reach the area. From their position, although they were sitting on the grass, they could see the city view beneath, across the fences. Now the redness of the pleasure district below was back to Allen's vision.
"But strangely I enjoy eating this rather than the ones at Satsuki-Ya..." Allen continued on, swallowing the food in one gulp.
"To me you look like you're enjoying whatever that's shoved into your mouth," Kanda helpfully stated, and Allen glared at this.
"Well, sir Kanda, you kidnapped me and that will make you a criminal because now the Madam must be really aggravated. She could even call the police you know."
"Oh really? Are you that precious to her?" Kanda casually replied as he emptied the last soba from his plate.
"They're preparing me to dance for an important person next autumn," Allen answered cockily.
"More important than me?" The raise of Kanda's eyebrows as he glanced down to Allen closely made a piece of soba fall out of the courtesan's mouth. It was dark—hell, everything was dark there, but Kanda's gaze somehow looked... seductive in Allen's eyes.
"Of—of course, who do you think you are?" Allen sprung on his feet out of his nervousness, putting the empty plate away as he did. He fiddled the sleeves of his kimono, hesitantly staring at Kanda's calm expression. "I should be dancing for that officer from abroad. Mr. Leverrier."
Allen thought Kanda would snort at his statement, or said mockingly that he was better than every guy in every aspect. At least he had expected Kanda to counter whatever Allen said like he usually did. But instead, Kanda's eyes were wide and his translucent skin turned pallid in a second.
"Kanda, are you all right?"
The man bit his lip in response, and Allen gently placed his hands over Kanda's shoulders; confused at the development.
Kanda grumbled, putting his palm close to his lips as he stayed still like a stone.
"So he'll come."
"What?" Allen tilted his head, turning on his knees with his hands still holding Kanda's shoulders. "Who'll come?"
Kanda settled his eyes on Allen's confused ones at this. He seemed to be contemplating something, before he pushed his forehead to Allen's chest, and stayed like that for a while.
They had spent so many nights together. Sometimes they would only talk until the incense ran out, if Kanda was too busy to stay over the night. Or he would only watch Kanda sleep until morning after hearing how the man wanted to discover something for humanity. But Kanda never touched him. He never touched him, and that made Allen think Kanda was a lonely person who wanted someone to talk with and fight over something silly. But not a bed partner. Kanda might prefer a true woman than a male like Allen, but...
"Why didn't you run away?"
Allen was snapped back to Earth, and glanced down. "What?"
In the warm air of summer with glowing fireflies flying around them, Allen sensed Kanda's hands sliding up on his back, fingers clasping and clutching the fabric of his kimono, to the point that Kanda's warmth and struggling and quivers transferred right into Allen's body.
"Why didn't you run away? You heard it didn't you? That I—"
Kanda jerked his face up from Allen's chest, meeting his eyes. The sharp gaze had screamed concern and kindness. And it wasn't fake.
"You're supposed to say 'someone', aren't you?"
"Oh right," Allen chuckled, yet he smiled genuinely as his fingers moved from the shoulders to Kanda's hair, and pulled the man until he was buried under his embrace. "So you killed someone."
Kanda's grip to Allen's clothes tightened as he was stunned, then loosened to fully circle Allen's petite body with the long arms he had, and breathed; Allen knew that the smell of incense was still strongly attached on him, but it didn't matter. Because the smell was the one that connected him and Kanda until now, wasn't it?
"Do you still want to be a painter?"
Allen took a moment to think, and tugged one of his lips corners up afterward. "Oh, yes, maybe," he chuckled visibly, shaking Kanda along.
"Do you want to see more festivals?"
Now Allen tweaked his brows, confused. But he didn't put it into much concern anyway, so he answered lightly. "Yes, if there's still any, I'd love to see it."
"There is. The one that's called a carnival in Europe. You want to see it, don't you? The place where people like you are free?" Kanda lifted his head from Allen's chest, locking their gaze into one, intense look.
"The place where a foreigner like me wouldn't be forced to be a slave?"
"Oh, I'd love to," the smile on Allen's visage was tender and calming; his eyes shone with affection and serenity that Kanda found it to somehow enlightening, but heart-shattering concurrently. "But how could I, anyway?"
Upon this Kanda turned on his feet and pulled Allen along until they both are face to face, Kanda several inches higher than the boy. He then shifted his gaze far below, over the benches, to the red view of pleasure district.
"I'm buying you and we'll go far from here."
That was the last line Allen heard Kanda speak out that night. And Kanda was, despite the darkness the place emitted, red and glowing. As though the colour of black and yellow had been long forgotten—now Kanda was all scarlet, emotionally.
"What are you doing here, Allen?"
Dry leaves were blown inside as Allen sat on the windowsill, his susohiki parted and revealed the pale legs that were rested messily on it. The scent of autumn under the afternoon sun had been conveyed by the wind, and Allen lazily observed every corner of the brothel's yard, sweeping red, fallen leaves with his eyes.
"Oh, Krory," he answered after a short gap. "Nothing, just watching the yard."
His ex-mentor—the one he served when he was still a new boy and must learn under a courtesan's care—slid closed the sliding door and walked up towards him.
"I saw your belongings are packed. So it's true that you're going with that person, although the Madam still hasn't given her approval?"
Allen glanced through his eyes' corners at his senior, and back to the yard again.
"Krory, what do you know about Kanda?"
Said man didn't answer immediately. Instead, he sat on the tatami, taking a small mirror out of his long kimono.
"Kanda Yu is the heir of Yoshiwara's landlord. Or probably he used to be the heir."
Allen faced Krory upon the revelation. Though, he did not feel the need to feel shocked or surprised anymore. Nothing he couldn't handle after hearing Kanda's own confession about his sin, right?
"What happened with him?"
"People said he killed his own father and went abroad with a foreigner. A Frenchman."
Allen slid down from the windowsill and sat beside his senior, pursing his lips in response. "So it is his own father that he killed..."
"People said so, but I think otherwise," Krory flashed that polite smile he always had, immediately catching Allen's attention.
"What do you mean?"
Crossing his arms over his chest and hid the hands under his kimono sleeves, Krory cocked his head sideway. "That person, I heard Kanda Yu's father was weak from he was born. When he married Kanda Yu's mother, people advised her that she shouldn't marry someone who'd die soon. But then, she was the one who died first after giving birth to Kanda."
Allen nodded. "Then?"
"Then he married the Madam, so that she could raise Kanda Yu well."
"What the —?"
The Madam was Kanda's step mother? Now that was shocking!
"I don't really know the details for I was only a new comer that time," Krory tugged a slight smile at Allen's baffled eyes, knowing what inside Allen's mind was. "But Madam really did try to take care of young Kanda Yu."
"But they didn't look like mother and son, I mean, every time Kanda came..."
"There was a costumer in this Satsuki-Ya, a Frenchman, a painter. He was close to Kanda, teaching him many things about the world abroad, and that made young Kanda want to explore the world. But that was against his father's will."
Allen remained silent; slowly but sure knowing what was about to come.
"And when young Kanda ran away, his father died from the stress. That made the Madam and his father's family accuse him for killing his own father," Krory huffed, his eyes gazing at the railing. "Poor young Kanda."
So that was what happened. So that was what made Kanda that crushed. He was after all, being accused of being his own father's murder. But—
"If he really didn't kill anyone, why do people keep on telling me to stay away from him? Why does the Madam have to be that respectful to him? Why is he—"
Why was he like that after hearing Leverrier's name?
Krory stared wide eyed at him, sounded surprised. "You really don't know?"
"What?" Allen shook his head; alarmed. "What do I not know about?"
Krory pierced his eyes deep at Allen's, biting his lower lip uncomfortably as the mirror in his hand almost cracked from the pressure his hands gave it.
Allen felt his legs numb from running too much. Every time he ran into people, they glared at him, or sometimes even touched him—taking advantage of him. No one didn't know what the susohiki he wore was. But Allen couldn't care less of what people did to him. What he really cared about was that he must find Kanda no matter what.
"He's an engineer for a foreign company, don't you know?"
Allen shook his head as he galloped trough the evening breeze, biting his lip just so hard.
How could he know? Kanda never talked about himself!
"And that foreign company is owned by the Frenchman who took him when he was young. Everybody knows because that man, Tiedoll, never forgot to send letters to the Madam before he died. Of course she threw them away, but the letters have never been secret."
His vision was almost blinded by the redness of this sinful district. Again. How he hated red so much. But he didn't have any clues of where he should search for Kanda. He really...
"He never says anything about himself!" he mumbled as the chill of autumn breeze sliced his skin; the susohiki was now messy and he tried to ignore the hungry look the men gave him from seeing his revealed shoulders.
"After Tiedoll died, the company was in deficit greatly, and Kanda Yu was accused for using the government money to rebuild the company, but... "
Pearls of sweats dropped from Allen's forehead, above those big, dreadful eyes.
How he really needed to find Kanda now, to hold his hand, to embrace him oh so tight and make sure that he was alright, but...
"...To make things worse, he ran away with his loyal workers. That made him a fugitive."
Allen tripped, his front body slammed the ground hard.
But he didn't have time for agonizing over his pain.
"Kanda Yu must have known that even if he hides here, Madam wouldn't accept him. Those overly-respectful conducts just strengthen the fact that she would report him. But he still came anyway, maybe to reminisce about his childhood, or to remember his father. It is as though he came here because he was waiting to be punished."
Allen knew. He had always known that Kanda seemed to have no more spirit to live. Like he was only waiting for his end of day to come, despite he looked so inspired every time he talked about the things humans would invent. But... but now when Kanda had actually wanted to live, to run, to be with Allen...
Leverrier sipped his tea as he glanced dirtily at his chosen courtesan—a genuine girl whose age was no more than twenty. He laughed like a truly old geezer then, a snort would occasionally come out whenever he laughed too hard. Allen peered at this.
But he danced anyway. Moving gracefully and showing the result of his three years training, the corners of his mouth stretched in a perfect U-shape, flipping a paper fan open and closed elegantly.
Then he saw it. How the Madam whispered something in the old man's ear. And vaguely, he could read their lips—saying something like 'Kanda Yu' over and over again. But his curiosity was killed once Daisya dropped the tray of food, tripped by the knots of outer kimonos the courtesans left as they had started to strip.
And Allen had no idea... That Leverrier was someone in charge of capturing Kanda.
Allen bit back the hoarse sounds in his throat as he fought the cold, getting out of the huge gate of Yoshiwara pleasure district.
The puzzle had been solved. All the pieces had been gathered together. And that would be the reason why Kanda insisted to leave before autumn came. But why? Why didn't Allen agree immediately? Why did he have to wait for the Madam's approval? He should have known that something really wasn't right! And now...
Now he hoped he wasn't too late.
"Aren't you Allen?"
Sensing a hand catch his wrist, Allen was jerked to a stop, eyes wide as he still didn't recognize whatever happened to him. His mind only thought of one thing—and one person.
"Oh wow, what happened with you?" the guy shrieked in concern as he saw how messy—and dirty—Allen was.
"Ah..." Allen slowly faced the voice's source, and listlessly responded to the man. "You're that one eyed man... You're Kanda's..."
And the realization hit him.
"You're Kanda's worker!" he grabbed the man's arm harshly, resulting said person to yelp and step backward from the sudden push. "Where's he? Where's Kanda?"
"Hey, hey, calm down!" the man struggled to free himself, almost bumping onto someone on his back. "First of all, stop calling me one eye, I'm Lavi!"
"Who cares about your name? I'm asking you where's Kanda!"
"How the hell would I know, he has his own business to take care of, you know!"
"Then at least tell me where he lives!"
Lavi shook his head, grabbing Allen's hands tightly and putting them together before Allen's chest as he bent over to set his eyes on the same level of Allen's.
"Listen, kid. If you don't calm down, I won't be able to help you."
Allen was running out of patience, how could he be calm when there was a possibility Kanda was captured by Leverrier because of his carelessness?
"Fine..." He took a deep breath, battling the urge to scream out loud to question the world where the hell Kanda was. "I'm searching for Kanda, could you tell me where he lives?"
Lavi smiled at this. "I know where he lives, but sorry Allen kiddo, I can't let you know where it is."
Allen almost bit Lavi's hands—which were still around his cold ones.
"This is important! Look, I know everything, about your company, and about that Leverrier!"
Lavi's face changed; his one eyebrow tweaked in alert.
"Please, I really have to make sure he's al—"
As a hand covered his mouth, Allen nearly howled frustratingly. Couldn't everyone be kind enough to let him know where Kanda was?
"That's Leverrier," Lavi hissed, and Allen's ears perked up, snapping his head right to where Lavi peered at: the red district gate that he had passed through just now. But that wasn't what made Allen freeze. No, it wasn't, because Allen's eyes were locked onto an oblivious guy who was just a couple feet away from that old geezer.
"Kanda... No..." Oddly, Allen's voice was gone, swallowed by the wind. But his body still could move—of course it could. He must save Kanda.
Lavi's howl as he tried to catch Allen couldn't reach the boy's ears. Allen stormed across the crowded street, ignoring the fact that he had obtained more and more complaints as he bumped onto people. But he mustn't let Leverrier get Kanda. He didn't care if Kanda was a sinful man, or a criminal; those meant nothing for a person who had lived in the pool of sins like himself. But from the look alone, Allen could see that Leverrier and his men were trying to corner Kanda, and like hell Allen would let it happen.
"Kanda!" he threw himself to said man, hugging him from behind; making Kanda jolt his face towards the one who hugged him.
"...Beansprout? What the hell are you—" Kanda's jaw stiffened; his eyes grew even wider at the view of smirking Leverrier.
"Run!" Allen pulled Kanda's arm, pushing himself to run even faster, dragging Kanda to escape from his pursuer.
There was no time to stop. No time to rest. No time to think about the pain in his feet. This was the time to think about Kanda, and only—
A bang reverberated across the entire district; and in a split second, Allen's eyes caught how Kanda's body fell right before his eyes—leaving only the limp arm in his hand. Then, seconds filled with dreadful silence enveloped him.
No answer; only the guy was now curling on the ground, hitching breathing sounded like he was strangled by an invisible rope.
"Shut up... beansprout."
It wasn't good. Definitely wasn't good; Allen's face painted in horror as the redness from red paper lanterns could not hide Kanda's blood. Wet, damp, soaking the black suit and streaming slowly but sure from his stomach—but ironically, it was gleaming under the red light, meddling just nicely with dry leaves on the ground.
"Kanda!" once more, Allen whimpered, but he wasn't going to let it be. He needed to search for help or—
The old man panted from his run and somehow his visage was pallid as soon as he saw the man curling on the ground. Dreadful, yet it metamorphosed into anger as he slapped one of his men who was holding a gun. The frantic mass broke into groups of curious people and the scared ones.
"Who told you to shoot him?"
The man dropped on his knees, hands shaking, but couldn't let the gun drop. He merely muttered how his reflects told him to shoot as he was ordered to stop Kanda. But what was the point to blame him? It wouldn't save Kanda! It wouldn't, so Allen needed to search for help!
"Could anyone just get a physician!"
"I'm not dead, so shut up!" Kanda cried, tardily turning on his legs with harsh breathing; a mark of red claimed the corner of his mouth, and half of his body was soaked by the blood as he pressed his hand on the wound. Allen almost felt relieved, if not because how bad Kanda looked.
"I'm not dead, but—" Kanda coughed; a spark of crimson came from his mouth.
"...I'm not going to be arrested."
Allen's lips quivered, and Leverrier could only be stunned by those dark, determined eyes.
"Come on," Kanda half-bending, resisting the pain that had started eating him up. His hand stretched out to Allen. "Beansprout."
What else could Allen do? What else should Allen do? Surely, he received Kanda's offer and started to support the guy by holding his arm and back. Then they walked past the mass who eyed them with mocking eyes, curious eyes, dreadful eyes, towards one of the dark and desolated gangways.
As they were now gone, covered by the stream of people who had started gossiping, Lavi emerged with a pale face; behind him were the Japanese polices.
"Why did you shoot Yu?" he screamed as soon as he got his hand on the collar of Leverrier. "Why didn't you just capture him? Why you—"
The redhead clamed up, his eyes shook as he did.
"You were only commanded to report every Kanda Yu's move. Don't get emotional now," Leverrier narrowed his eyes, seeming rude and cold-blooded. "From the start I've told you not to get too attached with your object of surveillance."
Lavi bit his lip, stilling his jaw whilst he released Leverrier harshly.
"So why did you let them go…" he muttered darkly, peering his eyes towards where it was Allen and Kanda went. Droplets of red marked the street; must have been Kanda's blood.
"He was shot badly," Leverrier fixed his suit, closing his eyes with much emotion.
"His time won't be long."
It was black all around them. Only a little amount of light from the teasing moon was there; guiding them to traverse a free from hindrance gangway. And among the heavy footsteps their feet produced, only Kanda's clogged breathing that sounded like an old kettle which accompanied them. And Allen... Allen was hardly holding his tears.
"Kanda, I know a good physician, he would be able to help you..."
"I've told you, I'm not gonna die."
"Yes, but it hurts, doesn't it?" Allen bending over to meet Kanda's eyes, as said man walked like a hunchback from the pain. "He could help you lessen the pain..."
"Beansprout!" Kanda snarled, eyes flashing darkly that made Allen flinch. He threw a 'tch' then, resisting the killing sensation which had almost got his consciousness away, stopping his tracks and pulling Allen along. "Japanese physicians won't be able to take care of wounds from guns."
"But we don't know if we don't tr—"
Allen bit the inner of his mouth.
"Look, I just need a little rest," Kanda rested his hand on the gang wall, painstakingly sliding down into a sitting position. "So come here and accompany me."
Allen obeyed, hardly. He sat beside Kanda, his back leaning against the wall and lightly he felt Kanda put his head on his shoulder—sitting limply without powers.
A small gap, then a 'hmn' sounded.
"We're going to Europe, aren't we?"
Closing his eyes, Kanda let his lips parted slowly.
"We're going to see a carnival? Where is it?"
Gently and not hurried, Allen asked as he squeezed Kanda's hand.
It turned cold.
"Maybe... The famous one would be in Italy."
"Oh, I'm looking forward to it. You promise?"
Kanda made a small gesture. It was only a slight movement, but Allen could feel that Kanda was nodding against his shoulder.
"Then get well, okay...?"
Blurry. And warm. And salty. Oh, he might have cried.
"Paint the red..."
Almost a whisper, Kanda's voice was. Allen squeezed his hand harder.
Allen struggled to make himself free from any noises. Free of choking sounds. Free from everything that could make him miss Kanda's words.
"And your place. Everything is red."
Now Allen chuckled weakly. Oh no, he failed to restrain the choking sounds from coming out along.
"That's because I'm a prostitute, you know."
Kanda moved his finger—the fore finger, and Allen felt it against his palm.
"You're a human that's surrounded by the colour of red."
Allen forced his eyes closed, biting his inner lip so hard that he could taste blood on his tongue.
"Thanks to you I can't imagine a beansprout without red now."
Allen's chest pumping wildly as he laughed, and he had lost his battle. He could not resist his tears anymore.
"Kanda," he turned to see the man beside him, slowly positioning himself in front of Kanda and lay Kanda's head on the wall. Upon this, Kanda opened his eyes.
"Idiot," he scowled with the remaining energy he had, lifting his chin up to show the tiny bit of arrogance left inside him. "I hate tears. They suck."
Allen shook his head as he saw how Kanda's lips had turned blue, and his eyes were losing their shine more and more.
"Please… We should go to the phy—"
"Don't cry in my ears, beansprout."
There were two Allens, or three. And they were blurry, as though Kanda's eyes were covered by some kind of membranes—and Kanda knew that he was now mumbling incoherently.
"Here, idiot," he muttered hardly, forcing his hand to capture Allen's head and pushed it against himself—lips to lips.
It was a trembling, non-passionate kiss. Moreover, it was not a sweet kiss that could make one fly to the seventh heaven. Because it was a kiss that made Allen's heart break into pieces, and drop him deep into a shell of agonies—and pain.
"Smile, Allen Walker."
Clapping Kanda's fingers so hard with his hands, Allen shook his head bitterly.
"Smile. Because it's all you have left."
Despite the tears. Despite the pain behind his ribs. Despite the weird face he was probably forming now. He smiled. And he smiled, and he smiled until his cheeks hurt.
Until Kanda Yu closed his eyes forever.
"And that concludes our winter tour today!"
Clapping sounds as the children yelled their 'hurray!' rang throughout the entire white building. And the echoing noises only proved how vacant it was - the old art museum.
"Now, Lenalee, wanna go somewhere before going home? Ice cream or waffle perhaps?"
A little girl with twin pony tails tilted her head to the side as she was gazing fiercely at a piece of painting on the wall. She pouted, flicking her hair in confusion.
"Brother, what painting is it?"
"What?" her brother, whose age was quite far from her fixed his glasses on the bridge of his nose. "Oh... I didn't show this painting to the kids because it's not one of the famous pieces we have."
The little girl named Lenalee rolled her eyes in disdain. "But it's your duty to show every piece in this museum as a tour leader, brother Komui."
Said guy laughed sheepishly, scratching his head awkwardly. "Fine, princess. Now your big brother will tell you about this piece."
A simple painting framed with an old brown wood hung in the corner of a small museum, abandoned. There was nothing special with the brushes of paint. Nothing special with the drawing of lines. Or the object that was illustrated in it. Procession of fancy carriages with extravagant decorations and people wearing various costumes around a river were the things that were shoved into one, huge painting. But it indeed had something different. The paint was made by various types of red—and only red.
"This is the work of an ancient painter. He lived as a nomad in Europe for the rest of his life and made some... oddly similar paintings during his life. All about festivals, carnivals, and red," Komui expounded while entangling his hands behind his back. "This is only one of the few collections he made in Italy."
"I see, the people here seem happy with their wide smiles," Lenalee nodded as she pursed her lips.
"Well, isn't that what carnivals are for, princess?"
"But, brother," the girl stared at the painting with soft eyes, hand cupping her own chest. "The red seems lonely."
Komui raised his brows in question. "And why so?"
"I don't know, but despite the happiness the painter wanted to draw, the colour seems painful."
"Really..." The big brother rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "I guess it might be true then." Although she was still ten, Lenalee had been praised for having good eyes to read art pieces; her skills could match that of a professional's. So Komui was not in the position to oppose Lenalee's opinion, surely.
The girl nodded, and shook her head with sorrow.
"Maybe the painter made this painting while crying."
"Well..." Komui began tentatively, "whatever his reason to paint this, I'm starting to see it as a wonderful piece. I mean, if it could deliver such emotion..."
"Who's the artist, big brother?" she faced Komui with a smile, lifting her chin to see him more clearly.
Komui replied the smile with his own big, warm one, and patted the girl's head gently. He handed her a white winter coat she should wear before they went out of the building, and glanced for the last time at the simple, red painting.
"The name is Allen Walker."
(every ending is the beginning of something new)
Thank you for reading! Reviews will be appreciated. :3