Disclaimer: I don't own DGM.
Also, there are a lot of time leaps here. If you don't like such devices – well, you have been warned! (:
"Please, marry me, Allen."
Allen was struck by Kanda's earnest tone and his use of her real name. She wanted to say yes – to throw her arms around him and kiss him – but it would not be right. She could not tie him to her when she was still a shell of her former self, drenched in sweat every night as she trod through nightmares, lost as she was in a storm of her own making.
"No, Kanda. I love you."
"You'll have to ask me when I come back, whenever that is," Allen said, standing up. She walked toward the door. "So long, Kanda. I will miss you."
Kanda sat numb on his bed. He did not understand – maybe she would change her mind the next morning. It was thus with great sadness that he found an empty room the next day. The curtains were billowing, and there was no sign that anyone had ever lived in the room that once belonged to Allen Walker.
Tyki lounged on Kanda's sofa, sipping at his whiskey. "So, she really left."
Kanda glared at Tyki. "That's fucking obvious, isn't it?"
"Do you know where she is?"
"No. Why would she tell me?"
"She tells you things," Kanda said. "She doesn't – didn't – tell me much."
"I suspected she was going to leave," Tyki said. "But she didn't tell me."
"How did you know?"
"It's quite simple, Kanda Yu. You remind her of her pain. It doesn't take too much effort to connect the dots, does it? Maybe it does, when it comes to you."
Kanda continued wiping the coffee table. "Do you – do you think she will come back?"
"She told you she would, didn't she? Then she will. You'll have to trust her."
"You don't love her if you don't trust her," Tyki said, wagging a finger at Kanda.
"What? That's nonsense."
"Trust me, Mr Lovesick. Trust me."
One month later
"There's a letter for you," Tyki said, waving a white envelop in Kanda's face.
"Stop that, you asshat," Kanda said, grabbing the letter. "Who –"
"Who?" Tyki asked, curious. He leaned over Kanda's shoulder.
"Go away," Kanda said. "It's her handwriting."
"The Beansprout," Kanda said. He flushed. "I'll – you clean up after you're done with breakfast."
"I want to read that letter too!" Tyki called after Kanda. "Hey, Kanda Yu!"
Kanda ignored the man and quickly tore the envelop apart. A small square of paper fell out, and Kanda almost tripped over his own feet in his haste to pick it up.
Dear Kanda, it began, how are you? I hope you – and the rest – are well. Life is good here – I'm in Italy right now, like I told you. It isn't as cold here in winter and for that I am grateful. I'm currently working at a winery and taking a part-time course in social work. It gets busy, and you'd think I'd be tired of wine by now – but that's good, because I start to think when I don't have anything to do with my time.
I have not enclosed my address because I don't want you flying out here to find me. But – I will continue writing to you. Wait for my next epistle! Give my love to Lavi, Lenalee, Tyki and all the others.
She had remembered to write to him – she hadn't forgotten him. Kanda's heartbeat quickened to a dizzying pace, and he reread the short letter again and again.
It was the ides of spring, and Kanda had stashed away a total of eight letters delivered from Italy.
"Do you miss her?" Lavi asked as they walked along the river near the shopping mall.
"Are you an idiot?"
"Don't be so touchy, my dear," Lavi said. "I was only asking..."
"And you know the fucking answer, so why bother asking?"
"I'm concerned, that's why."
"You don't need to be.
"That's what you always say," Lavi said, waving a hand around, "and look what comes of it."
"Oh come on, I'm your best friend! Unburden yourself to me!"
"Quit bugging me."
"If you mind so much, why do you lunch with me every single day?" Lavi asked. "Oh look, those are such pretty flowers!"
Kanda looked and shrugged. "Flowers are flowers."
"But they're pretty!"
"I don't care."
"Oh, don't be such a Grinch," Lavi said.
"If you want someone to admire flowers with you, look for Lenalee."
Lavi turned to face Kanda. There were lines in Kanda's face now, lines that had appeared barely months before. They were all growing older, there was no mistake about it.
"You miss her," Lavi said.
Kanda did not look him in the eye. "Are we going through this again, idiot?"
"Yes," Lavi said. "Yes. Until you admit that you're having issues with Allen not being here."
Kanda took a step back. "Why do you care?"
"Because you're fading?"
"I'm not," Kanda scoffed.
"Oh yes, you are! I don't mean fading, like, becoming transparent, you know? I mean fading as in... becoming older, becoming stranger."
"That doesn't make any sense."
"Yeah, it doesn't," Lavi said. "But you get what I mean, right?"
"Fine?" Lavi repeated. "Fine what?"
"Yes, I miss her. But so what? I have no fucking idea where she is. What do you want me to do?"
"Uh, get a social life, maybe?" Lavi suggested, kneeling on the pavement to pick fallen petals.
"Don't need one."
"Everyone needs one," Lavi declared. He tossed the petals into the river.
Kanda leaned on the railings and watched as the petals floated down in the swirls of water towards the sea. "No."
"You can't keep moping," Lavi said. "It isn't healthy. Mikk says you're becoming a hermit."
"I don't give a hoot about Mikk and what he says."
"And yet you let him live with you."
Lavi tapped his fingers on the railing; taptaptap. "I still think you need to do something other than talking to Mikk about Allen and waiting obsessively for the next letter."
"I work," Kanda said. "That takes up a lot of my time."
"I'll have you understand that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," Lavi said. He winked.
"Don't fucking do that. You know it's creepy."
"And you love me!" Lavi said, slinging a hand over Kanda's shoulder as he steered Kanda back towards the mall.
Kanda pushed Lavi's hand off. "You're weird."
"You've mellowed, Yu. You've mellowed. I ought to thank Allen for that. I'll thank her when she comes back."
"If she comes back," Kanda said. "She might not."
"Wipe that sour expression off your face, my boy," Lavi said. "It mars your beauty."
Face as red as a tomato, Kanda reached over and hit Lavi on the head. "Shut the fuck up!"
Allen leaned back and grimaced as the chair creaked from her movement. It's been a few months, she thought. What should I write about today?
Dear Kanda, she began, how are you? I'm starting to miss you terribly, not that I didn't miss you before this but...
Allen paused and twirled her pen. What next? The desire to hear from Kanda flared brighter in her mind than anything else. Frowning, she crumpled the paper and tossed it into the bin. She pulled her foolscap pad towards her, tapping the tip of the pen against the table. What to write, what to write?
Dear Kanda, she began again, how are you? I hope you're well. I'm getting better – I think. There's so much to life here. Weekend trips to the countryside, beautiful cuisine, lovely weather... I could almost forget the past.
Would you join me here if I told you where I am? Do you think we can build a new life together here? I think you'd come if I asked you – but you wouldn't be happy here. So I won't ask you; I will go back when it's time. That's just for reassurance – we all know even you need a little reassurance from time to time.
If you want to write to me, you can address it to R –. They will forward your letter to me. Meanwhile, stay safe and happy!
This is it, Allen thought. This is what I meant to say each time I sat down to write to Kanda, but I have never expressed it better than I have today.
The hot Italian summer stood on its toes, ready to wrest away spring's hand and take the land into its fiery embrace.
Allen, clad in a simple cotton dress to ward off the impending heat, shrugged her shawl off before she left her apartment to visit a bar nearby. The sun was already setting, but the cool spring evening was about to give way to the ministrations of the sultry summer, and a shawl was no longer necessary after sunset.
"A letter for you, Allen," her landlady said, meeting her at the gate.
"Thanks," Allen said. She flipped the envelope over; the handwriting, neat and square, came as a shock to her.
"Are you alright?" the landlady asked, tapping Allen on the arm.
"Yes, I'm fine, thank you," Allen said. "Just... hungry." Hungry for the letter.
"Ah," the landlady said, her eyes twinkling, "then you'd better be on your way! Or that stomach of yours will eat you up!"
Allen smiled. "I'll see you later, then."
"Have fun," the landlady said. A wave of her hand, and she was gone.
Allen looked towards the road, still fingering the letter in her hands. Should I open it now? But – I'll be late. I – I'll wait, she decided. I'll savour it tonight.
The night had never passed so slowly for Allen before in all her months in Italy. She smiled and nodded as her friends chattered away, sipping slowly at her martini, willing the hours to fly by. It seemed like forever before she deemed it finally less impolite to claim exhaustion and leave.
She speed-walked the entire short distance back to her apartment, glad when she could at last toss her bag to the side and lean into the lamplight, slowly opening the envelope with a letter cutter.
Beansprout, the letter read,
You finally thought enough to give me an address to write to. Don't worry, I won't fly over to bother you. Mikk said I should trust you if I love you.
So. I'm fine. Everyone's fine. Don't worry about us. Get your diploma as fast as you can and then come back.
Allen laughed even as she felt tears gathering in her eyes. Every inch of the letter was stamped with Kanda's style, and it was heavy with the weight of familiarity. She kissed the letter before placing it in her jewellery container, where it would be safe and sound, and drew out her foolscap pad and pen. It was time to reply.
7 months later
"There's a big surprise waiting for Kanda," Lenalee said, winking at Lavi as they walked through Kanda's front yard. "Don't swing the cake, Lavi."
"What surprise?" Lavi asked. He stopped swinging the cake basket. "I don't know anything about it."
"Of course you don't. I didn't tell you."
"I thought we weren't supposed to keep secrets from each other!" Lavi said.
Lenalee laughed and linked her arms with Lavi's. "This isn't my secret, dearest."
"How did you know?" Lenalee asked. She pulled away from Lavi. "Did I say anything in my sleep?"
"No. I made an intelligent guess."
"So it's true? She sent him a present?"
Lenalee looked at Lavi, her mouth slightly agape. "Yes," she said. "Something like that."
"I can't wait to see it!" Lavi said. "I can't wait to see Kanda's face when he gets the present!"
"Me too," Lenalee said, choking back a laugh. "Me too."
"Oh, look," Lavi said, his attention already elsewhere, "Kanda got himself a wreath of mistletoe this year! Can you believe it? I mean, this is Kanda! When did he ever buy mistletoe?"
"Daisya probably bought it and hung it up. I'll bet Kanda hasn't even seen it."
"How could Yu not have seen it?" Lavi said. He laughed. "Did I just ask that question, Lena?"
"You of all people should know how Kanda can stay in his house for days without venturing out," Lenalee said, smiling.
"He never has," Lenalee said, "until today. Come on, let's not stand around in the cold."
There were already several people in the living room when Lenalee and Lavi entered. Daisya, Tyki, Marie and Miranda were playing cards, while Tiedoll was at the window, sipping red wine and looking out at the grey sky. Komui and Reever were there too, arguing over something written on a piece of paper.
"Hi everyone," Lenalee said.
"Hello," Tyki said. "Kanda's inside... being busy. With what, I really have no idea."
"Cooking?" Lavi asked.
"Nope. I bought the turkey," Komui said.
"And I brought the cheese," Tiedoll said.
"We made pie," Miranda said, finally allowing her eyes to dart away from the cards held tightly in her fingers. "Shepherd pie."
"Salad," said Reever. "I think Johnny and 65 are getting smoked salmon."
"The vegetables and potatoes?" Lavi asked.
"He cooked them this morning," Tyki said. "They smelled delicious. I was tempted to eat them all when he wasn't looking."
"So... what's Kanda doing all alone in the kitchen, if he isn't cooking?" Lavi asked.
"Good question," Tyki said.
"Moping," Daisya said. "What else could he be doing? He is Kanda, after all. You know, he hasn't gone out of this house since I arrived, like, three days ago. He stocks groceries like ... like he's crazy."
"I told you," Lenalee whispered to Lavi.
"He is crazy," Tyki affirmed. "Crazy, crazy man."
Komui laughed. "Kanda likes being prepared."
"He's prepared for a lockdown," Daisya said.
"Daisya..." Tiedoll said. "That's not very kind of you."
"Sorry," Daisya said. "But it's still the truth you know? I love him, but he's a hoarder."
"He's afraid of the big bad world outside," Tyki said, nodding.
"The two of you..." Lenalee said. "Kanda isn't like that at all."
"They're pulling your leg, Lenalee," Marie said.
"I'll go have a look and see what's up with the sad boy," Lavi said.
"He's brave," Daisya whispered to Tyki.
Lavi went into the kitchen; Kanda, as suspected, was not cooking – he was leaning against the counter, head down and stance sad. Lavi laid the cake basket by the stack of edibles and went over to Kanda's side.
"What's wrong?" Lavi asked. "I know you don't care for Christmas, but are you so angry that we're in your house to celebrate the season?"
"No. if I wanted to, I wouldn't have let you all in."
"Then what's the problem?" Lavi asked.
"Everyone's so happy."
"Dude, everyone is supposed to be happy. It's Christmas!"
"Is it Allen?" Lavi asked.
"Yes," Kanda said. He looked up; his eyes were bloodshot. "Why isn't she here?"
"Look, Kanda, she's probably busy –"
"Too busy to come back on such an important holiday?" Kanda asked. He shook his head. "Don't bother answering that, Lavi."
More sounds drifted over from the living room.
"That'll be 65 and Johnny," Lavi said. "Come out and don't mope alone here..."
"I don't want to."
"You don't, but you will," Lavi said. He pulled Kanda along with him.
"Kanda!" Lenalee said, meeting them at the doorway. She planted herself firmly before Kanda. "We have a surprise."
"Look what 65 and Johnny brought with them," Lenalee said, motioning to Tyki and Daisya. The duo shifted away the Christmas tree next to Kanda, revealing no one other than Allen Walker.
"What are you doing here?" Kanda asked, quite unable to move.
Allen stepped forward. "Merry Christmas," she said, before flinging her arms around Kanda.
Kanda returned the hug. "You didn't say anything about returning!"
"It was meant to be a surprise," Lenalee said.
"You sneaky woman," Lavi said to Lenalee. "So that was what you meant."
"I asked her to help me," Allen said. "I thought you might let something slip, so I made Lenalee promise not to tell. It's not her fault."
Daisya whistled and everyone took to clapping. There was much laughter and chatter and some little shouting until Lavi proposed (to full agreement) that they adjourn for dinner.
They went to the pier the morning after.
"It's cold," Allen said. She shivered.
"Need my coat?" Kanda asked.
"Nope, I have my own."
Kanda lay down on the mat they had brought. "It has been so long since we spoke face to face."
"I know," Allen said. "It's strange that even so, you still feel very close to me."
"I wonder why," Kanda said. "When will you return for real?"
"I don't know... perhaps in a year. I want to get some real work experience after I get that diploma. So half a year and then another half a year."
"That's long," Kanda said.
"It is," Allen agreed. Her fingers found Kanda's. "But... time will fly. We just need to wait."
"I hate waiting."
"So do I," Allen said. "But patience is a virtue, Kanda."
Allen laid her head against Kanda's shoulder. "You know I'm right."
"There's no other choice, is there?" Kanda said, shifting Allen slightly so that she rested comfortably on his arm.
"No," Allen said. "None at all."
They lay together on the mat and looked at the sky. After a few minutes, Allen sat up and looked down upon Kanda. "Is there anyone else, Kanda?"
"Jealous?" Kanda asked. He almost smiled.
"Yes. No. I don't know."
"That means yes."
"Maybe," Allen said. "I'm not sure. I'm just... curious. Yeah. Mostly curious about your life."
"What about you? Is there someone else?" Kanda asked. He was no longer almost smiling.
"Are you jealous?" Allen retorted. "You haven't answered my question."
"No. There isn't. Your turn to answer."
Allen laughed. "I've met many eligible young men in Italy."
"What does that mean?" Kanda asked. He sat up.
"It doesn't mean anything. I was going to add that I have no wish to date any of them, though they are very handsome."
"Yeah. Italian men are stylish and handsome. You have no idea how good looking they are!"
"Then why aren't you attracted to them?"
"I think you know the answer," Allen said, taking Kanda's hand again.
This time around, Kanda did smile. "I – I 'm – give me your real address. I promise not to fly out to look for you."
"I guess it wouldn't hurt to let you know my real address," Allen said. "Not at this stage."
The next day, Allen entered Tyki's room before Kanda drove her to the airport.
"Goodbye, Tyki," she said.
Tyki smiled. "Graduate soon."
"I will. What will you do, Tyki?"
"What will I do?"
"You know what I mean. You can't be an unemployed member of society forever."
"I'm not unemployed. Not gainfully employed, maybe, but not unemployed."
"Spending your days at the casino is not employment."
"Hey I bring home enough money to pay my rent to your precious Kanda! And I take care of him when he's in one of his dark moods – doesn't that count?"
"It does. But Tyki – you can't do this forever."
"I know, amiga. I'm not an idiot."
Allen could sense Tyki's discomfort. "Then why aren't you doing anything about it?"
"What can I do? I've lived a life of sin; crime is all I know."
"You could study. Or try your hand at a new job."
"I could. I don't really want to."
"Tyki – have you forgotten why you left the Earl? You wanted none of the life of crime he paved for you. You've escaped his grasp. Isn't this a good time to do something else?"
Tyki walked to the window and looked out. "Maybe you're right."
"I hope I am.
"I'll see what I can do," Tyki said. He turned around and smiled. "I'll try to become a better person."
"That's good," Allen said.
Six months later
Dear Kanda, Allen had written,
I've graduated! I have a diploma in social work now! Please be happy for me. I'm bursting with happiness and satisfaction inside. I feel like a cat that has finished a whole plate of milk (although I am not sure if cats actually drink milk).
I've found a job – I'll be working at a government agency. Details will be forthcoming in the next letter, perhaps. Meanwhile, take care and wait for me! Write soon – I'll be waiting!
Kanda wrote back almost immediately.
Beansprout, he wrote,
Congratulations. When will you return? I've a present for you. It should reach you soon.
The weekend had finally arrived – and Allen was glad. The week had stretched on forever; her job was demanding. Allen looked forward to a long rest over the weekend.
As such, she wasn't best pleased when the doorbell rang at nine in the morning. Opening one bleary eye, she decided that she wouldn't answer the doorbell. Maybe the person would go away?
Five minutes later, however, the doorbell was still ringing. Whoever it is is really persistent, Allen thought. It seemed unlikely that the person would go away and leave her to her beauty sleep. With a sigh, she slid out of her warm bed and tossed on her nightgown over her pyjamas.
Can't be the milkman. Postman? No, he usually comes in the afternoon. Landlady? Maybe – but she has my number. Who could it be?
Allen wrenched the door open. "Yes?"
"Don't recognise me?"
Allen froze. Her sleepiness disappeared in an instant. "Kanda? What are you doing here?"
"I told you a present was on the way."
"I'm the present," he said. "Aren't you going to let me in?"
"Oh, yeah," Allen said. She found her keys and unlocked the door. "Please come in."
'You look terrible," Kanda said.
"You woke me up," Allen said.
"Just as well – look at the time! You should be up and about by now."
"I'm tired. I – I'm going back to wash up, okay? Make yourself comfortable."
Allen rushed back to her room. Questions buzzed in her head – why was Kanda here – what would he think, coming so far only to find her in pyjamas and her face caked in sleep – her hair was matted – what she should wear? She splashed cold water on her face to clear her mind before moving on to more mundane things like brushing her teeth.
She emerged twenty minutes later, looking far more presentable.
"You look better now," Kanda said.
"Thanks for the sarcasm," Allen said. "Want some breakfast?"
"Where are you staying?" Allen asked, as she busied herself with the toaster.
"At a motel nearby."
"Why are you here?"
"To congratulate you," Kanda said. "Something wrong?"
"No... Wait, yes. Didn't you promise not to fly over if I gave you my address?"
"I did," Kanda said. "But I've come here to propose to you."
"You're persistent," Allen said.
"I also wanted to tell you that I'm migrating."
"You?" Allen asked. "Where are you going?"
"Here. Let's buy a house here."
"We can try living here for a while, since you like this place."
"I'm not rooted to the UK, you know."
"This place makes you happy right? So let's settle down here."
"What about your career?" Allen asked.
"I can start again here," Kanda said. "So let's get married."
"Are you proposing to me now?"
"In that case... no."
"No?" Kanda said. He didn't know what else to say.
"You'll have to ask me properly," Allen said. She brought her bread over to sit beside Kanda. "With a ring and everything."
"I should have brought Lavi along," Kanda grumbled. "He's good at things like this."
One month later
Lavi met Kanda at the airport when Kanda finally left Italy.
"How are things going?" Lavi asked, ushering Kanda to his car.
"Good," Kanda said. "We're engaged."
"You are what? Christ, am I hearing things? I think I'm hearing things."
"Move," Kanda said, pushing Lavi. "Don't gape like an idiot."
"Did you say you were engaged? As in Allen and you?" Lavi said. He waved his hands wildly.
"Enough with the drama. Yes, that's what I said."
"How did you propose? Why didn't you tell me? Did you go down on one knee? How big was the diamond?"
"Why do you have so many questions?" Kanda asked.
Lavi started the engine. "You're my best friend! I care about your happiness!"
"So tell me all about it!"Lavi said. "I'm so excited I think I might press the horn for fun!"
"Don't be an idiot."
"So what ring did you give her? How many carats?"
"I didn't get her a diamond ring."
"You didn't?" Lavi said reproachfully. "How could you? Every girl wants some good diamond bling!"
"I got a pearl ring."
"Why pearl? Pearls look like tears."
"I want her to cry happy tears from now on."
"Am I hearing things?" Lavi said. He accelerated. "Oh, Yu, I'm so happy! You actually have a romantic side to you! I'm so, so proud."
"Eyes on the road, idiot. And slow down."
"Did Allen say yes?"
"We're engaged now. What do you think?"
"Of course," Lavi said. "Of course."
"When's the wedding?"
"In about half a year."
"Why are you guys waiting? Why not hold it soon?"
"Allen wants to get her career in place first."
"Ah," Lavi said.
"I'm moving out to Italy."
"You are what?"
"You heard me the first time."
"Yeah," Lavi said. "I just wanted to confirm what I heard. Why are you migrating, exactly?"
"Because the Beansprout is happy there."
"We'll try life there for a year."
"Kanda, Kanda, I'm so proud of you!" Lavi said.
Kanda punched Lavi in the shoulder. "Shut up and eyes on the road."
Two years later
"Where's Deke?" Allen asked.
Lenalee pointed towards the garden. "He's playing in the yard."
"I like your garden," Allen said. "I like your entire house. Beautiful decoration and furniture! You're a genius, Lenalee."
"Thanks," Lenalee said. "Lavi helped."
"So how's the pregnancy coming along?" Lavi asked, coming in with a tray of glasses.
"It's good," Allen said. "No morning sickness."
"Kanda taking good care of you?" Lavi asked.
"Of course," Kanda said from behind Lavi.
"Yeah, you've had enough experience taking care of a pregnant Allen," Lavi said, winking.
"She's easy to take care of," Kanda said.
Allen laughed and beckoned Kanda over to sit with her. "I can tell that Kanda will be a good father."
"Am I a good father?" Lavi asked Lenalee.
"You're not," Kanda said.
"I wasn't asking you, Yu!"
"Shut up," Kanda said. "I've told you so many fucking times not to call me that."
"Mind your language," Allen said, "What if the baby hears you? I don't need another foul-mouthed person on my hands."
"That'll be such a crisis," Lavi said.
"Yes, it would," Allen said. "I think we've gone through enough crises for now, hmm?"
"We have," Kanda said, and he took Allen's hands into his own.
"To a good year ahead," Lenalee said, raising her glass into the air.
"To a good year," they repeated.
"Mine isn't wine?" Allen said.
"Of course it isn't," Lavi said. "You're pregnant."
"I don't think we need another drunk and pregnant Allen situation again," Kanda said. "Thankfully we managed to get through that crisis but once is quite enough."
Allen laughed. "Yes. That's one crisis that has been managed and it shall never be mentioned again."
All the crises having been managed, everyone lived happily ever after.
A/N: There, that's the end! Finally. I'm sorry for the subpar quality of these last few chapters – haste isn't really conducive for decent writing, it seems. Again, I have not proofread this so please close an eye to stylistic errors.
The ending is quite cheesy (I tried to tie in the title). I tried channelling Lousia May Alcott in the last part, but... it was too hard. So I gave up and cut it down to one sentence.
Oh, and as for the pearls – I'm not sure what pearls really symbolise, but my all-time favourite fictional character Anne (of Green Gables) told her husband that she wanted a pearl ring as a symbol of happy tears – or something to that effect.
Well, that's that – now that this has finally come to an end, here's a shout-out to everyone who has read/favourite-d/reviewed/followed this fic. Thank you for your support over the past three years and for sticking with the story despite my tardiness and the inconsistent quality of the chapters. THANKS! (: