Sorry this is late. We had to put my sister's horse to sleep today. Won't be able to get around to replying to things for a while.
D . Gray-man is owned by Katsura Hoshino, meaning it does not belong to me. I am in no way, shape, and/or form claiming to be the owner/creator of these concepts, though I do claim any characters not apart of the original D . Gray-man storyline (such as Gracia) mine. As such, I would appreciate fellow authors and readers to give credit where credit is due and not steal any of my characters and/or concepts. Thank you, and have a pleasant day.
After that, Gracia made it a point of bluntly refusing to accompany Kanda and Johnny into any more bars, brothels, clubs and parlors, getting into a glaring war with Kanda when he tried to insist that they might need her as a translator when one of the places they came across had a name in a foreign language.
Once he understood that she wasn't just refusing to go in because she didn't approve of the places or because of her new bitchiness, the point getting across in his ever intoxicated mind that if Gracia, of all people, was glaring at him, then she must have a good reason, even if she didn't want to divulge, Kanda gave up.
Gracia sighed and leaned back against the building behind her, staring at what she could see of the night sky through the glare of the lights and the pollution and counting stars to pass the time.
"—cause we're friends!"
Gracia glanced over at the sound of Johnny's voice, sighing and shaking her head when he practically fell on his face as he stumbled out of the bar.
"As for Kanda…" Johnny tried to turn to Kanda, then faced forward again when he almost fell, "Why does the Order – or rather, why are you helping me?"
Gracia stood straight and walked alongside Kanda as they started off down the street, Johnny pausing a few steps ahead of them, next to a rather thick woman in skimpy clothes and a rather odd, cartoonish bear-head mask, and glancing back to look at Kanda with an inquisitive gaze.
"If they find out… it'll be pretty bad for you, won't it?"
Gracia glanced at Kanda at that.
Much as she wanted to think that 'her boys' might have kinda… sorta cared about one another, the fact that Kanda had not only come back to the Order, but had also gone AWOL shortly after to join Johnny in looking for Allen…
Kanda made to sigh, made to answer, then his eyes widened and there was a loud gasp and cry.
Gracia looked over just in time to see Johnny, the arms of the thick woman wrapped around his shoulders, go flying backwards down the street they were about to come to, the woman jerking him through the air.
Her eyes widened and she drew Judgment, leaping forward and going to take aim when she realized that Judgment was too bulky for her to aim properly when the woman, who was revealing herself to be an Akuma, had Johnny pressed so close to her body.
"Damn it! !" She should have let the Science Division alter the damned gun's size!
Gracia stumbled and fell to the ground when Kanda suddenly pushed her aside and took the place where she had been standing so he—
…She couldn't tell what he was doing.
She'd landed on her stomach, and the pain that summoned made her limited focus shift to that, instead.
Gracia struggled to shrug the strap of her duffel bag off so she could roll onto her hands and knees and curl up into a ball in that position, her legs resting flat on the ground, her thighs pressed to her stomach and her arms crossed under her forehead so her face didn't touch the ground.
She stayed there, panting and trying to alleviate the pain, and when she heard an explosion she glanced over, her already sweaty forehead making her bangs cling as she turned her head to see Mugen jutting out of the Akuma's face and pinning it back to a wall while Kanda jumped off of the now fallen Johnny's back to leap after it. Kanda slammed into it with enough power to force it further back into the wall, making a crater, and when she could feel the reverberations and they went to her stomach, Gracia gasped sharply and closed her eyes.
Absently, she heard an inhuman shriek of laughter, and when it was followed by a taunting "Yu Kanda? ! It's Yu Kanda! What a stupid fool you are, to have come back! !", she vaguely registered that it must have been the Akuma.
"That little bit of life you have left…" The Akuma went on, "You should have just spent it in peace! ! The Order has no chance of winning! Akuma are being born quickly, even now! !" It then cackled/shrieked with laughter again, repeating "Quickly, QUICKLY! !" over and over again.
"YOU'VE CHOSEN HELL, YOU FOOL—" There was an explosion, and the Akuma went silent.
"…Really, Kanda… Why?" Johnny's voice echoed softly in the now empty, quiet alley.
"I was the one that awakened him into a Noah." Kanda said after a pause.
His tone of voice was enough to make Gracia risk turning her head and looking back over, her panting light but still pained as she studied Johnny and Kanda's backs.
"Y-You mean what happened at the North American Branch? !" Johnny started, his voice filling with emotion, "But that was the Earl using Akuma to make you—! It wasn't your fault! !"
"…I didn't care… what happened to the Order."
Gracia felt her rapidly beating heart skip a pulse. She hadn't heard that tone in Kanda's voice in a while… Not since they'd said goodbye before he'd left with Alma.
"So during the mission in Paris… when I caught a glimpse of his Noah transformation, I ignored it."
Gracia's eyes widened and she started struggling to push herself to her feet.
"Kanda!" She gasped, making his shoulders twitch and Johnny pause to glance back at her, "I didn't report that, either! And I… I should have; I should have at least told Komui! That wasn't—"
"I let it be, without even making an attempt to report it to Komui." Kanda glanced back at her and Johnny, a sad smile crossing his face, "Because I hated the Order even more than the Noah and the Akuma."
When he pointedly met her eyes, Gracia choked on her words.
Unlike her, Kanda hadn't kept it to himself because he was afraid of what would happen to Allen. He had kept it to himself because he hadn't cared if Allen went Noah-crazed and killed people.
Still meeting her eyes, Kanda nodded slightly to the look on her face, turning to face her and Johnny a bit more evenly, "But now… that regret simply won't let me die peacefully."
Gracia felt her heart clench, the tip of her nose burning and her vision watering.
He really had… grown up…
"Lets go." Kanda sighed as he walked back over and picked up the rucksack that had fallen next to Johnny, "This smoke is poisonous." Without waiting for either of them to answer, he turned and walked towards the staircase next to the dead Akuma, stepping through the noxious gas pouring from the corpse and starting to head up as dawn broke.
Johnny lowered his head, letting out an odd, strangled sound that made Gracia think he might have been holding back tears, and when he rushed after Kanda, she sighed, smiling weakly, and made to follow.
As soon as her foot met the ground, pain radiated up her spine, focusing on her stomach, and she gasped loudly and fell to her knees again, her arms wrapping around her stomach.
She tried to brush it off when Johnny rushed back to her, the former Science Division member calling back over his shoulder to Kanda, but when the familiar sensation of far-too-hot moisture pooled between her thighs, her heart rate picked up in the back of her throat and her panic increased.
She knew that wetness…
She knew it!
She had never wanted to feel it again! !
"Johnny!" Gracia gasped, "Doctor—" Then, just as suddenly as it had picked up, her heart rate dropped again, then dropped more until it was far too slow, and she spent a few seconds struggling to breathe before the panic got to her before the bradycardia did and she passed out.
"—nestly, carrying heavy loads and doing heavy traveling… wielding a gun… falling on her stomach… using a dose of atropine… Those drunk little idiots are lucky they didn't cause a complete miscarriage."
Gracia's eyes snapped open at 'miscarriage' and she gasped, the panic returning as she tried to struggle into a sitting position.
"And you!" A wrinkled, liver spotted but firm hand pressed against her chest, pushing her back down, "The boy in the glasses mentioned you have a history of miscarriages; how could you be this irresponsible? ! You are beyond old enough to know better!"
"Johnny—!" Gracia gasped, registering that Johnny had mentioned to this old woman, some kind of doctor or nurse or healer, she assumed, that she had a history of miscarriages, "Do they know I'm—? !"
"Pregnant?" The old woman snorted, glaring down at her harshly and disapprovingly, "If you haven't told them, then no; the boy – Johnny, you said his name was? – only mentioned the miscarriages because of the bleeding even though you, apparently, haven't had your monthlies in a while. But, really, if those fools haven't noticed by now—" She cut herself off, sighing heavily, then went back to glaring at Gracia, "Now, why don't you ask the question you should be asking?"
Gracia flinched, "…How is the—"
"The baby is still there; no solid matter has been passed yet." The old woman huffed, pulling away and moving around the room quickly as she did things Gracia couldn't see, "A bit of heavy bleeding, initially, but it's slowed significantly, though I would still consider you both to be in a danger zone. Drink this."
Gracia meekly took the cup she was handed, almost failing to swallow the contents and spit the liquid out, instead, when it assaulted her taste buds so powerfully she couldn't tell if the drink was bitter or spicy. As she gagged it down, her spine rolling as she almost retched, the old woman went on talking.
"The boys said they would be back shortly; they had a few more places to check. I would strongly suggest that you take it slow for the next few days. Now," The woman turned back to Gracia, staring at her coldly, "Let's talk about my fee."
Gracia flinched again, sighing. It was bad when medical personnel were so angry at you they wanted to talk about payment right after talking about the prognosis…
A few hours later, Johnny and Kanda arrived to pick Gracia up, both of them able to brush off the elderly woman's admonishing glares at the stench of booze on them as Johnny rushed over to check on Gracia, Kanda stalking closely behind him.
The tall, dark male didn't say anything, but he did look down at her with what she could see through his shield of a glare and frown as being a concerned expression.
After brushing Johnny's question off weakly, keeping a worried eye on the woman in case she decided to tell Johnny and Kanda about her pregnancy, Gracia walked to the door with Johnny, Kanda not far behind, as he told her about the last few hours of their search.
As grateful as she was that the old woman kept her mouth shut as they stepped outside, she felt the already overbearing guilt the woman had laid on her increase as the door was slammed behind them, making Johnny jump and Kanda look back with a scowl.
"The fuck is her problem? !" Kanda snapped irritably, looking tired and ill.
"I don't know…" Johnny blinked at the door before turning to Gracia, "Did she find out what was wrong with you?"
"Ah…" Gracia blinked, pausing, then smiled weakly, "I must have… just fallen on something in my bag when Kanda pushed me down."
To Gracia's surprised, Kanda's eyes actually flickered away at that, something crossing his face that could have almost been called gui—
"So, nothing, then?" Gracia sighed, "Now what?"
Johnny shook his head and reached into his pocket, pulling out a map and unfolding it as he started walking, "Let's see…"
As she followed, something bumped into Gracia's arm, and she looked over to see Kanda walking in step with her, his eyes locked ahead stonily as he offered Judgment.
He must have taken it from her when he and Johnny had taken her for medical care… He also had her duffel bag slung across his back.
Gracia took Judgment and strapped it back into place, and guiltily let him keep him keep carrying her bag; not feeling guilty because he had to carry her things, because she really couldn't carry anything at the moment, but because he was carrying her things for reasons other than what he was thinking…
True, he had pushed her down, but if he'd known she was pregnant, Gracia staunchly believed Kanda would have never handled her so roughly.
Actually, he probably would have gotten quite pissy with her and would have started insisting on carrying her things quite a while ago… Hell, he might even have gone as far as to contact Komui behind her back and left her tied up somewhere for whoever Komui sent to find so she could be forcibly taken back to the Order.
Kanda really was a sweet boy, Gracia decided with a (deluded) smile.
When they arrived at the local town square, which was almost completely framed in by a small marketplace, Johnny led them over to a small statue in the middle of the clear area, unfolding his map completely.
"Hmm… Since this town's near a big harbor, and a lot of foreigners are around, I thought it would have been a good place for Allen to hide…" Johnny started as Kanda flopped down onto a ledge beside him on the statue, Gracia sitting close to the Asian teen as he propped his elbow up on his knee and dropped his head into his hand morosely, "But, as expected, it's not going to be so easy!"
Gracia sighed, and Kanda let out an almost pitiful grunt in answer.
She glanced at Kanda, frowning when she saw the back of his neck was a bit sweaty and what she could see of his face though his hair and parted fingers was a bit pale and clammy.
"Are you okay?" Johnny asked after a pause.
"…My head's throbbing." Kanda grumbled, a sure sign he was ill; Kanda never admitted to not feeling well, "What is this…?"
"Uh… A hangover, I would say." Johnny answered sheepishly. He then turned to his bag and started digging around.
As he did, Gracia kept a worried eye on Kanda, frowning when she saw a dark, bitter look cross his face.
What could he be thinking abou—
"Ah, here it is!" Johnny suddenly perked, turning to Kanda and thrusting out a bottle with a label marked "56 II", "Here, Kanda! You'll feel better after drinking this! It's the Science Division's new and improved Komuvitan D II."
Gracia's brow twitched as she remembered the "zombie" incident, and she growled, "No."
At the same time, Kanda twitched and muttered, "I'll die before I drink that."
Johnny grinned and cackled slightly, somewhat insanely, as he leaned in, thrusting the bottle into Kanda's face to the point where Kanda had to put a hand on it to push it away.
"Don't say things like that…" Johnny cackled a bit more, "And I thought I had you fooled, too. C'mon, just one mouthful! It's new and improved! It'll make you feel better… C'mon!"
Gracia couldn't help giggling slightly at the look on Kanda's face as she scooted away from them.
"As if I'd believe a lie like that from a Science Division freak!" Kanda snapped before he slapped Johnny's hand, sending the bottle flying. As Johnny ran after it, wailing "Komuvitan D II! !", Kanda stood abruptly, managing to make himself look better with sheer willpower as he barked, "Let's go, woman, we're off to the station."
Gracia smiled weakly as she stood, glancing after Johnny, "But what about—"
"Screw him!" Kanda snapped, starting to walk off.
"…Kanda… Johnny has the list."
That made Kanda freeze, and Gracia could have sworn she saw a vein stand out on the back of his head.
…Which, of course, was physically impossible.
As Kanda turned and stormed after Johnny, muttering angrily, Gracia sighed and turned, watching after him but not following.
At that point, she wanted to avoid walking as much as possible…
Gracia watched as Kanda stormed over and tried to drag Johnny away from a clown he had been watching, blinking slowly when Johnny started panicking and shouting about something. When Johnny stood and suddenly started running towards her, she turned to face him completely, tipping her head.
"G-Gracia!" Johnny gasped as he jerked to a stop in front of her, bending over and bracing his palms against his knees as he panted, "You said you didn't have any money, right? !"
Gracia blinked down at him, "Ah… No. No, I don't."
"Ooooh…" Johnny whined, grabbing his head and shaking it guiltily, "I lost our money! I-I'll have to get a job! We'll have to stay here for a bit before we can move on!" He then pulled away from her and ran back over to Kanda, jerking him away from the clown he was… glaring rather intensely at and calling out for him to hurry up as he dragged him back over to Gracia. "You, too!"
Gracia sighed and pulled her sleeve out of Johnny's grip when he tried to drag her like he was Kanda, her stomach in no condition for running. She paused, glancing at the clown, herself, to see it staring at them, then turned and started to walk after the boys as they ran off.
They didn't make it far before there was an explosion, followed by the terrified screams of the civilians around them.
Gracia's hand went to Judgment, drawing it as she turned around, and Kanda dashed past her, drawing Mugen as they both set their sights on the Akuma.
Kanda had just drawn his sword, and Gracia had just aimed Judgment when the Akuma exploded, gore spattering the ground.
After a beat, a bloodstained, feathered entity rose from the center of the flesh-strewn mess, and Gracia's eyes widened and her breath hitched when the blood slid off to reveal white and a figure rose to reveal itself to the clown, holding a little girl, with his makeup a bit ruined and the mask of the Crowned Clown floating above his—
…The Crowned Clown?
…It was him, Gracia realized with widening eyes and a maelstrom of emotions swelling in her chest – they'd found Allen.