Twenty-four hours until the war ends.
She runs down the hallway, the heels of her boots going clickety-click as they hit against the polished floor.
Her violet eyes scan her field of vision for a familiar head of white hair. Skidding around a corner, she spies the person she's looking for and easily catches up to him.
She places a hand on his shoulder, and jumps back as he whirls around instinctively, left arm at the ready.
"Lenalee!" he yelps in surprise, visibly relaxing. "What is it?"
"Allen-kun, it is true?"
He blinks at her, running a gloved hand through his snowy white hair.
"Is what true?"
"Nii-san said the Earl delivered an ultimatum," she whispers, eyes desperately searching his face. "That he has the Heart and he'll destroy it in twenty-four hours unless we surrender."
A tense pause fills the air, before Allen sighs, shoulders drooping.
"Unfortunately, yes," he murmurs quietly.
"Nothing can be done?" she asks, voice rising in desperation.
Allen smiles a tired smile.
"I don't know, Lenalee. The higher-ups are discussing it right now as we speak."
In that moment, Lenalee thinks to herself that this is the first time she has seen Allen Walker's silver-grey eyes look so defeated and tired.
"There has got to be something," she whispers, clinging on to the sleeve of his jacket.
"I hope so."
The tremor in his voice does not register in Lenalee's mind.
Twenty hours until the war ends.
"I will not allow that, Inspector."
Inspector Leverrier raises an eyebrow as Komui Lee stands up, hands slamming on his messy desk.
"It is the best solution, Supervisor Komui. It is either this or the Order surrenders. You must understand this."
Komui frowns, face serious beneath his ridiculous beret and purple hair.
"But to go as far as to sacrifice–"
"It is the best way," Leverrier repeats, eyes stern. "This is Central's decision. Like it or not, opposition will mean treason against the Church."
He watches in veiled triumph as Komui's shoulders slump defeatedly.
"Very well," he says in a hollow voice.
Leverrier sweeps out of Komui's office, Link following behind in his footsteps.
The door slams shut.
Nineteen hours until the war ends.
"I can't believe you're eating dango at now of all times, Allen-kun," Lenalee sighs disapprovingly, watching the fifth plate of dango rapidly disappear.
Allen pauses his feeding frenzy for a moment.
"I don't know when I'll be able to eat dango again," he whispers softly. "So I'm enjoying it while I still can."
A pause, then, "You want some?"
Lenalee pouts, and in a sudden movement snatches the dango from his hand.
"What a stupid excuse! If you gorge yourself won't it be even worse?"
She shakes her head, holding the stick of dango high above her head resolutely as Allen struggles to grab it back.
They hear laughter from behind them.
"Acting like a married couple even now?" Lavi asks, grinning.
He skillfully dodges the many dango sticks chucked at his direction – thanks to nearly-daily practice with Mugen and a furious Kanda – and smirks.
"Just sayin', just sayin'~"
Allen scowls and stands up with another five sticks in hand, ready to start throwing again, when a hand lands on his shoulder.
Allen jumps, and whips around to see the unamused face of Howard Link staring evenly at him.
"You are to be in Supervisor Komui's office. Now."
The grin melts off everybody's faces, and Allen nods.
"What does onii-san want with Allen-kun?" Lenalee asks, eyes wide.
"It is classified," Link says without turning to look at her. "And currently only Walker is cleared to know anything about it."
"Lenalee," Allen whispers. "I'll be fine. Wait for me, okay?"
Grabbing the last stick of dango, Allen shoves it into his mouth before following Link out of the cafeteria.
Eighteen hours until the war ends.
"If it's the best way," Allen says hollowly, "I'll do it."
Komui groans, rubbing his eyes.
"I was really against it, Allen-kun. But a direct order from Central…I can't oppose that, no matter how strongly I feel."
Komui shuffles around some papers on his desk, then looks up again.
"You must know that this is completely confidential. You cannot speak of this to anyone."
Allen nods, and rises to leave the room.
"I have a feeling Lenalee is going to cry," he says, pausing at the door. "A lot."
"I know," Komui replies miserably.
"Take care of her for me, will you?"
The door slams shut, and a few papers flutter in the breeze from the closing door.
"I will," Komui says to a room full of paperwork and loneliness. "I will."
Ten hours until the war ends.
The sun rises, dyeing the sky blood-red.
She twists her head up to peer at him from where she is locked in his arms, sitting on the windowsill watching the sun come up.
"I love you."
She blinks her huge violet eyes at him.
"I know that, silly. Why'd you suddenly say it now?"
"Oh," Allen says nonchalantly. "Just felt like saying it."
Lenalee can hear from his voice that something is wrong, but she chooses not to push it.
Five hours until the war ends.
"Everyone's gathering at the entrance of the Order," Lavi tells her. "To witness our response to the Earl's ultimatum."
"Do you know what Central's decided for us?" she asks, but Lavi shakes his head.
"I suspect Gramps knows, but he isn't telling me anything. I'm just as clueless about all this as you are."
Lenalee watches a group of Finders aimlessly mill about.
"I have a strange premonition that something very bad is going to happen."
"It's only a premonition," Lavi tells her comfortingly. "Don't let it bother you."
"I hope it stays that way," Lenalee whispers.
Lavi mumbles a worried agreement.
One hour until the war ends.
For some reason, Allen is pacing back and forth in the cafeteria.
"Allen-kun," Lenalee asks curiously. "Are you nervous?"
"M-me? No, I'm t-totally not nervous or w-worried at all!"
"You're shaking, idiot."
Reaching out, she yanks him down to sit beside her on the cafeteria bench.
"I'm trying," he says petulantly, and she ends up ruffling his hair because his face is too adorable to resist.
She leans her head on his shoulder and breathes in deeply, letting her eyes flutter shut to shut out the world, even if only for a moment.
Her eyes fly open to see Allen looking apologetically at her.
"I've got to go now," he says quietly, and she sees Link making his way towards them.
"Stay safe," she whispers, and his eyes crinkle up as he smiles.
A quick kiss is planted on her forehead, and he is walking off towards Link.
Lenalee swallows, and tries to ignore the sinking feeling in her stomach.
He's going to be fine, she insists to herself. We're all going to be fine.
Zero hours until the war ends.
They watch as the door to the black Ark opens up in front of their very eyes, and the Earl steps out, followed by the Noah and the Akuma swarms.
It is time, the Earl says, almost gleefully. It is Judgment time. So, what will it be?
Silence falls among the assembled, and a clear voice rings out.
"Give us the Heart, and we will surrender."
All eyes turn to Allen, who ignores this and meets the gaze of the Earl unflinchingly.
The Earl laughs.
I know better than to trust you, the Earl says mockingly. Surrender first, and I will hand over the Heart.
"How do we know you even have it?" Allen hedges. "For all you know you may not even know where it is."
From the Earl's right, Allen can hear the mocking laughter of Road Kamelot.
"Oh, we have it, all right," she sing-songs.
In a flash of movement, Lulubell's tentacle-like arm shoots out and wraps around Lenalee, before anybody can react.
Allen's raw yell is the first to break the stunned silence, and Road cackles.
"Your precious girlfriend was the Heart all along," she mocks. "I'm surprised you never noticed, even with all the signs. So, Al~len, get the Order to surrender or she dies."
Lenalee can feel her heart pounding, and she can only watch helplessly as Allen is torn.
Vaguely, she sees him mouth something at her.
Before she can scream at him, tell him not to do anything stupid, he has invocated his Innocence.
He is crying, and Crown Clown is glowing.
She has never seen it glow before.
Komui's mouth has formed into a small, round oh as his eyes widen in horror.
"No," he gasps, a strangled whisper torn from his throat. "No!"
Allen's mouth twists in a sad smile.
"Take care of Lenalee for me," he says quietly, as his eyes begin to turn Innocence-green.
Lavi sidles up to Komui.
"What's happening?" he hisses in a low, urgent tone.
Komui winces, and it is Link who replies.
"Walker is in Hypercritical mode," says Link in a monotone, as if reading off a textbook. "This boosts the power of his Innocence by two to three times, but it can only be used for a short period of time. It is generally only activated willingly, not unwittingly like normal Critical, and only under situations of great emotional stress."
"Even given the short usage time, it seems too good to be true, though. Is there some other downside to this mode?"
Link looks away, and it is Komui who reluctantly answers.
"The user will die after using this once."
"What? How could you ever let him use it?"
"Walker is that kind of person," Link says in a tone that brooks no argument. "He's like a martyr. Even if the Inspector had not informed him of this alternative, there are many books in the library that do mention this stage, and I would be inclined to believe that he knew of this before, judging by his reaction."
Link looks away.
"In Hypercritical stage, the Inspector predicted he might have enough power to Exorcise even the Earl."
Shocked, Lavi turns back around and immediately catches sight of Allen's white cloak flitting in and out of the sea of Akuma.
"So you're using him as a sacrifice, and at the same time you can rid of him." Lavi's voice is hoarse with disbelief.
Link does not deign to reply, and the people watch silently as the Destroyer of Time makes the best and last attempt of his life to end the holy war.
White collides with black in a furious impact, and on the ground below shadows dance crazily in the rapidly flickering light.
A piercing shriek adds to the chaos, and Lavi can see tears now, welling up in Lenalee's violet eyes.
And time seems to stand still, as the flashes die and Allen Walker takes an eternity to fall to the ground. The moment he hits the ground, time resumes its normal flow, and his Innocence flickers and dies as the Earl glows bright white and explodes into nothingness, leaving behind the faint afterimage of a cross-shaped seal.
The Noah begin to melt away with the destruction of the Earl, but Lavi only sees Lenalee, lying broken on the ground where she had been dropped by a vanishing Akuma only seconds ago.
"The prophecy has been fulfilled!" Lavi can hear the Inspector's voice from somewhere in the throng. "The Church has triumphed!"
But the mood is far from celebratory.
The war ends.
And her world, along with it.
Lenalee half-limps, half-drags herself to where Allen lies like a broken marionette on the ground. Hesitantly, she reaches out and brushes a lock of soft white hair away from his temple.
His eyes are still open, but his breathing is laboured.
"Idiot," she chokes out. "Why did you…"
"I love you," Allen manages to rasp. "Isn't that good enough?"
Footsteps approach, and Lenalee can sense her brother kneeling down beside her. Allen smiles a dry smile, the light in his silver-grey eyes dimming away.
Lenalee sniffles, in spite of herself.
"Don't cry," he manages, this time using noticeably more effort. "Don't cry."
His eyes flutter shut.
And Lenalee cries, letting her tears splash down her face and she sobs her heart out. In the background she hears scattered yells of victory, but she drowns it out as background noise.
"He knew what he was doing," she can hear Lavi's voice. "He knew, and he still did it. For you."
"I know," Lenalee whispers shakily. "I know."
And time stops forever, in the ruins of her destroyed world.
She kneels there and cries for hours, or perhaps even longer. All track of time has been lost, and only when she runs out of tears does she bury her face in Komui's shoulder and fall asleep, emotionally exhausted.
Goodbye, Lenalee, she hears his voice in her dream.
Let's meet again...
Spring, year 2004.
Lenalee Lee pauses outside the door of her new classroom, hesitant to enter.
"Have fun~" she can still hear her brother's words. "Make lots of new friends!"
Steeling herself, she takes a deep breath and pushes open the door. The classroom she sees is a scene of chaos. Nervously, she quickly scoots over to sit next to the most normal-looking person in the class.
Curious blue eyes turn to look at her, from beneath a fringe of tawny brown hair.
"Hi," she squeaks nervously. "I'm Lenalee, I just transferred here recently."
He smiles at her gently.
"I'm Allen Walker. Nice to meet you~"
Just for a moment, just for a single moment, Lenalee thinks she can feel a strange sense of déjà vu. For some reason, her mind overlays an image of a white-haired boy with sparkling grey eyes on top of her new seatmate, and for a brief moment she somehow knows that they are both Allen Walker.
"…Are you okay?"
Lenalee blinks back into reality, and nods frantically. Her new seatmate laughs at her flustered expression.
At last, the hands of the clock begin to move again.
A/N: My first oneshot in a long while. _
This is actually how I'd imagined the final war to go. Quickly, with a bang. And with a bit of sorrow and grieving thrown in to tone down the happy ending, because I tend to prefer bittersweet endings rather than saccharine ones.
I've always been dying to write the reincarnation kind of ending. I've been fascinated by them, and thus I figured I'd want to write it myself at least once, just to get the feel of it.
For those who are readers of Fireflight, the planning for the next chapter is already underway~