Theme 2 – Shadow (Dec. 20-21)

Pairing: AreKan (?)

Rating: T

I'm not sure the T rating is that necessary, but just being safe here. This is a pretty long fic, I guess...I just don't know when to stop writing. xD Please enjoy, more from me at the end!


Kanda shoved his hand through the sleeve of his exorcist jacket, thinking of nothing other than the best way to maim Komui when he returned to the Black Order. For over a week now, the Japanese man had done nothing but chase blindly after clues that might lead him to an akuma.

An akuma that had already killed dozens of finders.

Despite the potential for clues from that alone, Kanda had been sent on this solo mission with no information aside from the last place the Earl's minion had been spotted. There was no description of it, despite how many had obviously seen it, and there were so few signs leading him to its next location that he might as well have just ignored them all. It seemed he was perpetually one step behind the killing machine.

Grumbling wearily, he grabbed Mugen and paid the innkeeper as he left to continue his journey. It was no easy trek, travelling winding roads that lead through a small mountain range. He figured he'd crossed into Switzerland by now. The only comfort he took was not having so much as a finder around trying to make conversation with him.

After hours of searching, Kanda reached an open stretch of ground. A narrow dirt path led through fields of bright, late spring flowers colored every shade from yellow to deep purple. He paid little attention to them, and more to the occasional withered areas he passed.

Of course flowers died, he thought, so it wasn't that which distracted him, but the patterns. The patches of brown were set in curves and spirals clustered together, connecting into strings.

At the fourth, he stopped to wander into the flowers to take a closer look. He approached warily, just in case something suspicious still lurked amongst the scenery. With all of the hues scattered about randomly, it wouldn't be too difficult to hide.

Not only were the flowers before him withered and dead, they looked as if they had been burned with some kind of acid, charred and broken. A word was written in the earth at his feet, a definite clue telling him he was headed in the right direction.


Nothing but an akuma would provoke him that obviously. He guessed it was at least a level 2, but more likely a level 3 that would be a nuisance to defeat. It must have confidence in itself, too, if it was leading him along like this.

He kept moving, feeling it unwise to remain in the same spot for too long. Although he'd found these clues, he didn't come across anymore for quite a while, nor did he waste any time retracing his steps to see what else it had written.

He walked for hours, eyes peeled for any sign of movement. He had no idea exactly how the akuma had burned the words into the ground, whether it was from above or below. He did, however, assume that that was its primary form of attack.

As he left the field of flowers, he sensed a dark, evil aura floating nearby. It wasn't strong at first, but he recognized it for what it was. This was the sign of an akuma lurking nearby. The farther he walked over the rest of the day, the closer it felt. He considered tracking it straight through the night, but when he stumbled upon a small town with an inn, he decided it best to continue in the morning when he might have more of an advantage. Akuma wasted no time utilizing their opponents' weaknesses.

All through the night, Kanda was periodically awoken by the same feeling he'd had while he walked. Each time, it took him longer to fall asleep, paranoid that a demon would lunge from the shadows to drive its poison through him. The unpleasant atmosphere enveloped him, driving away oxygen and making it difficult for him to fall back to sleep each time.

When dawn finally approached, he crawled out of bed, light, bruise-like circles beneath his eyes. It mattered little to him as he once again went through the process of paying for his room, continuing his journey.

He found himself at the base of a mountain when he stopped. The path had gotten more overgrown as it led him to a forest, an optimal place for an attack. It was there that the sense of akuma overwhelmed him to the point where a shiver ran down his spine and his hair stood on end. It was hard to believe he was hunting only one akuma.

The feeling was all around him again, like at the inn only more tangible. It literally felt as if something were grabbing his limbs in an attempt to restrain him. He shifted his weight, moving his arms just to make sure it was his imagination as he reached for Mugen.

Spinning around, he prepared to slice the anticipated opponent. Sword drawn, he swung, only to hear the sharp whish as it cut the empty air. He glanced to each side, ready to strike, should it return. What bothered him was that nothing, nothing at all looked out of the ordinary. The sun glinted through scattered cumulus clouds, casting shadows across the dirt path. The trees thickened in front of him, creating a darkness rivaling the night. Aside from the thickness of the air, everything was normal.

When he looked at the ground, though, his shadow seemed wrong for that time of day. It couldn't be much past noon, and yet his shadow was elongated as if it were evening. He crouched down to touch it, but only ran his hands over uneven dirt littered with pebbles. Ordinary.

With an annoyed sigh, he headed into the forest, despite its foreboding character. The deeper he got, the more often he glanced over his shoulder, eyes darting in every direction so as not to miss anything. Adrenaline mingled with the blood in his veins, frustrating him more with every passing second.

He could see the light leading out of the forest when it struck. Behind him, the unmistakable figure loomed. Kanda whirled around just in time to see the akuma literally rising out of the ground behind him.

It was flat, completely two-dimensional, with a smooth surface from top to bottom. Even its face looked as if it had been drawn on paper without any capability of sight. But when he looked at its eyes, trained directly on him, the malicious bloodlust contained in them was unmistakable and all for him.

Noting the demon's color – akin to that of ashes – he realized why he hadn't noticed it before. The thing had blended with his shadow earlier and crept along behind him this entire time. How could he have been so careless?

Drawing Mugen immediately, he moved to run his Innocence through the monster. To his surprise, it didn't dodge. It didn't need to.

Its body moved with Kanda's blade, making so the katana didn't touch the demon at all. Kanda's eyes widened in surprise as he withdrew his sword and jumped back at lightning speed.

As he did, the akuma grew arms, also two-dimensional, that were almost twice the length of its body. Successfully out of its reach, he darted to the left and behind the enemy. He stabbed again, thinking maybe he could catch it a little more off guard this time.

To his surprise, the akuma's "skin" separated once more like water repelled by the oil that was his Innocence. This time, even Kanda's quick reaction didn't save him.

The thing didn't attack directly with its arms as he thought it might. The akuma reached for the bottom of its flat form, and to Kanda's mild disgust, broke a piece of itself off. It hurled the jagged shard at him before breaking another and doing the same. The first, Kanda dodged easily, and the second.

However, as it kept breaking, it regenerated just as quickly. It flung more and more pieces of itself at the Japanese exorcist. Kanda leapt from branch to branch above the stationary enemy, circling it rapidly.

Eventually, he made a wrong step, jumped onto a slightly too-thin branch that snapped under his weight. Sucking in a startled breath, he descended through the air, looking for something, anything to grab onto to break his fall.

It was then it hit him. Two shards darted toward him, grazing his skin before pinning him to a tree by his uniform. His back hit the trunk with more force than he'd expected, making him cough most of the oxygen in his lungs.

The akuma advanced as he tried to regain his breath and pulled out the shards. Bracing himself for the impact on the ground, he heard footsteps on the path near him.


His head snapped up, distracting him momentarily from the akuma. Allen Walker sprinted toward him, Innocence activated. He shot a at the demon with a flurry of golden rods, all of which seemed to pierce it. But once the smoke cleared, it had not so much as a scratch. Left arm poised to attack again, he stopped only at Kanda's urgent tone.

"Bean Sprout, stop!" he shouted, though he remained rooted to the spot. "It can't be touched with Innocence."

"What?" Allen gasped, drawing back immediately to stand beside Kanda. "It's an akuma, Innocence is the only way to fight it!"

"I know," Kanda snapped. "But even you must've seen your attacks go right through it. It morphs its body and repels the Innocence. I think it's an automatic defense."

Allen shot him a questioning glance.

"When I tried to cut it with Mugen," he continued, "it just pulled its body apart."

"Okay," Allen mused. "So what do you think we should do?"

"How should I know?" Kanda grumbled. He glared at the demon before him, shocked at its immobility. All the time the two exorcists talked, the akuma simply sat looking at them, holding its papery figure up with its oversized arms. It was as if it waited for them to attack, watching intently for some sign of hostility. Seeing its unwillingness to make the first move, Kanda diverted a small part of his attention back to the white-haired boy beside him.

"Why are you here?" he demanded.

"Komui sent me," Allen explained. "He said he was worried because you've been gone a while and said you could use backup."

"Che," Kanda scoffed. "I'm doing fine on my own."

"Is that why the fight's barely started and you've already been injured?"

"This isn't an injury!" he barked, pointing at the small cuts the shards inflicted.

"What would you call it, then?"

"It doesn't matter! Figure out a way to beat this thing or go back to the Order before I cut you in half."

Allen scowled, but averted his attention. He was wary of this one. He'd never encountered an akuma that just sat there looking at him without attacking or even speaking. He noted the geometric shape of it – seven equal sides constructed its main body, gorilla-like arms sprouting from the same spot on each side. It was thin as tissue, so attacks from the side would be nearly useless, and very likely to miss. On one side, squiggly eyes stared at him emotionlessly. In fact, it appeared this one was merely toying with them, as if it hadn't been ordered to kill at all.

Then, out of nowhere, two thin, bright green beams shot from its eyes toward a thick tree to their right. Both exorcists jumped farther out of the way, only to find that it didn't appear to be attacking. When the beams retracted, written in the trunk was a short phrase.

Destroy Black Order.

That dashed Allen's previous thought of it not killing them.

"Attack it with me," Allen suggested in a low voice.

"What? Why? That won't do anything," Kanda said, wracking his own brains for an answer.

"I have an idea."

"What is it?"

"There's no time to explain. Just attack it, okay?"

"Che. Fine."

The two launched into the air, moving in opposite directions. The akuma, detecting their intent, spun in rapid circles, arms flailing like helicopter blades. The speed of its arms picked it up off the ground so it hovered, untouchable.

"Mugen, unsheathe!" Kanda commanded, running two fingers along the length of the blade so it glowed. "First Illusion, Hell's Insects!"

Ghastly gray creatures with pointed noses and gleaming red eyes flew from Kanda's sword at the spinning demon. Kanda hadn't expected them to do much damage, but he had expected them to at least hit the thing. Instead, the reverse happened, and the akuma swatted them away, only slowing it down minutely. The creatures dissolved in the air as the demon settled back on the ground, grinning at them.

Allen shot at it again, while at the same time, Kanda activated Mugen's Second Illusion. He darted to the akuma, cutting it with the double blade. To his astonishment, they left marks; not deep marks, but scratches nonetheless. It meant Innocence could indeed touch this demon.

"Bean Sprout—"

"I know," Allen said, evading a handful of shards flying at him.

Kanda sliced at the akuma again with his double blades, and Allen's arm changed into a weapon more closely resembling a rounded sword. They struck simultaneously, both burying their weapons to the hilt into the demon.

But Kanda knew immediately that something wasn't right. Mugen had gone through the akuma, but it hadn't touched it. Still, he was stuck to the demon. Allen's weapon had plunged into the thing without trouble, leaving a sizeable wound.

If Kanda guessed correctly, his own Innocence had touched the akuma first, so it concentrated its immediate defenses on Mugen. Allen's impacted just a fraction of a second later, not giving it a chance to brace for it. Even automatic defenses had flaws, and it looked like this one's was that it could only repel one Innocence at a time.

But that didn't explain why Kanda was stuck to it. Allen had sliced through it and gotten off just fine. In fact, he'd hacked off about a third of the demon, and it didn't look like it was regenerating. Maybe this would be an easier defeat than he thought. That is, if he could just get unstuck.

"Kanda, get away from it!" Allen shouted in warning.

The ebony-haired exorcist struggled, but even Mugen wouldn't withdraw at his will. He gritted his teeth, using all his strength, but still it wouldn't budge. He couldn't even detach his feet from the demon.

"Did you figure it out yet?"

At first, he had no idea who was speaking. It couldn't have been Allen. The voice was a snake-like hiss, gurgling and gravelly. He glanced around for a moment before returning to the akuma. It was grinning more widely than before, eyes trained on its prey.

"Figure…" Kanda repeated, trailing off.

It giggled. "I guess not."

Kanda's ears hurt, hearing the voice again. It clawed savagely at his eardrums and he nearly shut his eyes and cringed. But no, he was an exorcist, and above that kind of cowardice.

"Kanda!" Allen shouted from a distance. "Your shadow!"

Kanda looked down to find both the akuma's hands pressed to the ground, right in the center of his shadow. As soon as he recognized what was happening, a heaviness descended upon his body. Maybe it had already been there and he just hadn't noticed it. Now, he stopped struggling and peered into the demon's eyes.

"Clever boy," the akuma snickered. Its eyes glowed neon green, and Kanda ducked out of the way just in time before the lasers shot from them once again. He leaned further and further to the right, away from the deadly light.

"You can only move so far," the demon growled, obviously enjoying itself. "When you run out of space, I'll slice your throat wide open and your blood with spill all over this forest, a sacrifice on this canvas for the Millennium Earggh—"

Allen shot a barrage of golden rods through the akuma, right through the back of its eyes. In place of the lasers were two of these bullets, pointing straight at Kanda's face.

One of the akuma's hands lifted from his shadow and he ripped Mugen through the rest of its body. When it rose again, he sliced again, continuing until it laid at his feet in dozens of pieces. Glaring down at each one of them, he sheathed Mugen, confident they would explode any moment as akuma did when they "died".

His mistake was realized almost immediately after he'd taken his hand off the hilt. In an instant, the pieces reassembled, albeit in an imperfect form that no longer had straight sides or sturdy arms.

Allen ran in to help his comrade, mere seconds too late. The akuma raised an arm with astounding speed, before Kanda even had a chance to draw Mugen again. It tore across his chest and stomach, catching his arm in the process.

He staggered backwards, cursing and clutching the gaping wound. Blood poured onto the ground, and when he coughed, a mouthful of the metallic liquid dripped from his lips. Although the pain was excruciating, he straightened, attempting again to draw Mugen. The blood on his hands made gripping the sword a little more difficult, but he managed.

"Kanda!" Allen called again, shooting a meaningful glance at the older male.

Kanda said nothing, only lunging forward in answer. On cue, Allen morphed his weapon into a sword, striking with Kanda. Direct, simultaneous attacks so far seemed their best bet for taking the level 3 down. It was a fairly durable akuma, but it was obviously weakening quickly.

The two stabbed repeatedly, though Kanda's two swords had once again combined into one. His body generally healed quickly, but even he could feel his energy depleting as he attacked with all his strength.

The akuma lashed out again catching Allen across his lower leg. The cut bled, but it didn't look too deep – not nearly as deep as Kanda's. Again, the demon swung at Kanda. Although he tried to step out of the way, his reflexes were slowed. The change was almost imperceptible, but it was enough to mean the difference between the enemy missing and opening yet another gash from shoulder to ribs, then smashing him into a tree trunk.

When it let go, Kanda dropped to the ground and sank to his knees, panting and gasping. Allen called his name distantly. His vision blurred in and out, revealing snippets of the continuing fight. His limbs shook, struggling to support him, even on all fours while he watched the scene before him.

Allen attacked ceaselessly, trying not to be distracted by his dazed companion. The akuma was losing the battle, slowly now that Kanda was down and Allen's attacks had a smaller effect.

Then, out of nowhere, a mass of odd looking insects swarmed the battlefield, piercing the akuma in time with Allen's assault. Eventually, the enemy detonated dramatically, shards of its body flying into the air to create their own miniature explosions, leaving a cloud of thick, poisonous smoke in its wake.

Allen rushed to Kanda's side, touching his shoulder with a gentle hand. Kanda ignored it, still focusing entirely on keeping himself conscious enough to get up and walk. The only problem was that when he moved, waves of sharp agony rippled visibly through his body. Gripping the dirt beneath him, he hacked up more blood, losing that in addition to what gushed from the wounds to his chest and midsection.

"Hey, Kanda," Allen said, repeating his name for what seemed like the hundredth time. The words sounded far off, even though Allen knelt directly in front of him.

Shut up, Bean Sprout, Kanda thought before his eyes fluttered closed, mind and body shutting down as he hit the packed dirt beneath him.

Allen nudged the older man's shoulder a few times before giving in to the fact that Kanda simply would not wake up. Then again, he hadn't really expected him to, what with those wounds. They still bled profusely, and Allen worried that even Kanda's body wouldn't be able to keep up with them.

He lay completely limp on the ground, breathing ragged. Some of his hair had fallen from its ponytail, splayed across his shoulders and the ground around him. It stuck out in stark contrast with his color-drained face. Just the sight of him wrenched at Allen's heart, speeding it up in a panic he wasn't entirely familiar with. Sure, it pounded when his friends were in danger, but now there was an underlying and very urgent fear, like the world would stop turning if Yu Kanda did not live.

Shaking the image from his mind, Allen moved his fellow exorcist, slowly and gently, jostling him as little as possible. He removed the man's coat and the shredded shirt beneath it. Afterwards, he slipped out of his own uniform, undoing his own shirt. He tore it up to use as makeshift bandages, but it wasn't nearly enough. He used Kanda's tattered garment, too, although it was quite bloody already.

Once he patched up the Japanese man as best he could, Allen positioned him against a tree trunk to make lifting him easier. He found the man lighter than he imagined, even with Mugen strapped to his waist.

Allen headed back in the direction he came. He'd had to use a few shortcuts to reach Kanda in time to be able to help, and he remembered a small town nearby. It didn't have a hospital, but there was a healer. She would have to do.

Even though it was the closest town he knew of, it was still quite a hike through the mountain, made even more challenging now that he was carrying more than twice his weight. With each step, he could feel Kanda's blood seeping through the cloth, through the jacket Allen replaced, and then through Allen's coat. The feeling made him shudder.

It took until nightfall to reach the village, the only light coming from candles flickering in the windows. He rapped loudly on the woman's door and after only a moment, it swung open. Inside stood an elderly woman with gray hair and wrinkles that betrayed years of experience. She ushered them in, still wearing the day's clothes.

Allen lowered Kanda onto the spare bed in one of two extra rooms while the woman left the room to get clean bandages and something to cleanse the wounds. By this time, the bleeding had slowed considerably, though Kanda's skin still held an ashen pallor.

"What happened?" the woman inquired as she stripped away the pieces of cloth, leaving Kanda bare-chested.

"He got injured fighting an akuma," Allen explained, "at the base of the mountain near the forest."

She glanced at him, a glimmer of surprise shining in her eyes. "I've heard of those things. Terrible creatures."

Allen nodded, at a loss for words. His eyes were trained on the Japanese youth stretched out on the bed before him. Although he'd finally gotten him to shelter, Allen still felt uneasy.

The woman dipped a rag in a shallow basin, dabbing at the gashes covering Kanda's upper body and wiping away the dried blood. Then, she cleansed the wounds with sterile alcohol. Kanda grimaced, gritting his teeth against the sting. The healer had just finished applying an herbal ointment when the young man's eyelids shuddered and opened halfway.

He gazed at the ceiling with glazed, unseeing eyes. After a few moments, he blinked, clearing a little of the fog that had settled in his mind. He couldn't remember much of what happened after he'd been thrown into the tree, other than being cut up. Beyond that, he had a few fuzzy recollections, but nothing reliable.

Peeking to his right, he saw Allen standing near the foot of the bed beside an elderly woman he'd never seen before. The kid's face was contorted to betray emotions ranging from pity and fear to restrained joy. He stepped a little closer, as if to verify that Kanda had finally regained consciousness.

Kanda stirred and the woman froze in her seat, analyzing his movements without a word. He turned slightly to the side, reaching to push himself up. As soon as he did, a sharp agony reaching from the gashes on his upper body all the way to the rest of him. He tried staying in that position, waiting for it to die down, but it only made his arms tremble, wounds throbbing unbearably.

He dropped to one elbow, fists clenched, determined not to collapse completely again. An involuntary groan escaped from between his teeth as he lowered his head in defeat. The pounding in his head made it difficult to keep his vision in line. His licorice cascade tumbled over his shoulders, pooling over his arms and concealing his tortured expression.

A hand reached under his chin, raising his face. Staring into his eyes, the woman appeared to be making a thousand deductions without asking a single question.

"You've got a bit of a fever and a concussion," she finally said. "Hopefully the wounds won't get infected, but it did take the two of you quite a while to get here, I'm told."

Allen looked characteristically guilty at her words.

"Don't give me that face," the woman said sharply, gesturing for him to move closer. "Help him sit up so I can bandage him more easily."

Kanda didn't particularly want to sit up. He would much rather have slipped back down to the pillow below him and fallen back to sleep. He would rather have done anything but move again, even with Allen's help.

Jaw set, he leaned heavily against the younger, who now sat behind him on the bed, supporting his unstable frame. The woman wrapped his torso in layers of bandages, startling him once when she applied just enough pressure to keep them taut on his body.

"You really are kind of warm," Allen remarked almost timidly, once she'd almost finished.

"It's fine, Bean Sprout," Kanda croaked.

"You don't need to—"

"Shut up."

Even after so few words, Kanda felt breathless and unwilling to carry on any sort of argument with his fellow exorcist.

"Let him rest for a bit," the woman suggested, helping Kanda back down to the mattress. She and Allen left the room just as Kanda dozed again.

He slept deeply, waking late the next morning in his empty room. Low voices echoed from the next room, muffled by the closed door.

Kanda's head felt clearer today, and after shifting position a little, he could tell the wounds had started to heal. Stretching them hurt quite a bit, but it was to be expected. The process had become slower than he was used to.

With a soft grunt, he sat up, the bandages slick against his skin. Of course there were no new ones in the room to replace them with, so he prepared himself, and stood with some difficulty. Shuffling to the door, he opened it to find the healer and Allen sitting at a small table, clutching mugs of hot tea. At the sound of the creaky bedroom door, their heads snapped in his direction. Allen looked mortified at his presence, though the healer merely gestured for him to sit in the empty chair beside her. He took it without complaint.

"You're looking a bit better today," she commented with a gentle smile. "How are you feeling?"

"Better," he muttered in assent.

"I bet those bandages need changing. You stay here and I'll go find some more," she said before adding as she left the room, "You know, I didn't expect you to wake so soon. Those were some nasty injuries."

Kanda said nothing, only averted his eyes to the table. As soon as the old woman was out of earshot, Kanda spoke.

"What happened to the akuma?" he murmured, keeping his voice low.

"I finished it," Allen said in a similar tone.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, BaKanda, I'm sure."


"More importantly, how are you doing?" Allen pressed, brow furrowing.

"I just said I'm fine, didn't I?" Kanda snapped, though the way he flinched when he moved implied otherwise.

"It hurts, doesn't it?"

"Do you listen when people talk to you?"

"I listen with more than just my ears," Allen said. "Don't be so stubborn."

"I'm not stubborn!" Kanda growled as the healer reentered the room.

"Here," she said, setting down a tray with more bandages. "Stay like that, just put your arms on the table."

Kanda obeyed while she undid the old wrappings. Beneath them, the gashes had turned pinker, tighter, and obviously smaller than the previous night. They still looked terribly uncomfortable, as evidenced by how Kanda sat rigidly and moved gingerly when he had to. Allen wondered briefly why the woman hadn't stitched them when they'd gotten here. It might have accelerated Kanda's own healing abilities. Now they had to stay longer than they'd planned. At least they weren't carrying Innocence this time.

When the woman finished, Kanda relaxed marginally. She placed a hand on his forehead, seeming pleased when she removed it.

"You're healing quickly," she remarked, pausing afterward as if waiting for a response. When none came, she continued. "If this goes on, you'll be able to leave in another day or two, providing you're feeling up to it."

Kanda nodded.

"Thank you," Allen chimed in his place, knowing Kanda almost never spoke the words.

"You should be in bed now," the woman suggested, inclining her head to Allen in acknowledgement.

"I don't need to be," Kanda insisted, meeting her eyes willingly for perhaps the first time.

"You might be feeling better," she said sternly, "but you still need rest. The more you get, the faster you'll heal."

"I said it's not necessary," he repeated, dreading the thought that had just entered his mind. This nameless woman was just as bad as that Bean Sprout – stubborn and far too willing to argue. It was then that he habitually reached to his hip for Mugen, only to find its sheathe missing. He supposed he should have expected as much, but it frustrated him, not knowing where his possessions were.

"It's next to your bed, dear," the woman informed him.

That was the trick, he realized. He sighed in defeat. Rising a bit too fast, he wrapped an arm around his midsection, clutching his side and bracing against the table. Allen's chair scraped the ground as the boy made to get up and help him.

Kanda waved him off, slamming the door to the room when he entered. Sure enough, Mugen sat where the healer said it would be. He picked it up, sitting down and unsheathing it. It was Innocence, and a strong blade, so he knew it wouldn't be damaged, but that didn't stop him from checking anyway.

As always, his own eyes stared back from their reflection on the gleaming blade. He noted the fatigue in their perpetual glare, only giving him a more haggard appearance. Maybe a bit of rest wouldn't be so bad.

Slipping Mugen back in its sheathe, he laid it beside him, drawing the blanket to his bare shoulder. Sleep revisited much more quickly than he expected.

When he woke again, the sun was slipping behind the trees outside. Had he really slept the entire day away? Propping himself on his elbows, he recoiled from a light snore to his right. Looking down, he found Allen sitting in one of the wooden chairs from the table. He was bent over, head pillowed on folded arms, resting atop the mattress. All in all, it looked pretty uncomfortable, but Kanda figured the kid had been awake all night after they'd arrived.

He looked different when he slept. Snowy locks fell over his forehead, parting to reveal his pentacle curse mark that ran nearly to his chin. His shoulders and back rose and fell rhythmically, giving him an untroubled appearance. When he was awake, he always looked bothered by something, no matter how small. This way, a veil of untainted innocence spread over him, and Kanda, without understanding why, mentally proclaimed him "cute".

That stopped him in his tracks. Why was he thinking like that?

Because it's true.

The thought sparked an inner argument, annoying him endlessly. Even when unconscious, the British boy infuriated him.

Then, as his inner battle reached its peak, he stole one more glance at the side of the bed. Extending a hand, he rested it on the white mop beside him, allowing himself a tiny smile. Yes, Allen was cute.

The touch awakened the young man, who stared around, startled and groggy. Kanda drew back his hand as if he'd just stuck it in a fire. It hovered up near his shoulder when Allen stared at him, puzzled.

"What're you doing?" he slurred, rubbing sleep from his eyes with the heel of one hand.

"N-nothing," Kanda said a little too hastily.

"What's wrong with your hand?" Allen asked.

"Nothing!" the Japanese man repeated, lowering it as his cheeks blushed a vibrant pink.

Allen sat up, moving closer to his companion. "Your cheeks are red," he noted. "Is your fever getting bad again?" He raised a hand to touch Kanda's face, which only resulted in the elder blushing even more radiantly as he swatted the younger's hand away.

"No," he insisted. "It's fine, I just…I'm…"

Sudden realization struck and Allen grinned.

"What's that for?" Kanda barked, retreating a few inches.

Allen closed the gap, pressing his lips to the raven-haired man's in a chaste kiss. Kanda seemed too stunned to move for a few moments afterward, so Allen took yet another opportunity.

The second kiss was more forceful, less cautious than the first. Kanda felt his face heat up as Allen cupped his chin with one hand, pulling him closer. The younger man's lips soon parted, allowing his tongue to slip through.

Kanda gasped when it touched his lips, unwittingly granting entrance. He felt Allen's tongue probe the inside of his mouth, searching for something Kanda couldn't quite understand at first. It skimmed over his teeth, brushing his inner cheek before creeping around Kanda's own tongue. It was then that the Japanese man realized what Allen wanted from him. How could he have not picked up on it earlier?

In turn, he slipped into Allen's mouth, already agape and waiting for him, to explore its contours. It wasn't an experience he was familiar with, especially not with some bean sprout like this.

Suddenly, he pulled back, biting Allen's tongue as he pulled back. "Why did you do that?" he asked in an accusing tone.

"I-I thought, the way you were looking at me, you wouldn't mind," Allen stammered. "If you didn't like it, why didn't you pull away?"

"I did!" Kanda pointed out.

"Not at first!" Allen countered.

Kanda opened his mouth to retort, only to close it again when he realized the white-haired boy was right. Why hadn't he pulled away to begin with? He grappled in his head for an answer, coming up with plenty, but none that supported his side of the argument.

"You're injured," Allen continued. "I thought that might help you heal faster."

"How would that help me heal?" Kanda exclaimed heatedly.

"Let me try again," Allen said, lurching forward, almost on top of the Japanese man.

"No!" Kanda shouted, trying to push the younger off of him before his wounds screamed in pain. He fell back on his elbows, wondering where that old healer was at a time like this. Had she suddenly become deaf?

Allen didn't move. "Stay still, it's not bad," he coaxed, climbing onto the bed beside the long-haired man. As he lowered his face again, Kanda did anything but stay still. He couldn't relax under these conditions, or under Allen at all. This wasn't right! That kid wasn't supposed to make the first move. Or any move! he corrected himself.

Instead of making contact with his lips again, Allen buried his face in the crook of Kanda's neck, cheek resting on the injured man's shoulder. He sighed, through his nose at first, letting the last bit of air trickle from his mouth. Kanda shuddered.

"Stop it, Bean Sprout," he demanded, though his heart wasn't completely in it.

"It's Allen." When he spoke, his breath tickled Kanda's skin, raising the hair on the elder's neck. Allen reached up, combing his fingers through Kanda's soft, silky locks, hitting only one snag along the way. Bypassing that, he twined his fingers into the blue-tinted strands at the back of Kanda's head as if supporting him.

Kanda felt a tongue glide over his collarbone, down to the bandages covering most of his chest, then across to the other side of his neck. It left a cold trail in its wake that sent a chill from the top of his spine, right to its base. He gripped the sheets beneath him in an effort to suppress a shiver.

Allen pressed closer to him, the old bed creaking loudly. Allen's shirt grazed the fair skin of the man below him as he swung one leg carefully over his midsection.

"Oi!" Kanda snapped. His next words were cut off by two of Allen's fingers pressed to his lips.

"Quit resisting," the British boy commanded. "I'll try not to hurt you."

Kanda gazed up at the younger male who had now successfully arranged himself in a dominant position. His face still held a certain softness that mingled with the gleaming lust in his silvery eyes. The white hair framed his face perfectly, as if each strand had been set that way on purpose.

But what Kanda noticed above all was the shadow. Allen's body blocked the light from reaching his own, and the young man's shadow all but enveloped him. He could almost feel it creeping over his body, up from his naval, to his throat, and then heating instead of cooling his face.

"You're blushing," Allen said with what could only be described as a triumphant grin.

"I am not!" Kanda grumbled, turning his head.

Allen touched a hand to Kanda's cheek, turning his face forward again. As he moved closer, Allen's snowy bangs brushed Kanda's ebony before their foreheads connected. Kanda's bangs obscured his vision, but he could tell Allen had that tender look. Without thinking, Kanda raised his hand to the back of Allen's head, stroking soft white locks to the nape of the boy's neck.

He surprised even himself when he pressed his lips to Allen's, chastely at first.

But it wasn't enough for Allen. The cursed boy nipped Kanda's lower lip playfully, entangling his hand in the raven hair. Though he rested his forearm on the pillow beside Kanda's head, he was careful not to make contact with his injuries. Even now, when the man shifted, Allen caught the rare pained gasp from his throat.

After a particularly sharp one, Allen took the opportunity afforded him, slipping his tongue back around Kanda's. It went on like this for what seemed like hours, though they were both sure it couldn't have been more than a few minutes before they broke apart, gasping.

"How are your wounds?" Allen asked suddenly.

Kanda scowled. "Why are you asking that now?"

"Because I forgot to before," the white-haired exorcist mumbled.

Kanda scoffed. With some effort, he propped himself onto one elbow, drawing Allen into an awkward embrace. He felt strange doing it, not being the one to initiate any hugs he could remember.

"Don't worry about it," he finally breathed into Allen's ear, adding a quick nibble before withdrawing. The corners of his mouth twitched upward when he took in Allen's expression. He was blushing madly, eyes wide with confusion. Even the shadows brought on by the night couldn't obscure the radiant glow of Allen's cheeks.

"Y-you…" Allen trailed off, not sure what he wanted to say before Kanda spoke over him.

"Get off me now and go to bed," Kanda demanded, though they were only words. He hoped Allen would notice how there was only one bed in the room and how he hadn't outright said "leave".

Allen blinked, obeying, but not leaving the bed. "Can you move over?" he asked, seeming to have understood something in Kanda's expression. Even so, it surprised him when the man did just that.

Their sleep, when it finally came, was undisturbed, not even by dreams. The healer kept to herself, something the two were infinitely thankful for when they left just days later.

Kanda recovered quickly, leaving as soon as the gashes were nothing more than faint pink lines on his torso. Allen thanked the healer, who shot him a knowing grin that made the blood rush to his head with embarrassment. Kanda ignored them both, brushing past Allen, out the door without so much as a thank you.

"You could have at least said something," Allen chastised later, once they were out of earshot.

"It wasn't necessary for her to hear it from both of us," Kanda said stoically. "How long did you want to stay?"

Allen shrugged. "The bed was comfortable."

Kanda didn't reply, but when the white-haired exorcist stole a glance his way, he couldn't help but chuckle to himself at the blush coloring the man's face.

Thank you for reading! Sorry it was so long (16 pages in the Word doc...didn't notice till I was almost finished ^^;)! I had a hard time writing it, and it probably shows. Finished it in a hurry at 2:30 the other morning. Please review with your thoughts, constructive critique, whatever. I appreciate all of it, and I really love reviews! :D Thanks so much for reading!