Yullen Week 2011
Disclaimer: D. Gray-Man is Hoshino Katsura's.
Pairing: Kanda/Allen or Allen/Kanda; it depends on how you look at it.
Beta Reader: the ever awesome Becca2793~
Theme: actually this fic contains 3 themes (silence, shadow and fingertips), but since I wasn't able to publish it earlier, so let's just put this under fingertips. ^_^
A Tale of Flimsy Threads
The first time meeting him, the sky was layered with darkness, and not even a single star was peeking through the thick clouds. Streetlamps illuminated the road in reluctant shine, sometimes blinking as though they wanted to just sleep and leave the world in pitch black. Under the yellow glow, a red bench which was usually vacant at this hour, was now taken by a black-haired man, wrapped in an equally dark shirt, with a small book in hands.
Allen couldn't be bothered to observe how the guy looked—not right now. Everything was jumbled inside his head, and he merely stared for a while before taking the farthest side of the bench. The guy shifted, adding the distance, as if he hadn't sat on the corner already. Then silence embraced them.
Seconds ticked by; Allen sent his eyes up to the sky. This wasn't easy. Nothing was easy when you just discovered who you really were. In Allen's case, his preference.
A cough sounded from beside him, somehow calling Allen back to what he was doing now. Right, where was the bus?
The guy on his right didn't stir even after he coughed; Allen's eyes slowly darted towards him. The skin looked sickly pale under the light, and half of his face was covered by his long hair. That wasn't really the thing that piqued Allen's curiosity, though. It was the book. The fingers that were holding it were fiddling with the pages back and forth. Soft, rustling sounds coming from the motions. Allen was a hundred percent sure the guy wasn't reading—not in this dim light.
But strangely, he couldn't take his eyes off of the man's hand. The flipping white papers. The shiny dark blue cover. The pale fingers…
Fifteen minutes passed, and the bus made a quick stop in front of them. Allen stood in reflex, making sure that he didn't forget his duffel bag before heading inside to sit on the bus. Yet as it closed its automatic door, Allen wasn't sure what to think anymore.
The bus took him home, but the guy was left sitting on the bench.
The second time meeting him, Allen had just got his report card. No club activities, no classes on that day. Thus, there he was, sitting on the same bench and being showered mercilessly by the heating sun. After ten minutes, however, he couldn't stand the heat and the awkward silence that was embracing him; his mood had decreased more than he expected.
Tentatively, he settled his eyes on the dark-clothed man beside him.
"Don't you feel hot?"
No answer came from the guy—Allen wasn't even sure if he heard him. His face was listless, as if he wasn't there; his eyes soullessly laid on whatever in front of him. Yet those fingers were still playing with the book.
"You're wearing those black clothes on a day like this… Weird," Allen mumbled to himself, looking forward again wearily.
"So you think wearing long sleeves in summer doesn't make you mental?"
Jolted by the deep baritone, Allen quickly faced the frowning guy and shifted away a bit on his seat. "I thought you didn't hear—"
An eyebrow arched disdainfully.
"I'm sorry," sighed Allen, quite unsure of whether he should smile or scowl for being called mental. It didn't stop him from observing how the guy looked now that he could see him clearly, though. He was… beautiful, if Allen were to admit—the complete opposite of his manly voice. The hair and eyes were velvety black, both giving the feeling of obscurity. But the way those dark eyes glinted somehow absorbed Allen. Something in them was…
Allen shook his head, turning on his heels. His skin ached, screaming for some moisturizer, especially that part where the line of scar claimed the left side of his face ruthlessly. Luckily, despite the mocking he received, the long sleeve protected his left hand—the one thing he had to hide from the world's eyes.
"I'm going to buy some drink," he motioned at a vending machine not far from the bench, "do you want some?"
The guy shrugged, not caring enough to reply Allen's gaze. "Not thirsty."
"Are you sure? You'll be dehydrated… And I do think it's better for us to wait for the bus there," he pointed at a corner, where a shady tree stood vigorously. It certainly would be a lot better to stand under the tree. But the guy remained silent, completely ignoring Allen.
"…Fine, whatever," said Allen, almost rolling his eyes in irritation and heading towards the vending machine. Once he had bought his drink, he leaned his back on the wall, seeking comfort beneath gentle, coping leaves.
That day, he spent the time waiting for the bus by observing the mysterious lad from behind, not even bothering to ask him if he wanted to get on the bus when he noticed he was the only one mounting the vehicle again.
Rain seemed to be falling endlessly when Allen saw him standing alone near the bench. Allen could hardly observe him clearly, what with the unforgiving rain and the distance between them, but somehow…
Somehow his back seemed lonely.
Minutes passed by, and Allen was still standing by the vending machine; he didn't really intend to hide, but he couldn't get himself to approach the man and break the thick atmosphere. Questions kept on popping inside his head, filling his already dejected mind with more and more things to comprehend. But it kind of saved him, really. It helped him forget things he wanted to forget, if only for a moment.
Finally, after what felt like eternity, the guy budged from his trance, a hand raised just above a trash bin. Allen focused his eyes through the thick curtains of water. Then, the book fell freely into the bin.
If only the rain had stopped, if only he could see clearly, or had been standing by his side… Now Allen was dying to know what kind of expression the guy had made. But the chance had gone, for the guy had briskly waltzed away under the rain.
If Allen usually killed his time on the bus by sleeping or planning things to do the next day, that afternoon he spent it by carefully separating the sticky book's pages from one another, trying to dry them with a handkerchief. When the rows of alphabets had blurred too much that he couldn't make out what they were about, though, he almost sighed in frustration.
But at least that hand-writing at the back side was still readable.
"Are you searching for this?"
The guy jerked his face up, eyes wide and… Allen was sure it was panic.
"Why would you have that?" he abruptly snatched the book off of Allen's hand, walking away from the recycle bin—whereat he just spent the whole afternoon stirring its inside.
"I thought it was important," Allen admitted, acting nonchalant even though he knew he couldn't quite hide his bits of curiosity. The other looked perturbed, biting his inner cheek as he glanced sideways.
"You don't have the right to interfere."
"What?" Allen shook his head, unsure if he had indeed heard what he thought he heard. Was this man seriously saying that to him? "You threw that away, I have the right to pick it up."
"Look—" that guy locked his eyes with Allen's, impatient, "—beansprout. Don't act like we're acquaintances or something. Fuck off."
"First, this is a public place. And second, shouldn't you be the one to go away since you don't even ride the bus?" Allen countered, sensing his anger had started to bubble up, "and who the bloody hell is beansprout!"
"…It's not like I don't want to ride the bus," the guy mumbled, more to himself, as if he had forgotten that Allen was there. The latter sighed exaggeratedly loud.
"You're having quarrels with your lover, right? Just go to her place already!"
Widening his eyes, the man looked completely flabbergasted, and…
"I—I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't read it, but… that hand-writing at the back…" A little bit stuttered, Allen combed his hair out of his forehead, biting his lower lip when he perceived that the guy's expression didn't change. "But it's clear that whoever she is, she wants you to forgive her... Right?" he glanced up slowly towards the man.
For a long moment, only nothingness prevailed. Allen started to fidget, afraid if he had said the wrong thing, until the guy closed his eyes. Until his grip on the already torn and unreadable book tightened so that his fingers turned pale white. Then, Allen was left alone with only a simple:
"Mind your own business."
Weeks passed by, and Allen thought he would never see the man again. But one time after his club activities, when his heart had just crushed into pieces, and the tears had refused to come out despite the pain that was killing him from the inside, his eyes spotted a familiar silhouette sitting on the bench.
"You came again," he muttered with less care, almost throwing himself to the bench recklessly.
The guy merely took a quick look at him, before crossing his arms and paying Allen close to no attention.
"Well, I think I'll get used to your silent treatment eventually," said Allen with shut eyes. The autumn breeze had started to tease the town when the night came, something Allen felt grateful for. He made circle patterns on the duffel bag with his gloved fingers absentmindedly.
"Were you crying?"
Allen's hand stopped moving, eyes snapped at the man beside him.
"…No I wasn't," he answered, dubious.
"Then you're just about to cry."
Curling his brows down, Allen felt something snap inside him. "No, I won't. What's your problem?"
Settling his gaze right through Allen's confused eyes, the guy replied, "What's your problem?"
For a short time, Allen merely opened his mouth in bewilderment, utterly lost at words. But then he began to laugh, weakly at first, but louder along with the other's raising brow.
"Okay. You can say… I'm broken-hearted," he said, still with the remaining laughter in his eyes. "But now I'm laughing, thanks to you."
"Am I supposed to say 'you're welcome'?" Came the sardonic remark from the scowling man. Allen smiled wider.
"This person is my senior in club. Good at everything and always kind to people," he raised his chin up as he spoke, observing the ethereally clouded sky with languorous eyes. Unsurprisingly, talking about this to a stranger was much easier than facing those who knew him personally. "But somehow there's always something like a barrier between us."
"...Then break that barrier."
Allen chuckled even more. "I can't. Not everything can be fixed through only a strong will, you know."
The man was about to retort, opening his mouth with an expression of disagreement, but Allen said something that forced him to clam up.
"This person is a 'he'."
Stillness rose for some time, creating an even more awkward atmosphere between them. Then as nothing aside from his own breathing was heard, Allen continued still with a chuckle, despite the bitter lace in his voice. "He just got himself a girlfriend. My own best friend. But it's not like I love him that deep, you know—"
A big, warm hand rested on his head out of a sudden, bringing him to pause whatever he had planned to say and widen his eyes in stupefaction.
"I like—liked a man too," told the hand's owner quietly, expression still decorated by a frown and eyes looking straight to the front.
"…Did you?" Allen breathed, hesitant at first, yet the warmth from the guy's palm, the tips of his fingers that were interlacing with Allen's hair, soothed his aching heart gradually. Was this because it was the first time he met someone that was just like him? Or was it because—
"That's right, where's the book?" Without warning, he grabbed the hand from the top of his head, causing his object of curiosity to almost jump on his seat. But Allen couldn't care less, because… Although the hair, the eyes, and the clothes were still the same, radiating the colour that was as dark as the night, now the book was gone. And that was something.
"I threw it," he answered, trying to pull back his hand, yet Allen tightened his grip.
"Again? Why? But what about him? He's the one you like, right?"
Those black, penetrating eyes wavered for a slight second.
"No, it's fine."
"What do you mean—"
This time, it was Allen's turn to clam up, his grasp grew loose. The hand was pulled back, leaving a trail of emptiness and loneliness on Allen's clothed palms.
"…But he wrote…"
Failing to continue what he was trying to say, Allen pressed his lips in a tight line.
"It's nothing," the man sighed, rubbing the back of his neck to act casual, though he was still stubbornly refusing to meet Allen's eyes. "I went away from him, and he died while waiting for me. That's all."
"…Was he sick?"
The man shrugged. "That's what I heard."
"You went away because you didn't want to be with a guy?"
"Isn't that normal?" Now he faced Allen, frowning.
"It—" Allen swallowed, "—it is."
Yes, he understood. He knew it so well—the feelings of wanting to run away. To just disappear, or start a new life somewhere far from the person who made him realize that he was… different. But…
'I'm sorry. I'm sorry…'
'I'm so sorry…'
"That book... what is it to you?" Allen started again, unable to bottle up all his emotions.
"A rejection?" the guy shrugged again, "I gave it to him before I went, and he sent it back to me a week before he passed away."
"You think he was sorry for liking you?"
"He was sorry for dragging me down to this world."
Allen shook his head, smiling dryly. "But you know that isn't true, right?"
Two perfectly dark brows connected together in response.
"I think he wrote that…" Allen intertwined his fingers, "maybe he's sorry because he wouldn't be able to wait for you for as long as he wanted to. For as long as you wanted him to. And you know that."
The man didn't counter, didn't seem surprised at Allen's opinion, nor did he keep his eyes on Allen. For a good sixty seconds only the sounds of the rustling leaves was present, enveloping them in serene ambiance Allen thought he wouldn't be able to feel that night. Until a soft, nearly inaudible murmur broke the lull.
Then the bus came.
It wasn't as if his feelings had completely gone. The ache was still there, peeking from the deepest part of his heart, yet the smile on his face had become more and more genuine, and the heavy, invisible burden had been lifted from his shoulders. He might still not accept this fact about him completely, and he was sure that if something happened in the future, he would still curse and blame everything about himself… But at least…
At least now he had tried to acknowledge it sincerely.
"I love autumn," he started, flashing a smile while standing before the bench. That stranger, though he didn't feel like a stranger anymore, was heading towards him after getting a drink from the vending machine.
"Doesn't surprise me," the man took three gulps of his hot coffee, then handed it to Allen afterwards. As the latter only replied with puzzled eyes, he raised his eyebrows in a manner that encouraged Allen to accept the offer.
"Thanks…" he reluctantly brought the cup to his lips. The scent of coffee invading his nostrils, its warmth crept up over his fingers. The other's eyes focused on him.
"You don't look weird wearing long sleeves in autumn after all," he commented.
"Oh well, thanks," Allen mumbled his sarcasm. "It's not like I want to always wear these, you know."
"It's not like I can't guess what's under." The reply came dispassionately. "Anyone can guess, seeing your scar," he added, pointing at his own cheek when Allen stared at him in questions.
"Oh," was the only thing that slid out of Allen's lips.
"I don't give a damn. Why would other people?"
"Because they are different from you," said Allen with a chuckle. "You know, I still think you're interesting."
The man didn't respond for a moment, but he tugged his lips in a slight smirk. "There are things you still need to do aside from admiring me, brat. You won't see me again, anyway."
That successfully made Allen's eyes widen.
"What do you mean?"
Sighing, the guy sent his gaze far ahead, as if he was searching for something at the end of the road. "I came only because I got the news that he had died. Now I need to go back home."
"Go back home?" Allen repeated, confounded. "But—you spent weeks, or was it months here, just to sit on this bench and—"
"I don't need to ride the bus."
Allen swallowed; his heart started to pump wildly behind his ribs.
"He's no longer there even if I come." Two sun-burnt, bare hands were slipped inside the black jeans' pockets. "This bus stop is—this is the route we used to take to his house when we were in your high school."
Biting his inner cheek, Allen couldn't help but drop his gaze at the red, dry leaves that were scattered on the ground. The revelation was supposed to enlighten his curiosity, to solve the enigma that had started to bother him. He knew he should be happy to hear it, but…
On the contrary, he felt something foreign jabbing his heart.
Was it about the fact that he would not be able to meet him again? That he would lose a friend that shared the same problem as him? This feeling, the one that had begun to emerge within him the moment he heard the bus stop was a special place between the guy and his old crush…. Was it disappointment? Was it jealousy?
Because he had started to think that this bench was his special place?
"So… now you've moved on?" Slowly Allen tried, massaging the back of his neck awkwardly.
"It's not about I've moved on or not. I have things I must do, like college," the man rolled his eyes. "Need to fucking take remedial, thanks to this." Allen let out a half-forced laughter at that.
"Good luck, then," he smiled, a little more sour than he had intended, "I'm going to be lonely though. It's not the route people often take, so…"
"Why'd you think I'd care about that?" the other snorted, half-amused. Allen tried to laugh again upon that, but of course he still had to retaliate. Anything as long as it could help him hide his mixed emotions. Therefore he opened his mouth, attempting to bring the situation back to how it was supposed to be, but had to stop as the bus arrived.
The guy gestured with his chin, signalling him to climb on the vehicle. Allen clutched his duffel bag tighter.
"You know…" Cautious at first, Allen began; his voice layered with uneasiness, eyes shot straight to the man before him, "there's only one thing I want to know."
Two dark eyebrows arched in silence; Allen continued.
"Can you please—can you at least tell me your—"
Suddenly he stumbled towards the bus, almost yelped from being pushed harshly inside. At first he couldn't make out what had just happened, but once he had regained his balance back, he snapped his face towards the smirking man by the bench with a glare. But as the bus' door started to close with a soft hiss, Allen couldn't help but savour what he was seeing outside—how the man's lips formed various shapes, accompanied with a deep voice he'd probably long to hear from now on.
It was his name.
"Are you sure you don't want us to give you a ride, Allen?"
Smiling, said boy shook his head, stepping backward as he declined politely. "Thanks, Lenalee. But I prefer riding a bus."
"Are you sure?" the girl repeated, unconvinced, but she decided to let it be in the end. "Fine. But sometimes let's hang out together after school, okay?" she winked from within the blue Nissan car; her boyfriend waved his hand when Allen only nodded in response. Then they went off, leaving a trail of grey smokes in the freezing air of winter.
Days, weeks, and months had passed, and everything felt like a dream. Even the memory every time he sat alone at the bench; it felt like a blur of a monochromatic film that had started to become fuzzier inside his mind.
What was he like?
Aside from the blackness of his eyes and hair, and the silhouette of that lean body, Allen couldn't imagine a close image of the guy in his mind. Everything felt wrong—nothing was right anymore when he could no longer see him.
Was his nose really like that? Or was his skin the colour of peach? What about the lips? And those fingertips that were lightly flipping the pages of the book? The hand that had spread its warmth on top of his head? The name that felt foreign yet enthralling and the same time…?
"Kanda Yu," he called softly, voice almost inaudible. But he regretted it soon after. Great, now he wanted to say the name in front of the person himself.
Suddenly, something hot perched on top of his hair, half-buried in between the light strands that were as white as the snow, jolting him to immediately spring on his feet. Though before he could yell at whoever had abused his head, the ever so familiar smirk made all the anger fly out of his mind.
"This time I'm going to ride the bus," said the one whose hand was holding a cup of hot coffee. Allen blinked in disbelief, yet didn't waste the opportunity to take everything in—all the things he had just wondered, from the tips of the hair to the slim jaw—with wide eyes.
"...and the destination?" voice hoarse, he finally managed to ask.
An even wider smirk stretched on the man's lips as he thrust the coffee at Allen. "You decide."
Chuckling after a short gap, Allen took the offered drink with one hand, while his other hand seized the grey fabric that was embracing the strong arm before him.
"...My place?" he murmured into the guy's ear, lips nearly brushing with the pale cheek. "Kanda."
And they both smiled ever so faintly.
(~~every ending is the beginning of something new~~)
A/N: Thank you for reading! So, how was it? Reviews will make my day. Thanks! ;D