Dream Sequence Start!

Enjoy.


Chapter Ten

He feels warm. Warm like being enveloped in a thick blanket after freezing in the winter snow. He blinks his eyes open, wearily, much too tired to even try to seem alert, and the first thing he sees is a golden spiked cross against a sea of black. His head is cradled against the shoulder of a man, and his legs dangle as he's held princess style, but with the onslaught of pain (it creeps up on him like a silent torture, slow, but building with time) he finds himself too distracted to care. Voices carry across his awareness, but he can't place who they belong to, even though one sounds very familiar. The man holding him speaks and he vaguely makes out something like:

"Don't worry, he'll be taken care of. Rehabilitation will be difficult, but I'll do anything in my power to help him."

Rehabilitation? For his wounds, he supposes – if they are talking about him, anyway. The fight with Alma…Alma…

How could this happen? He doesn't really fancy himself the kind of boy that has friends, but Alma is…different. They're the same – they know the same pain, the same loneliness. Alma is nearly an extension of himself; at some points while they were training he watched him move and wondered if they had once been a singular being that separated into two. Even when he would glance in a mirror and dark, slanted cobalt eyes stared back at him, he could see Alma there.

It was a camaraderie brought by the hurt they shared. Like soldiers on the battlefield, he was once told.

The man holding him shifts slightly and he groans as his left arm is jostled. It feels broken. He knows what broken bones feel like, has had hundreds of them healed through 'miracle' medicines, and the sharp pain speaks a thousand words more than an X-Ray ever could.

"Sorry, Yu," the man says softly.

"Don't call me that," he grumbles back. The only person who's allowed to call him that is Alma.

The man chuckles at that, warmly, and Kanda feels himself slipping into slumber again. He's tired. So tired. And everything hurts. Everything.

But before he can fall asleep he's on an airplane. His eyes are locked on the small window and he watches the white clouds go by. He hears talking going on next to him and turns his head, catches sight of a tall, old man with messy hair and square glass and a teenager he'd seen around before. His eyes are wrapped with cloth but his lips are turned up in a small smile. It was probably an accident in training that did that to him – it's how Alma got the scar across his nose.

Thinking about Alma hurts, for some reason. He's never really experienced an emotion like this before – some combination of anger and sadness. Betrayal? Is that the word for it?

The old man notices his eyes on them and turns his attention to Kanda. "Oh, you're awake."

Obviously.

"How are you feeling?"

He doesn't answer, partially because he doesn't know and partially because it would take far too much energy to open his mouth. It'd be a waste to talk to his foolish man. Doing anything but existing would just be…not worth it.

Maybe even existing isn't really worth it.

"Yu?" He shoots the man a glare, and he takes the hint, laughing. "Am I not allowed to call you that?" Kanda doesn't even shake his head. He can't even really do that. He just stares stupidly. "Are you thirsty or hungry? You've been out for a while."

Oh this man's voice is getting annoying. He almost wants to talk if only to tell him to shut up.

The boy with the wrapped eyes speaks up. "He doesn't seem to want to talk."

What gave it away, blind man?

"No, I suppose not. He's been through a lot recently. Well, not just recently. He's been going through a lot for a while. Poor thing. I'll just order him some water. Maybe that'll help him want to talk."

It won't, but he doesn't think he'll refuse the drink. His throat does feel a tad…dry.

Closing his eyes, he leans back against the seat, when he opens them again, he's in his bedroom in New Orleans.

He's completely alone, his knees pressed against his chest and his arms wrapped around them; he rests his head on the wall and finds this position on his bed to be almost comfortable. The lights are dim, and if it wasn't for his racing mind he could probably fall asleep.

He really didn't even think about this – was never really given time to – but all of a sudden up and moving from one country to another is terrifying. America isn't fundamentally different from Japan, but it's just different enough to make him feel nervous. He speaks their language, as it's what the scientists and trainers spoke back in Japan, and at least there's that. A language barrier would probably make things even worse.

He presses his hand to the bed sheets and runs it across his fingers, feeling the texture. This bed is much nicer than the ones he and Alma had.

He draws up closer to himself when the door opens slightly. The man who took him from Japan with little to no explanation, Tiedoll, pokes his head through with a soft smile. "Yu, my boy? Are you alright in here alone?"

He frowns. "Don't call me that."

"Well, it's your name, Son. What else am I supposed to call you?"

"Not 'son', either…" He rests his cheek on his knee and stares at the wall. He's counted 349 little marks consisting of cracks and bumps and little stains since he arrived. The house is obviously old.

The man sighs a bit and invites himself in, closing the door behind him and making his way towards the bed. Kanda eyes him and scoots away, as far into the corner as he can. "I'm sorry," he whispers. "I know you must be hurting right now, but it'll do you some good to come out of your shell. You'll never get better if you don't."

"What are you talking about, Old Man?" Kanda asks lowly, and he knows his voice is void of emotion. He doesn't think he can really force anything like that just yet.

Tiedoll smiles at him a little, and it almost looks sad. "I suppose the explanation on the plane wasn't enough." There was an explanation on the plane? He was probably passed out – or just ignoring him. "But you're going to be staying with me from now on. I adopted you. You're out of that god awful place for good, and now you can finally begin to heal." A warm hand rests on his head and he does his best not to rip it off and throw it across the room. He doesn't like being touched. "Now, why don't you come downstairs and get some dinner? You must be hungry – you've been sitting in this room all day. Come say hi to your family."

Family? He nearly wants to laugh at that. The concept of family is more foreign than the etouffee the old man made for dinner last night.

Nonetheless, he edges himself off the bed. He knows that there's no way Tiedoll would leave him alone otherwise and he needs to start pushing Japan from his mind anyway. Starting right now, he's going to forget everything that happened. Going to shove it down so deep, it would take god himself to pull it back up.

He goes to walk outside his bedroom door, and finds himself entering a classroom suddenly. But this doesn't seem strange. He's not taken aback by this at all.

The teacher at the front of the class desperately tries and fails to introduce him to his classmates. He's not interested in any of them. He's not even sure of why he's here. Education? Why does that matter when he's who he is? When he's been trained the way he has? It's not like there's a hope for him to grow up and live a normal life anyway – he'll be lucky to survive past twenty, he once heard. And twenty, while it feels like a long ways away, isn't really. It's the amount of time he's been alive, and that's flown by. The year or so he was in training seemed to last a month, maybe.

So he crosses his arms and sits in a chair towards the back and stares out the window rather than at his teacher. They're on the first floor – maybe he could just sneak out? But no such luck, because as he discreetly tries to open the window, he realizes it's screwed shut. He's stuck. Locked in. No escape.

He glares at a spot on his desk, next to his open vocabulary book, and wills away the panic. It's just school. It's not like anything here can hurt him, unless you count the stupidity that is French. Of course Tiedoll would send him to a school that has that shit.

Still, he's safe. He doesn't need to attack anyone or run away, that's what Tiedoll told him last night as they sat at dinner. He was obviously flighty – it wasn't hard for the man to pick up on it, and the words he said then Kanda repeats like a mantra in his head. Japan is seven thousand miles away, give or take a few. It's not like they can just take a little swim and drag him back.

Then again, that place has been known to do some improbable things in the past.

He leans his head back and stares at the ceiling. Dangling from it is a pencil, and he's sure with just the right amount of pressure, he could make his Bic do the same. He glances at the teacher at the front, who has her back turned to the class and is meticulously writing down the word 'scholar;' he takes the opportunity to take his pen, lean back over his seat, and pelt it at the ceiling.

He almost thinks it's going to fall back down and hit him in the face, but it sticks. He smirks and rights himself only to realize the teacher has since turned around and stares at him with a raised eyebrow. "This is Vocabulary, Mister Kanda, not Physics."

"Obviously," he retorts, gesturing at the board. He hates stupid, obvious statements. He's still smirking though, proud that the strength in his arm hasn't left him from the few weeks he's been without training. Thinking about it, he could probably take down the teacher, too, whatever her name is.

"Right," she nods. "Well, since it's so obvious, and obvious is a vocab word from two weeks ago, I'd like you to write twenty-five lines of said word. Due tomorrow morning at the beginning of class."

"Are you crazy? Hell no."

"I'm sorry?"

"Are you deaf, too?"

Everyone in the class is dead silent. He doesn't care, though. He hasn't cared about what people thought since he met Alma. No one speaks to him like that and doesn't get pummeled. Verbally or physically.

"No, I'm not," she says, tone clipped. "Obviously. Yu, go to the principal's office."

"I don't want to."

"Now."

Groaning, he rolls his eyes and stands from his desk. "Fine, at least I'll be out of this dumb class."

"Goodbye, Yu." She intones, obviously ready for him to be gone already. "And I expect fifty lines tomorrow morning."

"Screw you."

"Seventy-five. I'll be speaking with your father after school as well."

Kanda shrugs, slamming the door open and shut behind him as he storms out of the classroom and towards the principal's office. Halfway there, however, he stops. Why is he going there? What's the point? He's just going to get yelled at. And he hates getting yelled at. It just makes him want to beat something up.

So he turns on his heel and walks towards the school entrance, strolling through the halls without a care. When he finally gets to the large, double door, he pushes on them harshly and blinks as he steps into the bright noon sun. It's hot – so much hotter than Japan.

Wiping his bangs from his forehead, he sits on one of the steps and waits for the school day to end. Or someone to come after him, whichever's first.

But no less than half an hour later, the old piece of shit known as Tiedoll's car pulls up into an empty spot and the old man steps out of the car slowly. He puts a hand over his eyes to block the sun and smiles as he catches sight of Kanda.

He finds himself groaning and standing up, not sure of if he'd rather go back inside or deal with the man in front of him.

"Yu!"

"Jesus," he moans, closing his eyes and looking up at the sky. "Leave me alone!"

"The principal called and said you were supposed to be in his office but never arrived, I was so worried." The old man wraps his arms around Kanda and pulls him close. The nearness makes him want to vomit. Or punch a wall. "Are you alright? What happened?"

"I threw a pen at the ceiling."

"Oh cool, did it stick?"

"Hell yeah it did."

"Good job, my boy!" He squeezes tighter, and Kanda growls and pushes him away. "Oh wait, I mean. No! That's, uh, bad? I think. Right? Oh, I can't stay mad at you!"

"You're an idiot," Kanda rolls his eyes.

Tiedoll just smiles at him and lets go. "Well, let's go talk to the principal of yours, then we can, I don't know, go look at old vinyl records."

"What, instead of making me go back to class or sit in my room or some shit?"

The old man frowns a bit. "That sounds a bit too much like punishment."

Kanda scoffs, but follows him back into the school anyway. He might be stupid, but he might not be terrible.

The scene fades as they walk along silently.

"So Kanda," Daisya starts; years have skipped suddenly, that much is obvious. But again, this isn't odd. They're all seated at the large dining room table, and Tiedoll hums happily as he cuts into the steaks he'd made for them. "Did you hear the rumor?"

"No." Like he'd ever listen to gossip. Lavi prattles it off into his ear day and night, but he's grown really adept at ignoring the annoyance.

"Hmmm," his slightly older brother taps his lips with his fork. "Would you like to?"

"Not really. I don't give a shit." Tiedoll had long since stopped trying to get him to clean up his language. At fifteen, Kanda suspects he's one of the only kids around able to get away with as much as he does.

"But it's about you!"

"What?" Tiedoll perks up now. "Rumors going around about my son?"

"Shut the fuck up with that, please." Kanda sighs, rolling his eyes. "And I still don't care." He honestly doesn't – he's pretty fucking quiet, so there's always conjecture about him floating around. That's what happens when you aren't open with people. They start to assume.

He still doesn't think it's worth it to actually talk to any of those idiots.

"Well I do," Tiedoll frowns. "If people are being mean to my baby boy –"

"Jesus Christ." He puts his head in his hands.

"I want to know." His foster father finishes, folding his hands.

Daisya leans back in his chair, crossing his arms and shooting a smirk at Kanda. He finds he doesn't like being on the other end of that mischievous expression. It's definitely exhausting having an asshat like him for a brother. "Well, Dad," Daisya starts sarcastically. "They're saying that Yu here ("Don't call me that!") was found under the bleachers with a boy." Tiedoll gasps a bit and Kanda gives him the most confused/annoyed look he can muster. "Okay, I think it was actually behind the Math building, but you get my drift."

Kanda scoffs. "Yeah, that's actually true."

"Wait, what?"

"Yes, that happened," he repeats, annoyed.

"Wait, Yu! You're in a relationship and you didn't even tell me!?" Tiedoll exclaims, nearly knocking his chair over in an attempt to get over to Kanda and embrace him. "You're in love and you didn't even tell me!?"

Marie's just sitting, watching them as they three go back and forth.

"What the fuck?! Get off, Old Man! I'm not in love with him, Jesus!"

"Wait, you're actually gay?" Daisya asks, incredulous.

He rolls his eyes, still pushing at Tiedoll. "Don't hurt yourself trying to grasp the concept…Get off." Finally, the man does, whining and slowly releasing him.

Daisya shakes his head. "That is not at all where I expected this conversation to go."

Kanda shrugs, just happy that he's able to breathe again now that his assailant's gone back to his seat. The stupid man is nearly to tears though. "You're supposed to tell your family these things, Yu!"

"Tch, firstly, I don't think it's any of your business," He snaps. "Secondly, that only works if I care enough to tell you. And I don't."

"But this is, like, a major development or something," Daisya laughs, picking at his food. "Marie, what do you think?"

"I think it's been obvious for years now."

Kanda doesn't know how to feel about that.

"Oh, come on – obvious? I mean, sure, he's got the pretty hair and the nails and the – oh wait." Daisya smiles at him.

"Shut the fuck up," Kanda returns. "At least I don't wear fucking make-up."

"Hey, it's a life-style choice."

"Right-o, Faggot," Kanda rolls his eyes.

"Like you have any right to call me that," Daisya laughs. "Faggot."

He shrugs and looks down at his food. He honestly doesn't even have an appetite anymore. "Boys," Tiedoll chides. "It does no good for family to fight. Family is forever."

"Until someone dies," Kanda says lowly, and the old man frowns at him. To this day…he still finds himself thinking about Alma, about the boy he'd beaten into submission. He was in a coma last he heard, but he hasn't been stable since the incident five years ago. He's good as dead.

"Now, now." The old man mutters, tears forming. "Let's not…" he sniffles. "Let's not talk about bad things like that."

"I can talk about whatever the fuck I want," Kanda snaps. "Everyone dies, Old Man. And that's the truth."

The scene changes.

"Can we keep him?" Tiedoll asks, holding the small Australian Shepherd to him.

"Why the fuck are you asking me?" Kanda snarls, crossings his arms and keeping his eyes trained on the television. It's rare for 'music television' to actually play music, so he's taking in VH1's 80's countdown while he can.

"Because you're the one we have to worry about. Lord knows you look like you kick puppies in your spare time." Daisya offers, shrugging and kicking his feet up on the coffee table. Kanda has half a mind to rip those legs off and beat the atrocity with them.

Tiedoll scratches below the puppy's chin and kisses its forehead. Kanda has to roll his eyes and purse his lips to keep himself from saying something really rude. Then he remembers he doesn't care. "You're a bunch of fucking idiots. If you wanna have a fucking flea bag running around the house and shitting everywhere, that's your problem. Don't expect me to feed it and water it or whatever you do to animals."

"Dogs aren't your flowers, baby brother," Daisya snickers. Kanda has to try really, really hard not to disembowel him. The newly sharpened Mugen IS just a few rooms away. "You can't cover them in shit -ahem - fertilizer, and expect them to grow."

"I swear to whatever deity is out there that you will lose all of your limbs so fast you won't even -"

"Boys," Tiedoll frowns. "You're scaring Eden."

"That's what you're naming her?" Daisya asks, ignoring Kanda's threat with practiced ease and squinting his eyes at the red and white animal. "That's dumb."

"You're dumb," Kanda snaps, although he thinks the name is a bit stupid as well. It could be worse, though - he could have wanted to name her two-tone or some idiotic shit like that.

"And another clever comeback from the red corner!" Daisya laughs, throwing his arms in the air. Ugh, if Kanda could just maim him for one little second, he would be set for life. He may even smile or something crazy like that. The dog barks from her spot in Tiedoll's arms, and Kanda can't even really deny that it's kind of…not-annoying. "Hey, hey – maybe she can smell the faggot."

"I don't know, did you remember to bathe this week?" Kanda replies flippantly, long used to the insult. After a while a word can start to lose its power.

"Oh that reminds me," Tiedoll nods. "How's it going with Christian?"

"Are you fucking serious? Nothing's going."

"Really?" He frowns. "I thought for sure my baby boy had finally found love. At least, you let him meet me, so that's what I assumed. You got fired for him and everything, too. I thought it was really romantic."

"I got fired because my manager is a bitch."

"And because you were taking it up the ass in the bathroom where you work," Daisya intones helpfully.

"Fuck you."

"Whoa, no thanks, man. I like, think of you as a brother or some shit like that. No homo."

Kanda rolls his eyes and the puppy barks again, wanting attention. "If that's going to happen constantly, I'm moving out."

"What, as the ripe old age of seventeen? Good luck getting emancipated from that one." Daisya points at Tiedoll. "I once mentioned moving out and now he has like thirteen ulcers."

"Twenty-two," the Old Man smiles.

"You're breakin' my heart," Kanda scoffs, crossing his legs and training his eyes on the television again. Maybe one day he'll be able to be alone and do his things in peace. Won't have Tiedoll breathing down his neck about romances and Daisya smart ass comments. Heaven.

The scene changes.

This time, though, when it does, so does everything else. His entire mind seems to shift. What didn't seem strange before, now does. It seems surreal. Like he's dreaming but not. His presence of mind is different, and he vaguely remembers learning a little about it from psychology class. Lucid dreaming, right? When you're awake, but not. That's what it feels like, anyway.

It's obviously winter. There's no snow or anything, since it's southern Louisiana, but everything looks so gray. As he steps forward, he can feel the biting chill against his cheeks. He continues on, not sure of where he's going, but positive he's not going to like where he ends up; there's apprehension settling in his chest. It's reminiscent of warning signs for dangerous people. He looks up at a street sign, and see a very familiar street name. Doisere. The half-street where Tiedoll was murdered.

He picks up his gait, breath coming out in short puffs.

This is not a memory. It's something else. He knows he shouldn't keep going, but he can't stop. When he turns, he momentarily forgets. It's nothing in particular that he forgets, and yet everything he's ever remembered.

A dark red pool of blood sits in sharp contrast to the gray of the cold concrete. One of the things he's forgotten is how to move. Another is how to breathe. Another is how to blink. Subconscious things that take no real thought and he can't perform them.

He does notice that the man is alone with the exception of him, though – there's no NOAH, no police. It's just a long half-street and two dying people.

Finally, it all comes back to him and he inhales sharply. Large gulps of air burn his throat and his eyes water from the smell and the sight itself. He steps forward, and the image is so vivid he wonders if he wasn't actually there at some point.

Just the crime scene photos, he thinks to himself. That's how I know.

He kneels down next to his foster father and looks him over. There's a couple of wounds, but nothing outstanding. He knows the blood is all from internal injuries – half because of the police report and half because of the red stains coating the man's mouth and chin. It's like his skin itself has changed colors – become dried out and flaky. It's gruesome and it makes his stomach turn in a way it never has before. Even seeing those people Alma attacked so many years ago couldn't have prepared him for this. Even seeing the crime scene photos a million times couldn't have helped him.

"…Kanda?"

The man's eyes are open. They shouldn't be. He's supposed to be dead. But they are. Barely. He looks like he's just woken up.

Kanda can't seem to respond at first. "You're dead."

"Yes…I think I…am…" He whispers, hands moving slowly to grasp Kanda's own.

"Then why are you talking to me?"

"You're the one who's…dreaming…"

"But why are you talking to me?"

"Because you don't…remember," Tiedoll says, weakly. His hands are cold, freezing cold. Where is that warmth the man once brought him? Where has it gone? His winter snow is here, so where is his blanket? "You have to try and remember."

"Remember what?" Kanda snaps, anxious. A dream. This is just a dream. A nightmare.

"Go back and remember, Son." His hands move to his chest – to the spiked cross there. He didn't even realize he was wearing that uniform at first. Maybe he wasn't. Maybe it changed while he wasn't watching. "Who else wore this?"

"What the fuck are you talking about, Old Man?" He can't seem to breathe right for some reason; it's caught in his throat, like something is impeding its movement in and out.

"Big Brother is always watching you," he whispers, a small smile on his face. "Watching you. Isn't that what he told you?"

Big Brother? The name instills hate and fear in him, but why? He doesn't like the book, that's for sure, but it's almost like…a conditioned response. A fucking book wouldn't do that. Ugh, fuck lucid dreaming. This shit is the worst.

Kanda doesn't even have it in him to ask what he's talking about again. The man is being cryptic, and he hates cryptic messages, but more than that, the words just won't seem to come. It feels like he's dying, if death is anything like he's imagining. It's cold and dark and lonely.

"Go back," Tiedoll whispers once more, and then the man fades into dust. Kanda watches the tiny, brown particles float away with the wind, and suddenly a shadow is cast over him.

"Kanda Yu," Comes a rich, distinguished baritone. It almost sounds as if it's admonishing him. "What are you doing out here?"

He knows that voice. Can't place who it belongs to, but he knows it. Knows it from when Tiedoll got him, knows it from his many sessions strapped to the cold, metal tables, knows it from all those times he was stuck in ISO for his bad behavior.

"You aren't supposed to be here, and you know that." He turns, slowly, fear bleeding through him like liquid nitrogen. The man behind him is no man at all, really, he notices. A shadow, a blank slate of black in the shape of a tall, severe man. Can't seem to remember his face, or his clothing. Just that voice. That voice. Big Brother. Big Brother.

He is small again – no longer twenty-one and strong, but nine and impressionable; nine and more prone to acting tough rather than actually being tough. The world around him changes. A large, white room.

He is alone.

"Kanda Yu." His name rings through the air from what is probably a loud speaker. "Do you repent?"

Repent? For what? What happened?

The walls shake slightly, as if mirroring the apprehension he feels inside. The black shadow implants itself on the floor below him, and he nearly stumbles trying to get away from the two-dimensional mass.

No, he doesn't think about these times for a reason.

No...

Big Brother

No

Is

No

Always

No

Watching.

Stop

Big Brother is always watching you.

No

Big Brother is always watching you.

Get out of my head

Always watching.

Go away

You are never alone.

Get away

I can see you.

Leave

Always

Stop

See you.

I didn't do anything wrong

You did and when you do bad things

Shut up

I can see.

No

And you will be punished.


He wakes up with a start, breathing heavily, sweat coating his body. His chest aches like never before and the panic settled deep within his mind refuses to leave. Cut something or run away, he needs to do one or the other. "Hey," comes a gentle voice. "It's okay."

Cool arms wrap around his waist, and the touch brings more comfort than he'd like to admit.

"What were you dreaming of?" Allen asks.

"I…it was nothing," he responds, taking in a deep breath, calming himself. He is stronger than this. No matter what happed then, he doesn't think about those times. Tiedoll's rehabilitation worked, it did, he admits. It worked, and so he doesn't ever think about those times. Doesn't let them in.

"There's no need to blatantly lie," Beansprout frowns, bringing himself closer to Kanda. He rests his head on his shoulder. "You can talk to me about it. I have bad dreams, too, sometimes."

"It was nothing," Kanda repeats, harsher, able to finally find his footing. He can breathe again, at least, doesn't want to run and hide in the bathroom. Allen's arms tighten around him and the soft scent of his hair grounds Kanda to reality. He's not in Japan – he's in America. He's in a bed in uptown New Orleans in Louisiana in America. "Just…a dream…" he follows, deflating. Not on edge. Fine. He's fine. Everything's fine.

But that voice. Big Brother. Why can't he remember what it means? Is there even anything to remember? Did he ever know? The human brain is an annoying and powerful thing; it could conjure up anything it wanted to. So that's why it's nothing. That's why it's just a dream. There's no need to look into it, to think about it too much.

Beansprout shifts against him, moving his head from his shoulder and instead moving to straddle him completely. Perhaps it's because Allen can hold him tighter this way – which he is doing; holding him so tightly Kanda's short of breath again – or maybe it's just because he's horny. Either way, it takes his mind off of the dream.

"Kanda," he breathes. "I…it's heartbreaking, you know? The way you whisper his name in your sleep. It's got to be the saddest sound I've ever heard."

"Wha…?"

"No one's ever going to know how much you loved him, because you refuse to let it show. But you did – you did because he was your dad." Allen presses his nose to the side of Kanda's neck, nuzzling. Kanda's torn between complete annoyance and serenity; it's a simple action, but it's comforting. It's not really in his nature to let other people do this to him, so why should the Beansprout be any different? "And I get that. I loved my dad, no matter what happened. Even though he was obviously sick and sometimes he couldn't take care of me the right way, I still loved him." Sick? He'd never heard anything about Beansprout Senior being sick. "It hurts that he's gone, and that's how I know that you're hurting, too. Even if you won't admit it." Kanda relents slightly, moving his arms loosely around Allen, holding him back.

"Don't be stupid…" He mutters in return, laying his head on Allen's shoulder. "That man was an idiot."

"You're an idiot, but I love you."

He doesn't know how to respond to that. Has never known how to respond to it, really. But hearing it again after so long, in that way that only Beansprout can say it, he finds himself tightening his arms, squeezing the white-haired boy until he's sure that he can't breathe either.

"You're an idiot, too," he grumbles, and it's probably the closest he'll ever get to saying the same to Allen's face.

"Well, I guess we're all a bunch of idiots, then." Beansprout returns with mirth. "Maybe that's why this works."

"Works? If you call this working, if you think anything in our lives 'works,' you're more than an idiot. You're delusional."

"Delusional, huh?" His voice is so low Kanda can barely hear it and the boy's just about right up against his ear. "I guess even if I wasn't his biological son, I could still inherit more than a last name." He's curious, can't deny that, but he can't find the words to ask so he stays silent. Allen will tell him eventually, anyway. "I guess that all this talk of your dad has gotten me thinking about mine again." He laughs, but it's humorless and pathetic. "I'm no better on the avoidance front."

"Fuck off," Kanda rolls his eyes. "I don't avoid shit."

"Well, right now you're avoiding the truth, so…" He feels a sad smile on his neck. "Why do you have to act so tough?"

Because if you weren't tough, you broke. And if you broke, they threw you away. And there was no way he was going to let them win. Even as young as he was, he had his pride.

"Jaku niku kyō shoku," the words slip off his tongue before he's even realized what he's said. The language feels more natural than it should – he hasn't spoken Japanese in years. Since he wanted to bitch someone out without them knowing what he was saying. And it's been a while since he cared if he knew what he was saying or not.

"…Sorry?"

"The weak are meat; the strong eat," he clarifies roughly. He learned the saying from an old man he can't quite remember. He's not quite as unidentifiable as the large black shadow, though everything but his old golden skin is beyond reach. With the words comes the sharp smell of blossoms and the sharp sting of needles. Anything associated with that room is associated with that scent and that pain. But he can mostly block it out.

After a moment, Allen leans back and their embrace is loosened. He chuckles softly, and Kanda can just barely notice the glint of tears in his gray eyes through the blanket of night. The moon is the only thing lighting the room. "I don't know why, but for some reason it never occurred to me that you could speak Japanese."

"It's not like I'm fluent or anything," Kanda grumbles in return. "I haven't had to speak it since I was seven. Where I was from then on was all English speaking."

"Yeah, it also helps that your accent is really weak. I can't even notice until it's early morning or you're drunk or horny." He pauses. "I miss how you used to say my name."

"Beansprout?"

"No, my name."

"Allen."

"You're doing that on purpose."

"Stop acting like an ass, then. I don't enjoy slurring my words and sounding like an imbecile."

"You don't have to be so embarrassed, you know?" He smirks, leaning forward and brushing his lips against Kanda's ear. "Come on, say my name."

"How's about you fuck off?"

"Well, how's about we change that 'off' to 'me.'"

"Jesus, you're lame." Kanda rolls his eyes. "Is that supposed to turn me on?"

"It's supposed to get your mind off of your nightmare," Allen snips, grinding his hips forward harshly. "Now stop being so damn difficult and have middle-of-the-night sex with me."

"Idiot," he returns, but follows up with a deep kiss. It sends shivers down his spine, just as many as when the Beansprout pushes his hips forward, and it's kind of astounding that a kiss could be so intense. When did it become this way?

"No need for sweet talk, Honey. Let's keep it dirty," Allen chuckles against his mouth, teasing.

And maybe that's why some part of all this does work. Because even after everything that's happened to him – after Tiedoll and Daisya and Alma – simply being with the stupid Beansprout draws his mind away from the bad. He knows what to say without putting him completely on edge, even though he finds himself teetering often enough. He can wake up from the worst dream of this decade and still end up bickering and fucking moments later, can feel warmth he thought he'd lost.

Death is cold and dark and lonely.

But love is warm and bright and attentive.

And even if, maybe, the Beansprout's just a little bit right about him not admitting a few things, he's at least learning that maybe dying alone isn't all it's cracked up to be. Because, now, even if he does die, at least winter will be far away.


Hmmm this chapter didn't turn out QUITE how I wanted it to, which is why it took so long. It just wouldn't form to my initial idea. But I got a bit of what I wanted at least - Tiedoll and Daisya screentime. I don't think people appreciate how much Kanda probably does love his 'family,' even in the manga. Kanda's the kind of guy who doesn't exactly show what he's feeling, but that doesn't mean he doesn't feel. He may have been an experiment and everything, but he's not a robot, ya know?

Anyhow, I also got to introduce 'Big Brother' and I can't deny I'm kind of curious to see if people will get it. Apparently, according to my muse, it's not as obvious as I thought it was. lol

Thanks for reading, as always.

Also, new news! I have a tumblr for my writing now. There I'll be posting updates on Promises (which is coming along slowly but surely – I have up to chapter fifteen written) and I'll be there to answer any questions or concerns directly. Anything from background info on my fics to personal information – I'm pretty chill, so you can come talk with me. Tumblr: .com