"Hey, you're going to die out here like this."
"I'll be fine."
"Kanda, it's below freezing out here." Gentle eyes fell over the fragile shell of the man she'd remembered years ago. His once proud demeanor had taken a backseat to his body's inability to keep up with his heart. She knew he was trying to hold out, but he couldn't keep doing this day after day—year after year. His eyes held the same hollowness that they'd held for those ten years following the memorial service of Allen Walker. Every day that passed, she knew he was crumbling inside; yet one thing never stopped. His belief that he would come back was as strong as that day that they never found Allen's body.
Lenalee folded her arms in front of her, the icy wind chilling her through her jacket. She wanted to drag the man in the house and bundle him up until the color returned to his skin. She wanted him to eat something and get a decent night of sleep, but she knew it was a futile effort. It didn't change how much it hurt. It brought the same dull ache to her heart as it did every other time she fought with him to come back into the house. "Please come back inside, Kanda. Lavi started a fire. It's warm in there and you're going to go into hypothermia if you don't get out of the snow."
"Lenalee…Please go back inside. I'll come in shortly."
"Liar," she bit against a particularly painful gust of wind. "You can't walk by yourself in this. If I go back inside…"
He leaned his head against the back of the ornate bench that had become his waiting place; his purgatory. "Stop worrying about me."
"Kanda… Allen's not coming back… No matter how long you wait. He's…he's gone. It hurts, I know; but he'd never want you to do this. For ten years…ten years today, you've sat in silence out here waiting for him. But Allen has moved on." Tears formed at the edges of her eyes and she had to fight them back in the bitingly cold weather. She missed Allen too. Everyone missed Allen. "Allen gave you his life so you could live, not spend it empty like this."
"Beansprout gave me his life because he was an idiot."
"He'll come back."
The conviction in his voice made it hard for her to fight the emotions down and she curled her hand over her mouth to hold in her soft sob. It was heart-shattering. He still believed it despite all evidence proving otherwise. He refused to leave that place. It had some meaning for Allen and Kanda, but she couldn't piece together the exact meaning it held and she probably never would.
His waiting place overlooked a garden that he used to tend—before his body got too weak to do it. She took up his garden in his place, because it was the only thing she could do to get any positive expressions out of him. In the summer, it was a beautiful green haven where he would watch her children play.
Her boys loved him. He would tell them the stories boys loved to hear and he'd never have to make them up. She could trust them to behave around the older man and she knew they saw him as their uncle. That he was fading to this point was breaking her heart in more ways than one. Her children would be devastated. Lavi had already brought up the uncomfortable topic of his passing on. Lenalee didn't want to think about it, but she could see it as clear as anyone else.
Kanda's ageless face was framed by the long white locks; bleached to the color of Allen's, when the boy had decidedly given his body and soul to keep his companion alive. No one knew until the very moment the two of them were enclosed in the final confrontation with the Earl. The two of them, hand-in-hand had saved everything; but at the cost of Kanda's remaining life. Allen's big heart couldn't watch him die and he gave the last of everything he had.
No one's words could reach Kanda now. The mark over his left eye was Allen's reminder. No one but Kanda heard the promise that echoed between his ears. He promised he'd come back. Allen Walker knew how he hated people who didn't keep their promises.
Come back, beansprout. I can't hold on much longer. It's getting colder.
"Lenalee," he said softly. "Thank you."
Her eyes widened and her mouth fell open just a little. Those words…she'd never heard them truly uttered from the bottom of his heart like that and it hammered a nail of dread into her being. "F…for what?"
"For everything. I haven't been a convenience, I'm aware. You and the idiot took care of me, despite everything else." The wind blew, carrying the white locks around him like snow. Despite the light fabrics of his Asian garb, he made no indications that he was freezing. It was like he couldn't feel at all. "Your kids are monsters; but as long as they don't take after Lavi, you'll be alright."
"Why does it sound like you're saying goodbye, Kanda?" Her fingers trembled from both the cold and the fear flickering through her form.
"Because after tonight, I'm leaving this place."
"But…but you can't travel on your own…You can barely walk…"
"I'll manage," he smiled faintly at her. It was a haunted smile and she knew that he was lost to Allen's memory forever. "I think beansprout just got lost finding his way back."
"Oh Kanda…" A sob wracked her body and he pretended not to notice it. She would never change. Her feelings would always pour out and radiate from her like a warm sun. He didn't want her to change. That she could keep all of that glorious warmth about her, through everything, was nothing short of a miracle.
"Go back inside, Lenalee. Your brother would have fits if you caught your death because you were busy talking to a crazy person." His eyes trailed over the white world in his backyard. "I'll tell beansprout you miss him, don't worry."
Biting her lip and no longer able to stop the tears from flowing, she simply nodded and backed away. She didn't want to leave him. She didn't even want to turn her back to him. Everything screamed at her to drag him back inside and simply hold him until he was okay again. However, it wasn't that simple anymore. "Stay safe, Kanda." Her whisper carried along with the icy winds as she returned to the house and back to the family waiting for her.
He was glad to watch her go. It wasn't easy dealing with people who remembered who he had been. Those people saw a shadow of that man and he knew they all felt the same remorse for the way things had turned out. He had lost his last precious thing and the only thing that kept him hanging on were the words that precious thing had given him on the last day they had existed together.
"Please don't hate me, Kanda, I'll be back for you soon."
"I thought you said you'd be back for me, idiot," he spoke to no one in particular. The wind covered his skin with chills that he tried to ignore, but he knew that he couldn't last very long in that deathly frost. "You always pissed me off. Making promises you didn't know if you could keep."
The wind howled back at him emptily. His whole world was empty without Allen. He waited and waited. Counting minutes, hours, days… Until every minute felt like another year. How long had he waited? If they hadn't told him, he'd never know. He simply replayed his memories until reality blurred with the past.
I need you here, beansprout.
I can't wait anymore.
He breathed deeply, pushing the stinging sensation of the frosty air out of his mind. He sent Lenalee back inside, because he didn't want her there when he could no longer take any more breaths. He was already standing on the edge, waiting until the very last moment passed—silently praying he would show up in the last moments.
I still believe in you, you moron. Don't let me down now.
This waiting is driving me crazy.
He pulled an old blanket tighter around his body—one that he'd kept since Allen's departure—and he leaned back and closed his eyes. He would keep waiting, listening for the sound of someone coming up on him. His senses were dull now, but he could still feel the world around him. His heart only felt for Allen. He knew it was absurd. Allen was gone to them. That boy would never come back in their minds, but they didn't know him like Kanda did. They didn't know the promise he'd made and how—no matter what—that promise would be held.
If only Kanda could hold on a little more.
The snow brushed over his shoulders lightly and his feet were nearly frozen. Even if he wanted to return to the house, he was too far lost to the weather.
He counted more minutes and they passed into hours, until there was no light left in the sky—just the natural light of the nearly full moon and the stars. He stared up at them, feeling the unfamiliar sting of forming tears.
"Stop taking so fucking long…" he breathed hoarsely, ignoring the cold wet lines forming on his face. Eyes closed and held back the rest of them. "I'm still waiting…"
Another hour passed in silence. His head leaned back against the bench and he felt himself slipping from reality far beyond the distance which usually held him. He tried to open his eyes and look for the familiar face, but he found he couldn't focus his vision anymore. Consciousness was slowly disappearing and he could do nothing to stop it.
You promised me.
"You promised me…"
Cold fingers grazed over his face and at first he didn't even feel them. He didn't know the reality of the hands that were rousing him back to the world he'd been incarcerated in for ten long, lonely years. Vision came back to him when he found the strength to fight the battle with his body, just long enough to see the one touching him.
"I'm sorry I made you wait so long."
A smile touched his lips; almost melancholy, but brimmed with fulfillment. The grinning, warm face that held his whole existence was just inches from his own. Hanging from his very last thread, the idiot decided to show up again. "You finally got here."
"I'm sorry. I had things to take care of, but I knew you were tough enough to hold out."
"Let's go someplace warm. Away from here…" His smiling face wasn't just a front. It was Allen Walker's true face of content. They had fought so long and hard to get nothing but pain and misery in return, but now they could have everything they ever wanted. Together, they'd walk away from that which chained them down. "I won't leave without you." His hand reached down for Kanda's.
The pale hand he took in his own responded in kind, squeezing like he'd never let go and he probably wouldn't. Wordlessly; Allen stepped back, helping Kanda from his waiting place. "I'll help you if you can't walk anymore."
"I can walk."
"Always so stubborn."
"Stubborn kept me waiting for your sorry ass."
A chuckle filtered the wintry air with warmth that couldn't be explained. Kanda's feet sank into the snow, but he felt nothing except the sun-warmed earth below and Allen's soul melting with his own. One after the other, his feet moved through the frozen water; footsteps falling next to Allen's, stride for stride.
They crossed the garden in silence, hands curled in each other's. Kanda's eyes fell back on the house that held the people who had supported him for the last decade. A small hint of guilt passed over him before he smiled one last time at only place on Earth he had called home after Allen left. "They'll be fine."
"Let's go home, Kanda..." There was just a short pause from the snowy-haired man. "Oh, you're leaving something behind, is that alright?" Allen turned his head back to the bench and he chuckled nonchalantly—his tone airy and wonderful.
"It's fine. I don't need it anymore anyway, beansprout. Let's get on with it. I'm sick of waiting around here."
The house at the edge of the town disappeared behind them as they left it in the distance. They walked together, step for step until the white world lost them in its grasp; the snow covering their tracks and their existences entirely. But neither of them cared. Neither of them needed to be remembered anymore. Neither of them needed to say goodbye. They would come back to see the others some day.
For that moment, they simply belonged to each other and nothing else.
Their long awaited words seemed to whisper on the wind and as the morning light broke free, the snow finally slowed and the warm rays brought much needed reprieve from the cold, frigid world.
"Lavi," the feminine voice broke the tranquility of the morning. A sliver of hope presented in her voice, "did Kanda ever come in last night?"
"No," Lavi replied, his single eye cast over to the woman who was ushering one of their small boys into the kitchen. He watched them disappear into the other room and he stood, stepping out into the new morning and glancing over the property that held their modest lives.
His mouth fell open and he left the front steps; not running, but moving quickly to the place overlooking the garden that Kanda had built from the ground up. Still leaned back on the bench was the still form of his long time friend. His hands were in his lap, fingers up like he was holding something. His ankles were crossed in a position that made him seem content, like he wasn't planning to ever leave that spot.
"Oh god…" The redhead wiped the forming tear from the edge of his one eye. "Yuu…"
The sound of crunching snow came up behind him and he knew she already saw what he was seeing. "…is he…?" Her voice was frail and full of the promise of tears to come.
"Yeah…" He said softly, placing a hand against Kanda's face—only to feel the arctic chill that had fully set in. "It's okay though Lenalee…"
"Lavi?" She cast a questioning glance to her husband, who kneeled before their departed companion.
"He's smiling. It looks like Allen came back after all and took him someplace warmer. He'll be alright," he chuckled despite the burning in his eye and wiped another tear. "He doesn't have to wait anymore."
The wind rustled between them and it was warm for the first time in a long time.
A/N: As of 11/30/12 this has been fully edited.
Written while listening to "I Count The Minutes", by Ricky Martin on repeat.
Please review. I don't usually ask, but I'd like to know what you think!