This is hand-in-hand with the paranoia one. I didn't intend to make any that connected to each other, but this us the only thing I could come up with that wasn't mushy or cliche.

Thanks to all who have read/reviewed/favored/alerted!

Disclaimer: I was born at a very early age.

August thirteenth: final

Have you ever wanted something to go on forever? I have.

The world doesn't seem to care about what you want though. Things and people come and go. Stories end. No matter how much you try to hold onto it, the best thing you can possibly do is to let it go. But what if you don't want to let it go?

What if letting it go means you'll be alone?



That one word defines Allen as a person much more than his own name has ever done. After all, isn't 'Allen' because of Mana? Without him, he'd be Red, still stuck in a circus. 'Don't stop walking. Keep moving forward.' It became his mantra, fueling every step he's taken up to this very moment. Killing akuma is for Mana's sake. The polite attitude he's adopted is because of Mana. Almost his whole identity is because of Mana.

Anyone who knows about Allen and Mana can tell how much he impacted him. Namely Cross, Bookman, and Lavi. It's not like the boy laid out exactly what happened to them. The only reason Lavi and Bookman know anything is because they went to Cross to get more information on the Destroyer of Time, and even what he knows is limited. It isn't until later, after Lavi's grown close enough to Allen, to hear more details.

Even then Lavi can't wrap his brain around it, staring at the beaming exorcist as he recounts what is one of the gloomiest stories Lavi has ever heard. There is an extreme sadness in his eyes, but his face lights up just talking about his father.

"-and Mana said he was so sad he could cry and pretended to hang himself- that was just the strangest thing I'd ever seen- and I told him to quit it. Then he said, 'My tears-'"

Lavi just stared in awe at the evidence that Allen might not be so mentally and emotionally sound. He'd seen people go through less and been scarred enough to go mad or at least be paranoid, but this was another level entirely.

It's like Mana is some kind of god to him. His words push Allen on, and his memory stalks him every bit of the way. Why is obvious. Mana was the first person to show him kindness, treat him like a human being. He took him in, cared for him, and was his world. When he was gone, Allen felt like he died with him. It's a bond he hasn't felt anything close to since.

At least, not until his friends. Especially a certain red-head.

It's not as strong as the love he feels for Mana, but it's there. Suddenly it's easy to let down the polite façade and talk to his friends. The smile that used to be reserved for Mana is seen more often. Killing akuma is taking a back seat.

'What if I told you… you will have to kill someone you love.'

He can't forget that lovely fact either. Hadn't he already done that to Mana? What more does he have to lose?

Lavi doesn't apparently care, still sneaking meetings with him even after witnessing Cross' explanation for himself. Allen stuck between smacking him and holding on to him for all it's worth.

Allen feels guilty every times he sees Lavi walking on eggshells when he comes to see him, looking like he's ready to bolt at the first signs of danger. Almost...paranoid. Shouldn't Allen feel more for the guy literally risking his job to see him? But letting Lavi in means pushing Mana out.

Mana is dead. Lavi is alive. The choice should be obvious, but it's not. Sure, Lavi's with him now, but he's a Bookman. When the war is over, if they all survive, Lavi will go off and take on a new name. Allen will be left behind. With Mana, he's already been left behind. He's dealt with the hurt and found ways to keep Mana alive in his heart. Does he really want to do through the same things again with Lavi? Is it worth finally letting Mana go?

Lavi walks into the almost empty mess hall, looking panicked and stricken as always. You'd think an assassin was out to get him. Allen smiles around the food in his mouth, mentally sighing in relief when Lavi relaxes.

"Hey," he tries to say, cheeks swollen with food. Allen chews the food as quickly as he can, wanting to talk to Lavi.

"Don't hurt yourself, bean sprout" Lavi chuckles, sliding next to him on the bench of the table and swiping a small sticky bun. Allen tries to yell at him, but his mouth is still full. He forces the rest down while Lavi takes a massive bite out of the bun, shifting it out of reach when Allen grabs for it. "Come on! It's just a bun."

"But it's a good bun!" Allen protests, frowning at the name and situation. A small part of him warms at the familiar banter, lifting his mind from the dark area it was in earlier. "That could've been the most delicious bun in history, and you just took it from me," he jokes.

Lavi holds it out. "Do you want it?"

Allen considers it for a moment before shrugging it off and going for more food. "Keep it." His stomach grumbles in protest, but he shuts it up with some pie. The irony of the historical bun finally hits him, and he grins. "It'll make an interesting log, won't it?" 'Destroyer of Time gives away most delectable bun ever. He's an inspiration to us all.'"

The joking seems strange to Allen. Despite the almost taboo-topic he's dancing around, both Lavi and him are completely at ease. It's been awhile since Allen's felt so much like himself, letting the polite mask of Mana fade away, but it's still there under the surface. Is it worth finally letting Mana go?

It just might be…but not too much of him.