Well, as the title suggests, you'll have more pieces to fit into this puzzle now. I'll start doing time jumps with the next chapter. Not big ones though. And it'll say how much time had passed.
Thanks for everyone who reviewed on the last chapter. They all made me really happy.
Here's the next chapter. Enjoy.
Beta'd by: The Baka (Starisia the Shadow Demon)
Of Monsters and Men
Chapter 3: Puzzle Pieces
Allen's eyelids were heavy and seemed to crack like stone when he opened them. They burned, like they were being held to an open fire, aching and dry. He groaned, his head pounding with the beats of his heart. He groaned again, rolling over to his side and into the warm body next to him.
"You're awake." Kanda said.
Allen grumbled unintelligently, wrapping his arm around the man, wondering vaguely why he stiffened at the action, and pressing his face into his side. "I think this flu is screwing with my head. I had the weirdest dream about going back in time."
"Mhm…" Allen murmured, his eyes too heavy to keep open. "You were there… Only it wasn't you… It was some kind of ancestor or something…"
He fell silent for a while, and was beginning to fall asleep once more when his partner shifted. Rolling onto his back, Allen watched his lover get off the bed and stand before reaching for the cough medicine.
"Not doing it again." He growled, his throat tight.
"Do I need to do what I did last time?" Kanda asked. Allen shook his head, pouting. "Good, now drink."
After taking the terrible tasting liquid, Allen made a face at him. "You're going to overdose me."
"You realize you were asleep all day, right?"
He blinked, a bit surprised. A whole day? He looked toward the blinds. Sure enough, it was nice and dark out – as dark as New York City could get, at least. He sighed, shrugging and laying back down. He thought back to the dream.
It had been so real. He had felt the cold, had felt the burn as his skin froze and the eventual numbness after he lost feeling in his body. The pain and the panic had been real. He had been lost with no idea where he was or what was going on, or even how he had gotten there. He had felt the shock and confusion right down to the marrow of his bones. He had felt the fear as well as something else – something like attraction – when he had laid eyes on the Kanda in the dream. And it had taken a moment for him to recognize the man, as if he had never laid eyes on him before. But then all the knowledge rushed into his mind like a lightning strike and he started saying all those facts as if it was second nature.
And then Kanda hadn't recognized him, and he had felt hurt, confused, scared, even betrayed. And as irrational as it had all been, it had felt real, because he was scared and had no clue where he had been. And then he started talking with dream-Kanda and then he found out the date. And it was all just… all so real.
He shook his head before settling against Kanda's – his Kanda, solid and real – side as sleep came for him once more.
Moments later, he was jolted awake at the sound of something shattering on the ground, followed by curses.
Blinking open his eyes, Allen pushed up on his arms and looked around. His surrounding puzzled him. Dark, aged wood, paper doors, paintings with elaborate displays of cranes, tigers, and koi ponds, all blending together to set a soft, relaxing ambience. The bed was hard, which was odd because they had picked it out exactly for the reason that it was firm, but soft as well. Looking down at it, he found it to be a futon. The padding was a creamy color, filled with what felt like down. The dark blue blankets were the same. The room itself was lit by soft, muted moonlight that filtered in through paper panels, making everything silver where it was able to light.
Sitting up, Allen listened to any sounds in the house, but finding none. Stumbling his way to his feet, he made his way over to the delicate paper door of the foreign room, listening again. Sliding the door open, he peeked into the dark hall beyond, searching for anything that was familiar, which was ridiculous, he decided.
This wasn't his apartment in New York that was for sure. But where it was, was an excellent question. A quiet voice in the back of his head began listing off the clues. He brushed them off, not wanting to admit the similarities despite the chill that slithered like water drops down his spine. Stepping out of the slightly warmer room, Allen wandered down the hall, searching for anything that might give him the answers he was searching for. The darkness held onto its secrets, not whispering a word.
The halls seemed endless, though it was probably because the silence seemed to stretch. Trickles of fear crawled along his nerve ends, making him nervous and fidgety. He took his time, not knowing what was before him.
He could have been wandering for hours, or days, or years – it seemed to take forever to find another door. Looking back, he found the room he left out of sight, telling him he had at the very least gone some distance. Peeking into the room, he found it bare, empty. The air seemed heavy, but didn't have a dusty smell that made it thick and hard to breathe.
After closing the door, Allen made his way further down the hall, sliding a hand along the walls to keep track of where he was and checking all the rooms he came across until there were no more to check. Frowning, he felt around in the darkness, looking for another hall. But that was it. Turning it circles, he stretched his arm out, looking for the opposite wall but finding nothing. Swallowing, he took a leap of faith and let the tips of his nails leave the wall as he walked forward, blindly feeling for the next solid surface.
He stumbled, tripping over his own feet – which still ached – and falling to his hands. His knees hit the end of something, while his hands seemed to slip through the air. Allen's shout of surprise was cut off as his hands finally landed painfully on a hard surface. He slid forward, moving down as his body began to straighten itself out without his permission. He felt something warm and wet against his palms as he fought to catch himself on the stairs, trying to fight against the darkness that seemed hell bent on swallowing him whole.
Finally coming to an awkward and painful stop, Allen gasped for breath, fear and shock gushing though his veins, infecting every cell in his body. Swallowing, he did his best to feel around without shifting his weight, not wanting to continue the descent.
He paused after a moment, hearing the quick patting of bare feet against the floor. He knew who it was before he rounded the corner, the truth inevitable at this point.
Kanda – not his Kanda – stepped into view holding a melted down candle that dripped wax onto the earthy ground, the flame bending and swaying like a dancer dipped low in a bow. After seemingly so long in the dark, the brightness, as soft as it was, stung his eyes and he looked away, raising a hand to shield his eyes. Without the support of both limbs, Allen quickly found himself in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the stairs, groaning at the pretzel he'd just made himself into.
Kanda stared at him, amused and more than a bit surprised to find him – whether there in general or simply in that state. "What on earth are you doing, bean sprout?"
It seemed he'd never escape that nickname.
"Dancing," Allen snapped, rolling to the side so he could sit up, propped against the cold wall while the ground below stole the warmth from his body. "Damn, that hurt."
"You useless excuse for a human being," Kanda muttered, raising the candle to inspect the stairs. He turned it back to Allen a moment later, staring at him cautiously. "What are you doing here?"
"Picking flowers." Allen said in English, letting his faded British accent return for a short moment. He didn't know why he was there. It was supposed to be a very vivid dream, that's it. Looking down at his bleeding hands, Allen thought that you weren't supposed to get hurt in dreams. "I heard a noise and came to investigate. Did something break?"
"Just some glass. It's not important." Kanda said, his voice still guarded. Allen nodded and clenched his hands into his pajama shirt, staining the material and dying it red. The older man looked at his hands, frowning before sighing heavily. "Get up."
Allen stared at him curiously, holding back the smartass comment that bit at his tongue, demanding release. After a moment, he shrugged, placing a hand on the wall to help him stand, leaving behind a sticky smudge when he lifted away from it. He straightened his back, hearing his spine pop multiple times along the length of it. He groaned, doing the same with his shoulders, neck, arms and legs, all with the same result. When he was done, Allen sighed, body sagging at the relief-like feeling that washed through him. It still ached, more than he liked, but it was more bearable now.
Kanda led him up the stairs, holding the candle to the side of him so that way Allen could see the space in front of his feet. He led him back passed the room he'd been staying in, the door still open and the futon still where he had left it. They went left, then right, then back, then hit up the local theme park, taking a ride on enough rides that they should have gotten a day pass instead of buying tickets.
Well, maybe not, but it sure felt that way to Allen. How one man could live in a house this big, alone… It was enough to drive anyone insane.
Finally, after what seemed like miles of walking, they finally turned on last corner before coming to a stop in front of another sliding door. Opening it, Kanda stepped through, revealing a small kitchen, lit up by the filtered moonlight on three sides.
It was like stepping into a different world, as cheesy as it sounded. The kitchen didn't seem apart of the rest of the house at all, with how much it was lit up compared to the halls they have just walked. It had a quiet, sereneness almost.
One broken a moment later by the sudden, and very sharp, barking of an over excited dog. Chills ran down Allen's body as he looked to his left, just in time to bear witness to the flying dog moments before she collided with him, knocking him to the floor.
Allen landed with a huff as the breath rushed from his lungs, leaving him gasping with the weight of the dog on him. She licked his face, dropping her full weight on him, planting him in that spot. It wasn't until a soft whistle cut the air that she moved off him, leaving him sopping wet and smelling of dog. He sat up, making a face as he looked down at his rumbled and slobbered clothes.
"Every single time," Allen muttered, scrunching his face up in disdain.
"What are you talking about this time?" Kanda asked, annoyance lacing his voice. Allen would have to remember that the dream version of Kanda had no idea that they had known each other for years.
"Nothing," Allen said, smiling lightly at him. He stood, once more leaving bloody smudges where he placed his hands. He would need to clean it up later. Hopefully he could find a way to clean the stains out of the wood before it became permanent.
Kanda gestured him over and he limped to him, his leg feeling sore, probably from that tackle he'd just received. Sitting down at the low table, Allen waited as the older man walked to one of the cupboards before returning with a jar of salve and a roll of fabric bandages.
Sitting to the side of him, Kanda took Allen's hands and laid them before him. He opened the jar and scooped up the pale green ointment, rubbing it into the cuts on Allen's palms.
Allen was surprised – not because Kanda knew this, as his Kanda was a doctor anyway. But his hands were warm, so different from his Kanda, whose hands were cold and rarely showed any heat at all.
He kind of liked it.
After the ointment was applied, Kanda began to wrap his palms in the soft strips of cloth, tying a tight knot over the back of his hands. He held them for a moment, pressing lightly, though not enough for it to hurt, before releasing. The bandage stayed clean, no splotches of red beginning to show through.
Allen took his hands back, a bit sad that the warmth faded almost instantly, the residue nothing in comparison. Sighing, he thanked Kanda, rubbing the cloths lightly in turn. So now he knew for sure that this wasn't the man he knew. Because for as long as he had known him, Kanda's hands had always been cold. He wasn't like ice, or a corpse or anything, there was enough feeling that it was easy to see there was blood running through his veins. But it was always as if he had left his hands under the tap with the cold water running.
They sat in silence for a while, both staring at the table while the dog panted, lying next to Kanda with her head in his lap. The older man was the first to break the silence, his question something that Allen knew was coming.
"Why are you here, Allen?"
"I'm surprised you're so good at saying my name already. I would have expected you to roll the L's more." Allen replied, carefully avoiding the question by mocking him. Kanda's gaze turned on him, sharp and cold. Sighing, he looked him directly in the eyes, not backing down or shifting his gaze, all too used to the glare. "I don't know. I don't know how I got here, or how I came back."
Kanda frowned. "'Came back'?"
He nodded. "When I was asleep here, I woke up in reality." He paused. "This has to be the strangest conversation I've ever had."
"Went to sleep and woke… You think this is a dream? There's more wrong with you than I thought."
"I could say the same to you, but dreams are supposed to be that way, right?"
Kanda scowled. "I'm no dream, stupid. This is reality." Allen gave him a sceptical look. "You think it isn't?"
"At this point, I can't imagine it being anything else."
Kanda was silent for a while, watching him. After a few minutes had passed, he smirked. "Come with me. I'll show you all my secrets. Then you'll see that this isn't a dream."
They both jumped to their feet, the dog doing so as well, a snarl filling the air after the shout. Moving over to the window, they peeked through the boards after opening it just a crack. Three men stood on the stone trail leading through the front garden, their faces hidden in the shadows. Allen couldn't see very clearly from the point he stood at, but they seemed to be wearing Imperial uniforms, or some other kind of military clothing.
"We know you're here! Come out!" One of them shouted, the voice the same as before.
Both Allen and Kanda stayed where they were, just watching the men. None of them did anything, the only sound being the low growling from the dog, whom seemed to be waiting for Kanda's order to attack.
Allen looked up at Kanda. He blinked as he took in his expression. The man seemed to derive an almost sheer delight from this visit, his face split in two by the grin that showed of his straight, white teeth. He had only seen it on a few occasions, each time when he had been challenged, a challenge he knew he was either winning, or beginning to.
The more he stared at him, the more he wondered the hell was going on. He had obviously stumbled into the middle of something – something he would rather get out of than further into, especially seeing as it wasn't his business.
The men turned, their voices indiscernible as they talked amongst themselves. After a long while of debate, they turned back to the house.
"Stop your research and burn your notes, otherwise we'll be back!" There was a pause, then, "Stop the experiments or our boss will pay you a visit!" With that threat/warning given, all three men turned and walked into the dark winter night.
"I guess this means I'm getting close," Kanda said, cutting Allen off.
Allen stared up at him, a dip growing between his eyebrows the longer he did. There was a maniacal look in his dark eyes that put him on guard. He was almost fearful of what Kanda was doing.
"Come with me. I'll show you all my secrets."
Allen had a very, very bad feeling about this.
*Is watching Togainu no Chi* You know, before this, I was watching a drama series. So now I can't tell if the Japanese drama's are like anime, or if anime are like the drama's.
Anyway, I hoped you liked that chapter. The next one won't be very long. But towards the end, the chapters will probably double in length because I can't cut them like I normally would.
What did you think of it? You should tell me by pressing this button right below. (this one down there v)
Ciao until tomorrow (maybe).
-Jellybean Fish (Auttie the Flightless Penguin)