A/N: Finally, the final regular chapter is done. I'm sorry it's so late, but my muse for this story got lost for a while and I had to track it down. I would like to thank all my readers, especially the ones who have followed me from the beginning and reviewed. You helped my through a lot of rough patches with this story, and I would just like to thank you personally. So thanks to these wonderful people:
As well as all the others who have reviewed, you all really keep me going.
So without much more preamble, here is the final chapter of Living Through the Ghost. I hope you all liked the story at least, and I can't wait to see you all in the next thing I decide to sink my teeth into.
Thanks for the wonderful ride.
Chapter 18 The End
Six Months Later
Everything had gone according to plan, or at least that's how Komui and the Order had chalked it up in the books.
Allen had been given all the honors for managing to kill Tyki, the new Exorcist was almost as good with Mugen as Kanda had been, and everything seemed to be going well in the war.
Ren had healed well, and although he was slightly bigger and a little older than Kanda had been Allen was still able to see the similarities.
"Okay Kan-Ren. I think that's enough for today." Allen said as he wiped the sweat of his forehead, mentally cursing himself for his almost slip up.
Sure it had been six months, and sure everyone had taken in this new Exorcist as Kanda's replacement, but none of them knew the truth. This man was Kanda, even though he no longer had the cold defiance or the talent of easily dismissing anyone who he thought was beneath him. Some people had noticed some similarities though; mainly Lavi and Bookman, but they hadn't raised any questions.
There were times when Allen just wished he could come clean about all that had happened with Kanda and his ghost, but that seemed risky, especially considering the 14th still knocking about in his head. Thankfully he'd been able to keep the 14th at bay for a while now, the new objective of teaching Ren how to fight taking up his waking hours. His sleeping ones were different though, and the 14th always managed to dredge up the worst memories for Allen to relive.
Kanda dying, Kanda losing his memories, Kanda fading away, even the horrible day when Kanda had gone against everything, they all played in his dreams like a horror movie. He couldn't stop them though, and every night Allen woke up screaming and sobbing.
"Hey Allen. . . Are you okay?" Ren asked, his eyes showing his concern.
Allen snapped out of his thoughts for a moment to give a big fake smile to Ren, "Yeah I'm fine. We should get headed to the showers now."
Ren's eyes flashed with something strange before he pulled Allen into a surprising hug.
"You know I can tell when you're smile is fake. I don't know when I started to notice, but I can see it clearly now that you're smiling through some kind of pain." The older man told Allen as he hugged the younger teen tightly.
The white haired Exorcist knew he was crying when Ren's arms tightened. The last person to realize that his smile was fake was Kanda, and he'd really been the only person in Allen's life. There was that, and the fact that Allen was just getting tired of it all.
The weight of all the secrets, the hiding from the truth, and even trying to control his emotions around Ren so he wouldn't cause something that couldn't be reversed, he just couldn't take it much longer. It was really only a matter of time before he snapped, only a matter of days before the 14th finally got the chance he needed to beat Allen's will.
Pulling away from the strangely familiar embrace Allen sighed, "I'm okay Ren, just a little overworked is all. I've got a lot on my mind."
Ren didn't look convinced, but didn't press the issue, "I'm here if you need me Allen, always remember that. You saved me and gave me this new life. I may not have wanted it at first, but I feel at home here, almost like I've been here before."
The newer Exorcist's eyes went glassy for a moment before he shook his head and smiled down at Allen.
"Besides you saved me from a marriage I wasn't really ready for."
Allen had heard from Ren how much he didn't want to go through with marrying the woman from that day six months ago. Ren was actually gay, but didn't know how to break it to his parents, or the woman he had been arranged to marry. It had been very confusing for him, but once the Church laid claim there really wasn't anything the family could do about it.
The white haired Exorcist looked at the floor, his hair hiding the tears in his eyes, "Well I'm glad it all worked out for you."
Ren's eyes softened and he picked up Allen's chin, brushing the tears away. "You know Moyashi, not everything has worked out for me."
Feeling his heart flutter Allen looked up into Ren's eyes searching for the familiar spark there. He did find it, but only a glimpse as Ren leaned down to kiss him.
The kiss was sweet, warm and subtle in a way that Allen hadn't experienced since Kanda had died.
When Ren pulled away his eyes were wide and his face just barely flushed, "I'm so sorry Allen, I didn't mean to kiss you like that. I was just thinking about how sad your eyes always look when you see me, and I wanted to make that go away, but I didn't know how."
There was an awkward moment of silence before Allen broke down. He clutched at Ren's shirt and cried into it, letting go six months' worth of frustration and heartache.
"You. . . you called me Moyashi. . ." Allen sobbed, his heart doing little sickening summersaults while his body shook like a branch in the wind.
Ren had wrapped his arms around Allen, not understanding the reaction but wanting to support his fellow Exorcist in any way he could.
Once Allen had calmed down he pulled away from the Japanese man, wiping his eyes and smiling another fake smile, "Thanks for that Ren, but I don't like you that way. I lost my love a while ago, and I don't know if I'm ready to accept the offer from someone else."
Ren's face fell a little, his hand moving to unsheathe Mugen, "You were in love with Kanda weren't you? The man who owned this sword before me."
Turning away from Ren's gaze Allen hung his head, "Yes I was, but he died, and that's all there really is to it."
"But he didn't die completely, he came back didn't he?" Ren asked, turning the sword around in his hands to look at it from different angles.
Allen turned back around quickly his eyes full of shock, "How did you know? How the hell did you know?"
The Exorcist smiled, a sad kind of realization smile, "I'm him aren't I? I mean I have his sword, apparently I look a lot like him, and it seems that I'm falling for you just like he did."
Sighing Allen looked at the floor, "You're not him, alright? The man I loved died that day he decided taking over a vacant body was okay, and that going against all of his principals was something he could live with. He may be living inside of you, but he's not the man I fell in love with."
Ren sighed, "Then it looks like I'm going to have to make you fall in love with me, not what you remember of him."
Shaking his head Allen moved towards the door, "I don't know if that's the best idea Ren. You may not have heard that much about me, but I'm not the best person to love. Everyone I love ends up missing, dead, or in the hands of the Earl and I don't want you to be another one of them."
He would leave then, letting Ren think about what had been said and going back to his room to try and think himself.
He felt like such an idiot, the way he had handled confessing to Allen was much more forward then what he would have liked.
Ren had meant to take it slow, ease Allen into all of the confrontations and questions, but now that cat was out of the bag.
Of course he had asked around about Allen's strange behavior, and when Lavi told him about this mysterious Kanda person Ren had to look him up in the archives. There wasn't much, just a picture, a birth certificate and a death certificate, along with a small file about his Innocence and his sword skills and attacks.
That information, along with the longing way Allen looked at him sometimes and the strange memories that surfaced once in a while, had allowed him to guess at what had happened.
It wasn't as if he wanted to be this Kanda person, from what he had heard Kanda was a real asshole to almost everyone, but he did feel something for Allen that was much more than just the friendship they currently had. There was an intense need to help the white haired Exorcist, a longing to be there for him, to help him lower the mask that he always wore.
Ren didn't know if it was Kanda's memories that allowed him to see past the mask, or if it was some kind of ability on his own part, but it hurt him to see Allen trying to hide his sadness and his pain. Something always seemed off about Allen lately, as if he were fighting some, great, internal battle all the time. It was a little disheartening to see how he tried to shoulder it all himself, not telling anyone, or letting anyone help.
The newest Exorcist walked to the door, knowing that he'd just screwed up his first chance at getting Allen to like him, to have the cursed Exorcist open up in a way he hadn't since Kanda. Now that he'd wasted his first chance this was going to be even harder, but he was determined to succeed.
After padding down the hallway to Allen's room he knocked lightly, hoping Allen would actually be in.
After going back to his room Allen just lay on his bed and cried for a good half an hour.
It wasn't that Ren had reminded him yet again of his lost love, those tears had been shed months before. This time it was because Allen could see himself being happy with Ren, the same way he had been happy with Kanda, but it felt like a betrayal of Kanda's memory.
But wasn't Ren Kanda? Wasn't it Kanda's soul inside that body? Would it really be betraying Kanda by falling in love with the body that had his soul attached to it?
The thoughts plagued him, and with them the memories he had of Kanda, alive, as a ghost, with all of the things that they had been through it felt almost wrong for Allen to even think of finding love and happiness again. Was Kanda even happy? Trapped inside of a body that wasn't actually his, forced to not remember who his lover was until months later, when the scars had just started to heal and Allen felt as though he might be able to move on from everything that had happened?
The knock sounded as Allen lay, staring up at the ceiling and thinking about all the ways he could be happy if Kanda had just gone away all those months ago.
Standing up he went to open the door and almost shut it right away when he saw who it was.
"What do you want Ren?" His voice sounded tired, that of a man defeated.
Ren sighed, looking down on Allen with sad eyes, "I came to apologize. What I did was out of line, and I wanted your forgiveness for it. I just hate seeing the way your eyes turn sad when you think of him, or when you mess up and almost call me by his name. There are so many ways I can make you happy Allen, so many ways to make up for the hurt he caused you before he fused with me. Please just let me try Allen. Give me some time to show you I'm a different person, and that you can be happy with me."
Allen just stood at the door, biting his lip in frustration.
"You know, you're more like Kanda then you realize. After what happened in the training room he would have done the exact same thing. He would have taken longer, and probably punched a wall on his way here, but he would have come to talk to me. He would have been too proud to beg forgiveness like you just did, but he would have somehow done it in a more manly way. I guess you two are alike, but more different than I had thought at first." Looking back towards his window Allen sighed, "But that doesn't really change anything Ren, I'm sorry. I can't stop seeing him when I look at you or comparing the two of you like I just did. You're too similar to the love that I lost, and I guess I'm afraid that losing that a second time would break me completely."
Turning back to his room Allen gently closed the door.
"I'm sorry Ren, but this can only end with one of us in pain, and I'd rather it not be me for a change."
Before Allen could close the door completely Ren managed to get his foot in the crack of the door and Allen looked at him with questioning eyes.
"Allen, wait. I have one more thing to say to you Moyashi." Ren's voice took a crazy dive to a baritone that Allen recognized instantly.
"K-Kanda?" He asked, his voice wavering with a mix of different emotions.
Ren's demeanor had changed drastically, his stance becoming more firm, like that of a true warrior, and his eyes shining with an ice that Allen had only seen in one other person's eyes before.
"Baka Moyashi, of course it's me." Ren said, his eyes rolling a little, "I could have done this before but I chose not to. I decided as soon as I saw the look on your face when I took this body that I wouldn't cause you any more pain. It looks like I've screwed that up, but I'm here to make it right this time. All of Ren's actions up until now have been his own. My soul may have altered his thoughts and feelings a bit, but he fell in love with you on his own. I want you to be happy Allen, so do this for yourself. Say yes to Ren, let him love you in all the ways I couldn't. Let him be gentle with you, let him be kind, let him not stray from his morals as I did, and let him love you in a way you've never been loved before.
I know I did some things I shouldn't have, and I've had a lot of time to think things over. You deserve to be happy, with whoever makes you happy. Let Ren be that person, and let me find peace that way. I love you Allen, and I never stopped loving you, but I'm ready to let you go, which is something that tethered me here to this world. Now though, I can find peace in your happiness, and I want you to have that."
Allen stood there shell shocked for a moment before he collapsed into Ren's arms, his body shaking with sobs.
"You big idiot, if you hadn't been selfish none of this would have ever happened." He managed past the tears.
"If I hadn't been selfish I wouldn't have been able to give you a second chance at the love we had before." Ren murmured his voice slowly changing back to its normal pitch, "So please forgive me Moyashi, and go be happy, go find love with this man."
When Allen looked up again he saw a confused looking Ren, but he couldn't mistake the emotions he saw there.
Kanda was finally giving him up, giving him the option of happiness, of love. He didn't really know if he could be okay with taking it at the moment, but that didn't mean he couldn't come back to it when the moment was right.
"Listen Ren, I forgive you, and I'm sorry for the way I acted before. I just got a reminder from someone very important that dwelling in the past can lead to some very bad things." Allen took a big breath. "How about we take it slow, and I can see if this will work."
Ren just smiled a little, a soft smile that showed his caring, "I like the sound of that Allen, I think I can do that for you."
The two would part ways then, but they would eventually come together to be lovers and even more.
A/N: I have more places this story could go, but I had always wanted to end it on this kind of bittersweet note. I could write an epilogue, but that depends on whether or not you good readers want me to. In my mind this story is finished, and it's time has come to an end, but if you have any further questions, or you just want to yell at me for ending it so shortly but ask nicely for an epilogue I could definitely write one. It's just a matter of you all.
Now I hate to say it, but I think this is the last thing I'm going to be posting and writing for a while. I hate to leave all of you wonderful readers, but the real world is calling, and I don't know if I can handle the real world and writing, they both take a lot of effort you see. So I guess this is goodbye for now. Hopefully I'll see you all again in a new story, but only time will tell.