A/N: So sometime last year (or was it in 2011?) Ffnet decided to do a major cleaning. This fic, one of my works I happe to be most proud of, got wiped out clean along with my old unfinished multiparter "Slow Steps". It really broke my heart when I realized FFnet had deleted this fic for good. I lost about 60 precious reviews given to this fic at that time.
Now, after a long time being away from FFnet, I came to check the site again due a couple if PMs, and suddenly, I miss this. Miss the fandom and writing in general. I kee telling myself I want to write agin, to continue my unfinished stories, but I haven't gotten the kick I might need. So for now, allow me to repost this :') I don't know if peope woud still want to read it but eh... at least for my own documentation hahah...
WARNING: Based on chap 197. Will not be consistent to canon.
His skin has darkened.
Not so much as that of a Noah, but definitely not his usual pale complexion. It's like—like an incomplete change on his part, either he was changing from—human? Exorcist?—Allen Walker to a Noah, or the other way around. He'd heard the whispers behind his back, about himself turning Noah after he fell unconscious—but maybe as he was turning back, the process was interrupted in the middle.
Well, at least he still has his chrome eyes.
He glances at the mirror, the only source of light being the moonlight filtering in through the window. The moonlight falls across his middle as his fingers slowly trace his scarred upper body. The pads of his fingertips sweep over the newly formed scar, flesh still raw pink and sensitive to the touch.
Another wound to his body, another scar to his heart.
It doesn't heal, the invisible scar.
/ It's all your fault, you fucking Noah! /
His fingers clench over his rapidly beating heart, head tilted down and eyes screwed shut at the unshed tears.
Kanda's words. They had hurt so much.
They still do.
'He wasn't himself, he wasn't himself,' Allen has tried to tell himself over and over again. But it hurts even more.
Kanda was in a trance. He wasn't himself. The Kanda he knows and trusts despite their perpetual fight would never say things like that.
Yet those words had sounded so raw, so... honest.
Kanda had sounded hurt too.
What if they were Kanda's real feelings? What if Kanda really hated him deep down? Couldn't forgive him because he is a fucking Noah?
'I don't understand.'
Kanda was the one who snapped him back to himself the first time he was about to turn Noah. He has been the one who, although indirectly, keeps telling Allen to fight, to not give up, to tell the Fourteenth go fuck yourself, so why—
"I don't understand," Allen whispers, leaning his forehead against the cool glass surface. "Kanda... I don't understand..."
"We cannot let the Earl have you, and this is why we have decided to keep you here."
Allen doesn't bother looking at the one talking to him. He doesn't have to. Leverrier won't meet his eyes ever since he woke up at the infirmary just three days ago.
Is Leverrier scared of him now? Allen has no idea. Nor does he want to find out.
"The Noah in you—" Yeah, keep using that word. Keep reminding him of what he really is. Nice going, Sir. "—seems to be going against the Earl. However, we cannot be sure if he is on our side, therefore the surveillance will continue."
Like he hasn't already been going through that.
"Bookman has requested that Bookman Jr be allowed to watch you. Therefore he will be assigned to missions with you."
What, now Lavi too? Is that why he is here now, Allen wonders as he glances at one corner of the room, where the redhead stands with arms crossed, his bandana down around his neck—Lavi always has his bandana down whenever he is doing this bookman thing. Allen wonders what that says about him.
"And Yuu Kanda will still be there in case anything happens. He has the best chance at—"
"—killing me if anything goes wrong."
Because he'd stabbed him, hadn't he? And Kanda is the only one who might not get killed before he accomplishes his job, due to the blasted experiment they did to him.
A healing ability. Yeah right. It's something that's killing him, slowly but surely.
The Black Order. It's so messed up.
Why is he even fighting for them, then?
No, Allen tells himself. He isn't fighting for the order. He is fighting for his friends.
Then again, his friends can barely look at him in the eye anymore.
He misses Cross, really. Because Allen thinks that if Cross were here, even with the whole ordeal, he probably wouldn't even bat an eyelid, the bastard. In fact, Allen has the feeling that Cross would probably make an innuendo over the incident. Something as stupid as 'So the she-male is finally putting his sword into your sorry ass?'
Allen is actually smiling now, and he wonders if he's losing it.
"You are given one week of rest before resuming your duty as an exorcist. Now dismissed."
Without saying another word, Allen turns on his heels and stalks out of the room. Not caring about the two figures immediately following him.
Alma is alive. He is in a very bad shape and will probably never wake up, but he is alive.
No one truly knows how.
Allen doesn't really know what happened after he blacked out. He heard from whispers—always the whispers—about how Kanda was trying his best to avoid and deflect Alma's attack, but he never fought back.
Allen is proud of Kanda for that.
He heard that finally, Alma exhausted himself, and coupled with the fatal injuries he'd already received, Alma finally collapsed.
After that, he heard that the Fourteenth was awakened, and he'd been the one to chase away the Earl and the other Noahs. There were fights and some talks and more fights, until finally, the Earl retreated.
He also heard Kanda went and attacked the Fourteenth—even though the Fourteenth was the one chasing the Earl and his minions away; does Kanda hate him that much?—but then the Noah just collapsed. He supposes that was how he woke up as himself three days ago.
Turning to the right at the end of the corridor, Allen finally reaches the hospital wing. The Head Nurse gives him a wary look, and he smiles sadly at her. He walks past several rooms to the farthest room and stops in front of the door.
He's been here once, not long after waking up. But at that time, he didn't go in, because someone else was inside. This time though, no voices are coming from the room, nor is there anyone visible through the small window on the door.
No one but the patient himself.
He opens the door slowly, mindful not to make too much noise as he walks to the only bed in the room. There are machines he doesn't know of, making three different beeping sounds at different frequencies. An oxygen mask is covering the patient's face, and some liquid is transferred to the patient's blood vessels through intravenous feeding.
Allen stares for a while, before sitting down on a stool by the bed.
"Alma," he softly calls.
There is no response.
The lights are off—it is way past visiting hours and Allen knows he shouldn't be here, but he doesn't want to meet anyone else. Allen just sits there; his right hand absently goes to trace his new scar over the cotton shirt he's wearing as his eyes follow the lines of bandages wrapping the other boy almost wholly in the dark.
The continuous beeping of the life-supporting machines and Alma's slow breathing bring his mind into replaying the memories of that day, of how all those wounds came to be, before leaping way back to what he'd seen in Kanda's memories.
Of two friends bickering, laughing, going through so much together, before finally killing each other.
His fingers make a fist and clutch at his shirt and over his scar, as he whispers to the unconscious boy, "It's painful, isn't it?"
And he isn't talking about physical wounds.
The machines continue to beep steadily.
He can barely look Kanda in the eye.
Sometimes, he can feel those dark eyes on him, lingering a little too long to be a coincidence. It's as if Kanda is willing him to look back, but never actually confronts Allen about it.
Allen can't do it.
Something in his chest tightens and recoils, every time he catches a glimpse of Kanda and remembers the words thrown to him in raw emotion.
/ It's all your fault, you fucking Noah! /
His heart beats faster then, and there is this aching in his chest and stomach, and he just can't look at Kanda.
He is scared at what he might find in those deep, dark eyes—probably disgust or hatred or something else he might be better off not knowing.
But it doesn't stop there.
All this time, Allen had always been best working and fighting together with Kanda. They have always known what to do or where to move when in battle together—how to take care of themselves while still looking out for each other.
Their rhythm had always been in synch, because there was this bond, this trust between them that let them know what the other would do, and to move accordingly.
It's no more.
Allen now chooses to fight near Lavi or Link, and if he happens to aim for an akuma only to find Kanda does too, they both stop in their tracks for a second too long and let the akuma either escape or retaliate and they both end up injured unnecessarily.
It distracts them, messes up their individual rhythm and also the whole almost-nonexistent teamwork.
It doesn't help that they are stuck with each other.
"You two can't go on like this," Komui says one day, after the nth time they come back from a mission barely accomplished, with more injuries than what should be normal, even for them.
Allen says nothing. He doesn't dare lift his face, much less see how Kanda's look like. He chooses to admire the papers strewn all over the floor instead.
"Despite your differences, you've been one of the best combinations we have so far, but now—"
Kanda is silent, and it bothers Allen, because Kanda never takes to being scolded very well. He'd always have something to say, to argue, and Allen doesn't know what to make of his silence.
And his eyes. Allen can feel his eyes boring into him again for a moment too short for other people to notice, but not for Allen who has always been aware of Kanda's presence around him.
At times like this, he is tempted to look back, to try and find something in those eyes, but then his new injury throbs and his chest tightens and he loses the courage to look up.
When did he become such a coward?
"I know it's difficult," Komui starts again, and his voice is filled with doubts and concern, but there's also hope, when he continues, "But please work it out. This is something only the two of you can do."
Allen doesn't know what to say to that. He can't promise something he isn't even sure of.
He isn't sure he can restore the tentative trust that was previously there between them. Not by himself.
He isn't sure Kanda can still trust him, and he can't trust his life to someone who doesn't trust him back.
"What happened to the both of you?"
The question is asked in a concerned, almost frustrated tone. Allen glances up from his food, into Lavi's lone green, worried eye, and then back to his half-finished pasta.
"You're the bookman. You must have heard what had happened."
The intensity of which his name is called makes Allen look up from his plate and into the green eye once more, but this time, he sees a lot of emotions swirling in it.
"I'm asking as Lavi," the redhead continues, still staring intently at his chrome eyes. The gaze makes him squirm, and Allen wants to look away, but he holds his gaze.
"I don't care. Now tell me. What happened between you two?"
Allen sighs in defeat and put his cutlery down, giving up on finishing his food altogether. "Nothing that you don't already know, Lavi. We were fighting and—"
"He stabbed you with Mugen, yeah I know. That's not what I mean."
"Then I don't know what you mean."
Bookman Junior takes a moment to sigh. "Look, Allen, from what I gathered, he wasn't himself," Lavi starts slowly, carefully, as if Allen wouldn't believe him.
Allen finally looks back down to his plate as he absently picks on his food. "I know."
"Do you hate him—for what he's done?"
At that, Allen looks up again to face Lavi, and this time, he smiles. Sadly. Brokenly.
"Lavi," he speaks slowly, "He hates me."
Allen doesn't expect the scandalized look on Lavi's face, nor the words that follow.
"Allen," Lavi says incredulously, "Have you seen his eyes?"
The fucking Noah is still smiling.
Allen stares at the window to the shadow of the being inside him, now clearer than the last time Allen remembers seeing.
Then he looks at his now-darker skin and frowns. "Go fuck yourself," he tells the phantom. There, he said it. He's always wanted to try saying it to the Noah ever since Kanda told him to those months ago. It feels weird, using the profanity. Yes, he's familiar with swearwords from the time he was still a street urchin, but after meeting Mana, he hasn't been using them a lot.
He doesn't feel better.
"Allen? There you are." Allen turns his head at the effeminate voice calling him. Lenalee. "Can we talk?"
Allen doesn't reply at first. He knows what Lenalee wants to talk about—Lavi must have talked to her—and he isn't sure he wants to go through it. Not when Lenalee actually looked scared the first time she saw him awake with darker complexion. Not when she can't even look him in the eye for more than two seconds—
Lenalee is looking at him in the eye. Slightly wavering but determined. She's looking at Allen Walker.
"Okay," he says, smiling in what he hopes is comfort. Lenalee smiles back, albeit sadly.
He follows Lenalee down the hallway and to the inner gardens. There are benches around a fountain, and Allen leads Lenalee to one of those, and waits for Lenalee to start talking.
"You and Kanda—" here it comes. "—are so stupid. "
Huh? Allen blinks at his friend. He doesn't expect Lenalee to start the conversation like this.
"I heard from Bak when I visited him last time," Lenalee begins as she gazes up to the darkening sky. "Kanda wanted you back."
Confused, Allen slowly asks, "What do you mean?"
Lenalee turns to face him, and with a solemn smile, she continues, "When the Fourteenth appeared after—" she trails off, because she hasn't been able to outright say the stabbing, "he attacked the Noah, saying, 'give him back, give Walker back' you know."
Allen's eyes widened, half in disbelief, half in astonishment. "What—"
"I tried to talk to him, but you know how near-impossible it is," she pauses to sigh, and Allen can't help the small smile imagining what she must have gone through. "I told him you two need to talk it out, and—"
"Lenalee," Allen says slowly, "I don't think there's anything to talk abo—"
"He's blaming himself." Lenalee cuts in. "He's been miserable, I daresay," the girl laughs, seemingly finding humor in the grim situation between her friends.
When all Allen does is stare at her, Lenalee smiles softly. Like a mother. Not that Allen knows what a mother's smile is like, but he imagines it'd be like the one Lenalee is wearing now.
"He's been to your room when you were unconscious. He's been to Alma's too. He thinks no one knows, but really, the Head Nurse has eyes everywhere in the hospital wing," she chuckles. "He thinks it's his fault that you…changed," her voice grows somber as she refers to the boy's darker complexion.
"Bu-but he—he said—"
"He doesn't trust himself, Allen. He doesn't trust himself to be near you and not hurt you again. He doesn't say it, but I've known him long enough to know this."
Allen can only gape.
"He's hurting too, Allen. I can see it in his eyes." Allen makes a rather disbelieving look, so Lenalee says, "If you bother to look him in the eye for once, you'll see."
At that, Allen looks away to his hands on his lap. Lavi has said the same thing too, but that is one thing he hasn't been able to do. Because he is too scared of what he'd find there.
"Really, you both are so alike. Stupid, stubborn, hopeless," Lenalee pauses when Allen is about to complain, but then continues in a softer, somber tone, "And hurting, too."
And then she stands up, ruffles Allen's hair, smiles at him, and walks away, leaving Allen to his own jumbled up thoughts.
"I still don't understand why you insisted on killing Kanda," Allen says quietly to the still comatose Alma. Then he walks closer, and adds, "But I think I understand why you made that kind of face."
He takes another step to the bed, and another, until he's standing right by Alma's bed, and smiles wistfully down at him. Then, his right hand comes up to press softly against his own wound from Kanda.
"Because it hurts so much, doesn't it?"
And no, Allen isn't talking about physical wounds this time either.
"Does it still hurt?"
Allen nearly jumps out of his skin at the familiar voice. Immediately, he turns around to find a figure standing just by the door.
The room is dark, sans the moonlight coming through the open curtains. But Allen has always had a well-developed night vision and there is also a little light coming from the hallway through the slightly opened door that lets Allen catch the sight of long, black hair falling over one shoulder.
"…Kanda…" he says slowly.
Kanda closes the door completely and walks in quietly, wearing the order-issued black closed slippers that don't make a sound as he paces the short distance between the door and the bed. Kanda's hair is in a low ponytail, Allen absently notes, and he's dressed in a simple white shirt inside the pastel sweater he'd seen on Kanda a few times before, contrasting to the black one he himself is now wearing.
Then, remembering both Lavi's and Lenalee's words, his eyes trace up to Kanda's face. There are black rings under his eyes, and—is it just him or Kanda is getting thinner? The older teen is looking at Alma now, and Allen is a bit taken aback by the emotions almost palpable in his dark eyes.
Pain and regrets. Those are the dominating emotions he can see in there. Suddenly, those eyes are directed on him. The same pain, the same regrets, and there is also something that—
"Does it still hurt?" Kanda repeats the question, still in that flat tone of his, but this time, Allen isn't fooled.
He smiles. "No. Not so much anyway."
An awkward silence descends in the room for a while, with both of them just looking at each other, trying to both hide and convey their emotions from one another.
This is the first, real conversation they have since the whole ordeal.
As the silence stretches, Allen notices the sweater enfolding Kanda's figure is falling off one shoulder. In response, his right hand twitches at his side with the urge to pull it up, but Allen manages to hold it back. Barely.
"Listen," Kanda breaks the silence; his right hand absently goes up to fix his sweater. "About what happened—"
"You weren't yourself," Allen quickly cuts in, breaking their gaze and looking to the window instead. "You weren't yourself, but…"
Allen turns his head back to look Kanda in the eye, and continues, "You meant what you said." He gives a wistful smile. "Maybe not consciously, but deep down, maybe in your subconscious—"
"You don't get to decide what I do and don't mean!" Kanda bites back harshly, surprising Allen with the fierce comeback, and—is the pain he sees in those eyes growing?
"I didn't mean this," Kanda hisses through his teeth, reaching out a hand to tentatively press at the scar he'd made with his sword over the cloth. Allen jerks from surprise and instinctively steps back.
He regrets the gesture, because Kanda's hand, now hovering in thin air, is clenched in a fist so tight that it hurts to look at.
"I didn't mean it," Kanda repeats slower, almost softer.
For a moment, Allen keeps silent, and Kanda slowly pulls his hand back, letting it fall uselessly against his side.
It's like Allen can see everything then; how things might look like from Kanda's eyes. After all, he'd seen it once, hadn't he? He'd seen it once, how much pain Kanda had suffered as a child, after he was forced to kill his best and only friend.
It's similar to that, isn't it?
Allen doesn't dare call himself Kanda's friend, but after all this time, after all they have gone through together as comrades and partners in missions, Allen knows that Kanda has accepted him in his life. Has accommodated him, even, as someone whom he fights alongside with.
'Kanda wasn't himself,' he repeats the thought in his mind again, 'And it must have hurt him too…'
Why didn't he realize this sooner?
"It's okay," Allen finally tells him with a smile. "I'm okay."
Kanda scoffs and crosses his arms. Defensive. "Che. Yeah right. Look at yourself."
"I just got a little tanned. I'm not going to lose to the fucking Noah, as you so eloquently put it," he retorts again, trying to give some semblance of humor to lighten the mood.
He forgets that Kanda fails at humor.
The older exorcist looks at him for a moment, his face and eyes unreadable. "I still hate the Noah," Kanda starts, but before Allen can take the time to get hurt over Kanda's words, he adds, "So don't lose, or I will kill you for real."
This. This is the Kanda he knows. Kanda who, in his own way, is telling him to fight it, to not lose.
And until now, Allen didn't know that he'd been missing this Kanda so much.
Allen relaxes in his standing position and looks to the bed. The moonlight crosses the figure of the seemingly sleeping Alma. Kanda follows his gaze. "Don't worry. I'm not going to let you kill me."
'I'm not going to be another Alma in your life.'
"Che. Don't be so cheeky, Beansprout," Kanda simply says.
Allen smiles. "It's Allen, Bakanda."
Things are probably never going to be the same for them. Not after this whole ordeal, not anymore. The tentative trust that has fallen apart will take time to rebuild. But that's okay, because they both are strong.
They're strong enough to start over.
And as Allen catches the corner of Kanda's mouth quirk just a little bit upwards in the dark, he knows that they are going to be okay.
Drop me a word if you read this? Even if it's just to say hi, hahah... :D i know this is not perfect, it's kind of OOC, maybe, but hey. I still like this. So. I hope you would at least enjoy it. Thanks for reading! :)