Stages of Transformation
The boiling and condensation of the fermented solution to increase its purity; the agitation and sublimation of psychic forces to ensure that no impurities are incorporated into the next and final stage. Also the purification of the unborn Self—all that one truly is and can be.
It had been forty-nine months since the accident. Eleven months since Allen had woken up for the first time. Seven months since he met Kanda. One month since they had officially gotten together. And all of six long hours since Kanda had last seen the moyashi. It was only the first day of the summer term, but Kanda was already in a foul mood, and wondering how he was going to survive the rest of the school year.
(Tokusa and Fo were more concerned with how everyone else was going to survive.)
Still, Kanda was happy for Allen. He had finally managed to reclaim his scholarships and gain a few new ones, and immediately re-enrolled to continue his studies. Kanda was just thankful that Allen, as a junior, didn't have to take general classes, and could focus on his major. It meant fewer classes, so Allen could spend longer at the dojo every day. It wasn't that Kanda was helpless without Allen, or even uncertain, but having Allen around made everything seem smoother, easier. Having him suddenly pulled away, after being so close for so long, left Kanda moody and out of sorts. He didn't need Allen, but he wanted the softness that Allen brought—not weakness, never weakness, because Kanda could not even distantly connect the term with the fierce, quicksilver creature who so enthralled him—and the calmness that surrounded Allen like an aura of peace. It was a comfort he wasn't used to, and a luxury he was quickly becoming addicted to.
And Allen was, if anything, worsening his craving. With Kanda's acceptance of his confession, he had begun to smile even more, and laugh even more, and hum under his breath, and play sweeter, brighter tunes whenever he sat down at the piano. Kanda said nothing, but he loved those songs with a fierceness that surprised even him. Maybe it was the happiness that Allen showed when playing such music. Maybe it was the fact that Allen had only started to play them after Kanda entered his life. Maybe—and most likely—it was because Allen poured every ounce of his feeling, his passion, into those melodies, and each one felt like falling in love all over again.
Allen said nothing, either, but Kanda had also become milder in the last month. He smiled every day, where before Allen had felt lucky to receive one a week. He no longer kept one hand on Mugen when someone spoke to him, even if his hands did flex as though in thought of strangulation. But he no longer drew the katana whenever his temper was piqued, much to the relief of his students and the observers in the dojo. And, though he thought Allen didn't notice—though Allen did, and had always noticed—he continued to make those countless small gestures that nevertheless made Allen's life infinitely easier to manage. Sometimes—rarely, but still once in a while—Kanda would make such gestures overt, such as sweeping Allen off his feet and carrying him up the stairs to their apartment.
(After this, of course, he complained about Allen's weight, and then subsided into embarrassed reticence, only breaking it with an occasional scoffing, "Tch," when he was directly addressed.)
But, together, Allen felt that they were both far, far happier than they had ever been apart. Kanda thought so, too, though he did not say it as explicitly as Allen did. But then, he did not need to. Allen was gentle where he was harsh, bright where he was dark, and unrestrained where he was taciturn. They needed each other—one was too kind, and the other too cold.
Only together did they make a full person.
If he now happened to meet his self from those first months after waking up, or even his self from before the accident, Allen thought that his old selves would no longer recognize him, nor he them. He had changed so much, reinvented whole pieces of himself and started in an entirely new direction with his life. Really, who would have thought that the small, gentle Piano major had a job at a dojo renowned for the sensei's brutality—though, as Tokusa often pointed out, Kanda was the sole reason for that reputation and it had absolutely no bearing on the rest of them—and a boyfriend whose temper rivaled that of a cobra with its tail trodden on?
Especially the boyfriend.
Kanda was a good partner, Allen decided upon reflection, but he was still Kanda. He would not change his nature, not even in the grip of that horrible manipulator called love, and Allen just loved him all the more for it. Lenalee had once remarked that it was like a fairy tale, where the princess—not that Allen accepted being called a princess, mind you—kissed the prince to break the spell and they fell in love, only to find that the prince's curse—Kanda's temperament, in this case, Lenalee confided to Allen in a whisper—was still going strong, and the prince not only accepted it, but relished it. And now, with a rather bloody happily ever after looming in the distance, the princess just rolled her eyes, armed herself with a good supply of patience, a sword with which to whack her errant hero whenever he got out of hand, and all the love she felt for him, and soldiered on.
Not, of course, that Kanda was a prince or Allen a princess, Lenalee had assured her rather horrified audience. But Allen thought it was, as a metaphor, suitable enough.
Allen had started at the university again, taking classes and working towards his major. Kanda still disliked having to be parted, but he accepted it with his usual bad grace, for which Allen was thankful. Fo and Tokusa put up with it as best they could, but more and more often they ended up chasing Kanda out of the dojo as soon as possible for him to go and pick up Allen. Consequently, he had begun doing that more and more, and begun arriving earlier and earlier—like now, where class was still in session, and he was relegated to leaning against the back wall of the music room, scowl growing deeper every time Timothy—the professor's ward, who everyone knew had a crush Allen—leaned over the white-haired pianist's shoulder to turn the page for him. Allen ignored him for the most part, concentrating on his playing, but every few minutes he would look up and smile gently, and Kanda would stop shifting so impatiently and give him a small smile in return.
If this warm feeling in his chest was love, Kanda reflected as the piano reached it crescendo, perhaps love wasn't so bad.
The class ended as he pondered, and the other students drifted out of the room in intermittent swarms, talking and laughing and trying their best not to catch the eye of the glowering man at the back of the room. After the first few teasing remarks they had directed at Allen, they had quickly learned that not only did Kanda have a very short fuse, the explosions promised to be bloody in a way no horror movie could. The room quickly emptied, until only Kanda, Allen, and the professor were left, the latter talking animatedly with Allen. Kanda caught the words "concert" and "original pieces" and could guess what was going on. However, he stayed where he was, knowing Allen would want to reveal the news himself.
And, sure enough, a moment later Allen was flying across the room as fast as his legs—still slightly unsteady, though much stronger than the doctor had ever expected because of his constant training—could carry him, and threw himself into Kanda's arms, laughing. Kanda caught him, smiling as only Allen could make him, and pulled the smaller man close, giving him a gentle kiss. Allen, as he so often did, shook off the gentleness and replaced it with hunger, pulling Kanda down into a kiss that—though he would never admit it aloud—made his toes curl as the smaller body seemed to blossom against him. For a long moment, they remained locked together, and Kanda had to wonder if they might ever just stay like this, and not break apart.
He wouldn't complain.
But all too soon, Allen released him and leaned back, smiling up into his eyes as no one had ever done, and with a light in his face that no one else had, and Kanda found that he could hardly breath for happiness. Oh, there's the proof, something whispered inside of him, and though it tried to sound bitter, it simply came off as breathless. You have completely, utterly, irrevocably fallen for this man.
You're in love, Yu.
Wholly, vastly, blissfully in love.
And you wouldn't have it any other way, would you?
Then Allen moved, pressing another quick kiss to Kanda's lips, and said breathlessly, "They've asked me to give a concert, Kanda! With my own music! At the city concert hall!" He kissed Kanda again, trembling with excitement, and Kanda decided that he most definitely liked this form of exuberance. "Even the mayor's going to be there! If it turns out well, they might let me play a whole series!"
Kanda smiled at him, because he couldn't help it, and Allen looked more beautiful than ever right now, even in ratty old jeans with holes in the knees and a t-shirt that Kanda could have sworn was his. "Good. What are you going to play?"
Allen grinned at him, then turned away without answering, all but dancing back across the room to pick up his crutches from beside the piano. Professor Link, a strange man who Kanda had never really gotten used to, smiled at his excitement and patted his shoulder, then grabbed his ward by the scruff of the neck and pulled him out of the room. Kanda watched Allen lean down and kiss the piano keys, then shook his head and crossed to him, hooking an arm around his waist and pulling him upright, taking the crutches from his grip and shouldering them.
"Come on," he ordered. "I want to leave before you start kissing innocent passersby. Let's go."
Allen was too happy to take his comment to heart, though he did let Kanda hold him up as they left the building and headed for the parking lot. "I can't wait! Will you come, Kanda? I want the music to be a surprise for you."
Again, Kanda could hardly stop himself from rolling his eyes. "Yes, moyashi, I'll come. We can ask Tokusa and Fo, too. They'd probably like a night off of work." He glanced over, noticed that Allen was staring at him wide-eyed, and got defensive. "What, baka moyashi?"
Allen slowly shook his head, the smile spreading back across his face. "Kanda, you've never given anyone a night off of work," he pointed out. "You haven't closed the dojo for even a since you opened it."
Kanda opened the passenger door of his car and helped Allen settle himself, growling softly. "Are you trying to make a point, moyashi?"
With another unnervingly disarming smile, Allen pulled Kanda down again and gave him a soft kiss, just a gentle press of lips and the barest edge of tongue. "Yes. Thank you, Kanda. It means a lot to me. I love you."
There was no response that Kanda could make that would usurp that single, simple statement. He blew out a soft breath, then leaned down again, pressed his lips against Allen's forehead, and murmured, "I love you, too, moyashi." Then he pulled back and shut the door on Allen's surprised face, smirking to himself at the simple pleasure it gave him to stun the younger boy speechless.
Even so, he knew he couldn't give that all the credit for the sun-warm glow in his chest.
For all that they had been dating for a month, they had taken the entire relationship slowly, as neither wanted to rush their feelings and perhaps ruin what they had built with so much effort. But now, with acceptance on both sides and feelings that strengthened with every touch, every glance, every light brush of lips, there was a need for more simmering under the surface, and neither Kanda nor Allen felt like denying it for very long.
It was a Sunday afternoon, and Kanda had just returned from his last class at the dojo, pleased that he could spend the rest of the day with Allen, even if the younger still stubbornly refused to practice the pieces he would play in the concert at home, and had been spending even more time at the university. But today, as he had promised, he was home, and Kanda wanted to surprise him with dinner out, and maybe a walk on the beach. Had anyone accused him of being a romantic, he would have denied it, but for Allen, he found he didn't mind such things as much as he had once thought he would.
Carefully, he opened the door, wary of any excitable moyashis who had a tendency to leap on him when he came home—not that he minded. But the apartment was silent, despite the fact that Allen's shoes and crutches still sat by the door. Kanda frowned for a moment, then headed for the kitchen, which was empty. So was the living room, the bathroom, and the balcony. Feeling a trace of worry take root in his heart, Kanda quickly headed for the bedrooms. His was empty, but in the other…
Pausing at the door, he couldn't help the gentle smile that spread over his face. Allen was curled up on his bed, white hair spread out over the pale blue of his pillows, the bed neatly made underneath him. One hand rested on his chest, the other curled on the quilt beside his head. Kanda didn't think he'd ever seen anything quite so lovely. Noiselessly, he crossed the room and settled carefully on the edge of the bed beside Allen, then reached out and gently brushed a few strands of hair from one pale cheek.
Slowly, dreamily, silver eyes fluttered open, and Allen looked up at him with a drowsy smile. He caught Kanda's hand in his and brought it up to his face, pressing the back of the larger, sword-calloused hand against his cheek. Kanda felt something within him swell near to bursting, and leaned over, pressing a featherlike kiss to Allen's forehead. His dark hair fell around them in a sable curtain, and Allen smiled back, releasing his hand to instead wind both arms around Kanda's neck, pulling him down. Kanda let him, supporting himself with one hand as he lay half on top of the smaller man. Their lips met in another slow kiss that savored the heat between them, even as it increased it.
With a ragged breath, Kanda pulled back slightly, but only far enough to slide his free hand under Allen's loose button-down, carefully parting the buttons and letting it fall to either side of Allen's body. Allen caught his breath as Kanda slowly slid his hand up the smooth, pale skin, then reached for Kanda's shirt, pulling it up as much as he could, running his fingers over muscles and planes that left him just as breathless as Kanda's continuing kisses.
There was no hurrying, for all they had been anticipating this since even before their first kiss. Slowly, devotedly, they stripped each other, clothes fluttering to the floor as they were cast off. Bodies were explored and memorized, down to the very last detail, as all the while soft kisses were pressed to every exposed inch of skin. Allen learned that the nape of Kanda's neck was sensitive enough to make him gasp, while Kanda found that nipping Allen's neck left him speechless and gasping. They were together in a way that left them both breathless, and they had hardly gone further than touching.
After an endless time that seemed far too short, Kanda finally moved up Allen's body, leaving kisses and marks the whole way, and met Allen's dazed mercury gaze with a meaningful look. Understanding, Allen nodded towards the dresser. Before he could speak, Kanda was already back, smoothing the lotion around his entrance and slipping a finger in. Allen groaned and arched, but did not let him stop until he was fully prepared, and Kanda was above him once more, a mere breath away from what they both knew would bind them irrevocably. After all, who would want to live without their other half, once they have known the ultimate completion?
"Kanda," Allen whispered, and Kanda met his silver-gilt eyes, the pure love there leaving him dazed. "Kanda, please."
"Yu," Kanda corrected gently, pressing their lips together and whispering the name into Allen's mouth. "Call me Yu, Allen."
Then he pressed forward, and Allen threw his head back at the feeling of heat and tightness and intimate invasion. He shuddered at the heat inside of him, the incredible fullness that stretched him nearly to the point of pain, yet was all pleasure. For a long moment, they remained motionless, feeling the connection, as close together as two people could ever be. Then Allen took a shuddering breath, pressed himself up against Kanda, and whispered, "Move."
Kanda did, and Allen had to close his eyes against the overwhelming feelings of completion and perfection and wholeness that whirled through him. Slowly, carefully, as though he were precious, Kanda filled him and took him and wrapped him in a contentment that he had never known before. They settled in a slow, languorous rhythm that didn't leave enough breath in their lungs for anything more than gasps and short, panting moans as they rose together. All too soon, Allen felt as though he was dangling over some great precipice by a few thin, glimmering threads. Another breathless moment of eternity—where he and Kanda were the only two things that existed, had ever existed, and would ever exist—and then they were falling together in an endless, shining drop.
It was very, very much a non-perfect ending, Allen reflected happily, watching Kanda burn the eggs and drop the toast in the sink, but he wouldn't want it any other way.
Kanda paused in the middle of cursing anything within sight and cast Allen a wary glance. "Is there some reason you're smiling, moyashi?"
Allen just kept smiling, sliding off his chair and padding into the kitchen to wrap his arms around Kanda's waist. He wore only Kanda's too-large shirt, feeling far too languid to put on more clothes, and happy enough with the world in general that he hardly minded the black smoke coming from the stove. In a movie, they would have had a perfect breakfast, where the eggs were never too runny or too dry, and the coffee was hot the moment they emerged from their room. But this wasn't a movie. There was no coffee in the cupboard, and one of the stove's burners was broken, while the other was stuck on high. Kanda had splashed himself with water while filling the tea kettle, and crumbs from the toaster were caught in his long hair, and his scowl was more appropriate for a murder trial than a post-coital glow.
Allen had never been happier.
"I love you, Yu," he said softly, leaning up and pressing their lips together. Kanda hesitated for a moment, then gave in. He laughed softly and pulled his lover closer, returning the kiss with all the fierceness of the love he felt for this small, strong, quicksilver creature that he could finally call all his.
"I love you, too, Allen," he responded, then turned off the stove and scooped Allen up in his arms, bearing him into the living room and dropping onto the couch. Allen curled into his lap and sighed contentedly, letting his head rest on Kanda's shoulder as the elder stroked his hair with one hand.
With a smile, Allen asked, "Should we go out for breakfast, then?"
Kanda chuckled and drew him closer, letting his head rest against Allen's hair. "It's not like this is some romance movie where we have to make ourselves breakfast, so why not?"
Allen closed his eyes and nodded peacefully. Why not, indeed?