Beneath the Fading Light
It had been a soft, little dark flame before, buried underneath his consciousness and had never been recognized under the light. But now it was growing bigger, dancing wildly and licking him from within, trying to tear him apart as if it was screaming for its freedom by killing his sanity. His insides were being peeled off layer by layer; the fresh red of human flesh was drenched in black, the blood running inside his vessels was as thick as charcoal, burnt by the fire of desperate liberty.
Allen gasped, letting out hot breaths along with the frantic pumping of his chest. His world was shattered at once—the man before him forced him to swallow the bitter liquid that scratched needles against his throat.
'Nea', the man said. Dark, long hair spilled over his shoulder in a low ponytail, eyes dripping in grief. Tears welled at the corner of those eyes; thousands of reasons lurking behind the spark of gentleness, love, and fear. Allen's breathing gradually became shallow, before it stopped entirely.
Don't you want me...? Mana...
The Mana before him stared in concern this time, bending down so that he could set his eyes on the same level as Allen’s, swinging his hands so fast towards him that in the next second, Allen felt as though his cheeks had been struck by lightning. Together with it, came a deep voice he knew so well.
"Look at me!"
For a moment, Mana was still there, looking at him with the eyes that spoke 'Nea', but then he blurred, sucked into the darkness as the wavy hair gradually turned straight, and the gentle gaze was replaced by piercing, angry eyes.
"Look at me, beansprout!"
Lifelessly blinking his now golden eyes, at first Allen couldn't really register a thing but the fact that he was in a room, sitting on something soft, with someone glaring right at him. But as the realization finally hit him, he almost choked as he tried to speak.
At that moment, his lungs decided to protest, reminding him of how much he needed air and forcing him to cough violently. But the hands were still on his cheeks, radiating the warm yet stinging sensation as they kept him from turning his head away.
"Look at me," Kanda said once more, softer but still holding the fortitude that was his signature. Allen didn't have any choice but to obey, breathing in a rapid rhythm that sounded like a broken melody.
"You're a fucking cheater, beansprout."
Furrowing his eyebrows upon Kanda's sudden statement, Allen twitched in pain when the fingers clutching his head became merciless; nails digging into the skin. But Kanda didn't stop there.
"You're the most annoying guy I've ever met." This time those hands slid further back, threading through the damp, sweaty hair and yanking them urgently. When Allen started to open his mouth in protestation, though, Kanda beat him to it.
"Now you just have to cheat to live, too."
Widening his eyes, Allen was sucked by the depth of Kanda's gaze. Those eyes narrowed in half fury, half distress, and Allen wasn't sure if there were other feelings added into the mix. But as he searched deeper, he couldn't find pity.
"So what if your memory, your brain, or whatever it is has been fucked up? So what if the reason you were born is to be their puppet, or if your body is not for you?" Kanda continued on, a vein popping faintly under his temple. "A damn beansprout like you can always cheat your way back to live!"
Pressing his lips in a tight line, Allen noted the fact that Kanda's breathing was fast as if he was in rage. Silence enveloped them in what seemed for eternity. Light from the streetlamps flickered inside the room through the window, caressing their features reluctantly. Kanda shook his head in exasperation.
"Just kick him out and teach him who the real loser is."
Still drowning in the lull, Allen's heart tried to have a race with his mind about which of them would be able to seek answers faster; of what Kanda was saying, of what he really felt. Tardily reaching up to place his palms above Kanda's deathly grip on his head, Allen's lips trembled, if only faintly, losing the ability to form proper words. His eyes were hot, and something was threatening to fall, but he clenched his eyes shut to drive them away. Soon after, he ruthlessly kicked Kanda's stomach, making the latter jump a couple of steps backward.
"What're you doing, you ass!"
"Like I'd ever let someone else win! Who do you think I am?" Allen retorted with a hint of misplaced arrogance wrapped around gratitude, leading Kanda to narrow his eyes in irritation. Allen paid him no mind, however, laughing with a lace of bitterness all the while as he claimed, "I'm cursed, I'm stray, and I've been hammered by my master countless times!" Then he fixed his stare right into Kanda's.
"And above all, I don't need to be told by you."
Barely managing to overcome his annoyance, Kanda glared into Allen's determination. The dull shine as those eyes returned his glare, the lips as they tried hard to look confident... Clearly the doubts were still lingering at the edges, Kanda perceived, and he longed to break them. But despite himself, his lips slowly but surely stretched into a mocking smirk.
"Humph, you're only a beansprout."
Allen laughed at that; the dry tone gradually became weaker, nonetheless. "Idiot, I'm Allen."
Kanda didn't bother to reply, but a disapproving frown succeeded in claiming his expression. Casting his eyes downward, Allen took a deep breath, smiling thereafter as he found that the white sheets were the most interesting things to look at now. He still wanted to say more, or hear more in case Kanda still had sharp words he had yet to spill. Yet as Allen's brain strived to come up with whatever things to utter, his eyes suddenly felt heavy, and the frightening sensation began to wash over him in inhuman speed.
"Kand..." He called desperately, unwilling to be downed by the darkness. Though uncaring to his heart which was about to burst out in fear and anger, the monster inside him had broken through his resistance and invaded his soul. In a blink of an eye, Allen had dropped his body onto the bed, losing his consciousness for the battle within him took place all over again. The battle in which he should never lose.
Staring widely at Allen's unmoving body, Kanda's mouth parted open, voice stuck in his throat. His hand—which was hanging in the air to seize Allen's shoulder—only caught the chill wind, before he slowly dropped it to his side.
Of course he couldn't do anything, could he?
"Allen is going to win this..." From the door Johnny tardily appeared. He clutched his hands on his chest, seemingly hesitant, nevertheless a smile was decorating his face.
Kanda didn't say anything, didn't want to hear anything. He remained still with his activity, observing how Allen's skin looked even bronzer—the complete opposite of what Johnny had just claimed. For a moment nothingness prevailed upon them; thick, horrid, and disheartening. Until a sob could be heard, accompanied by the rustle of fabric as Johnny tried to wipe away all the tears that were marking his face for he didn't know how many times that day. Kanda's nails dug into his palms.
"Sorry, I'm going to wash my face... Please look over Allen, Kanda," said Johnny between his sobs.
Nodding his head, Kanda didn't really care to take his eyes off of Allen's figure that was still lying helpless on the bed. Though shortly after Johnny had been completely out of the room, stepping away with audible emotions, Kanda dropped himself to sit on the floor, tracing Allen's entire body with his eyes.
Sweat was rolling vigorously down Allen's forehead in each passing second; the scar on his left cheek was so prominent and out of place now that he was no longer fair-skinned. The lips trembled, hot breaths came out between short gaps. And sometimes, Kanda had to sourly watch in silence every time Allen's expression turned so peaceful yet sorrowful, as if he was facing someone he loved the most—someone he could never defeat even in his dream.
Perhaps, it was the hard truth of Allen's real battle and enemy.
Biting his lower lip until it nearly bled, Kanda resisted the urge to slash everything in the room. His hand reached for Allen's, attempting to just—squeeze or even crack the motionless limb to pull Allen out of his sleep, or just to feel if there was still the beansprout inside the body. However, he halted in midair.
He clutched the sheets instead, taking a deep breath as everything was clouded inside his mind. What was wrong and what was right, he barely knew them. Still, he was sure there was only one thing that needed to be done, and it was—
Digging his fingers deeper into the sheets that the colour of his knuckles turned white, Kanda closed his eyes. Once he opened them again, a desperate whisper was made barely audible in the middle of the quite, cold night.
"You must win, Allen Walker."