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With narrowed eyes, Allen watched Kanda cradling his neck for the umpteenth time since they arrived at the inn, carefully squaring his shoulders just to yet again reduce the pressure his fingers put on the juncture, a pinched expression around his mouth. Then he shifted, unmistakably flinching at a wrong movement, only to shift again in an attempt to find a somewhat comfortable position.
Slowly but surely, Allen couldn’t stand by and watch any longer.
Kanda had been like that since yesterday afternoon, no matter how much he tried to hide it, and with Tiedoll’s distinct doting side, Allen would have expected a comment or a worried inquiry from him long ago. Wary despite Allen’s curse and a watchful eye on their surroundings at all times, Allen had at first assumed that Tiedoll was simply too busy to really mind Kanda and would eventually notice his blatant discomfort once they had escaped the invisible dangers of the streets.

Instead, Tiedoll had excused himself to submit a status report to headquarters as soon as they had somewhat settled in tonight’s inn, seeming blissfully ignorant, and had left.
Without further comment.

Ever since then, Kanda sat on the sofa just behind the door, his usual image of stoicism destroyed while he kept adjusting his position, and put Allen’s patience to the test.
He heaved a sigh through his nose. “What’s wrong?” Allen finally bothered to ask and tried to sound as nonchalant as possible, probably failing miserably judging from the way Kanda poised.

“It’s nothing.”
It was definitely not ‚nothing‘, Allen thought as Kanda inconspicuously tried to lower his shoulder only moments later. Which wasn’t to say he hadn’t expected that answer; Kanda simply wasn’t used to his body revolting against him, that much had become clear during their time away from the Order. And because he didn’t know how to handle it, he ignored it as best as he could.
Which obviously didn’t work but Kanda was even more stubborn than Allen himself.

Impromptu, he lunged for his bag and fished for the hairclips Linali had given to him shortly after his return to the Order so that he could keep the longer strands of his hair that framed his face in check. “You know, denying it won’t help matters”, Allen said placatingly as he sat down on the low armrest next to Kanda, fully taking advantage of the fact that Kanda had to sit up slightly to keep him in sight by squeezing a leg into the gap between his back and the padding.
Kanda’s eyes were sharp with suspicion but before he could voice more than Allen’s loathed nickname, he pulled Kanda’s open exorcist coat down far enough to reveal his shoulders and the underlying shirt.

“What the—”
“It’ll probably still be a while until Tiedoll comes back, so we have plenty of time.” With a few quick flicks of the wrist, he had fixed Kanda’s tied hair to the back of his head, exposing his neck, when Kanda slipped his arms from his coat’s sleeves and seized Allen’s hands out of pure reflex.

“What are you doing?”
Allen raised an eyebrow. “Well, your shoulder hurts, doesn’t it? Show me.”
Kanda averted his eyes before he had even finished, and for a moment, Allen didn’t know what to make of the expression on Kanda’s face. Until he noticed his bright red ears, that is.

A crooked smile played around his lips as he asked with barely suppressed amusement: “What were you thinking of?”
He waited but when no answer came, he wrapped his arms around Kanda’s chest and leaned his chin on his shoulder.
“Ka-n-da,” he cooed, dwelling on each syllable, and felt the fingers around his wrists twitch just before Kanda let go of him like Allen had bitten him.

The thought was enticing.

Before he could give in to the temptation of Kanda’s exposed neck, however, Kanda bent forward with a click of his tongue and clasped his other shoulder. “There,” he bellowed sharply. “And now let go of me, beansprout.”

Unable to stifle a quiet smile, Allen gave in to the desire to brush his lips over the base of Kanda’s neck but otherwise let him be, the way his breath caught reward enough. He then applied light pressure to the spot Kanda had indicated, an almost silent sigh reaching his ears as he skimmed over the hardened muscle in circular motions and felt it slowly give way under the thumb of his right hand.

“That happened in the fight yesterday, didn’t it?”
Kanda only gave a low grumble and cocked his head to give Allen more space when he began to work on loosening the subjacent knots with both hands.
He frowned. “You should have said something sooner.”
Allen wasn’t sure whether Kanda’s snort was scorn or a suppressed laugh. “You worry too much, beansprout.”
“No, you aren’t taking this seriously enough.”

He was too caught up in getting it through Kanda’s head that he had to stop relying so much on his enhanced regeneration to note the steps that came up the stairs to the guest rooms. Kanda, on the other hand, immediately wrested himself free.
“Bakanda!” Allen scolded and reached out for him but Kanda slid a good distance away from him to the middle of the sofa.
“Leave it beansprout.”
“As if!”

Allen was having none of it.
With a growl, he pounced on him, toppling Kanda onto his back who caught both of his hands in his own to throw him off. Bracing his whole weight against him, Allen reveled in the grunt Kanda wasn’t able to muffle as he hit the sofa beneath, only to wheeze at the knee that dug into his stomach in retaliation.
“Get off!”
“Oh no, I won’t put up with your bad mood if you get a headache because of a simple strain.”

It wasn’t long until their quarreling had no longer anything to do with talking sense into Kanda but was rather them fighting over who had the upper hand. And thus, Tiedoll found them as he came back into the room – two bodies scrambling on the sofa in a pile of tangled limbs, accompanied by a nonending stream of abuse.

“Boys!” Allen started at Tiedoll’s sudden exclamation and promptly received a painful elbow to the ribs. “Can’t you be left alone for even five minutes without starting a fight?”
They both froze, his exasperation clear in his voice. Feeling more unsettled by it than he would have liked, Allen peeked through his hair at Tiedoll who looked every inch a scolding dad.

He wasn’t used to being scolded. At all …

“Beansprout started it!” Kanda suddenly exclaimed and Allen bristled.
“Hey!”
Tiedoll heaved a sigh. Then, the wrinkles on his forehead disappeared, his eyes suddenly softer as he focused on Kanda. “How’s your shoulder, Yuu-kun?”

Allen let out a startled cry when Kanda abruptly sat up, shoving him onto the ground. “It’s—“ he spat, then paused, rolling his shoulder, venom gone from his voice, “—fine …”
“Who would have thought?” Allen grouched, much too offended to waste so much as a thought on getting up, and crossed his arms and legs.
Kanda simply ignored him, not in the least bothered by the nasty look Allen threw at him.

Watching him test out the limits of his flexibility, Allen relaxed somewhat. Kanda’s shoulder seemed to be better and with their notorious quarrels, Tiedoll at least wouldn’t suspect anything out of the ordinary, what with the way he had found them.
Or so he thought until his heart nearly stopped when Tiedoll asked with a small twitch of his mouth, half amused, half seriously puzzled: “Glad to hear it. So … why is your hair put up like that?”