Kanda's eyes fly open like thread bursting at the seams, and the quiet noise that rips its way out of his throat as he bolts upright is the only audible sign of distress he exhibits. His discipline reveals itself in the restraint lining every muscle, even when he's half-asleep and completely off guard. Anyone else would have slept right through it.
Allen, however, lived with Cross Marian for three years. Allen is trained to simultaneously ignore and be alert to things that go bump in the night.
He raises himself from underneath his blankets cautiously, careful not to make sudden movements. Mugen is still resting against the nightstand between their beds; still sheathed.
Kanda gasps like he's drowning, louder and louder.
Tim's wings perk up, inquisitive. Allen hushes him, raises his blanket over the golem's body until it's hidden from sight. He doubts Kanda would appreciate being recorded.
Allen's feet glide silently over wooden floorboards with practised ease. Within a few steps he's crouched on the side of Kanda's bed. A few seconds beyond that, and his hand is hovering in the space between himself and Kanda's shoulders, hesitant.
Kanda wouldn't appreciate being touched, either. There are, in fact, many things he doesn't appreciate. He doesn't thank Allen when he buys extra groceries for him. He scoffs at Allen's efforts to continue the mission with as little resistance as possible by adopting a cordial attitude to the locals. He yells at Allen for trying to take that extra bullet in his place — regeneration abilities be damned.
There's never going to be a good time with Kanda. So Allen decides to test the waters.
"Kanda," he whispers, fingertips brushing against the other man's bare skin. It's slightly damp with perspiration.
His hair is scattered wildly about his face and tangled around his shoulders. Allen's fingers itch to run through it, smooth out the knots. Dark eyes, glazed yet focused on some distant, invisible horrifying thing, peek out from beneath his fringe.
"Kanda," Allen tries again. His hand digs a bit harder into his shoulder, hoping to rouse him out of whatever trance he's gotten caught up in.
Kanda doesn't pull away. If anything, he leans, perhaps unconsciously, into the touch.
Allen must be feeling a bit suicidal today.
He allows himself to climb further onto the bed, no longer kneeling at the edge. His arms circle around Kanda's shoulders and bring his head into the crook of his neck, loosely enough so he can pull away at any time. Kanda doesn't resist. The coiled tension doesn't leave his body.
After a while Allen starts to stroke his hair, lightly and slowly at first. For minutes, or hours, the only sound pervading the room is the hiss of air drawn through clenched teeth. The moon touches the horizon before Kanda's muscles finally loosen.
He makes a faint noise in the back of his throat, a watered-down version of the noise he usually makes to indicate he's annoyed with Allen. He raises a hand to Allen's shoulder to push him away; the latter complies by returning to the edge of the bed. Keeping his head down, Kanda tents both hands over his face and just breathes, long and careful.
Allen stares at him, at the moonlight slanting over the top of his head, at the grace in his fingers as he laces them together, at the hunch of his back as he tries to maintain his dignity even in a moment of weakness.
He tries not to feel disappointed.
"Good?" he finally asks, his mouth easily curving into a light smile.
"Fine," Kanda grunts.
And that's that.
There aren't many sounds Kanda enjoys more than the hush of falling rain. People tend to talk less when it rains.
Thunder crackles in the distance, loud enough that Kanda almost misses it: a quiet whimper muffled even further by fabric.
He moves away from the window and strides across the room, Mugen clutched tightly in his hand. It's becoming a more and more frequent occurrence — the night terrors. Every time it happens Kanda swears it shaves a bit more of his already dwindling life away.
He truly despises it — this feeling of dread. The taste of it is bitter in his mouth.
And worse: in this context, dread translates to the unwillingness to act. Which translates to breaking a promise. Which means everybody dies.
Even worse: in this context, dread implies the existence of something beyond simple duty and obligation.
The mumbling becomes gradually louder and exponentially less coherent as he approaches the bed. The words were much harder to make out the first couple of nights, but Kanda has grown sufficiently accustomed to it by now. Enough to pick up snippets. Which is. A rather unsettling thought.
"Man — a — I — Ma — a —"
The boy tosses onto his back. His hands twist and spasm, intermittently tangling in his blankets and clawing at his chest.
"— on't g — o — ple — se — st — ay —"
Kanda's hand is already at Mugen's hilt. A half — a quarter — an eighth of a second — that's all he needs. All he needs to end it. The boy in the bed is already slipping further and further away.
"— m — so —"
The sword isn't even strictly necessary; Kanda knows more ways to kill a man than he likes to admit. Just a flick of his wrist. That's all he needs.
"— so — rry —"
Kanda's hand drops to Allen's shoulder, nearly crushing it in his grip.
"Wake up," he snaps. It isn't a request. It's a demand.
Allen's eyes peel open, agonizingly slow. The room is dark; the only source of light is the occasional flash of lightning, and, for this single instant, the incandescent gold in the boy's eyes.
And then the room returns to blackness.
"Ka —" Allen gropes blindly for Kanda's arm, still fixed on his shoulder. It's probably hurting him, now that he's awake. Kanda doesn't dare to pull away. "Kanda?"
"I'm here," Kanda replies.
A beacon, Allen called him.
"Kanda," Allen says again. The name falls clumsily from his tongue, like he isn't quite sure he's getting it right.
"I'm here." Kanda says it a bit louder this time, with a firmness he doesn't feel, because it's the only thing he can do.
You would think that it would be easy, after all this time. Ending it, that is. Allen doesn't have pseudo-infinite regeneration.
It should have been easy.
Allen sucks in a shaky breath. He blinks rapidly, sliver lashes quivering. The whimper that crawls out of his mouth this time is all him, which means Kanda probably isn't supposed to hear it. The sprout is shit out of luck in that respect and he knows it, so he capitalizes on it the best he can. He rolls over onto his side, clutches at Kanda's hand with both of his own. He buries his face into the sleeve of Kanda's coat, and cries.
Kanda sits on the edge of the bed, back facing Allen, and lets him.