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11 June 2008 @ 10:16 pm
Fic for ketchupblood  
Author: vixen_shtorat
Requested by: ketchupblood
Title: The Promise
Characters: Lenalee, Kanda, Allen, Komui
Rating: PG
Warnings: Spoiler warning (up to episode 80). Mention of character death.
Author Notes: This is set to take place after the events in Episode 80, when Kanda presumably dies. The setting is at the Black Order, after the remaining exorcists have returned from Japan.
Disclaimer: I don’t own D. Gray Man. This story is written without knowledge of what will happen after episode 80.

To the fic requestor: ketchupblood, I spent a long time agonizing over how to go about writing this request. I’ve never written a fic without a pairing in it before, so I had a really difficult time approaching it. I’m sorry if it’s not what you wanted.



The Promise
By vixen_shtorat

Allen watched Komui hover over his sister protectively, her tiny hand tightly grasped in his. His head was bowed down. Allen wondered if the gesture was in prayer or in defeat.

The flickering lights of the dimly lit room made Lenalee’s pale skin give off a heavenly glow, and he thought she looked like a sleeping angel. Her skin was fair and lovely, in contrast to her short, dark hair.

The dark lighting was not as flattering to Komui. He looked haggard and worn. Allen had noticed that he looked like he had aged several years since Lenalee fell ill, but the dark lights made him look like death itself. He had painfully dark circles underneath his eyes, and the lines by his forehead and mouth seemed like they were being carved in more and more deeply as each day passed.

Allen let out a silent sigh, and slowly backed out of the doorway. I shouldn’t disturb them right now, he thought to himself.

“You don't have to leave,” Komui called out. His voice sounded raw and exhausted.

“Ah—are you sure?” Allen asked, surprised that Komui had noticed his presence.

Komui nodded, his head still bowed down. “I could use a little company.”

Hesitantly, Allen stepped through the doorway.

“Has she improved at all?” he asked timidly. He carefully slid a chair near the side of her bed and took a seat, trying to be as quiet as possible.

Komui forlornly shook his head. “Her condition is still getting worse,” he murmured. “It's been three days now since she's been conscious.”

“And the doctors?

“They still have no explanation.”

“With so many doctors…” Allen started, trying to hold back the trembling in his voice. “I was certain that at least one of them would be able to help her.”

Komui closed his eyes and tightened his grip on Lenalee's hand. “I'm afraid this isn't something medicine can fix.”

Allen glanced at Komui, fighting back the urge to protest. From the moment Kanda's death was confirmed, Lenalee has been beside herself with grief. Allen still firmly believed that another malady was causing her deteriorating condition, but Komui’s theory was that a part of Lenalee had begun to slip away.

I think he’s wrong, Allen thought to himself. She wouldn’t give up when she still has so many people who care for her.

He had tried to argue with Komui that his theory was outrageous, and that Lenalee would be better with a bit of time and rest. While she was still talking, Allen had remained faithfully at her side to attempt to lift her spirits, constantly telling himself that soon, she would get better.

Yet with each passing day, she grew weaker and weaker, until she finally stopped waking up. Her body was still alive, and yet she was lifeless.

“If medicine can’t fix it, then we have to. We must remind her of all the people who still need her here,” Allen said firmly. He leaned over the side of her bed and forced a smile.

“Lenalee,” he said softly. "Always remember, we still need you here. You must remember that, and you have to wake up. We can’t afford to lose another exorcist—and I never want to lose another friend.” He gently placed his hand on her arm, and he continued talking to her in a strong, reassuring voice. Anything and everything that came to mind was the subject of his monologue.

Komui watched him silently, his expression unreadable. When Allen ran out of things to say, they sat in silence for a few moments.

“None of us can give up on her yet,” Allen declared, directing his attention to Komui. “We have to keep reminding her of all the things she’s missing right now.”

Komui smiled, but it was tight-lipped and forced. “Allen, I know you don’t want to believe me. Maybe it’s my fault for not explaining it to you fully, but if the worst happens… I think you deserve to know why it happened.”

The immeasurable sadness in his eyes made Allen’s heart sink in his chest. “Komui… I don’t understand what you mean.”

Komui nodded sadly. “I’ll do my best to shed some light on it for you.” He released his grip on Lenalee’s hand, leaned back in the chair, and folded his hands across his lap.

“The part you do know is that when Lenalee first came to the Black Order, she lost contact with everyone and everything in her old life, and she lost her will to live.”

Allen nodded slowly.

“When she lost her will to live, she tried to take her own life.”

“But you came, and then she was okay, right?” Allen asked. “That was many years ago…”

He nodded. “I was enough back then. She was young and I was the most important person to her.” He lowered his head and closed his eyes. “The problem is that I couldn’t remain the only reason she felt a will to go on. I encouraged her to find other things to cherish in her life, so if something irrevocable happened to me, she would still be alright. To care about only one thing in the world is dangerous.

“My encouragement worked. She reached out a little bit to other friends, other members of the Black Order… She fought for the cause, and she embraced being an exorcist. I mistook these things as being other reasons for her to live, though… Lenalee had a will to save and to protect others, but she only had a few foundations that were crucial for her continued existence. At some point, I realized the biggest was no longer me… It was Kanda.”

Allen jaw dropped, and he gazed at Lenalee for a moment. “Ah… Komui… Are you saying she was in love with him…?” he asked, dumbfounded.

“No, no,” Komui chuckled. “That isn’t what I meant. What I mean is that, when Kanda died… One of the most pivotal foundations of her existence was crushed.”

He paused for a few long moments. Allen felt a nauseating sensation in the pit of his stomach. Komui’s words seemed unreal to him. He had known that Lenalee was friends with Kanda, even if he rejected anyone attempting to get close to him, but he could not believe that Lenalee’s friendship with Kanda was so critical.

“There was a time when I was the person she depended on most,” Komui continued, his voice lowering until it was nearly inaudible. “I suspected that had changed, however, and her worsening condition only confirms it.” He lovingly brushed a hand across her cheek.

Allen leaned forward, straining to hear him as he continued. “She depended on Kanda far more than she ever had to depend on me. He saved her life many times, and she saved his in return. Lenalee knew that he was the type to sacrifice his life to win, and she took on the responsibility of keeping him in check, no matter how many times he told her to leave him alone.

“It wasn't just that she depended on him, either—she realized he was the only person who really needed her to live, too. Without her, there was no one he would listen to, and no one to restrain him. No one else needed her that much… Not even me.”

“But the rest of us do need her,” Allen protested. "She knows how much we all need her here."

Komui smiled thinly. “We do, but it’s a different kind of need. We need her in the way we need all the people important to us… Because we’ll feel lonely when they are no longer around.

“Remember the way Kanda was, Allen. Kanda didn't have that kind of restriction on himself to prevent him from dying recklessly. Every battle was a battle worth dying over… Or perhaps more accurately, he foolishly believed he could not die. It was Lenalee who truly kept him in check all these years. Even when he was healing, he refused to stay in bed.” Komui smiled ruefully. “He was the most stubborn exorcist I’ve ever met.”

“Are you saying she's blaming herself?” Allen asked.

“Not exactly,” Komui sighed. “I think I need to tell you about an event a few years back, when Kanda broke a promise to her. I believe that event was what started this…”

“Broke a promise?” Allen furrowed his brow. “She started telling me about something like that when we first returned.”

He looked up at him with interest. “How much did she tell you?”

“Ah… Well… she said it was about three years ago. I think they were going to investigate an old tomb or something like that…” Allen scratched his head, trying to remember.

“A catacomb,” he nodded.

“Yes, that’s it. She didn’t really tell me much about what they were doing, other than that they never made it underground. She only told me that she, Kanda, and a finder had arrived late at night, and they were going to stay in a nearby inn until the next day because there was a blizzard…”

-----

THREE YEARS AGO


Kanda wanted to leave right away, but Lenalee insisted that they wait until the next day to investigate.

“We’ve been travelling for three straight days. We’ll sleep tonight, eat a good breakfast, and leave at sunrise. If we’re lucky, the wind will die down by then as well,” Lenalee smiled warmly.

“Tch,” Kanda grumbled. “Then you stay here and I’ll take care of it myself.”

“Absolutely not!” Lenalee said firmly. “We’ll stay together. My brother sent me to accompany you because he didn’t want anyone to go alone.”

“He sent us both because we we’re available. He’s only worried about
you going alone,” Kanda replied.

“He wouldn’t need to worry about me going by myself. You’re the only one who would try something like that.”

For several minutes, the argument continued, with Lenalee leading most of the conversation. Finally, Kanda gave in, realizing that the young girl was not going to back down from her position.

“Alright, we leave at sunrise then,” he grumbled in defeat.

“Good!” she beamed. “You promise, then?”

He glared at her, clearly not amused. “Why do you always make me promise things? I said we’ll wait till sunrise.”

“I need you to promise me because I know you’ll keep your word.”

“Tch.”

She crossed her arms. “This conversation isn’t over until you promise me.”

He furrowed his brow angrily, and clenched his teeth. “Fine. I promise.”

-----


When Lenalee awoke the next morning, she was livid to find that Kanda’s bed was empty. After a hasty explanation to the finder of what happened, she activated her Dark Boots and sped toward the catacombs to find Kanda.

Her hope that the blizzard would abate was not fulfilled. The storm raged on even stronger, and it was difficult for her to find her destination at first. As she drew nearer, however, she saw it.

A swarm of akuma swirled around in sky, barely able to keep a steady course in the unrelenting winds. Yet she could tell they were all fixated on a particular location.

“He must be there,” she cried out, throwing herself into the melee of akuma. She fought her way through the swarm as quickly as she could so she could find Kanda.

When she found him, she felt a mixture of anger and fear. The snow surrounding him was bright red, stained with his blood. He was still standing, but his feet looked unsteady, and he was panting.

The two exorcists battled fiercely, trying to defeat each and every akuma. Within the hour, no akuma remained.

Kanda sheathed his blade and fell to his knees. Lenalee rushed to his side.

“Kanda!” she cried out. She kneeled next to him and assessed his injuries.

A large gash above his right eye had filled his eye with blood. It was already starting to coagulate and he could barely open his eye anymore. Deep gashes covered his body, and blood was everywhere.

“You idiot, Kanda,” she scolded, tears welling up in her eyes. “You promised me we would leave together! Why didn’t you wait?”

“Tch,” he mumbled weakly. “I’m just fine. I would have been fine if you hadn’t come.”

“How can you say that? We need to get you out of the cold…” she started.

Kanda’s eyes closed and he started to slump backwards.

“Kanda!” she cried out, catching him before he fell down in the snow.

-----


The first sensation that Kanda felt when he regained consciousness was pain. When he tried to open his eyes, the dim light illuminating the room seemed as bright as the sun, and his head throbbed painfully. He tried to sit up, but he felt pain searing in multiple parts of his body. It took him a few moments to realize where he was.

“Kanda?” he heard a voice whisper. The voice sounded young, like a little girl’s, but the throbbing in his head made it sound much further away than it was.

When he felt a cool hand gently press on his forehead, he jolted slightly, causing a different kind of pain to rack through his body. He bit his lip, trying to mask his agony, and attempted to open his eyes again.

Lenalee leaned over him with a forced smile stretched across her face. Kanda could tell that she was worried by the look in her eyes.

“Kanda?” she repeated, and this time she sounded a little bit closer. He opened his eyes a little bit wider, his eyes finally adjusting to the light.

He grunted a response, and she sighed in relief. “I’m glad you’re finally awake,” she said.

Kanda looked around the room, and realized they were back in the room at the inn. “How did I—“ he started to ask, but he realized that his voice sounded hoarse.

Lenalee picked up a glass of water on the table next to him and started to press it to his lips. “Drink something,” she said calmly.

He tried to raise his arm to block her, but he abruptly stopped. He looked down and realized that he was covered in bandages.

“Just let me help you this time, Kanda,” she said wearily, a hint of exasperation in her voice.

Reluctantly, Kanda allowed Lenalee to prop him up and let him take a few swallows of water. His throat was raw, and his injuries felt unusually painful.

Despite his attempts to mask it, Lenalee could tell he was in tremendous pain. “It’s you own fault, you know. You should have waited for me, like you said…”

“I would have been fine if you hadn’t come,” he interrupted.

“Kanda, how can you even say that? Do you think you could have handled all those akuma on your own? There was a reason that two exorcists were sent for this mission.”

He felt too weary to retort. He leaned back and closed his eyes, awaiting the rest of her lecture. To his surprise, it never came.

“I’ve got most of your wounds bandaged, but there’s a few left that need proper cleaning. I had a hard time getting all of the blood out of your eye while you slept… Would you mind if I tried it again?”

He blinked. There was a gummy sensation on his right eye, but he had assumed it was from sleep. “Alright,” he grunted.

Wordlessly, she leaned over him, and pressed a warm, wet rag against his eye. After holding it there for a moment, she pulled it away, took a corner of the rag, and carefully wiped the corners of his eyes. He could see where the tip of the rag started to turn a brownish red from where she cleaned.

“There,” she smiled. “I think it’s all of it. I’ll finish cleaning the rest of your wounds now.”

Noticing his body stiffen, Lenalee’s face softened. “Your injuries are fairly superficial, but you were fighting for quite some time in the middle of the blizzard, and you have a fever.” She moved to his lower half, and started gently wiping a large gash on his right leg. “It’s probably making you feel worse right now.”

Kanda furrowed his brow unhappily. “I’m fine,” he replied.

“Is that so?” she said patiently, not looking up from what she was doing.

Despite how sore parts of his body felt, he noticed that he could barely feel her gently cleaning the abrasions and applying the bandages. He closed his eyes and relaxed.

“Thanks,” he muttered.

Lenalee smiled. “You know, Kanda, if you don’t start relying on your friends, your pride is going to get you killed.”

He opened his eyes and scowled. “I won’t die so easily,” he replied, noting her expression.

Although Lenalee’s brow was furrowed in anger, even he could tell that he eyes were full of concern.

“There was no reason for you to leave me behind.”

“Tch.”

“I’m not just another exorcist, Kanda. I’m your friend. You have to trust your friends.”

He sighed impatiently. This conversation had taken place between the two of them before, and he knew what was coming.

“Besides my brother, you’re the friend I’ve had the longest,” she continued.

“I don’t want to have this conversation again,” he finally interjected. “I do not need anyone to rely on, or fight my battles for me.” He bit his lip to hold back a wince as she tightened the final bandage a bit angrily.

“Is that why you broke your promise?” she said, lowering her voice slightly.

He stared at her. Her head was lowered, and her hair hid her eyes.

Kanda wished for a clever reply, but the words did not come. He had not even worried about the promise when he decided to leave by himself.

“I’m going to go make you something to eat. I’ll be back shortly.”

Lenalee slowly stood up and headed toward the door. She put her hand on the doorknob, but before she opened it, she spoke. “Whether or not you want people to rely on, I’ll always be your friend.” She stepped outside and closed the door behind her without another word.

“Tch. I know that,” he whispered.


-----


Komui nodded, and rested his head against the side of his hand. “Yes, that is indeed the first part of it,” he confirmed to Allen. “It continues when they first got back to the Order. Lenalee was still quite angry with him… But she forgave him because he made the most important promise to her that he could have made.”

Allen looked up apprehensively. “She didn’t tell me anything beyond that.” He was not sure if he wanted to hear the next part of the story. He did not want to lose faith, as Komui had. Allen still wanted to believe that Lenalee was just a moment away from waking up.

“I don't think she's ever told anyone about it,” Komui said, scratching the back of his head nervously. “I only know because… Well… You see, I just happened to overhear the conversation... and... uh...” At this point, Komui’s stammering changed to an inaudible mumble, and a red flush spread across his cheeks. The only words Allen could make out were “accident,” “recorded,” and “golem.”

Allen felt a drop of sweat forming by his forehead. “Say that again, Komui…?”

Komui coughed. “Uh, by pure accident… it was recorded by a golem,” he whispered.

“Oi, Komui…”

“I didn't mean to overhear the conversation, and I'd certainly never spy on my sister, even if it was for her well-being…” he defended, waving his hands in front of him. “And once I had it on a golem, well, I didn't want to discard such a precious moment.”

Allen looked at Komui doubtfully. Yet this was the most animated he had seen him in the past few weeks, and for a brief moment, he actually looked like his old, cheerful self.

“Anyway,” Komui said, trying to duck away from Allen's piercing stare, “I'll show it to you.”

“Ah, are you sure that's okay?” Allen said. He glanced at Lenalee, as if expecting her to protest.

“If she gets angry and gets up to hit me, then at least it'd be an improvement in her condition,” Komui joked, but the hint of sadness in his voice was unmistakable. Then he asked his golem to replay the footage.

-----


Kanda was sitting on the edge of a bed, his chest entirely wrapped in bandages. He had an unbuttoned shirt draped loosely around his shoulders. His hair was a few inches past his shoulders, and he wore it down.

Lenalee leaned over him, cotton swab in hand, carefully cleaning a wound on his head. Her hair was long and clipped up in pigtails.

“It isn’t your job to do this sort of thing, now that we’re back here,” Kanda grumbled.

“I volunteered because no one else wants to deal with you. You’re too hard on the medical staff, Kanda,” she berated. “There, it’s done.” She smiled with satisfaction, and carefully grabbed a clean bandage to cover the wound. “Don’t forget, you still need to take it easy for a few more days. Your wounds are healing nicely but you just got over being sick…”

“I’m fine,” he said disagreeably. “I’m ready for a mission.”

Lenalee stepped back, frowning. She crossed her arms in front of her. “Oh, you’re doing that well, then?”

He nodded in confirmation, and started to stand up.

“I was saving this for when you felt better, so I’ll tell you now,” she declared, biting her lip.

He glanced at her warily, knowing that this was a conversation he would prefer to avoid. In defeat, he sat back down on the edge of the bed.

“I’m still angry at you, Kanda… for breaking your promise to me.” She bit her lip again, and furrowed her brow in worry. “I don’t want to hear any excuses, either. I just wanted to tell you that.”

“Tch,” Kanda replied. “What made you think I’d keep that promise?”

“Because friends keep promises to each other, no matter how silly they are,” she replied angrily. “If you can’t understand that, then maybe it was wrong for me to say I’m your friend.”

For a second, his body tensed, and Kanda looked as though he had been stricken. He quickly regained his composure and put on an expression of indifference, but Lenalee had already noticed.

She closed her eyes and her shoulders slumped. “No, I didn’t really mean that,” she sighed sadly. “I apologize.”

“There’s no need—I told you before that I don’t care.”

“I know you’re lying when you tell me that, Kanda.”

He rolled his eyes.

“Kanda, I don’t know what I’d do if you were dead. That’s the only reason why I ask you to make these promises all the time.”

He sighed impatiently. “I won’t die that easily. You don’t need to worry.”

“I’ll forgive you if you make me just one more promise,” she said softly.

“I don’t care about that,” he replied, but his expression showed relief.

“Every friend deserves one slip-up, after all,” Lenalee continued, ignoring his comment. “So I'll forgive you, and pretend this never happened, if you make one more promise to me.”

He glanced at her, feigning indifference.

“Will you do it?” she asked, a warm smile spreading across her face.

“Tch,” Kanda grumbled, but he looked at her expectantly, as if waiting for her to continue.

“If you will… No one ever has to know about it,” she said. “I promise I won’t ever tell anyone.”

He glared at her. “What makes you think that will make a difference?”

“Because I know you care about our friendship, even if you’ll never say it, but you don’t want anyone else to know.”

Kanda’s jaw dropped. He gaped at her for a moment, and then he clenched his jaw shut nervously. Finally, he nodded reluctantly. “Don’t tell anyone.”

“I promise.”

He sighed and closed his eyes. “And what’s the promise I have to make?”

“Promise me that you'll never break another promise to me again.”

His eyes snapped open. “What kind of a promise is that?” he barked in protest. “You said it was just one more promise I’d have to make. That implies there will be a lot more!”

“So, will you?” she looked at him expectantly.

Kanda closed his eyes, as if mulling it over. He could feel her stare.

“Fine,” he said finally. He clenched his jaw again.

“Really?” she said in amazement. She covered her mouth with her hand, trying to hide her gleeful smile.

He glanced over at her with irritation. “Yes. I promise.”

“Thank you, Kanda,” she said. She looked up at him happily. “You have no idea how much it means to me.”

He looked down so that his hair covered his eyes. “I think I do.”

“And, Kanda?”

“Hm?”

“I don’t know what I’ll do if you ever break this promise.”

He smiled tightly. “I understand.”


-----


The feed began to sputter and fade until the transmission of Lenalee and Kanda was gone.

Allen felt a chill run down his spine, and he realized that seeing the transmission of Kanda was stranger than he thought it would have been. It wasn't often that he saw past images of the dead. Kanda and Lenalee looked so much younger as well.

Komui looked at Lenalee sadly. “Lenalee, I hoped you really would wake up and hit me for recording such a private moment,” he sighed wistfully.

He turned his attention to Allen, and his voice became more serious. “From that day forward, I noticed the change in Kanda. They still had disagreements, but every time Lenalee asked him to do something, he faithfully kept his word. Those promises may have saved him more times than anyone ever realized.”

Allen mulled it over for a few moments. “I never thought it was significant, but I did see that happen before. She would ask him to do something, or to refrain from doing something, and he would agree to do what she said, even when I expected him to argue.”

Allen looked down at her sleeping face. “Right up to that last time she talked to him, when he said he would defeat that Noah and return to us... She said it was a promise, and he didn't argue. She was so confident that he would be okay because Kanda promised.” His voice cracked as he said the last word.

Allen felt his eyes well up with tears as he realized the significance of her final words to Kanda. He quickly wiped his eyes.

“It was a normal routine for them,” Komui continued. “In front of me, if Lenalee called him a friend, he fought with her about it... But I think they had a deeper friendship than they’d ever let anyone know, and they only shared it in moments when they were alone.”

Or at least, they thought they were alone, Allen thought wryly, glancing at Komui.

“I understand why Lenalee is grieving, Komui, but for her to be this depressed, to make herself sick over it...” Allen trailed off. “She has so many friends right here who still care about her. I still don’t understand why losing Kanda would make her lose her will to live.”

“I wish it wasn’t true, but the loss of just one person can be enough to make someone give up hope.”

Allen felt his body start to tremble as he considered the words. Her brother really had resigned himself to let her die. “We can’t give up. There must be something else we can do to help her,” he said desperately. “Who cares if Kanda broke his promise to her? What does that have to do with her condition?”

"Allen," Komui said quietly. “I understand what you're going through. I'm going through the same thing.”

“Then how are you so calm?” Allen cried out.

Komui smiled weakly. “At first, I wasn’t. When her condition first started deteriorating, I thought the same as you. While she was still conscious and speaking, I asked her those same questions. Though I could not get a straight answer, there was only one conclusion I could draw.”

“What is it?”

“Sometimes, all we need to survive is a promise to hold on to.”

Allen felt like his words had crushed his chest. His body started to shake, and he grasped the side of Lenalee’s bed to quell the tremors in his hands.

“Komui,” he said, “You're saying that promise...”

He nodded sadly, and when he spoke again, his voice sounded choked up like he was fighting back tears. “Somehow, that promise became a necessary and indispensable part of her life.”

“But now that's it's gone...” Allen started.

“There's nothing we can do to replace or repair what's been lost,” Komui finished.

Allen quickly rested his arms on the edge of Lenalee's bed and buried his face in his arms in an attempt quell the sobs wracking through his body, or at the very least hide the twisted expressions he was making as he cried for her.

Lenalee, he thought miserably, I'm sorry I couldn't be the one who made the promise to save your life.
Tags:
 
 
 
Ketchup: Allen - only angsty this timeketchupblood on June 12th, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
...Actually, I think 'lovely' is an adjective and not an adverb. It turned out wondrously.
Countess Vixen von Racken: Bleach - Royale With Cheese (Renji)vixen_shtorat on June 13th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC)
Whew, I'm so relieved. Thank you!!
It probably wouldn't have been impossible for most. It was just difficult for someone like me, who has a hard time staying away from pairings.. my main problem was I didn't feel that confident writing Kanda, but I just couldn't make it work out to be purely platonic with just Lenalee and Allen.
So anyway, thank you for not hating it :D