Prayer of Patience
"He's awake," says someone to Kanda's left. He thinks he should recognize the voice but the sound is like water through a sieve, familiarities slipping in and out of his mind and out of his grasp. There is no pain, which is the strangest thing, only lethargy and numbness, even as he is dimly aware of lacerations on his arms and legs and the one deep groove across his belly that would have had his intestines spilling out if he had reacted half a second too late. He wonders, with no real curiosity, if he is still bleeding.
"Thank God," says someone else. "When I found—I couldn't even tell if he was breathing." Cloth rustling, and the soft clink of metal. A creak of leather and then a cool hand on his forehead, brushing against Kanda's skin and over his closed eyes. It is the relative coolness of that touch that alerts Kanda to the fever he must have. He turns his face into it involuntarily and opens his eyes.
Allen Walker's face, pale skin and pale eyes and pale hair, smeared with dirt and still impossibly bright against the darkness of the sickroom, is the last thing he sees.
Komui tells him what he already knows on some gut level but has refused to believe: that there is absolutely nothing wrong with him; all of his other wounds have healed, albeit very slowly. His eyes react normally to light, there are no physical irregularities, no cranial trauma, nothing.
"I'm blind," says Kanda in a very even voice.
"I know," Komui says. "I don't know what to tell you."
The pause that follows is awkward, a misplaced caesura in the darkness, heavy with quiet breathing and a creeping sort of immobility. Kanda tries to imagine what Komui must look like right now, his face set in that rare seriousness, but all he can see is that last glimpse he had of the waking world: white on white on white, and Allen Walker's features painted on what still gives the impression of an empty canvas.
"I can call someone down to help you back to your room," Komui says finally. That is when all of Kanda's anger resurfaces, surging up in a hot wave he can feel from his stomach all the way through his arms. He snarls, and Komui's involuntary step backwards echoes on the tile.
"Don't bother," Kanda bites out. He finds his way to the door by himself.
Scent takes on the lost property of color. This statement may be a falsity, because on some level it has always been this way. Tyki Mikk's bloodlust wound around the buildings in a deep purple fog, the color of royalty. Crowley's is different, a sickly orange, tinted with shame and residual fear but growing steadily redder with time. Lavi's books smell like the dusty yellow of the desert, rocks older than written memory. Lenalee's optimism is the pale pink of new skin.
Allen Walker is. He is the light from the stars, everything at once, laughter and fury and sex and something else that Kanda doesn't have a word for (glory). This color has faded with time only because Kanda has forced it to, panicked like a man too long scrabbling at the bottom of a prison cell with a single thin window to the outside world when the walls have been blown away.
It is pitch-black in Kanda's room where there was only one flickering gaslight before, but even that had been something. This darkness is more complete than anything he has ever experienced before, and Kanda presses his palms hard against his eyes.
On his nightstand sits the Bible that every Exorcist receives when they join the Order, bound in black leather. He had read through it once and recalls some of it now, Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. It is wrong, he thinks, because his sins are numerous and grave, and he is never going to be the herald of the kingdom of heaven.
He hears, in the forgotten voice of an irate comrade: Christ himself would be hard-pressed to find patience with you.
Symphonies of sound crash against his body; songs come in waves and everywhere is the surging resonance of alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. It frustrates him to be grateful to the differences in pitch creating a hazy outline of the world.
There was a time when he could slice a falling leaf along the center vein blindfolded and it is not so different now. The air speaks to him from stone walls and their tapping acoustics, the sound from his knuckles shooting up and through and inside the great empty cavern in the center of the tower. Sometimes when this happens he almost feels like he can see everything at once, but then the vibrations fade and there is just a blind man in a forgotten hallway.
These are the times of silence, which are never truly so: the hollow drip of water from the ceiling and the empty gust of breathing. People forget that even when all the light is gone sound still remains, gasps and whispers of cloth, wet noises he only half recognizes in the back of his brain. He hears Allen Walker's voice in his dreams, saying, "Sing for me. Please, please, sing for me."
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. But he keeps his mouth resolutely shut.
Kanda's hands are callused in strange places, no longer simply along the grip of his sword but also at the tips of his fingers, like a scholar trying to feel words out on the page. It was the stone that wore them down when the sound was not enough, but they healed eventually.
He doesn't do well with casual physical contact. Once, Allen Walker had asked him to wait with a hand warm around his wrist. Once, Kanda had shaken it off but felt the impression for hours afterwards, a ghostly heat, imaginary stigmata in reverse.
When his palms start itching Kanda takes to pacing the halls, too restless to do anything else. The sound of his boots masks the sound of others, until it is too late and Allen Walker slams full tilt into him, knocking them both to the ground.
"Shit," he says, "oh, shit. Sorry, Kanda. I didn't mean to—I wasn't watching where I was going." Kanda shifts experimentally and reaches up to brush his hair out of his face, only to find fingers already there, skimming his forehead and sliding across the marks on his cheeks. He tries to jerk back but can't, since Allen has somehow crawled up across his thighs.
"There's a briefing," Allen says nervously. "And I was supposed to come find you and—shit. You—you really can't see." Kanda wonders briefly why this feels so familiar and then remembers a half-conscious moment repeated endlessly in dreams. He scowls.
Allen's hands drop down and grab at Kanda's own, bring them up to Allen's face, which Kanda could probably trace from memory despite never having touched it. Allen swallows and Kanda's fingers slide along his hairline, hot and slightly damp with sweat, down his temples and over his eyes. Closed, the skin is delicate and thin. With Allen's guidance, Kanda's palm presses flat against them. "Well," Allen continues finally, "it's not like you'd ever really looked at me before."
Then Allen is gone, up and off, and his voice echoes with his footsteps back down the hall. I am not in love with you, Kanda thinks fiercely, and doesn't understand his need to remind himself of this fact now when it should always be a given.
In Shropshire the air is moist and heavy, weighted with the potential for rain. Dew stays on the ground until at least mid-morning, wind too languid to pick it back up. Breathing is difficult, a little bit like what drowning must feel like, and Kanda's hair sticks in clumps to the back of his neck.
Birds muddle about this morning, and then abruptly it all ceases and Kanda hears the beating of a hundred wings behind him. He smiles; it is good to be outside. It is good to be outside, as stuffy as it is, the sun warm on his back and his arms. He lost his shirt nearly an hour earlier, when the humidity became too much to bear, and noted vaguely the way that Allen's scent changed when that happened, a sharp spike of adrenaline and a dark heat.
Allen is picking at something on the ground now, or maybe just crouching, completely oblivious. "Get up, Walker," Kanda says, and smells the rotting death on the wind. "They're coming."
Then is the battle, which is over much too quickly, a paltry six against two. Kanda slices through them like leaves, the chilly leather of their shells familiar under his fingers. Halves of akuma crash into the ground behind him and crumble into dust, which takes on the musty smell of the grave.
"There," he says to Allen, the rustle of cloth and the rapid breath, "do you see?"
He dreams that his face is wet and he knows that it is blood because he has tasted it, smearing his palms across his cheeks and to his lips. He is crying blood, he thinks, how utterly ridiculous, and decides to sit and wait for it to stop. But it doesn't; tear after tear rolls languidly down his face, pooling in the corners of his mouth until all he can taste is iron, all he has ever tasted is iron, the metallic taste of Mugen on his tongue. There is nothing else in this room because he has forgotten what it is to see; his mind no longer paints in the details for him. So he waits.
"I can stop it," Allen Walker says, stepping out of the darkness, and Kanda remembers the feel of Allen's hand across his eyes, pitted and leathery, the exact texture of akuma shells. The difference lies in the heat Allen's arm generates.
Kanda knows instinctively that the rest of Allen's body will be just as warm, flush against him, Allen's breath damp on his neck and Allen's fingers tangled in his hair. When he wakes he realizes that he forgot to refuse the offer, but hopefully it will suffice that he meant to.
Taste was never of any importance and Kanda doesn't see why it should be any different now; utility and never pleasure. Was there poison in this dish, clear and empty like water? Allen Walker liked to lick his fingers after his meals but he didn't like anyone to catch him at it: ill-mannered, uncouth, obscene. His tongue slid over the fingers of his right hand.
At times Kanda brings his own fingers to his mouth and tastes the stone there, dust and earth and the blood from his dreams. His hands are always cold now. When it was warm out, sweat used to slip down the sides of Allen's face, into the hollow beneath his jaw. Kanda would see and his mouth would fill with saliva, parched.
In the forest behind the farm Kanda wades into the stream naked, submerges himself so the icy water can wash the corpse-dust from his hair and the mud from his back; downstream Allen is scrubbing their coats, an unexpected encounter with a level 2 having left them crusted with the worst kinds of offal. How easy it would be, to stay and drown, but Kanda is not so much of a coward. When he surfaces it almost makes no difference, air hard to draw after the shock of cold.
"Kanda," Allen says, splashing up, "what—"
"Spread them out on the on the grass," Kanda orders, motioning in the direction from which they came. He follows slowly, feeling the stream bed with his feet before climbing out and lying down, waiting for the sun to dry him. The crinkle of the grass alerts him to the fact that Allen has sat down next to him, breath falsely shallow and even. Kanda closes his eyes; not that it makes any difference.
"I don't know," Allen whispers, "why—" and his voice breaks on the last word, a helpless wail, sucked up in the next moment with a great gulp of air that is not quite a sob. Kanda frowns when he feels Allen shift, the change in temperature that means he is blocking the sun, the hand that braces itself on Kanda's chest. Little gusts of breath feather across Kanda's face, his eyelids, and then Allen's lips are pressing gently against his own. "Kanda," Allen says, and he is gone, sliding down to take Kanda's cock in his mouth.
Kanda's hands fly to Allen's hair, bewilderment spiking adrenaline even as Allen licks him to hardness. Allen's hands hold his hips down, lips closing over the head even as Kanda knows—he knows—he should be shoving Allen away. Instead his fingers clench against Allen's skull and he groans, thrusting into that wet heat.
Without sight, it's almost too much, Kanda's skin oversensitive and the sound of their breathing deafening in his ears. Allen groans and it echoes through the trees, through Kanda's cock, vibrations lashing up his spine. One of the hands on Kanda's hips slides off, and Kanda can tell from the way Allen shifts and his tongue falters that Allen has got it wrapped around himself and is jerking to the rhythm set by his mouth. But by that time it doesn't matter because Kanda's vision is going white, every color in the universe, and he is coming hard down Allen's throat.
And such is the way these things break, in the taste of himself in Allen's mouth, in the expansion and contraction of Allen's ribs against his chest, thin and warm, the green smell of moss and the duskier smell of sex and the wind across the grass whisking sound away. Shame is slow in coming but when it does it is all at once, Allen's limbs seizing where they had been wrapped languidly around Kanda's before. "Oh, shit," Allen says, "oh—Kanda, I didn't—I'm sorry, I—"
Kanda decides he doesn't like the way Allen's shame smells.
"Allen," he says. His fingers grasp for Allen's and he manages to pull Allen close again, Allen's heart beating frantically under his ribs. No God but man, barely more than a boy, terrified and uncertain, just as—
Perhaps, Kanda thinks, this he can accept.
"Spit," he tells Allen.
"Spit," Kanda says, bringing their joined hands to his eyes. He knows Allen understands because in the next moment Allen is spitting once, twice on his face, ducking down to lick into Kanda's mouth. His fingers come up, trembling, and wipe the spit away.
Kanda opens his eyes.