Chapter 1: Laundry Day
Allen wears a different outfit and Lenalee is distracted.
“Mornin,’ gorgeous!” A boisterous voice rose above the idle chatter of Finders in the Black Order mess hall.
Lenalee glanced up at Lavi, rolling her eyes as he clinked his plate of breakfast down next to Kanda, across the table from her. “Mornin,’ Lavi.”
Lavi plopped carelessly into his seat, nearly elbowing Kanda in the head, who glowered silently over his tea and scooted further away. Lavi failed to notice. “Hey,” he said around a mouthful of eggs, “where’s Allen? Isn’t he usually the first one here?”
“And the last to leave,” Lenalee added with a chuckle. She glanced around the other tables. “I don’t know. I haven’t seen him yet.” It wasn’t like Allen to miss a meal, especially one made by Jerry.
Lavi craned his head over at the kitchens. “There he is!” A wall of dishes was moving slowly their way, a head of white hair barely visible over the top. Timcanpy perched on the highest plate, sausage links disappearing into his golden mouth. Howard Link walked stiffly beside the odd display, looking stern, as usual.
A faint murmur of conversation followed in his wake as the teetering pile of plates passed other tables. A few women giggled. Lavi raised an eyebrow, sipping his coffee… and then spit out a mouthful with a laugh as Allen passed him.
“God, what is it, laundry day? What the hell are you wearing?!” Lavi howled as Allen came around to Lenalee’s side of the table. Now she could see what people were murmuring about. Her spoon stopped, halfway to her mouth.
Allen wasn’t in his standard uniform. Instead, he wore a pair of loose, low slung trousers, and an oddly cropped shirt that barely covered his chest, leaving his stomach exposed. Lenalee stared. Had Allen always been that muscular?
Allen groaned as he began setting his plates down next to Lenalee. “Don’t get me started. I had my uniform all set out for the next day, and then somebody,” he paused as he slammed down the plate with Timcanpy on it, leaving the golem to flutter angrily into the air, “went and knocked over the water basin all over my stuff.” He punctuated each line with another plate, glaring at his golden golem. “This was the only clean thing I had.”
“I offered you some of my clothes…” Link interjected.
“Crow robes. Noooo, thank you,” said Allen, making a face that sent Miranda, further down the table, into giggles.
Lavi snickered into his eggs. “Where did you get that getup, anyways?”
Color was rising a bit in Allen’s cheeks as he finally unloaded all his plates and sat down. “When I was in Asia Branch. Look, could you drop it? It’s just clothes!” He tore into a roll.
“Well, your ‘just clothes’ are getting you shamelessly ogled.” Lavi observed snidely, motioning with his spoon.
For a moment, Lenalee thought he meant her. She realized with a start that she was still staring, with her spoon hanging in the air. Hurriedly, she stuck her spoon in her mouth and snapped her attention back to her plate.
But Lavi was pointing at a nearby table, full of female Finders whispering and craning their necks. Allen peered almost fearfully over his shoulder at them. The women broke into giggles, elbowing each other.
Belatedly, Lenalee realized that the bite of breakfast had long since fallen off her spoon. She felt incredibly stupid. Please let no one have seen that.
She glanced up and caught Lavi grinning devilishly at her. Damn it. Of course, he would notice. Her cheeks burned and she lowered her head, trying to concentrate on her oatmeal instead of the boy next to her. Unfortunately, at this angle, she had an uninterrupted view of his lean abs.
Lavi’s foot nudged hers under the table. She resolved to make him her first sparring partner in training today, and kick him in the shins.
“Geez… at least I don’t have a mission today.” Allen buried his head in his meal, ears red.
“Shame,” Lavi said. “Imagine if we ran into the Noah. Bet Road’d love to see you in that.”
Allen chucked a roll at his head, glaring. Lavi dodged it smoothly. “But really, Walker, you’ve gotta leave some for us. You’re stealing away all of mine and Kanda’s fans!” Lavi looked like he’d never had this much fun at breakfast.
Kanda growled, displeased to be thrust into the conversation. “I do not have fans.”
“Not anymore, you don’t,” Lavi teased, eyes flashing. “See, Allen, look how upset he is!”
“I -” Allen paused to inhale a slice of ham, “- am going to kill you in training today.”
“Not if I kill him first, moyashi,” snarled Kanda, before huffing away with his dishes.
“Gee, I’m so popular today,” Lavi said, with perhaps a faint note of worry in his voice. “Well, I think our morning training session is going to have a lot of extra observers. Maybe I can win back some of my fans.”
Allen groaned into his plate of eggs. “Please shut up.”
Finished with breakfast, Lenalee stood and grabbed her dishes, being sure to avoid looking at Allen. At least Lavi’s needling had kept Allen from noticing her staring.
As she passed the end of the table, she gave Timcanpy a covert scratch under the chin. I’m not going to be able to focus in training today, she mused. But not bad, Tim. Not bad at all.
“Hey,” she heard Lavi ask as she walked away. “Think Asia Branch could get me one of those uniforms, too?”
Author's note: Had a bunch of stories in my head that were too short to work even as a one-shot, but might work as a collection. Updates will be sporadic and scattered throughout the DGM timeline.
Lavi is very fun to write.
Chapter 2: Gentleman
Inclement weather leaves Allen with an unseemly decision to make.
It was the kind of cold that seeped into your bones, freezing you from the inside out. The kind of cold that made you afraid to take a breath, worried that you lungs would turn to ice.
The kind of cold that made it impossible to sleep. Allen Walker curled into a ball, tucked his blanket tighter around his body, and pondered what it was to be a gentleman.
When Allen was young, Mana had, with the utmost patience, impressed upon him the importance of being a proper gentleman – how to speak politely, how to carry oneself with dignity, and especially the most crucial element … how to treat a lady.
He vaguely recalled hating every second of those lessons. They were boring, and being a gentleman seemed both stupid and impractical.
“Why do I have to help her out of the carriage? She’s got feet, don’t she?” a younger Allen had grunted during one particular lesson.
“Doesn’t she.” Mana corrected, in that infuriatingly calm way of his. “You help a lady out of a carriage because it is easy for her to step on her skirts and fall.”
Allen snorted. “Well, that’s dumb. They should wear shorter skirts, then.”
Mana laughed. Allen liked how his eyes crinkled up when he laughed. “I know a certain man who would agree with you wholeheartedly.”
Most of how to be a gentleman seemed to revolve around how to treat girls. You mustn’t make them cry, you should offer them your cloak, you should open doors for them… The list had gone on and on, and Allen had despised it. Girls were stupid, anyways. They always laughed at his arm.
And then Mana had died, and somehow Allen became the perfect gentleman – well-spoken, polite, and above all, courteous to women.
But Mana never taught me what to do in a situation like this.
They’d been sent to take out a nest of akuma in the mountains. It had been an easy assignment, at first – just a group of Level Ones, posing as bandits and preying on travelers coming through the pass. The hike had been brisk, the weather calm. He and Lenalee had made short work of most of the akuma.
And then one of them had evolved into a Level Two right in the middle of battle. And its specialty was weather.
They had hoped that destroying it would stop the blizzard, but the storm, once summoned, was apparently determined to blow itself out the natural way. Allen had thought they could still make it down the mountain, but after the winds knocked Lenalee out of the air, he realized the storm was worse than they’d thought. With deepening dread, he knew that even with God’s holy power at their fingertips, they could still freeze to death as easily as any human. The only hope was to take shelter and wait it out.
The two of them had stumbled into the cave through the blinding white flurry, soaked to the skin and shivering. There was no wood for a fire, and only two blankets to keep them warm. Allen had packed snow in the entrance with fingers he could barely feel anymore, trying to provide some shelter from the winds outside.
As night fell, the true cold had set in. Even though his socks were soaked through and his toes felt like ice, Allen couldn’t bear to think of removing his boots. He crawled into his blankets fully clothed, drew his hood around his face, and shivered. Even Timcanpy had long since disappeared inside Allen’s shirt.
Five feet away, Lenalee had to be worse off than he was. He tallied it up in his head. Even with her black dresscoat, she must have far less layers of clothing than him. If he squinted through the darkness, he could see her blanket shaking as she huddled underneath it.
Herein lay the dilemma.
A true gentleman would offer her his own blanket, and nobly freeze to death without it.
Allen couldn’t quite stomach that option, as chivalrous as it might be. He was pretty sure Lenalee wouldn’t allow it, either.
The solution was obvious, and yet Allen hesitated to even consider it. They would have to share the blankets.
There were a thousand problems with this scenario.
A true gentleman would never presume to intrude on a lady’s bed.
Was he just considering this because he, himself, was freezing?
Komui might kill him if he found out.
Lenalee might kill him for trying.
Was he just considering this because he thought she was pretty?
Scratch that, Komui was definitely going to kill him.
Allen deliberated torturously. Mana, you never taught me this. What do I do?
An odd sound interrupted his agonizing. Under her blanket, Lenalee’s teeth were chattering.
He sat up, throwing off the blanket. Enough of this. He didn’t want to help her because he was a gentleman. He didn’t want to help her because she was cute. He wanted to help her because she was miserable, and she was his friend. What kind of friend was he if he didn’t do something?
Outside the blanket, the air was frigid. He crawled over to her quickly, before he lost his nerve. The lump of blankets that was Lenalee Lee shifted slightly, registering his movement.
“Lenalee?” he ventured.
A small peephole opened in the blanket. One dark eye peered out, clearly reluctant to relinquish any warmth contained within the covers. “Yes?”
“Do you think… we should share? The blankets? If… if that’s okay with you.” He could feel a blush creeping up his neck, though the warmth it brought was almost welcome. “I don’t mean to be improper, but... I think we’ll both freeze solid before morning if we don’t.” Oh God, now he was babbling.
There was a long silence inside the blanket, and then… “Okay.”
She stuck her head out of the blanket with a violent shiver, scooting to the side to give him room. Her pigtails were slightly tangled, still damp from the melting snow. “Just… be quick.”
Awkwardly, he clambered in beside her, pulling his blanket over hers. The extra layer of warmth felt like heaven. Allen was never going to take blankets for granted again.
He tried to get comfortable and found himself abruptly face to face with her. She stared at him with wide, nervous eyes. Her quietness was unnerving him a little. She looked profoundly embarrassed.
“Ah…” He hadn’t really thought about this part. “Back to back?” She nodded quietly.
He turned away, trying not to flinch as she settled her back against his. She was still shaking with the cold, but gradually, her trembling subsided, and her breathing slowed.
Allen tucked his arm under his head for a pillow and fell into an uneasy sleep, trying valiantly not to think about how much warmer it would be to wrap her in his arms.
He woke in the early hours of the morning, as pale light began to work its way around the snow packed in the cave’s entrance. The quiet puzzled him at first, until he realized the wind was no longer screaming outside.
The storm must have ended. His arm was cramping horribly and he unbent it, flexing his fingers.
Something shifted behind him and he froze. Right. You fell asleep with Lenalee, remember? Except something wasn’t quite right. Trying to keep as still as possible, he looked over his shoulder.
Sometime during the night, Lenalee must have turned around. She was now pressed against his back, her forehead resting on the base of his neck, hands curled against his spine, her legs tucked beneath his. Her face looked serene, almost angelic, in sleep.
Heat flooded his face as he panicked internally. She was probably just trying to be warmer, right? She wouldn’t have cuddled up to me on purpose. Despite the lingering cold, he felt himself breaking out in a sweat.
What should he do? If he moved, it would certainly wake her up. She’d be mortified to discover herself sleeping like this.
Well, that settled it. A gentleman should never embarrass a lady. He’d just have to go back to sleep, and pretend he’d never noticed.
She made a little noise behind him, her hands shifting across his back.
Okay… he’d have to pretend to be asleep.
It must be winter, Lenalee concluded as she basked in her cocoon of warmth. On the coldest nights, she would run into Komui’s room and snuggle up against his broad back until morning. He told her she used to do the same with their parents, too, but she couldn’t remember it.
Komui seemed to have grown shorter, though. Or had she grown taller?
She opened her eyes as reality pierced suddenly through the sleep-addled haze.
She wasn’t five years old. This wasn’t China. And this was not Komui.
Lenalee barely stifled a squeak of surprise. She was somehow curled up against Allen Walker, newest exorcist in the Black Order – a soft-spoken boy with a faint British accent and a disarming smile.
Right – he’d asked to share her blanket last night, a frankly scandalous proposition, but she’d been too cold and miserable to argue. In fact, when he’d crawled in beside her, his body had given off so much heat, it was all she could do to not bury her face in his coat and leech all the warmth for herself. She’d been glad when he suggested sleeping back-to-back – he couldn’t see her face turning red that way. Did he have to be so… charming?
Well, her face was certainly turning red now. Carefully, she eased back away from his body. Allen didn’t stir, his breathing deep and even. Thank God, he’s still asleep. It would have been terribly embarrassing if he’d woken up.
Just to be certain she’d be nowhere near him when he woke, she eased out of the blankets, bracing herself against the cold. It was still frigid in the little cave, but nowhere near as unbearable as before. The cold air would help cool her flaming cheeks, too.
She noted the absence of the howling winds and cleared away some of the snow packed in the entrance. Snow still fell lightly outside against the pale grey morning, but the blizzard was no longer raging. They could make it the rest of the way down the mountain now.
She rubbed her cheeks, hoping she looked reasonably normal now. She padded back to the blankets and shook Allen’s shoulder lightly. “Allen? Storm’s over. We can go.”
He stirred slowly, rubbing his eyes. “Is it?” he asked groggily.
A small golden ball struggled its way out of his coat and stretched its long metal wings. She’d almost forgotten about Timcanpy.
Thank God he was in Allen’s coat all night! she thought with relief. If Allen checked the visual records, he’d have seen what had happened before he’d awakened.
Allen was folding the blankets. “I, ah… hope you slept well?” he asked as he handed hers over, looking as embarrassed as she felt.
She fought the urge to blush again, and stuffed the blanket in her pack, unable to meet his eyes. “…Yes. And… thank you, Allen. The extra blanket was, um… helpful.” She wouldn’t comment on the extra body.
“Don’t mention it,” Allen replied. “No, really.” He grinned shakily. “If… ah… your brother were to…”
“Oh,” she responded, “Right.” She hadn’t even thought of that yet, she’d been so flustered. Komui would blow a gasket at the thought of her sharing blankets with a boy, no matter how perfectly chaste or practical it had been. “Of course! It’ll be our secret.”
Allen laughed nervously. “Well then, shall we start? It’s still a long walk to town, and we’ve definitely missed our train.” Timcanpy settled on his head.
And the way I woke up will be my little secret, Lenalee mused as they set out into the snow, daydreaming aloud about cups of steaming hot tea and real beds.
She was never going to tell him about this. Never.
Chapter 3: Daydreams
Allen daydreams about Lenalee, although the dreams change as time goes on.
Author’s Note: This was supposed to be cute, and then it devolved into angst. I blame Allen.
It wasn’t like he’d never thought about it before.
In his daydreams, he rescued her from akuma, sometimes even the Earl himself, and she’d reward him with a kiss, like a knight in a fairytale. He’d never kissed a girl before, but he imagined it was warm, and soft, and sweet.
At first, he’d dismissed it as a fluke. After all, there weren’t any other girls even close to his age in the Order, even counting the Finders and Science Division. Who else was there to daydream about?
So he tried not to think too much of it, tried not to blush when talking to her. It didn’t always work.
But then she’d been so much more than just pretty, and close to his age, and there. She was clever, and caring, and always ready with a smile. She never flinched away from his cursed arm, or asked about his scar. She wasn’t like any other girl he’d ever met.
He’d been in awe the first time he saw her fight. Of course, he realized later, he should have known. She wore an Exorcist’s black uniform, not the white uniform of the scientists.
She’d flitted through the air like a butterfly, her long hair streaming behind her. The devastation of her attacks was a stark contrast to the grace of her movement. He was captivated.
Now in his daydreams, they fought side by side, vanquishing foes together, and she’d kiss him afterwards in a spirit of exhilaration, her dark eyes shining.
It’s just a silly crush, he reminded himself. Don’t read too much into it.
The first time he ever really, truly considered kissing her had been underneath the bridge in Edo. She’d woken up to see him beside her, returned as if from the dead, and the joy that lit up her face had nearly taken his breath away.
Looking back, he supposed he’d known in that moment that he loved her.
She’d touched his cheek, welcomed him home, and for a moment he imagined that she might love him too. Everything else had seemed to melt away, and he thought that maybe this was the kind of moment when you kissed a girl. It would be so easy to just lean in and close the distance between them…
And then Lavi had rudely reminded him that they had an audience.
And then the ground had opened up beneath them, and everything had just gone to hell after that.
Road had kissed him, and Lenalee had seen, and he had been equal parts mortified and disappointed.
Disappointed… Was that what a kiss was supposed to be like? Was this what girl-crazy Lavi was always going on about? He hadn’t been impressed. It hadn’t been warm, or sweet, but cold and confusing.
Maybe it was different with someone you cared about.
He couldn’t look Lenalee in the eye afterwards, afraid of what he might see there. Did he want her to be angry? Jealous? Did she even give a damn? And what if she didn’t?
He hoped she at least noticed that he didn’t kiss back.
In his daydreams, she shoved Road away and cleansed his lips with her own, drowning out the taste of the Noah.
“You’ll have to kill someone you love.”
Only one face had sprung to mind at that moment, and a paralyzing fear had gripped him. He wouldn’t accept it. He was Allen, no one else. It couldn’t be true.
But what if it was?
He stared at her sleeping face afterwards with dread in the pit of his stomach. It couldn’t be her.
I won’t let it be her.
He couldn’t allow himself to love her. It was too dangerous. This war they were in had no place for love, anyways. He’d been stupid to let himself become so deluded.
She stirred when he tucked the blanket around her. He could see the questions in her eyes, but she didn’t ask. He was relieved. He couldn’t bear to tell her just yet.
I’m one of them. A monster.
She was nestled against him when he woke the next morning, pale gray light shining through the rain that lashed against the windows. He should have been thrilled by their nearness. Instead, he had just felt numb.
He quashed the daydreams when they rose now. She was his friend, his comrade. Nothing more.
He was humming the song in his head when he heard her call his name.
He should have been alarmed, worried that she’d stop him, but instead he felt… glad. He hadn’t wanted to leave without saying goodbye, at least to someone.
She questioned him.
She began to cry.
He tried to make her laugh.
She yelled at him.
And he realized how stupid it was, all of it. Try not to love her, for her own good?
It was too late. He already loved her. Every word, every smile, every inch of her. He’d been doomed from the start, from the day she had saved him from Kanda with a frown and a clipboard.
He wasn’t just a clown, he was a fool.
His heart twisted painfully in his chest and he stepped into her, wrapping his one good arm around her. His left arm wouldn’t respond. The smell of her hair filled his nostrils.
He tried to reassure her, to tell her that it might not be for forever. Even as he said it, he knew it was a lie – as if Central would ever allow him to return alive.
Her knees buckled underneath her as her Innocence broke. He tried to absorb the weight of her fall as they sank to the grass.
He had to go. The other exorcists, or Apocryphos, could come crashing through the trees at any moment.
But… he might never see her again. He could die in this war. She could die in this war.
He wanted to tell her. He wanted to kiss her, while he still could. She was already in his arms, it would be so simple…
But as he tilted her chin up, he saw the anguish on her face and the words died in his throat.
“You’ll have to kill someone you love.”
He uttered a sweet lie, a half-truth, a promise to come home. And he stepped through the gate.
He could hear her crying out his name as he broke the connection.
In his daydreams, he cradled her close and told her he was sorry, and kissed the tears from her cheeks.