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They spent New Year's day quietly at home, and soon after Allen started receiving replies to inquiries he'd sent about possible places for them to stay. It was a good thing, too, because Kanda had grown restless again, having taken to pacing the house with the lack of anything useful to do.

Kanda was leaning against Allen's chair in his study, looking over his shoulder as Allen was seated at his desk, sorting through the correspondence.

"Looks like there's plenty of places to choose from, it being the off season, and there's no need for us to make reservations, either. How about southwest England? It should be at least a little warmer than here."

"Mmm…warmer sounds good."

"Well, not that much warmer," Allen chuckled. "We could also go to France. It's not that much further," and he looked up at Kanda.

"Nope, let's stay in country. There's probably not that much difference in the weather between here and France anyway." Allen set those papers aside and picked up the ones that were left.

"So, maybe Devonshire or Cornwall. There's some pretty seaside towns down that way."

"Whatever you say. Let's just get going."

"Geez, you're so impatient. We have to go to town to arrange a few things first."

"Now's as good a time as any." Kanda straightened himself up and turned to leave. Allen chuckled again and pushed back from his desk. Now that Kanda had a purpose there'd be no stopping him.

And so they ended up in town, talking to the local handyman about looking after the house. His wife was all for taking Sumi in and her children were excited about having the cat stay with them. Sumi got along well with these kids, so all that was left was for them to get someone to drive them to the train station.

Sumi knew something was going on as she watched her humans bustling around the house, and her suspicions were confirmed when she saw the packed bags sitting by the door. When the driver arrived they needed no help with the luggage, since they were traveling light, and then they headed to town, stopping by to drop off the spare set of keys and Sumi. She gave them a look like 'What's up?' and both men stooped down, petting her gently, their voices calm and reassuring. She nudged them back, purring softly, and then set off to acquaint herself with her new surroundings.

Everyone chuckled at the ease with which she adapted to the situation. The children were already playing with her, showing her to their rooms where she would probably be spending most of her time, other than the kitchen, of course.

Reaching the train station Allen tipped their driver while Kanda went to buy tickets. They had a bit of a wait until the train arrived, but the weather was holding up nicely. By the time they boarded to begin their trip they were feeling a little of the excitement that comes with doing something out of the ordinary. Finding an empty compartment they got themselves comfortable as the train started chugging along, and then they were on their way.

When they reached the south they traveled from town to town, only staying one day in each place. Just the act of being on the move again brought back many memories, but now they weren't answerable to anyone but themselves and could do as they pleased. When they entered a quaint seaside town they asked for directions to the nearest hotel and booked two adjoining rooms. The manager apologized when he informed them they'd have to share the bath in-between, but they assured him that wouldn't be a problem.

After they were unpacked Allen and Kanda set out for a walk, needing to stretch their legs. The lack of exercise with all the riding they'd been doing had taken its toll, as they were accustomed to walking everywhere they needed to go at home. They made their way down to the quay and watched as the fishermen were returning with the day's catch.

Even though it was tied back in a low ponytail the wind kept whipping Kanda's hair against his face. "Damn hair," he muttered gruffly. He loosened his coat to stuff his hair inside to tack it down. Allen tugged on his arm, indicating that maybe they should get out of the wind. It was almost tea time and Allen could do with a nice cuppa.

 

It was going on a week since they'd started their trip, and after having a look around the town they were tempted to linger here a little longer. The laid-back atmosphere of the place reminded them of home so Allen had gone downstairs to discuss with the manager the possibility of extending their stay. Meanwhile Kanda was upstairs in their unused room laying out newspapers in the middle of the floor. He'd just put a chair on top of them and picked up a pair of scissors when Allen walked back in.

"What's going on?" Allen asked, somehow already knowing the answer.

"Cutting my hair. I'm gonna need your help."

"Oh…okay," was all Allen managed to get out.

Kanda made the initial cut and handed the scissors to Allen, who flinched a bit as he took them. The motion wasn't lost on Kanda, but he said nothing as he sat down. "Trim it up a bit for me, will you?"

"Sure." Allen's voice sounded small and distant.

'I should've given him more notice', he thought as Allen began snipping away at the ends. Kanda knew how much Allen loved his hair, but ever since he'd first brought up the subject nothing had been mentioned after that. He'd assumed Allen was still okay with it because they were usually so in tune with each other but that, apparently, was not the case all of the time, and he silently cursed himself for being so insensitive.

When Allen was finished he just stood there, staring at Kanda's hair, now just below shoulder length. He glanced down at the floor at the strands strewn everywhere and felt weak in the knees. He placed his hands on Kanda's shoulders to steady himself and leaned over, resting his forehead against the top of Kanda's head.

"Allen?" The only answer was a slight sniffling sound. Kanda turned and pulled Allen around and down onto his lap. Their foreheads touched as he said softly, "Hey…why're you crying?"

"…m'not crying," Allen mumbled.

"Doesn't look that way to me." Kanda reached up to cup Allen's face, running his thumbs under his eyes to wipe away the tears dripping down. "Talk to me, Allen."

It was a moment before Allen trusted himself to speak. "Sorry, I was a little shocked, I guess. Your hair holds a lot of memories, as silly as that sounds," and he offered a weak smile.

"It's just hair. It'll grow back." Kanda tried to keep his tone light, even though he felt like a sinking stone.

"I hope you didn't do this just for me," Allen said as he ran his fingers through the shortened locks.

"I told you I wanted to keep those women out of my hair; quite literally it turned out," Kanda smiled as he ran his hands down Allen's sides, leaving them to rest lightly at his waist, "and…I'm sorry." Allen looked at him questioningly. "This was a bit abrupt. I should have said something."

"No…that's…you did say something. I just forgot about it, what with Christmas and all, but I'm not really surprised. I know how you get when you make up your mind. I remember you said something about making me happy, but it should be what you want, too. I'm afraid I pushed you into this because I've been suggesting we do all kinds of different things, and I think you've been changing because of it…but more so than me." He looked away from Kanda for a moment, a pained expression on his face. "I've seen people grow apart when things like that happen, when one changes and the other doesn't. They end up like strangers, just living an empty life together...and I can't stand the thought of that."

Kanda let out a long sigh. "I hated it when that Noah was taking you over. I felt like I was losing you…and now I have you back just the way you should be." Kanda pulled Allen closer to him, so close that their lips brushed lightly against each other. "I wouldn't have done this if I didn't really want to, and you're fine just the way you are," he whispered, "and that's something that's never going to change," sealing his words with a firm, yet gentle kiss.

When they finally pulled apart Kanda shifted a bit. "Unh…"

"Oh, sorry." Allen moved to stand, realizing his position.

"Legs feel a little numb, that's all."

Allen got up, but Kanda caught his arm before he moved too far away, and Allen pulled him off the chair into his arms. They were at an almost even height. Allen had been steadily growing, since his Innocence wasn't eating away at his body anymore, and Kanda liked being able to look Allen straight in the eye. He reached up and ran his fingers through Allen's hair, threading them all the way through.

"Our hair's about the same length now," Allen said, and he started to chuckle.

"What's so funny?"

"Just…one time I came home and you were sleeping at the kitchen table. I remember thinking it would be funny if our hair was the same color. You don't have too far to go with that, Baka."

"Stupid sprout," he grumbled, but smiled in spite of himself.

"We should probably clear this away. Don't want to leave it for housekeeping." Allen began rolling up the newspaper as Kanda moved the chair and came back to help him finish the job. Allen went to drop it in the trash can, but stopped, his fingers gripping the paper tightly. He felt Kanda's hand on his shoulder and looked at him.

"It'll grow back," Kanda repeated, his hand warm and comforting. Allen nodded and let go of the memories in his hands, ready to make new ones.

 

They went out for dinner later, picking a small, out of the way restaurant which served ample portions of good, plain food. The staff was delighted with Allen's appetite, which had increased; a side benefit from all the travel, being at the seaside and breathing fresh air. Kanda had long since finished his dinner and was sipping his tea, watching as Allen continued to stuff his face. He smiled, remembering the way Allen used to be. When Allen had finally had enough he sat back and let out a satisfied sigh, grinning at the smile on Kanda's face.

After dinner they walked leisurely down the streets, stopping to look through the shop windows until Allen tugged on Kanda's elbow, pulling him into a chemist's. Allen was always searching for new ointments or salves he could use to ease the aches and pains of Kanda's joints, so while he looked over their selection Kanda browsed through the store. One display caught his eye, and he smirked while he filled a bag and discreetly paid for it without Allen's knowledge. Having found something new he could try out, Allen made his purchase and they left to continue their walk back to the hotel.

Kanda rustled through the bag and held up a candy in front of Allen's face, which was met with a big smile. Allen closed his eyes and opened his mouth, the picture of a baby bird demanding its food. Kanda chuckled as he put the candy in Allen's mouth, letting his fingers linger as Allen sucked on them suggestively, licking each finger in succession before letting go with a pop. He rolled the candy around in his mouth until it dissolved, at which point he opened his mouth again, ready for the next one.

Kanda kept toying with him, holding each piece in such a way that Allen had to move progressively closer to Kanda to get it. They carried on in this manner all the way back to the hotel, keeping their actions to a minimum whenever they passed by people. Upon reaching the front desk they collected their keys and went upstairs to their room. The hotel staff probably knew that only one room was in use, but never said anything because these were paying customers, after all, and they weren't about to question the source of their income.

After doffing their coats and shoes Allen went to the window, gazing out over the sea. He could still hear the soft sounds of the waves, though the window was closed, and it was very soothing. Coupled with Kanda's arms around him the effect was even more pronounced and he leaned into the warm body behind him. Kanda had been limping slightly on their walk back so Allen made an offer to try the new lotion he'd just bought, which was met with ready approval.

Kanda lay back on the bed as Allen worked on removing Kanda's lower garments. All of them. 'Well, that's different', he thought, his lips curling into a smirk. Allen merely smiled at him as he spread some lotion on his hands. His attempt at massage the day after Christmas hadn't gone very far since Kanda had become impatient and it'd ended in their usual fooling around. Judging from Kanda's earlier teasing behavior, Allen knew what the man wanted and he'd decided to give him much more than he expected.

He began with one knee, his fingers moving in circular motions on both sides, sliding them slowly up above and then down below. He switched to the other knee and performed the same movements, loosening up the area surrounding each knee. Then he ran his hands down both shins and around the ankles before slipping off the bed. Kneeling on the floor he took each foot in turn, rubbing the heels, the arch, the ball of the foot until he reached the toes, pulling gently on one after the other, but when he started to lick them Kanda's eyes widened with surprise. Allen's mouth sucking lightly on his toes was an erotic sight to see and Kanda was growing hard very quickly. Allen glanced up and smiled, pleased at this reaction.

His hands slid under Kanda's legs to his calves and he moved back up to the knees. "Turn over, please," was his murmured request, and after Kanda flipped to his front Allen massaged the backs of his thighs up to his buttocks, where he took his time kneading the soft flesh. Kanda let out a groan of pleasure at the touch. Allen stopped for a moment to pour more lotion on his hands and he began again, this time with Kanda's lower back, digging his thumbs in while using his fingers to work the sides. He made his way methodically up Kanda's back, sliding under his shirt as he went. Kanda helped him out by pulling his shirt off over his head and then sank back onto the bed as Allen continued on up to the shoulders, rolling the tense muscles with his fingers until he felt them relax.

Allen leaned down and licked the contour of Kanda's ear, requesting him to turn over once again. When he had Kanda on his back Allen gazed into dark blue eyes on fire with lust, and his fingers traced the slightly parted lips before he lowered himself to lick them with his tongue. Kanda's tongue met his and his lips closed on it, sucking Allen's tongue into his mouth. His arms wrapped around Allen, and with their lips pressed together they hungrily kissed one another.

But Allen was far from finished with his sensual foreplay. He sat up and pushed back, straddling Kanda hips, exposing the now fully erect cock. Allen had a wicked gleam in his eye, giving Kanda the shivers. He peeled off his own shirt, unbuckled his belt and unzipped his pants. Kanda tried to reach up to help, but Allen gently pushed his hands away. He climbed off the bed for only as long as it took for him to remove the rest of his clothing. Reaching for the lotion he coated his hands again and took his seat on top of Kanda's thighs, but instead of taking hold of Kanda's cock, like the man expected, Allen began leisurely stroking himself in full view of his lover and Kanda licked his lips as he watched.

Allen moaned, softly, deliberately, teasing Kanda with his shameless display. Having worked Kanda up into a sweat, Allen continued to pleasure himself as he slid back onto the bed between Kanda's legs. Then both hands were on Kanda's hips as Allen's tongue ran up and down the now twitching shaft. He licked the pre-cum off of the slit, making Kanda gasp and clench the sheets, and engulfed it with his mouth. Kanda cried out, quickly covering his mouth, biting down on his hand. Allen's sucking increased until he felt it begin to thicken, at which point he let go, only to hear a hiss escape from Kanda's mouth.

Even if it was a private room, this was still a public place, and they had learned from many missions spent together on the road to keep their voices down. The forbidden nature of their actions only added a level of excitement, fueling the desire within them.

Allen moved back to straddle Kanda's hips and ran his hand up behind his lover's head. Kanda's hair spread out on the pillow, exposing his neck, inviting Allen to suck on the soft flesh. Allen moved closer and Kanda moaned quietly at the warmth of Allen's lips and tongue and rolled his hips against him, the friction of their cocks rubbing together inciting a delirious urgency to their play. Kanda slid his hand between them and stroked them both as Allen pressed his body closer, sucking harder on Kanda's neck, pulling him with him as he sat up.

While Kanda continued to stroke them Allen reached his hand behind himself and slipped his fingers up his ass, stretching the muscles, groaning at the sensation as Kanda's fingers joined his. He wanted more, needed to feel Kanda inside him, filling him completely.

"Fuck me…please…" he begged as he pushed himself up to give his lover room to enter him.

Kanda lined his cock up and penetrated the opening slowly at first, giving Allen time to adjust, and then he rocked Allen back onto the bed and plunged in deep, smothering him in kisses, covering his mouth with his own to stifle their cries. Allen's legs wrapped around his waist and Kanda gripped his hips tightly as his thrusts became faster. Allen clawed desperately at Kanda's back, needing something, anything to hold onto as Kanda kept hitting the spot that made him lose his mind and he came as hard as ever, warmth spreading across his stomach, dripping down his sides. Kanda was right behind him with a few more well placed thrusts, his whole body trembling as the blissful waves washed over him and he rolled them on the sheets so that Allen was back on top.

Allen was shaking, his emotions running high and out of control from the intensity of their lovemaking, acutely aware of how alive he felt.

"It's not fair," his voice was muffled against Kanda's chest. "Why can't we have more time?" he whispered. "Why?" It was something that silently ate away at the both of them, every single day, and Kanda never felt more vulnerable and human than he did in moments like these while Allen shook against him. Kanda pulled him closer, wishing he could crawl inside Allen's heart and mind and soothe all his fears, and calm the anxiety ridden beating of Allen's heart.

"Everybody dies," he said softly. Allen stiffened against him. "But that's not gonna happen anytime soon," reminding Allen of his own words, spoken not that long ago, and reinforcing Kanda's belief in those words at the same time.

Allen looked up in recognition and started to chuckle. "I can't even take my own advice. When did I get so stupid?"

"Uh, do you really want me to answer that?" and Allen burst out laughing.

He rolled off Kanda onto his back, wiping away his tears of mirth as he continued to laugh. Kanda's low, throaty chuckle joined in and they stayed like that for a while, holding hands until the laughter died down.

Allen turned his head to gaze at his partner and Kanda moved over to curl up next to him, his arm slung loosely across Allen's chest. Allen nuzzled into Kanda's hair, smelling of sweat and soap, inhaling the unique scent that was Kanda, reminding him of flowers and earth and…

"I wanna go home, Baka."

Kanda nestled comfortably against Allen, pulling him on his side, holding him close. "Yeah, let's go home."