symbolism_egg: (Inspector)
[personal profile] symbolism_egg
Summary: Five months is not an anniversary, and Link finds himself protective of Allen in more ways than necessary. Light Link/Allen/Link.
Written: November 2009
Notes: A fic I originally wrote for the kinkmeme a year ago. Now heavily revised and posted here. Fluff, not smut. No warnings.


Link watched as Walker tore into a leg of chicken, causing grease to run down his chin and spot his collar. It was the five-month anniversary of Link’s job inspecting Walker, and yet the Exorcist still—

No, one didn’t call that an anniversary. That hadn’t been the right word.

At any rate, the inspecting had been going on for five months, and despite Link’s best efforts Walker still hadn’t learned what constituted a proper, healthy breakfast, which was a shame, because it was for his own good that he stop living on a diet that was three-quarters meat and much of the remaining quarter dumplings in sweet sauce.

Link’s breakfast of three blueberry scones and a mug of cocoa was completely balanced, because he often had salads with lunch.

From right by Link’s ear came a loud “Heeey, morning, Allen!” This rude interruption startled Link from his musings. He sent a stern look towards Lavi and berated himself for not noticing his approach. Of course his assignment required him to focus on Walker, but he mustn’t let himself become distracted. Not that he was.

“Mrrrmph,” said Walker, who was still preoccupied with the chicken. Lavi slung one arm around his shoulders from behind and messed up his hair with the other hand. Walker’s face went right into the drumstick.

“That’s no way to say good morning, Allen,” Lavi said cheerfully while Link, ignored as usual, redoubled the force of his glare in hopes that the unspoken reprimand would penetrate Lavi’s skull and reach his brain, which Link believed, based on evidence such as this, to be wasted.

Walker coughed and, straightening, tossed the half-eaten drumstick back onto his plate. There was an obvious smear on his forehead and a larger stain on his shirt, and with his fine white hair in disarray he looked positively unkempt. “Did something good happen to you?” he asked.

“Nah, just saying hello.” Lavi pretended to discover Link. “What?”

“I should hope it’s obvious,” said Link. He knew that reacting to Lavi would only make it worse—Walker had said as much shortly after they’d met—but he couldn’t help saying something in the face of such immaturity.

Lavi grinned. He had an infuriating grin. “Can’t say it is.”

“It’s rude to treat one’s friend as you just did. Now we’ll have to do laundry again.”

“But we did laundry last week.” Walker was gnawing on the drumstick again, and did not seem particularly concerned about either his disheveled state or impending laundry.

Lavi waved a hand. “It’s not rude—you don’t mind, do you? See? Y’know, I’ve been around him for awhile now, you don’t need to protect him from me.” The mocking edge to his grin made Link straighten in indignation.

The Bookman’s apprentice grew more and more exasperating. Link had been by Walker’s side for some time himself, observing all the while. Photographic memory or no, did Lavi know how many stray pairs of socks ended up under Walker’s bed? (A great many, including some he had not previously seemed to own.) The many excuses he had come up with for not having a middle name to fill in on the forms? (Eventually followed by the most convincing reason: he had been abandoned by his parents at such a young age that if they’d ever told it to him, he’d forgotten.) His very favorite kind of cake? (Devil’s food, an unfortunate answer to write on a report.) The way he stared off into the distance sometimes, then shook some thought away to be replaced with a determined look?

Walker began running his fingers through his bangs, ineffectively.

Looking at Link the whole time, Lavi reached over and planted a hand on top of Walker’s head again, then twisted it.

“Look, Lavi, I don’t carry a hairbrush, so—”

Link extracted a handkerchief. Leaning over, he wiped at the smear on Walker’s forehead and cleaned the grease from his cheek.

Both Exorcists were staring at him.

“Ah—there was something on your face,” he said, folding and pocketing the dirty handkerchief.

“Can’t you just tell me? I think I can handle a stain,” said Walker. This was perfectly reasonable.

“That’s not all. Look at your hair,” said Link, and, though he knew it would do little good, he tried to smooth it with his gloved hands. It only resulted in static between the cloth and Walker’s hair between his fingers. Why wouldn’t it stay neat and in place?

Lavi made a sound that could only be called a snort. Interrupting again. “I think I’ll leave you two to breakfast,” he said. “So long.” And, finally, he left, laughing.

“Uh. Link.” Walker was looking over at him, gray eyes amused and a little too discerning. “My hair can’t look that bad, can it?”

Link pulled his hands away. Then he reached back to flip a strand of hair that was going entirely the wrong direction. Walker gave a wry half-smile.

Perhaps the best option would be to turn back to the table and eat another scone. He tried this.

“Really, you don’t need to protect me like that.”

Yes, he did.

“Lavi’s Lavi, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Not like that idiot Kanda, although—” (and here Allen pointed his fork at Link) “—I can handle him myself.”

“Hmm. Scone?”

“Don’t try to distract me…but sure.”

Link reminded himself that of all those Walker might need shielding from, his fellow Exorcists were unlikely to be among them. As he was doing this, he noticed that Walker’s collar had gone awry too. One lapel was flipped up. He tried to ignore it, but it was not easy. Why didn’t the Bookman’s apprentice focus on his duty of recording the course of the war, instead of acting like a child?

“Remember to brush your hair,” Link said in as severe a tone as he could manage.


They were walking back to the room, turning on the staircase landing where the morning sun cast rays, when Link could stand it no longer, and paused.

“Walker.”

The Exorcist stopped and looked at him.

Link stepped close and tugged his collar straight. It was still stained, but at least it would look neat from afar. “There,” he said briskly, but before he could hurry up the next flight of stairs, Walker put a hand to his collar. Link was conscious of their hands touching, although they both wore gloves.

“Thanks, Link.” Why was he smiling in just that way? It was as if, paused here in the warmth of the landing, he knew something Link didn’t. After all their months together, Link felt he ought to know the reasons behind all that Walker might do, and it troubled him when he did not. Even though one person was not that simple, and Walker had a second haunting the first.

Link shook his head slightly and gave Walker a look that questioned why they were still standing there.

And, finding himself unable to look for long at that frank smile, he started up the next flight. After all, the day’s duties were ahead of them.

Breakfast had not been pleasant, but the rest of their anniversary might—

No, not anniversary.

“No, I haven’t forgotten that my hair’s all messed,” said Walker as he opened the door.

Link stopped what he’d been about to say.

“Aha, I knew you were going to say it. You’re not the only one who notices things about people. It’s been what, six months now?”

Oh, never mind. Anniversary it was. He ought to bake a devil’s food cake to commemorate the occasion.

“Five.”

“Well, it’ll be six soon.” Walker knelt by his bed, sheets creased more than they should be, and felt under it. He was humming to himself, no piano melody but a snatch of folk song.

Link started to flip through a sheaf of papers on his desk to make certain they were in order.

He knew the page of the Secretary’s cookbook on which the devil’s food cake recipe could be found, and although his tastes had recently inclined towards pumpkin pie, he would enjoy the cake as well. Now why was Walker still rummaging under the bed? Was he going after every mismatched sock that had collected there in the last week? It would not be so irksome if they were all the same color, like Link’s. That he owed to Central’s uniform codes, which later became habit. His were all black.

Link flipped five pages back through the documents, since he hadn’t seen them the first time. Here were several pages bearing Walker’s name and handwriting. He set them aside. Here were more with his own. Come to think of it, he did not have a middle name either, that he knew of.

Walker had emerged from under the bed. Link looked up and saw him holding the hairbrush out to him handle-first. He stared.

“Since you’ll probably do a better job.”

“You’re right.” Link accepted the brush and the words, unusual though they were, as Walker smiled and waited.

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