A/N: Welcome to my D. Gray Man fanfic! I was originally going to write this story a lot later in my fanfiction line-up, but I basically devoured this manga series this summer, and now I need something to tied my over until the new manga is released (*inward scream of barely suppressed impatience*). So, without further ado, I hope you enjoy Chapter 1!
Chapter 1: The Girl Who Hunts Akuma
The dream always begins the same: with the end of the world.
I'm standing soaked up to my ankles in a sea of crimson blood, blocks of craggy rubble drift all around me. The sky is as black as ink and completely starless. The milky half-moon leers down at me; safe up in the sky, it taunts me with a mocking grin from its place of solitude amongst the dark heavens. I stare up at it, the silence of the world around me pressing against my skin. Then I see him.
It's always the same; he's standing not two yards from me. His back is always to me at first, but then he turns around to face me.
He's just a kid, and it's always the same kid. He's pale and thin with wide silver-grey eyes; his face is still round with youth and framed by a mop of messy white hair. A jagged scar traces a sinister design down the left side of his face. He staggers where he stands, the sea of blood pooling around him.
His mouth opens, and he calls something out to me. Even though we are only so many feet apart, I can never hear him.
My own feet start moving on their own; I'm running, sprinting towards him as I drag my legs, heavy with blood, through the scarlet slosh. I rush desperately around the rubble, staggering and flailing as the distance between the boy and me seems to increase with each step I take.
But I'm there; I'm almost there. It's at this point in the dream, when I'm so close to the boy who, for some reason, I so desperately need to reach that I think that maybe things will be different this time.
But they never are. I'm merely a few feet from him; he reaches out to me. His left arm is shriveled and full of bloated red veins.
Close, so close. I reach out my own hand; the blood feels as thick as tar beneath my feet.
"Allen!" The name leaves my tongue of its own volition.
I have never known a boy named Allen.
And then it happens, ever time, the same time, like clockwork.
The boy starts forward, a mere half step…
…And then he dies.
His whole body goes rigid, his grey eyes grow wide, his mouth hangs slightly ajar, a silent exclamation before his whole form explodes into blood.
The train gives a mighty lurch, screeching to an unceremonious stop. I'm flung out of the dream and hurled forward in my seat to get a face full of ice cold window pane.
Grumbling under my breath, I massage my sore nose and sit back in my seat, watching the heated smudge that my face plant had made on the window slowly evaporate into the frigid rain-coated air.
Beyond the film of half-frozen water, I could see the grey outline of the station we'd stopped at: a firm slab of concrete marking a dismal little town that seemed to have no comings or goings of any noteworthy sort.
With a sigh, I snatch my periwinkle suitcase off the otherwise empty seat beside me and shuffle out into the aisle to join the dismal que out onto the platform.
I am soaked clean through before I've even managed to unfold my umbrella, fumbling with the bulky black device, I rifle through the inner pockets of my suit jacket until I eventually produce a crumpled sheet of worn paper.
I unfurl the map I'd bought from a street peddler three towns back; a purchase I'd immediately regretted as many of the town names were printed wrong.
I was bogus with directions anyways, but…Wait a minute.
Is the map printed upside down!
With a groan of exasperation, I hurl the map into the wind only to have it buffeted by the storm and sent flying past my ear to tumble the opposite way down the track.
Well, I'm lost as hell. I glance up at the plate of sheet metal pretending to be a sky. I guess I should just find an inn and wait it out.
There was no way I was hoofing it on foot in this kind of weather. I switch my umbrella to the other hand; it bumps against the side of my head, knocking my top hat askew as though it's displeased with how roughly I'm handling it. I continue to fish around inside my coat until I produce a carved, pearly blue pipe from one of the pocket's depths. Aside from my suitcase, this pipe has been my only companion for the last three years.
Three years…Has it really been that long?
As I stand here reminiscing in the middle of the platform, I begin to notice the usual funny looks are starting up again: raised eyebrows, curious over-the-shoulder glances, the occasional whisper behind the hand to a companion.
I feel the familiar tingling of self-consciousness begin to trickle up my spine, but I quickly shove it back down. Putting on a confident front, I jam the pipe between my teeth and bite down so hard the already gnawed tip almost snaps in two. Readjusting my umbrella and picking up my now thoroughly drenched suitcase, which I had sacrificed to the rain gods in order to read the map, I march off the platform and into the village.
The glances are here too, although they were nothing but brief glimpses as anxious shoppers and work goers hurry feverishly along Main Street in the hopes of getting home where a hot meal was waiting for them.
I, meanwhile, need to find the cheapest inn I can before I catch hypothermia and freeze to death.
I pause mid-step as a loud sneeze assaults my body, causing me to fumble with my pipe as it falls out of my mouth. "You alright there, sister?" barks a lazy-looking man who is lounging under an awning beside a fruit stand selling the reddest, juiciest looking apples I've ever seen.
I feel my mouth begin to salivate at the sight of them, shining in the dim, late afternoon light; I remember I haven't eaten since that morning.
I am understandably famished. The vendor seems to notice me eyeing his produce because he chuckles warmly. "You in the market, sweetheart?"
"Yes, please," I choke out, sniffing heavily. Damn it. Am I catching a cold?
The man laughs again. "You know what, darling? I just got this batch of beauties this morning and with the weather being as it is all day, they haven't been selling well. I was just about to close up for the day, and I don't want them to go to waste. What do you say I treat you to a special discount?"
My eyes pop. "Are you serious?"
"Serious as a heart attack."
"God bless you, sir!" I exclaim before assailing the fruit stand and stuffing a whole apple into my mouth, core and all, closely followed by another. I'll just take two or twelve.
The man watches me voraciously attack his fruit stand with a look of bemusement. "Jesus lady, when's the last time you ate?"
I don't answer; I' not in the mood to explain my insane appetite, and I also currently have a mouthful of fruit.
"That's hardly lady-like," the man muses. "You some sort of a street performer or something?" he adds to me.
I pause to spit a seed out of the corner of my mouth. "No. What gave you that impression?"
The man points at me. "The clothes. You're dressed like a man."
He's right. Although my face has all the feminine faculties I could ever require: a narrow shape, porcelain skin, bright amber eyes, a thin nose, all framed by long scarlet hair loosely curled at the ends, my attire is otherwise quite the opposite.
The suit in question is a trim black design, the white shirt beneath it is hemmed in crimson detail with a black cravat at the throat. The same crimson pattern is also encircling the cuffs of my jacket and pants.
"Show a little respect," I exclaim, swallowing another apple as I adjust my black top hat, which I realize is still crooked. "I made this myself," I add, shaking one of the intricately sewn sleeves in his face.
The man stares at me. "So, this isn't an act of yours?"
"No," I shake my head as I cram one last apple between my teeth and stuff another into my coat pocket for later. I can tell from the man's expression that he's trying to mentally calculate how many of his apples I've eaten. "I'm a seamstress; I make clothes," I explain, gesturing to my periwinkle suitcase beside me. "See? That's all there is. I know this suit's a bit flashy, but it's all I've got. I've had to sell my entire wardrobe to get where I'm at."
The man quirks an eyebrow. "And where are you heading?"
I smile slightly, avoiding his gaze. "So, how much for the apples?"
"I…" the man falters, "I have absolutely no idea."
"Alright then," I reply, fishing out the last of my money and tossing it at him. "Keep the change," I add as I pick up my suitcase and head off down the street.
My stomach now partially full for the time being, I find myself in a much more rational state of mind, which gives me time to deliberate. I am still, after all, lost as hell.
I walk along the streets rather aimlessly, watching the lights in the windows wink out one by one. I am running out of places to go to and people to ask.
By the time I reach the end of Main Street, every shop is closed and I almost run into a broken street lamp because there's no longer any light to guide me.
"Geez God," I glance skyward through the misting rain. "Couldn't you have opened up a column of light around the Black Order or something to make it a little easier to find?"
No sooner have I spoken that the sky opens up and the rain falls away in a shower of glimmering shards illuminated by the moon just beginning to peer up through the thorny tree branches.
The natural light allows me to once again see my surroundings, and, as I glance down the street, I catch a glimpse of the dark outline of a familiar structure.
I grin. "Good enough."
If I can't find an inn than I know I can always sleep in the church; after all, I've spent all the remainder of my cash on those apples, and I am not about to start selling my underwear.
With renewed vigor, I tighten my grip on my periwinkle suitcase and stride off down the street towards the church.
However, my confidence quickly wanes the closer I get to the building. For one thing, it isn't much of a building anymore, as half of wall had been blown into the street. The sleek cobblestone road is covered in a heavy layer of dust and rubble. Thick boards crisscross the windows and what remains of the door that hasn't been blown off its hinges.
I move forward at a much slower pace, a sinking feeling all the way down to my shoes steadily increases the closer I get to the church.
Several police cars are gathered along the sidewalk, far more than their seemed to be necessary for the number of cops present, but then I see the body bags.
Dozens of them all are all lined up on the destroyed lawn, white blankets are draped over bundles in a perfectly straight row, like the polished white stones of a garden wall.
I shiver. Something feels off here; this is no normal crime scene.
"Can I help you?" I jump about a foot in the air and whip around to come face to face with a female police officer. She's giving me a suspicious once-over over a pair of round, wire-rimmed glasses. Her inquisitive, slightly freckled face is framed by chestnut hair that was falling out from under her dome-shaped police cap.
She was rather cute, especially in the uniform. "Civilians were instructed to stay clear of the area," she adds.
"Oh, I'm not from around here," I quickly explain. "I just got off the train."
The police woman raises an eyebrow, but relaxes somewhat after she notes my suitcase. "What are you doing here then?" she inquires.
"Actually," I drop my eyes with a sheepish smile. "I was hoping to sleep in that church tonight, but since you people tend to frown on that sort of thing, I guess I'll be on my way."
I turn to leave, but the police woman stops me. "Wait! You don't have a place to stay?"
I glance back at her. "Well, I spent the last of my money on food," I explain, feeling my cheeks flush with embarrassment.
The police woman's smile is surprisingly warm, the stern officer of the law from before has melted away and is replaced with a noticeably young woman, not that much older than me. "Well, if you want," she says. "You can spend the night at my house."
"Oh no, I wouldn't want to impose," I stammer.
"I insist," she exclaims. "I can't have a visitor to our village wandering around on a cold night with no place to go. What sort of lawman would I be?"
I smile. "Alright," I turn back around. "Where do you-" I start but am abruptly cut short when I glance over the police woman's shoulder, and what I see makes my heart fall out of my chest.
The dark earth surrounding the church and the picket fence of bodies is peppered with black stars. "What is it?" the police woman asks as I wordlessly brush past her and hurry over to the edge of the church yard.
"Hey, lady! What do you think you're doing? This is a crime scene!" one of the other cops barks as I crouch down in the scorched earth to examine the markings more closely. "Moor, get her out of here!" the cop adds to the police woman.
I ignore him, squinting in the late-evening light at the markings; the sense of dread only growing heavier. "There is no doubt about it," I whisper. "Akuma have been here."
"What did you just say?" I turn to see the police woman call Moore standing behind me, her eyes the size of dinner plates. "You…You know about-?"
I don't let her finish as I jump to my feet and take off around the other side of the church. "Moor, what are you doing?" the other cop cries. "Get her!"
"Huh?" Moor seems snap out of some kind of stupor. "Oh, right," she adds before dashing after me.
"Hey, you! Wait!" she calls out to me as she rounds the corner. I glance at her, momentarily taking my eyes off the large hole in the second floor of the church where a huge chunk seemed to have been blown clean away, more black pentacles dot the eroded stone sides of the building.
"You," I point at the police woman. "Moor, was it? Do you know what happened here?"
Moor is about to respond when a small sound is heard coming from the shadow of the half building. The police woman and I whip around just in time to see a small, ratty girl in a faded dress, carrying a teddy bear, emerge into the moonlight.
She is crying and wailing bitterly. "Mommy. Mommy!" she sobs.
"Oh honey, it's alright," Moor exclaims, quickly rushing over to the girl and kneeling down to give her a reassuring hug. I hang back, however, my eyes narrow in suspicion. "There's no need to cry, sweetheart," Moor continues as the girl buries her face in the policewoman's shoulder. "We'll help you find your mommy."
It happens in a flash. The girl's eyes snap open and a sharp claw springs out from her back, curling inward as it's poised to stab Moor in the back. There is a blunt crack and a sound like shattered glass followed by a hollow gasp.
Moor gapes in shock, staring at the girl as her claw-like appendage falls to the ground behind her; she is frozen where she stands, her eyes hollow below a thin scarlet ribbon that had stabbed her straight through the head.
"Don't move," I call.
Moor turned to look at me, eyes frozen in horror to see the other end of the ribbon jutting out from under my jacket cuff.
She turns back to the girl to see thin trails of ink black blood begin to drip from her punctured skull; a few drops fall onto the ground between them and leave familiar star-like impressions in the dirt.
"A-Another Akuma?" Moor stammers, staggering away from the girl as she dissolves into a pile of ash.
"Don't worry. Just a scavenger," I explain, retracting the red ribbon back into my sleeve. "Akuma can smell the blood of humans and their own from miles away. You know, like sharks."
Moor stares at me. "What was that? That red thing?"
"My Anti-Akuma weapon," I explain simply, "Never leave home without it."
Moor shakes her head in disbelief. "I just can't believe that sweet-looking girl was an Akuma!"
"Akuma wear the skin of humans as a disguise," I muse. "Needless to say, they can look like anyone."
"But how did you know?" Moor insists. "How did you know that girl was an Akuma?"
I don't respond right away; I stare down at the ash pile that is all that remains of the Akuma. "To be honest, I didn't know," I finally say, "I can't really explain it; just a feeling. I guess it comes with practice."
"What would you have done if that girl wasn't an Akuma?" Moor demands.
I don't answer. "It's not safe here," I declare. "Tell your colleagues that you all need to get the hell out of here. I'll be on my way."
I turn to leave once more, but Moore once again intercepts me. "Wait. I'm holding out on my offer to let you spend the night," she calls. "And besides, we need to talk."
Moore lives in a quaint little home just down the street from the church that would have been comfortable and homey if not for…
"Whoa, did a bomb go off in here?" I ask as I cross the threshold, suitcase in hand, unlit pipe in teeth.
The kitchen is a disheveled clusterfuck of broken china and splattered food. The table is flipped on its side; plates, knives, forks and other kinds of table settings are scattered across the floor with more food staining the walls.
There is also a large hole in the back wall.
"I know, I know; it's a mess," Moor exclaims as she rushes past me and quickly begins gathering up the shattered dishes and ruined food. "I'm afraid you missed dinner," she adds with a weak smile.
"I'm sort of glad I did," I reply, flipping the table back upright and sitting down in one of the chairs beside it. Moore dumps the remains of her destroyed meal into the trash then fetches a mop to begin working at the stains.
I survey the wall behind her. "What made that hole in the wall?"
Moor abruptly stops her vigorous mopping. Her back is to me so I can't see her expression. "The Akuma that attacked the church earlier," her voice is very quiet. "It was hiding inside my brother-in-law."
My eyes widen. "Oh. I'm sorry."
"Thank you," Moor sniffs, pausing to wipe her eyes before turning to face me. "Can I get you anything?"
"Some tea would be nice," I reply, getting to me feet. "I'll make it," I add, brushing past her and heading to the stove.
"Oh no," Moor protests. "You're my guest. I should make it."
"It's fine," I reply as I fill a kettle with water and set it on the stove. "You'll find I'm remarkably self-sufficient."
I turn from the policewoman to fiddle with the stove knobs. Although I can't see her, I can feel her eyes on my back, intently studying me.
"How-How can you be so aloof?" she demands, "After what you just witnessed, you're acting so calm."
"I know," I reply calmly as I fish a packet of teabags out of the cabinet. "But that's what I have to do, as an Exorcist, my life has always been filled with darkness, but if I let that darkness consume me, I would become like them, like the Akuma." I turn around to face Moor fully. "I would lose my humanity, and that's the most important thing to someone like me."
Moor stares at me, a million emotions running across her face.
The kettle whistles, and I quickly turn back around to lift it from the stove. Moor continues to stare at me; her large eyes reflect in her glasses. "You…I never caught your name," she whispers.
I pause to grin at her over my shoulder. "Cassandra Williams, but you can call me Cas."
A short time later, Moor and I are sitting around the kitchen table, in the warm glow of an oil lamp. Moor keeps her eyes focused on the cup of tea she cradles between her hands. Meanwhile, I've lit my pipe and am sitting across from her silently puffing on it, deep in thought.
"If it's not too hard for you," I said after a pregnant silence. "Would you mind detailing the events of the Akuma attack at the church?"
Moor glances up at me, startled, as I pull out a weather beaten, leather-bound journal from the depths of my coat. "I don't mean to be crass, but I've made a habit of keeping a log of the Akuma activity in all of the towns I've visited. Would you mind telling me what happened before I showed up?"
Moor shakes her head silently. "No I don't mind. I guess I should start with the church," she adds. "You see, that church has been a bit infamous since the accident that happened there several months ago."
"Accident?" I ask, without looking up as I frantically scribble my pen across the page.
"Yes, my sister Claire and her fiance Marc were going to be married in that church, but on the day of the wedding," Moor's voice broke slightly. "The chandelier fell and crushed her right on the altar, Claire was killed instantly."
Moor's grip tightens on her mug so intensely I thought the thing might crack in two. "We'd had a fight that day," she whispers through gritted teeth. "She didn't want me to become a cop. I didn't mean the things I'd said, and I never got to tell her I was sorry."
I pause and glance up from my log. Silently, I reached out and place my hand over Moor's hand, leaving it there for only a fraction of a second before pulling it away and returning to my notes.
Moor looks at me in surprise before mentally shaking herself; she closes her eyes and takes a deep breath before continuing. "As expected, Marc was devastated. He didn't eat or sleep; he always looked so pale and gaunt. I didn't think anything of it at the time. I mean, I was worried about him, but I thought he was just depressed. I didn't know. I never could have known," she shakes her head.
"That he was the Akuma," I muse, taking my pipe from between my teeth and letting out a slow drag of pearly smoke. "So, the Millennium Earl appeared to your brother-in-law Marc in his grief-stricken state and convinced him to resurrect your sister Claire. He agreed of course, not knowing the Earl would turn her into an Akuma, which would than kill Marc and wear his skin as a disguise."
"Yes," Moor whispers. "And Akuma are made by this Earl to destroy the world and kill every human it can."
"Precisely," I reply. "You know more than I thought."
Moor smiles, but it doesn't reach her eyes.
"It's always the same pattern," I muse, clenching the pipe in my teeth. "The Millennium Earl always preys upon the weakness of humans in pain."
Moor gaps at me. "Is it weakness to be able to feel?" she snaps.
I stare at her, "Yes."
Moor regards me somewhat disdainfully. "Anyway, after Claire's and Marc's death, the Akuma began haunting the church and killing anyone who entered, usually homeless people or travelers that spend the night there."
"Lucky me," I murmur through clenched teeth.
"Naturally, rumors spread like mad. The townspeople spoke of nothing but people's cloths being found in piles of ash with the bodies nowhere in sight."
I nod. "Of course, Akuma Oil erodes organic material."
"Last night, I was sent to investigate the church with my partner because the complaints were getting so bad."
"He didn't make it out, did he?" I ask.
She shakes her head. "I almost didn't either. I thought the rumors were all nonsense; I never would have believed something like an Akuma could exist even when I saw it with my own eyes. The chief and most of my colleagues didn't believe it either. That's why they charged the church blind and well…." Her voice trails off once more, but she doesn't need to finish.
I recall the long line of white draped bodies spread out on the church lawn, now knowing there was nothing but piles of clothes under the cloths.
"Many more people would have died if it hadn't been for that boy," Moor adds.
I choke on my pipe. "Boy? What boy?"
Moor blinks. "Wasn't he a friend of yours?"
I stare. "You mean he was an Exorcist?"
"Yes, he said he was passing through here, heading to some place called the Black Order."
"So am I," I murmur. "Damn, I wish I'd gotten her earlier, so he could tell me the way."
I'm still completely and utterly lost.
Moor looks thoughtful. "I think he mentioned something about heading north, apparently this Black Order is only a few towns over from here. Only about a day's train ride."
"Really?" I exclaim. "That's great. Maybe I'm not as lost as I thought."
"It's funny," Moor muses. "I thought all you Exorcists knew each other."
"Well, I'm not an Exorcist," I admit. "Not officially anyway."
"Right. Well, is there anything else you want to know?"
"Yes," I reply, dousing my pipe in my half-drunk tea mug. "This boy that killed the Akuma, what was his name?"
"Allen, Allen Walker."
Splash! I drop my pipe into my tea mug, causing mud-colored liquid to splatter across the table.
Moor stares at me in surprise. "What? Was it something I said?"
I don't answer right away; I stare down at my soaked pipe and ruined tea, clenching and un-clenching my fists to quell their shaking.
No it can't be. It can't be that that dream, the one that's tormented me for weeks and weeks, is going to come true.
"Cas, what is it?" Moor demands.
I look up at her. "Are you sure his name was Allen?"
"Uh, yes," Moor nods hesitantly. "Why?"
"Was he short?" I don't answer her question. "Scrawny? White hair? With a funky scar over his left eye?"
"Yes, that exactly!" Moor exclaims. "I thought you said you didn't know him."
"I don't," I mutter, fishing my soaked pipe from the depths of my tea mug and wiping it off on my sleeve.
"Oh my God, Cas!" Moor's exclamation makes me jump a mile in my chair. "You're bleeding!"
"Huh?" I look up to see Moor frantically pointing at my forehead.
"There's blood on your forehead!"
"Really?" I reach up and press a finger to my face only to feel warm sticky fluid gently coat them upon applying pressure. "Huh, so I am."
"Hold on. I'll get some bandages," Moor cries, jumping to her feet.
"No, it's fine," I wave her aside. "It's just a little cut; it'll go away in a minute."
Moor regards me suspiciously. "That Akuma didn't get you, did it? Allen told me their blood was toxic."
"No. It's probably from when I bumped my forehead on the train earlier," I assert, getting to my feet as well. "I'll just wash up. Where's your bathroom?"
"Down the hall, on your right," Moor quickly explains.
"Thanks," I follow her instructions and squeeze my way into the tight, cramped space. I stare at my face in the dingy mirror to see a thin stream of blood slowly trickling down from an unknown gash in my hair line. Since my crimson hair is almost exactly the same shade as my vital fluids, it's hard to tell where the hair stops and the blood flow begins.
"Damn," I press a finger to the spot the blood seemed to originate from. "I guess I should have used more killing that Akuma earlier. Huh, I'm getting lazy." I smile grimly to myself before turning to the toilet and lifting the seat. "But it can't be helped."
I grip my waist as I feel the familiar heat rush down my torso into the pit of my stomach. My whole body heaves, and I choke, my mouth floods with liquid as a thick stream of blood suddenly pours out over the rim of my lower lip. I bend over the toilet and choke again as more crimson fluid spills from my throat. It takes a few seconds before I have dispensed just enough to sustain me for a time.
Coughing into my hand so as not to alert Moor down the hall, I pause to survey my reflection once more. Wiping away the last remnants, I find the blood has stopped dripping from my scalp.
I stare at my face in the bathroom's half-light for a few more minutes, turning the events of the day over in my mind. "Allen Walker, huh?"
Moor was kind enough to let me sleep in her sister's old room, which was rather awkward given our recent conversation. She didn't speak to me much for the remainder of the evening, so I turned myself in for the night not too long after my little episode in the bathroom.
I could tell she's put off by my detached attitude. I don't tend to apologize, but I can't really say I blame her.
The dream came and went with its usual sense of steadily falling paired with mounting fear, and blood, so much blood.
Granted, I was used to blood, but my own.
Finally, after a fitful rest, a dull late-fall morning dawns on the sleepy town, and Moor and I say our goodbyes from her front porch.
I stand in the doorway, suitcase in one hand, packed lunch that contains the last contents of Moor's refrigerator after I'd cleaned her out during breakfast in the other. My pipe is in my teeth, its smoke mixing with the breeze.
Moor stares at her slippers for a long while; the station was courteous enough to give her the day off, so she hasn't bothered to change out of her pajamas.
"I guess this is goodbye," she whispers.
"Yeah. See you," I mutter through my pipe. I turn to head down the path, but Moor stops me.
"Wait! I wish you luck, Cas," her words make me pause halfway down the steps. "You'll need it because you're cold, cold as ice."
My back is once again to her, so she can't see my expression; I try to make it as unreadable as possible, if not for her than for myself. "Thanks," I mutter without turning around before I tighten my grip on my periwinkle suitcase and march down the walkway and onto the street, a new vigor in my step.
Now, to find this boy called Allen Walker
A/N: Meet my OC Cas Williams! :) I know this chapter is rather vague, but you'll learn more about her as the story progresses. I hope you enjoyed, and I hope you'll tell me what you think.