Ready or Not

A Paint it Black Story #2 - Ebony

DM Evans

Time Line – Manga, set within bound vol 2 (the 8th and 9th nights)

Pairings – none, gen fic with one-sided attraction to Lenali

Rating – PG

Summary – Allen psyches himself up for his first official mission

Author's Note –written for the colorific's Paint it Black challenge. Thanks to Mjules and evillittledog for the beta

Allen yawned, prying himself out of the bed. As excited as he was to finally be at the Black Order, he still felt exhausted from the ordeal of arriving there. He had slept in his new bed for the first time and while he slept well, it had been a long hard journey. Allen felt very sure he could sleep for a day without moving.

After taking the time to deal with the most pressing morning needs, Allen peered out the window. The sun wasn't up yet and he could crawl back into the warm sheets to steal another few hours of rest. Still, his usual routine was to exercise before getting a start on his day. A lazy feeling or not, there was no reason to change his daily routine.

Stripping off his shirt, he began to warm up. Allen kept up with his routine until he was sweating, doing one armed, one-thumbed really, headstand push ups, balancing on two legs of a chair. He counted three hundred push ups just as the sun finally woke up. Allen unfurled from the chair and found the shower. The towels were at least thick and soft even if the shower itself was scaled over, dribbling limey water. Still, it was better than going to breakfast smelling like a stable.

His odd white hair towel-dried, Allen dressed and tried to remember where the cafeteria was. With a faint blush, he had to confess to himself that he had spent more time observing Lenali than he had in paying attention to the tour she was giving him. It wasn't that he hadn't been excited by being inside the Black Order at long last – because he surely was – he just couldn't help being a teenaged boy. Lenali's uniform hit her in all the right ways to drive the sense straight out of him. Allen wondered what his chances were of getting another day of orientation with the lovely exorcist. Those sorts of thoughts were promptly driven from his mind by the rumbling of the vast empty pit he called a stomach. Allen tested his memory and headed off for the cafeteria.

XXX

Allen sat back against the worn train seat, thinking hard on what had just happened. It already seemed like days since he had woken up. First the argument with Kanda in the cafeteria then being stuck with the abrasive unfriendly exorcist for a mission, gondola rides, train jumping and that was just the transportation. Why did he have to go with Kanda? Didn't it make more sense to send him with someone who actually liked him, like Lenali? Allen sighed. He would much rather be here with the pretty exorcist, though he'd freely admit Lenali might be a slight distraction for him.

There was so much he didn't know yet. Komui had explained just a little and Allen had dragged a bit more out of Kanda, though that mostly just raised more questions. Was there any actual training for an exorcist or did Komui assume from whatever Cross had said that Allen already knew what he was doing and so dispatched him without further training? It seemed almost ridiculously reckless, a real good way to get someone killed.

Allen had already dispatched enough Akumas to know how dangerous they were. In spite of being with Cross and the things he had accomplished, Allen knew there was so much he still didn't know. He had made that abundantly clear to Komui when he hadn't even really known what Innocence was. Functioning on sparse information from Komui and Kanda, Allen felt like he was going in with blinders on since he now knew just enough to truly understand how much he left to learn. Allen wasn't sure how much help Kanda would be. The hard-eyed young man had already voiced his belief that Allen would be dead in a month and that he could care less about that. The only salvation Allen could see in his fellow exorcist was that Kanda had a vested interest in helping Allen out. Kanda wouldn't want Allen's ignorance to kill him.

Allen studied Kanda for a moment as the other exorcist drowsed. Would he become like this after a few missions? Hard, calloused and seemingly uncaring? Maybe he was being unfair to Kanda but all he had to go on was the way he had treated Allen when they first met, refusing to shake hands, and how he treated his fellows in the cafeteria. Allen didn't want to become like that. Of course, he could end up like Cross and at that thought Allen cringed. No, he didn't want that either. However, he reasoned, he had been fighting Akumas for a while now and he was still himself. Chances were he'd not chance too drastically, or so Allen hoped.

A shudder of anticipation raced through him as the conductor called out the time to the next stop. His first official job as an exorcist, Allen could barely contain his excitement. He tried to keep this from showing on his face, figuring it would just result in more heavy sighs and eye rolling from Kanda, especially if he accidentally woke up the other young man. Sweating, Allen wiped his hands on his ebony jacket. He had been so ill prepared for this that he hadn't even realized there was a uniform for the order.

Ready or not, here he was. Allen just had to remind himself he was new to the uniform but not to dealing with Akumas. He knew what he was doing there. Reassured, the boy relaxed, figuring he should take Kanda's example and try to catch a light nap. Things would be hectic soon enough. Allen knew he'd be ready. He had something to prove, after all.