The Darth Vader Polka (AKA General Cross Has An Ulterior Motive For Not Keeping It In His Pants)
Something about Lavi's looks had always tugged on Allen's subconscious, sort of like a sense of deja vu, but he'd never made the connection.
Lavi freely admitted he was a mixed-race mutt, as he called playfully called his heritage. Since Allen had no clue of his lineage, either, he didn't think it was anything to make a big deal about. Knowing where a person came from wasn't important in the scheme of things – it was better to understand where they wanted to head. Allen was a firm believer in always looking forward.
But that didn't mean the past couldn't take a large chunk out of your ass when you weren't expecting it. In retrospect, Allen would have preferred ignorance.
It was Reever's fault the whole matter came to light. He and Lavi were relaxing over their lunches, swapping stories about their latest missions. Allen had just returned from yet another failed mission to locate General Cross, while Lavi had spent some time in Rome, fruitlessly checking on a strange phenomenon that might have been caused by Innocence. Lavi told a story of mistaken identities and how Bookman had almost ended up married to a woman young enough to be his granddaughter.
The kicker, of course, was that the phenomenon they'd thought was Innocence was really a new airship made up of balloons. It happened sometimes, that technological advances were mistaken for Innocence, but it was annoying for Exorcists to waste their time tracing down an easily debunked lead. Finders who made such mistakes were often relegated to cleaning floors at Headquarters for their incompetence. Allen was still snickering when the sound of someone clearing his throat got his attention.
"Lavi, can I talk to you?" Reever asked. The head of the science division remained on his feet, his back rigid. There was a slight tick in his left eyelid, and Allen wondered what was wrong with him.
Lavi waved a casual hand at the seat across from him. "Sure, what is it?"
Reever didn't meet Lavi's eyes, and Allen set his fork down. He was nearly finished with his fifth helping, so it was a bit of a sacrifice. But if something was wrong, he needed to be ready to help his friend any way possible.
Reever ran a hand through his hair, doing no noticeable damage to the wild mess. "Okay, see... there is this research scientist – Carl Correns, have you met him, he's really a stand-up guy - who has some interesting ideas about how accommodaters are developed. Anyway, he thought there might be some kind of heredity involved, and started to do some studies on the Exorcists we have, and..." He paused, trying to catch his breath.
"You're rambling," Lavi pointed out, rather ironically in Allen's opinion. "Maybe you should just spit out whatever you want to say?"
"You're-" Reever paused. "I can't say it. Just look at the results yourself." He shoved a sheet of paper into Lavi's hands, slumping forward and resting his head in his hands. "I wish I believed in drinking," he muttered to himself.
Slightly alarmed, Allen stole a look over his friend's shoulder. Lavi was staring at the paperwork, his jaw slack as he tried to figure out what he was looking at. For once the normally gregarious exorcist was at a complete loss for words.
Allen, sitting beside him, processed the information he read more quickly, but remained quiet from shock. Oh, no. There was no way that Lavi...
He couldn't finish the thought. The idea was just too horrible to be true.
He couldn't remain in his denial for long. Lavi, fortunately or not, finally managed to blurt out, "Whaddya mean, General Cross is my father?!"
Allen wasn't sure how he was supposed to deal with Lavi now that he knew the truth.
It wasn't that his friend had changed, but Allen's perception of him had. Lavi was still the same, a slightly hyperactive, knowledgeable and exceedingly friendly young man he'd always been. But now that Allen knew he found himself looking for signs of Cross in Lavi's behaviors. For so long his master had been the bane of his existence, the very thought of him made him nauseous.
He found himself staring at Lavi during dinner, checking to see if he had inherited his father's nose or cheekbones or anything. Allen was so put off by the idea that he'd only asked Jerry for three meals instead of his usual eight. Lavi was a bit paler than usual, but other than that he was unchanged.
Lavi was patient for a good five minutes before he'd gotten fed up. Of course, he'd likely spent the entire day being questioned by curious Black Order members who heard about the science department's discovery. "Why are you looking at me like that?" he asked testily.
"It's nothing!" Allen declared, waving his hands in front of his chest and trying to smile.
Lavi wasn't stupid, recognizing the problem immediately. "I know you have issues with General Cross, but it's not my fault! And I'm not about to go out and conduct bonding activities with Daddy Dearest, so you can relax."
Allen shook his head. "I know it's not your fault, but... it's my master. There has to be some reason he never told you, so I have to wonder if you're some unknowing part of an elaborate scheme."
Lavi tilted his head. "Do you really think I would be so easily manipulated?"
Remembering Lavi's instant attraction to any decent-looking woman made the answer easy. He pretended to cough, while muttering one self-explanatory syllable, "Lulubelle."
"How was I supposed to know she was a Noah?"
"The whole trying to kill us thing wasn't enough of a clue?"
"You're mean," Lavi said sulkily. "I assure you, I'm not going to run up debts you're liable for, or throw you in the middle of a fight with Akuma by yourself. I'm not going to set you up and smirk about it, or run off to go wenching and leave you wondering where I am. And I'm not a sadist, so I won't be concocting a punishment that gives you nightmares. I would like to think you can rely on me."
Lavi had just highlighted Allen's objections to Cross in a couple of concise statements. Allen hadn't realized Lavi had known so much about his background – but then again, he was the Bookman's apprentice. "I'm sorry," Allen apologized. "I'm sure the news is bothering you more."
Lavi shrugged. "Not really. I grew up being bounced between homes, and didn't really have any kind of parental figure. I decided if my parents didn't want me, I didn't want them. So what if Cross is my biological father? It doesn't change a thing about who I am."
Lavi's self-awareness made some of Allen's unease ebbed. "You're right-" he said, but was interrupted by the sound of someone clearing his throat. For a second, Allen had an unpleasant flashback to the morning.
Reever stood off to the side, his hands buried deep in his jacket pockets. "Excuse me, Lavi, I've got more news on our genealogy project," Reever said. "Come on up to my office, okay?" Apparently Reever had learned from the scene he'd created that morning, and was trying to do things more privately.
"Sure thing," Lavi answered, before turning to Allen. "You coming?"
Whatever Reever said wasn't going to be anything Allen wanted to know, and likely was none of his business, but he'd learned over time that ignorance would only get him hurt in the end. Especially ignorance that involved Cross Marian. "I suppose bad news is better than no news."
"How do you know it's bad news?" Lavi wanted to know. They rose to their feet together, leaving their trays behind for the cafeteria staff to collect.
"When my master is involved, it's always bad news."
Reever usually worked in the main area with the rest of the scientists, but there was a very small, cupboard-like room he used when doing something extremely sensitive. Unlike Komui's office, Reever's was meticulous clean. There was only one chair inside, behind a cherry-wood table which served double duty as Reever's desk and primary work station.
Reever took the seat, leaving the two Exorcists standing in the middle of the room. Allen managed to make himself comfortable by leaning against the wall.
"So what did you find?" Lavi asked.
"There's another interested party. I'd prefer to only have to explain once," Reever replied.
Lavi raised his eyebrow at Allen. "I can wait," he said.
Five minutes ticked by before the door slammed open. "What is this about?" Kanda practically growled. "I'm leaving on a mission tomorrow, and I don't have time for irrelevant meetings!"
Allen shut his eyes, foreseeing the coming collision immediately. Lavi was blinking in confusion, but Reever wasn't about to stop for anyone to catch on. The scientist rose to his feet and placed his hands on his desk, leaning forward intently. "Kanda-san, according to our tests, you're biologically the son of General Marian Cross," Reever said.
If Allen had been his usual self, he would have taken great satisfaction from the way Kanda physically twitched. But the idea of Kanda and Lavi being half-brothers sort of broke Allen's brain. Apparently it did the same to Kanda, since the Japanese (well, half-Japanese) young man blanched. "I'm Japanese," Kanda replied stonily.
"Cross travels a lot," was Reever's ironic reply.
Lavi was more resilient, having already had time to assimilate the shocking news of his paternity. Allen cynically thought that nothing could be worse than discovering that little fact.
Lavi slung an arm across Kanda's shoulder. "I always wanted a little brother!"
Now that the word was out that two of the Exorcists were siblings, and the sons of a General, the whole order was going mad with Corren's genetic testing procedures. Komui had demanded that samples be taken from everyone, and they all reluctantly complied. Allen had a very bad feeling about it all, but wasn't ready to mentally embrace what he feared would happen. Since he had no clue who his parents were...
So not going there, he thought as he went through five-hundred pull ups to keep his mind busy. Maybe it'd help him get to sleep. He kept having nightmares about Lavi and Kanda teaming up to perpetuate their father's legacy.
He was on three hundred and ten when someone knocked on his door. "Come in," he called, although he really wasn't in the mood for company.
Lavi and Reever stood there, and from the looks on their faces, it wasn't anything he wanted to hear. "Who is it this time?" he asked simply.
Lavi was the one who broke the news. "Have you ever wanted a couple of big brothers?
Allen sat down on the uncarpeted floor and did something he had never done before – he bawled like a little baby. It took him half a day to regain his composure enough to be seen in public again.
There was no way this could get worse.
Not only was he related to Cross, he was related to Kanda. The two people he disliked most in the world – with the notable exception of the Noah and Millennium Earl – were now officially his blood family. Having Lavi as an older brother was a slight consolation, but nowhere near enough to get over the trauma.
But Allen's life had a way of spiraling out of control, so he wasn't surprised to see Reever knocking on his door that same night. "What is it now, Reever?" Allen asked tiredly. "Did you find out Road Kamelot is my sister?"
"It's not that bad," Reever said. "Though I did find you a sister."
Allen somehow knew what Reever had discovered. There were very few female members of the Black Order, and fewer still that were young enough for Cross to have sired. "It's Lenalee, isn't it?"
Reever patted him on the shoulder reassuringly. "Along with Komui," he said. "Apparently Cross visited their mother twice."
Allen had believed himself inoculated against shock, but he'd been wrong. "You're kidding."
"Do I look like I'm kidding? I've got to tell my boss he's the illegitimate son of the most notorious member of the Black Order."
"Have fun with that," Allen replied.
Reever had quick reflexes, he learned a second later. The way he latched onto Allen's ear and pulled was worthy of an Exorcist. Allen howled in pain as Reever dragged him out the door to the science department.
Lenalee, Komui, Lavi and Kanda – whose mission had been transferred to Marie – had also been gathered for the grand announcement. Reever had simply handed out five reports before vacating the room with haste. Allen watched as Komui and Lenalee sorted through the information, feeling sick to his stomach.
"I can work with this," Komui said after he finished reading, before launching himself forward and wrapping Allen in a tight, tight hug. "Welcome to the family!" He quickly released Allen, dashing over to treat Lavi to similar treatment. "We're going to have such fun, as long as you guys remember that I'm Lenalee's favorite brother!"
Having Komui as a "xiong" was just as bad as Allen had feared. To his utter disgust, Komui was embracing the idea of being related, and quickly extended his overbearing sibling affection to them all. Having the three of them disqualified as possible suitors for Lenalee was likely the main factor.
"This discovery just makes it even more important to find Cross!" Komui announced. "He needs to come back and accept his role as the loving patriarch of our happy family!"
Allen exchanged a look with Kanda, for once complete agreement between the pair. "I think an explanation of how this happened is more important," Kanda said flatly, in a tone of voice that rivaled Mugen's edge. "And we don't have time to play house together."
"But-but-" Komui said, his lower lip trembling as tears threatened to spill from his eyes. "I just want what's best for my cute siblings!"
"Did it occur to you that there might more of those siblings out there?" Lavi asked reasonably. "And since Innocence- accommodating seems to be a family trait, testing all of them should be a priority."
Komui thought on it for a long moment, before his face lit with determination. "Well, you'll just have to go find him!"
"I've been looking for months," Allen replied with irritation. "My master is only going to be found when he wants to be."
"You mean our father," Lenalee interjected.
If Allen had eaten within the previous two hours, he would have thrown up. Hearing Cross referred to like that was horrible.
Komui was fidgeting with a paper on his desk, the way he did when he was procrastinating. "About finding Cross... I mentioned the issues with General Tiedoll in our last correspondence, and he pointed out something that might help."
At that point, Allen wasn't sure anything would help. "What?"
"He pointed out that Timcanpy should always be able to find Cross, since Cross was the one who made him."
Allen stared at the golem, which was floating by his ear. He was half-tempted to smack it, just to work out his anger. He'd been wandering all over Europe for months, and he'd already possessed the key to his mission?
"I'm going after him," Alan announced grimly.
"Definitely. Just give Lenalee and Lavi-"
"I'm sure that Cross... I mean, our mutual father..." Komui paused, unsure how to address the issue.
Allen could think of a lot of things to call Cross, and most of them weren't repeatable in polite company. "I'm going to go look for him, and it's best I speak to him alone. Besides, we don't know if he realizes he's fathered so many children. It might be best for me to break the news gently."
He prided himself on being able to say that without giving an indication he was lying through his teeth. Allen's innocent, kind expression did the trick, because Komui agreed to send Allen off on the next train east.
That was the for the best. There would be no witnesses if Allen decided murder was the best recourse.
Allen finally caught up to his mentor in Luxembourg. The tiny country was fairly rural, and he wondered if Cross had stopped there because he'd hoped the Black Order wouldn't notice its existence. Of course Allen having Timcanpy as his bitch negated that kind of thinking.
After arriving in the small commune of Rumelange, it wasn't hard to figure out where Cross would be. Since it was a mining town, there was a small red-light district, and he immediately went into the most luxurious of the three whorehouses. One of the bouncers tried to stop him as he plowed right in, but Allen was ready for them. Using his right arm, he grabbed the man (who, along with being fragrant in a bad way was twice his size) and pinned him against the wall.
"Where is Cross Marian?" he snapped, his usual good manners deserting him. He'd just been under way too much stress lately.
"Red-haired bastard wearing a flashy black-and-gold coat?"
"I don't know who you're talking about!" The man's voice broke slightly, indicating a lie.
Allen gave the bouncer a good shake, rattling his teeth. "I am in a very bad mood. Either I find Cross and let him know why I'm upset, or I'm going to take it out on you. And this establishment. And everyone in here," he said pleasantly, offering an exceedingly saccharine smile that was more creepy than a scowl.
"Second floor, second room on the right!"
"Thank you," Allen said, setting him down gently. "You've been a big help!" Another kind smile, and the man was gibbering in fear as Allen climbed the staircase.
Standing outside the door, Allen debated between knocking or destroying the door and barging in. Knocking would give Cross time to flee, but having to pick up all of Cross' bills in the past had taught Allen that wanton property destruction wasn't a good move. Finally he just tried the knob, and was surprised at how easily it opened.
What didn't surprise him was to find a half-naked Cross with two completely naked women wrapped around him. He was probably working on having yet more children, Allen thought furiously.
The General looked up, his expression carefully blank as he stared at the intruder. "What the fuck do you think you're doing, boy?"
"Well, shit." Cross looked regretfully at the two women. "I guess it's time you and I had a talk."
"I would say so." Allen gave a pointed look at the women, wondering if Cross had paid for their company or been offered freebies. "Alone."
The women huffed as they gathered their clothing. Cross' eyes never left their figures, but Allen had no interest in starring at bare boobs. Allen kept his attention fixated on his mentor/sperm donor, making sure Cross didn't decide to do anything.
Cross rearranged himself on the bed, pulling a cigar out from the pocket of his unbuttoned jacket. Aside the that jacket, he wasn't wearing much. Allen had not anticipated having this conversation like this, but it seemed ironically appropriate. "How'd you figure it out, brat?" Cross asked as he took a drag of his cigar.
"The science department was doing a study on heredity, and somehow found out you're my father." He paused for a second. "And Lavi's, Kanda's, Komui's and Lenalee's. And god knows how many other bastards out there."
"Quite a few," Cross said mildly. He shifted his legs, causing the sheets to ride down dangerously low. "And there is a reason for that."
"Because you like women a lot?"
"More than that," Cross said, sending out a bit of smoke in Allen's direction. "It's my duty."
"Your duty," Allen gritted out. He hardly ever came out from a conversation with Cross without sustaining some kind of mental damage.
"When I was appointed general, it became my duty to seek out people who could use Innocence. After discussing the matter with Hendel – that's Komui's predecessor, about three times removed – we came up with a long-term plan. Easiest way is to make more potential accommodaters."
Allen's mind went blank for a moment, before he was able to get at what Cross was saying. "So you went out to make as many babies as possible."
"I'm an accommodater," Cross replied. "And you have to admit the plan worked, since over a third of the current crop of Exorcists are my children. Including you, stupid apprentice."
Hearing himself referred to as one of Cross' children made Allen want to throw up. "So how many siblings do I have?" Allen demanded.
Cross started to count on his fingers, and Allen's stomach clenched as his mentor cycled through both sets of hands three times before finally stopping halfway through the fourth.
"I have thirty-six siblings?!"
"Of course not," Cross said disdainfully. "Don't be ridiculous - who do you think I am? I'm counting by tens."
Allen was unable to think of anything intelligent to reply to that, and just growled instead. If he wasn't so sure that Cross would shoot him before he could blink, he'd rip the man's testicles off to keep him from breeding again. Of course, patricide was viewed as a sin, so maybe it wasn't such a good idea.
"Just ask me before you decide to date anyone," Cross advised.