The first thing Allen knew when he woke up was that he had an odd taste in the back of his mouth. It was like some sort of fruit syrup, thick and sweet… but after a little while, it went from sweet to nauseating. He groaned faintly and tossed his head to the side a little, feeling worse than he had in ages – did the mission I was on go bad? – until he felt a gentle cloth brushing against his face.
"Shh," a soothing voice said quietly. It was female, or he thought it was – his mind was so muddled that he couldn't really tell. "You're very sick. Go back to sleep… you'll feel better soon."
Allen groaned softly and struggled to open his eyes. "Kanda," he tried to say, but his tongue felt thick and the name came out as a soft moan. "Please…!"
The woman dabbed at his face again. "Sleep," she murmured. "It's better that way. Sleep…"
The world spun dizzyingly, and then Allen had no choice – all color, all sound, everything slowly faded out until all he knew was darkness.
It was still dark. Allen slowly looked around, eyes desperately seeking anything at all other than warm, velvety blackness. Am I blind?
Allen jumped a little at the response to his question, spinning around to look behind him. "Who's there?!" he cried. "Please, I – I can't see!"
Panic surged through him, an unfamiliar feeling that turned his knees to jelly and knotted his stomach tight. His heart raced, fluttering in his chest like a bird struggling to escape a tight grip… and then he felt a gentle hand over it, and though he jerked back, the touch stayed with him.
Your heart begins to fail.
"Don't," Allen breathed, not knowing how to fight. He struggled to activate his Innocence, but Crown Clown wouldn't respond. He took a step back, and another, but that phantom touch stayed with him, and his heart raced ever faster. "Please!!"
Can you hear it?
It was hard not to. It was more or less all he could hear outside of his rasping breath… even, rapid, but weakening. His breath came in short, sharp pants as that hand pressed harder against his chest. I'm going to die here. Whatever this is, I'm going to die, it's going to kill me…! Kanda!!
He won't come for you just yet.
Tears trickled down Allen's cheeks, hot and bitter. That's right. I'm here because of him. He closed them tight against the pain that surged through him, choked off his hair and made his already overburdened heart ache. He said he loved me, didn't he? … and now here I am… he put me here.
You have so little faith.
"What faith am I supposed to have?" Allen yelled, his voice breaking. He hung his head, biting his lip hard. There was no escaping that gentle touch, or the voice that came with it. "Kanda… betrayed me."
Yes and no. … but I am here.
The General paused. His heartbeat slowed, his breath slowly evened… but the tears refused to go away. "Who are you?" he whispered, terrified that he knew the answer. Terrified that his worst nightmares were going to come true.
You know who I am.
Silence for a long moment, and then pale lips moved slowly, forming a silent word. Not a question… but a declaration, a naming of this entity. "Musician."
"I sealed you away," Allen murmured, frowning into the darkness. "How can this be? Did I… did I fail?"
No. The seal over me broke when you were stabbed in the neck.
That didn't make a lot of sense to him, but then again, nothing much seemed to. Allen closed his eyes and bowed his head. "Then, this is it," he whispered. "This is what I fought to avoid."
Slowly, as though waking from a dream, vision began returning. He stood in a white room, with a couch, and a mirror… and a piano. He looked around, confused, though he recognized it immediately – and standing across from him was a young man. He looked almost identical to Allen, save that his curse mark was replaced by a Crown of Thorns across his brow… and where Allen was pale, this Noah was ashen, as they all were. Silver eyes turned to gold, and his left arm… wasn't Innocence any longer. It was normal, smooth and unblemished, as the Fourteenth stood naked and unashamed in front of him.
Allen blinked. "No?" he asked, worrying his lip with his top teeth. "How not?"
The Fourteenth smiled faintly. I never wanted you dead. You were too strong for me to fight, and after you defeated the Earl, my powers waned until they were nearly gone. By then, I couldn't tell you. You heard it, didn't you?
"Heard what?" Everything seemed so vague, so out of place. Allen didn't know up from down anymore, and his eyes were trapped by the Fourteenth's – gold, bright gold, but not threatening.
Never that. Slowly, the Noah walked forward until he was right in front of Allen, then reached up to caress his cheek. My melody, he continued. You heard it in your dreams. Every time you controlled the Ark… and when passion drove you to retreat to a place you could be alone.
Allen bit his lip, then nodded slowly. "Yes," he murmured. "I heard it." The melody had soothed him when he was upset, had given him comfort when he felt so alone that he feared he would die of it. I missed my friends so much during that time I was alone… how was he still singing to me, even though he was sealed?
The Fourteenth's lips curved slightly, and he leaned forward. Never fear… I will protect you from now on. You have nothing to worry about. With that, he touched his lips to Allen's – and Allen felt a split second of warmth, of joy, and then he knew nothing else.
Standing alone in a luxurious room, Kanda was doing his very best to not start destroying things. He didn't know what to think, what to feel - so he simply didn't allow himself to do either. He called upon the calm that came over him in battle, the dangerous clarity that allowed him to be as lethal as possible… and waited.
After what felt like an eternity, the door finally opened, and two men walked in. Kanda's lip curled slightly when he saw them, but he didn't move from his spot by the window, arms tightly crossed. "It's been a long time, Yuu," one of the men said – the man he'd spoken to on the phone before handing Allen over. "I almost didn't think you'd come."
"Tch," Kanda replied, dark eyes turning to look back out the window. Boredom was the last thing he felt, but it was all he would allow them to see. "I said I would, and I keep my word." It had been so long since he'd spoken Japanese that the words felt slightly odd on his tongue, but he didn't stumble or falter. Any sign of weakness would mean his downfall, and that wasn't something he could afford – not with Allen's life hanging in the balance, and the entirely too likely probability of Bookman showing up and ruining the entire damn plan.
"So you do. Just like your father." The man's smirk deepened, and Kanda had to resist the urge to throttle him right then and there. "I knew him well, you know."
Dark eyes bored holes through the window, determined to show no emotion, no weakness. He's enjoying this, the fucking bastard. He's waiting to see me get angry, waiting for something he can use against me. I refuse to give it to him. I won't sink that low.
The other man chuckled, sitting down in one of the chairs. "I think he's getting restless, Konue-san. We should give him his payment… seeing as how he performed so beautifully for us."
"I agree. My apologies for keeping you waiting so long, Yuu... we simply had to make sure that he was delivered in good condition." The leader stood up and walked to a nearby shelf, rifled through a stack of papers for a few moments, then pulled down a thick envelope and offered it to Kanda.
As Kanda took the envelope from the man, he stared down at it and struggled to repress his growing excitement. At last, he thought, gripping the documents tightly. That person... and the promise I made... it's almost over. Without a glance back, Kanda turned and walked out of the room, then out of the building altogether. They'll be watching me. I'll give them what they want, but not when they expect it. Beansprout... you'd better be alive when I get to you!
The Fourteenth had long been biding his time, waiting for the seal to weaken so that he could once again emerge. He'd never been a threat, never been anything more than a simple presence... and though it irked him to no end, he could understand why Allen had sealed him away along with the Ark. It had been necessary. God, how he hated that word! What many people deemed necessary was often, in the Fourteenth's mind, something horribly cruel. He'd never experienced much kindness growing up, never had the kind of family that would love him unconditionally... except his brother, Mana.
Golden eyes opened and gazed up at the ceiling of the room as the Musician began coming to full wakefulness. It had been a long time, and he still felt very sleepy. It was an annoyance, but nothing that would stop him for long. Allen now slept in the back of his mind, as he had once slept in the back of Allen's, and the Fourteenth couldn't help a small smile at the sheer irony of it all. Allen had given him control, had trusted him to get them out of this mess – and the Fourteenth had no plans to do otherwise. So long as he was in the hands of these brokers, he would certainly not be safe, which to him was absolutely unacceptable. He was too important, knew too much, had too much yet to do to allow himself to be held captive by such pitiful creatures. Still... still, he felt weak as a newborn kitten after his years of slumber, and he knew that he wouldn't simply be able to bash his way out and call it a day. He could feel Allen's Innocence raging against him, and keeping it at bay would take a good deal of his strength and concentration.
How, then, would be the best way to get out? That seemed to be the question of the day. The Fourteenth slowly sat up, stretching his arms and legs, testing the strength of his body and finding it sufficient. Allen kept himself in excellent shape, even with his fading health, and the Fourteenth would need every last bit of it to get them out alive. After that... it seemed he would have to deal with Kanda Yuu, which would be a hassle. Kanda was strong, incredibly so – he'd always been one of the Order's most powerful Exorcists. Even with the curse slowly taking his life from him, he could still – would still – fight with all the power he had. Golden eyes closed halfway as the Fourteenth considered his options regarding Kanda... and he felt something at the back of his mind, a hint of desperation.
Leave him alone!
"All things in their time," he murmured, stretching supple muscles again before slowly standing up. If Allen didn't want him harmed, the Fourteenth wouldn't harm him... despite the fact that the man had apparently betrayed them. Still, he'd always been the type who enjoyed a good story, and Kanda's proved to be interesting at the very least... so perhaps it would be worthwhile after all, to listen to him and see what would come of it. Maybe he would even discover something he hadn't already known... and with a man like Kanda Yuu, there had to be secrets in abundance.
Now, then, came the question of how to get out. The room was plain enough, with wooden walls and a wooden floor... no window, of course, which wasn't that much of an issue. The door was also wood, and heavy, so the Fourteenth's slight frame would have a difficult time breaking it down without the help of Crown Clown or his own Noah abilities. Brute strength was inherent in every Noah, and he himself had certainly snapped a bone or two with a simple grip... so while it wouldn't be inherently difficult to get out, it would be a pain. People would hear, come running, and the Musician would have to fight. He snorted a bit, graceful hands clenching into fists before he folded himself into a seated position on the floor.
"Fighting like a brute," he murmured. "That seems something more fit for Skinn than myself."
You can fight? Allen's sleepy voice caught his attention once again, and the Fourteenth blinked.
"Of course," he replied, shrugging a little as he spread his legs before him, stretching down between them to test his body's flexibility. "I simply detest it. I never wanted any of this... but, nobody ever asked me, and so I have no choice. I am what I am."
Allen was quiet for a moment while he considered the words, then spoke again, still sounding half-awake. Mana... was he...?
The Fourteenth smiled faintly and closed his eyes. "No," he replied. "My brother was quite normal, I assure you."
I loved him. Allen's voice took on a mournful tone that stabbed straight to the Fourteenth's core, causing golden eyes to sting just a bit. I'll see him soon...
"Not if I have anything to say about it," the Noah murmured, and Allen didn't reply – he simply drifted back to sleep. Full lips pressed into a line as the Fourteenth continued stretching, waiting for the door to open and his chance to pounce. He had absolutely no intention of dying, nor did he have any intention of letting Allen die. In fact, if Allen knew what he was planning... well, suffice it to say, he'd have a fit. At any rate, the Fourteenth could only hope it would be worth it in the end... and so, stretching complete, he went back to the bed and lay down, waiting patiently.
He could wait a long, long time if it came down to it.
A/N: Well, here it is, after... way too long! I hope you enjoyed chapter ten, and I think if I keep apologizing each chapter for taking forever, all I'll ever be doing is apologizing - so I'd rather say thank you for reading, and hello new readers, and I'm going to do my VERY BEST to finish this story within the next few months. I don't tend to write with an outline, just a general idea in mind, so I often get stuck - but my betas have been lovely, and both of them have been kicking my arse to get this finished. ;P Thanks to them, Moyashi and Folded, and general disclaimers apply as always - I don't own DGM or the characters therein, this story is not for profit - simply for fun. ^^