Of all things I could possibly have imagined, I had not expected to be forced to rewrite this once again. *sigh* I'm going to do this right this time around, I need to do this right this time around… because I'd seriously hate it if I received a memo telling me to get back here and edit this a third time. Then again, they do say the third time's the charm, don't they?

Anyhow, one major change of this is that I've done my best to stick to Allen's PoW for as much as possible, because too many PoW doesn't synch well with my current style of writing and current style of storytelling. I have kept parts of the old story, but reworked other bits and removed ones which have been deemed either too arbitrary or just too redundant to make the cut.

Disclaimer: I obviously don't own D. Gray – Man.

- o0o -

The Beginning of an End

- o0o -

He coughed violently a couple of times, using his hands to muffle the sounds. There was something stuck in his throat, blocking his airways. He spat it out into his hand. Blood. He coughed again, trying to catch his breath, failing. His breathing sounded almost watery, yet awfully shallow at the same time.

Am I… going to die like this?

Night after night in the sickbay, spent like this. Slowly, he was suffocating, and it was not only in a purely physical sense.

Eyes. Everyone was staring. Always.

"Allen? What's the matter?"

A single green eye peered worriedly at him in the darkness.

He coughed again, attempting to collect himself enough to formulate an answer. "Wrong pipe," he wheezed out.

A grin swiftly replaced the worried look as Lavi sniggered. "You're such a glutton, Sprout."

He made sure to wipe his mouth with the back of his hand before he turned, returning the grin. It was forced, but it was necessary; they would worry even more about him if he didn't, and he couldn't bear much more scrutiny. I'm alright, he mentally repeated, wishing he himself would be able to believe in it. I'm alright…

- o0o -

He was burning up, burning up from the inside and out, his life burning away at an accelerating rate. He felt like he was dying, and he probably was, somehow. A nearly constant fever plagued him, bringing him closer to a state of delirium. He was slipping, and he could feel it. His body was rejecting something, being rejected by something. Was it the Innocence? Was he turning into a Fallen One?

I don't… want to die…

Delirious, he found himself imagining, night after night, that there was a masked man standing at his bedside. His rational mind rejected the notion, of course, putting it off as a dream or as a hallucination called forth by his tired and restless mind.

A smile flashed by in the darkness, but it was all a dream anyway so it didn't matter.


His lips were dry, and his throat hurt badly when speaking. He half-expected that the man would fade away upon being addressed, and as such he was moderately surprised when the figure apparently decided to stay around, watching him in silence. Darkness was closing in on him where he lay, searing darkness which would erase him from the world, but suddenly he was cool again, cool and at peace.

His eyes fluttered open slightly, taking in the blurred shape of his silent observer. A cold hand rested on his forehead, stroking it almost tenderly. He was slipping again, though he fought against sleep as it crept up on him, but he was fighting in vain. The cold hand slipped from his forehead, but it was soon replaced by a pair of lips which were just as cold.

"It's alright…" someone whispered. "It'll be alright…"

Allen didn't believe them.

- o0o -

Time and time again, he found himself sitting at the white piano in the Ark with virtually no recollection of how he got there in the first place, and no idea as to how he had made it past the motherly Matron, who guarded them all like a bloodhound of some sort, refusing to let anyone who did not have a clean bill of health out of her place of dwelling.

Time and time again, he found himself playing and playing and playing, until he was not all too sure as to where he was and what he was doing anymore. It didn't matter, because playing the instrument proved to be soothing in some ways, putting his mind to rest about a lot of things.

- o0o -

"You're burning up. Why are you so bloody weak?"

A snort. What was Kanda doing in there?

"Why are you so bloody concerned? Leave me alone."

Concern. Why was he concerned?

- o0o -

He was seeing things again, a grinning shadow in the mirror, waiting for him, waiting to take over. A sickening feeling overcame him, and his world swayed dangerously.

Hands grabbed onto him, slinging him over someone's shoulder. He struggled. "What the Hell are you doing, BaKanda?"

He continued to struggle, but nothing came of it so he gave up, falling limp. "Let me down, Kanda. Let me down or else I'll barf all over your uniform."

Dizziness nearly overcame him for a moment, and he almost missed the instance where he was put back onto his feet for a brief moment, only to be swept back up again in the next. "What the fuck's wrong with you? I can walk on my own, you dumbass."

A snort. "Doubtfully."

"Hey, I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself."

A scoff. "I seriously doubt that."

"And I don't give an ass as to what you think, so just let me down or else I'll..."

The world tilted dangerously again. His head hurt, and it hurt so badly he felt like it was going to burst open on him. "I'll..."

"Are you alright?" Kanda asked.

"Yeah, just bloody fabulous. Now let me down or I'll..."

Another wave of pain shot through his head. "I'll..."


- o0o -

Brightness, hurting his eyes.

Tyki Mikk, standing over him.

"Hello, Boy."

- o0o -

He didn't struggle; there was no point to it. He was too tired, and his head was hurting too bloody much for him to even to consider such a thing. Still, his apparent lack of action did spur a reaction from his seeming abductor, and a look of mild concern entered the eyes of his still-smirking opponent. "Not going to attack me?"

"There is no point," he hoarsely responded as the Noah moved to scoop him up. "I'm in no shape to fight… besides… if you wanted to kill me straight away you would've done so by now…"

Vaguely, he recalled the sensation of having his heart pierced, recalling the cold creeping into his limbs as he lay motionless and watched the moon all while his vision grew dimmer; he had thought he would die then – he had wanted to deny it with every fibre of his being, but there simply was no strength left to do it. He hadn't died then; his Innocence had wanted him to live and had ensured it. However, this time around, things were different; there was nothing and no one there to save him now…

He wanted to put an end to it all – to the throbbing headache threatening to cleave his skull – and he wanted it to such a degree that he even resorted to asking his enemy to be merciful enough to knock him the Hell out before going through with it, and surprisingly enough the Noah obliged.

He couldn't say what had taken place after that; unconsciousness spared him the details of the events which took place, but voices and fleeting sensations still left their mark.

- o0o -

"Hey, what the Hell do you think you're doing?"

A voice, uttering a question in a dangerous tone. It seemed almost familiar to him, and invoked the image of a ponytailed swordsman with Asian features and a near-permanent scowl on his face, his dark eyes narrowed in disgust as they fell on the ugly world before them. Always snarling, always pissed off.

"Let him go… now."


You wouldn't even shake my hand because I'm cursed…

"You bastard!"

A redhead wearing an eye patch. Always smiling; didn't smile then, his usual grin discarded in favour of a grim expression to match his tone of voice.

- o0o -

His body was shifted, and gloved fingertips trailed down his cheek.

Sharp breaths were drawn at the realisation of the leverage held by the enemy.

His body was shifted again, and his mind sank deeper into the mud; deeper into the darkness, but Allen really couldn't bring himself to care.

- o0o -

He only ever heard about the massive attack on Headquarters which had taken place when it had since long come to pass, and he never really paid much heed to the move which followed it. Once news reached him of the fact that he had been abandoned – that he had been left to the virtually nonexistent mercy of the Earl by his very own comrades – it was as though a light had been extinguished within him, leaving him in a state complete darkness. Whichever feeble hopes he may have harboured of someday returning to the Order died then, his silent anguish sending him off into the final stages of Awakening.

Wave after wave of pain came over him and overwhelmed him to such a degree that he had screamed himself raw in virtually no time at all, writhing pitifully in the arms that kept him restrained – kept him from hurting himself. Voices spoke to him soothingly, telling him to calm down and to breathe, but he could not focus on them; the pain was in the way of them. Within his head, a murdering migraine resided, a mighty headache which felt like it was going to split his head in two at any moment. He screamed again, but was soon silenced, by means unknown along with a voice, unbelievably calm, along with a piece of cloth, damp and cool, which was pressed against his forehead, burning with fever. "Calm down… It'll settle down soon…"

He didn't believe in it; couldn't believe in it. It was the voice of a liar after all; the voice of an enemy. His breath quickened, getting even shallower. He inhaled oxygen like he could never have enough of it, but a hand clamped itself over his nose and mouth. "Breathe slowly," the voice urged, but he struggled instead, his eyes still shut tight.

The voice; he wanted it to shut up and go away, yet he found himself clinging to every word it uttered like a lifeline.

The hand on his mouth was removed once more and he could breathe again. "Hurts…" he breathed.

"I know," the voice responded. "Bear with it. It will be over before you know it."

It was another lie; of that, he was strangely certain.

- o0o -

He was dreaming again; he knew that much for certain, or did he really?

After all, maybe it was the other end that was all just a figment of his overactive imagination or perhaps the very realistic nightmare he had kept drifting into every now and then; voices all around him, a feeling of delirium mixed with another which caused him to feel like he was on fire; like he had been infected. Maybe all the events so far had just been a part of a fever dream which refused to let go, its claws keeping a firm grip, not intending on setting him loose until the moment when he was truly dead; a ragdoll having outlived its purpose, and a child soldier who had started to question his.

The Shadow had always been within him he supposed, to some extent at least; it was only so that recent events had triggered something deep hidden within him, resulting in dreams or nightmares where the Shadow appeared, larger and clearer than ever, whenever he passed a mirror or some other surface displaying his reflection, giving him a full view of the one who'd been stalking his very being for quite some time…

Ever since that incident in China where he had, in an attempt to save some traitor whose Innocence had gone ballistic on him, surpassed his known limits in order to "save everyone" as he had a certain tendency to try out when encountering situations such as that one. Nevertheless, attempting a full release to save the life and soul of a Fallen One he had obviously broken something; that much was for sure and you didn't need Komui or an X-ray to figure that out. Not that he'd had much time to ponder a matter such as that one, as he had by then had his brain invaded by all these memories of Suman Dark, and then upon finding said man's body inside that forest of bamboo, he had foolishly found himself believing that he had actually managed to save something other than just the soon-to-be carcass of a broken man.

Ironic as it was, funny even in a quite morbid manner, Allen had found himself aware of the fact that Innocence, this so called tool of God, had been the one to steal that man's soul, leaving Suman Dark's empty and broken body behind as it went back into the shape Innocence took before reacting to a chosen apostle or other matter conveniently at hand…

However, Allen had not been thinking about such matters at all at the time following Suman Dark's departure to the afterlife, as he was far too busy staring death in the eye as Tyki Mikk plunged a hole into his heart. At that time he had been far too much of an emotional wreck to think clearly, but the thoughts themselves lay unforgotten in the deeper parts of his mind, only to emerge on the lone nights which followed within the Asian Branch, where the constant throbbing of his cursed eye had caused repeated episodes of insomnia, during which he kept thinking thoughts which had never really occurred to him before, allowing a previously planted seed of doubt to grow.

Tyki Mikk had failed his assassination that time, but not because of lack of ability, but rather because he didn't stay long enough to make sure his victim bled out completely. Had he done so, then Allen supposed he'd bitten the dust there and then, being killed by a Noah while he still had his dignity as an exorcist intact. Now however, he supposed his prospects of dying honourably had decreased a lot or diminished completely, since he would likely be joining the enemy ranks within the near future.

As for how he knew what had been setting motion, Allen was far from the polite and somewhat thick-headed and naïve fifteen-year-old as he had made himself out to be. Wraithlike orbs along with a manically wide grin every time he passed by a mirror was a pretty telling sign of what awaited him.

It wasn't fair; it really wasn't.

- o0o -

"You're naïve. We're destroyers, not saviours."

Tired silver-grey eyes bored themselves into his back where he sat a few steps down, but he didn't look back.

"I know that… Still… I want to…"

- o0o -