Characters: Kanda Yuu centric, mentions of love interest from Allen and Lavi.

Warnings: none but violence and music abuse.

Notes: born from on line conversations with author Nerva al'Thor, and from my growing love for operas. Although the story can be placed almost anywhere in the DGM time line, for manga readers I specify it can be considered right before chapter 169.

Blood Tempo

(in Tosca Fantasy)

Miranda Lott considered herself a very weak person. She was fully aware of her social inadequacies and character flaws, traits that had her bowing and apologizing several times a day.

However, as an Exorcist in battle, Miranda Lott knew better than to let her insecurities interfere with the force of her Innocence. On the contrary, the wish to preserve the safety of her comrades -her first friends- was the strength that fueled the Time Record.

"This, I can do"

Miranda kept repeating to herself.

"This, I can do. I can do it, I will do it. It will not fall" -she murmured over and over, standing with her arms outstretched in front of her, her Innocence activated and permeating her surroundings with the green light of the protective force shield.

Behind Miranda Lott, exorcist Allen Walker and Inspector Howard Link exchanged wary glances at their situation.

The three of them had been deployed to recover Innocence fragments scattered all around Europe almost a month ago, and so far they had successfully retrieved 3 pieces with little to no problem at all. Link took charge of intelligence and information retrieval, Miranda took care of protection and vigilance, and Allen took charge of destroying any interfering Akuma and the actual snatching of the Innocence piece.

But their current predicament was proving to be much more difficult than previously expected, as they found themselves prisoners in a open rooftop, that might as well be considered a thousand-needles trap.

o-o-o-o-o

The Castle of Sant'Angelo had become the source of unnatural phenomena linked to the presence of an Innocence fragment.

Temporary closed due to remodeling work, the castle gave the first signs of strange occurrences when a strange and tragic-sounding music started emitting from the rooftop of building, and then several workers were found lying unconscious on the main floor. Nothing was medically wrong with them, but after two weeks, they wouldn't wake up.

Small red points and scratches -like prickles of fine needles- were found on their skin. Later on, more people fell victim to the odd circumstances. And the music wouldn't stop.

It was said that if someone was to step into the castle grounds, the music would intensify, a soft green light would shine, followed by the sound of distant rifle shots. There were no bullet wounds, though, only needle marks and comatose people. And flashes of green.

For Howard Link, it was a clear example of Innocence awakening.

What better solution than to take Allen Walker, the Musician, to the scene?

o-o-o-o-o

"How are you doing, Miranda-san?"

Allen shouted back to the black-clad woman, as he cut down two more level 2 Akumas.

"I-I'm doing okay, Allen-kun" -Miranda stammered back, although it was clear to everyone that the strain of maintaining the Time Record was finally showing.

Within the protective shield stood one finder, one local curator and one local historian.

Outside the protective shield stood Allen, fighting the invading Akuma as well as trying to dodge the needles attack, and Link, protecting himself behind a pillar, with a golem cradled in his hands.

"Back up is being sent" -the inspector announced loudly, his visage sour at the outcome of this particular expedition.

"Who?" -Allen shouted back, jumping up and down and trying to get closer to the identified Innocence fragment.

It was the green light shining in the right hand of the angel statue on the rooftop. But neither the Exorcist nor the Akuma could get close to it, since the innocence defense mechanism was a shower of green-colored fine needles, that while not fatal, they knocked unconscious any regular person. For exorcist and the like, they had a strong sedative effect, and Allen was already feeling the consequences.

His movements were slower than usual, which only made it more difficult to face the Akuma army intent on destroying and killing.

"The Bookmen!" -Link shouted back- "The junior apprentice says he knows what music you must play to stop the innocence!"

Allen nodded grimly. Trust Lavi to know the most bizarre things.

o-o-o-o-o-o

After consulting with the local historian and the Castle's curator, the Exorcist team was convinced that the music emitting from the Innocence fragment was a hint on how to stop the needles attack.

The Castle of Sant'Angelo was a historical architecture treasure of Rome, and during the past century, it had served several purposes. Famous anteroom for executions was one of those purposes.

The historian and curator agreed that the white-haired exorcist was required to play accordingly with the dark music resonating, in order to appease the angel statue and thus, release the fragment. Link, Miranda and Allen agreed in trying this approach, since none of the previous attempts was working.

However, after many compositions played by the locals and Allen's play of the Ark song, the only result they achieved was to attract the attention of the Akuma nearby. The grand piano stood silent and forgotten in the lower grounds, while the battle continued to pick up in intensity on the rooftop.

o-o-o-o-o

"Yo, kiddos!" -the red-haired Exorcist (currently calling himself Lavi) threw open the latch door on the entrance to the rooftop, big smile in place.

"Out of the way!!!" -was Allen's response, as he leaped from statue to niche to cornice, dodging Akuma bullets and Innocence needles.

"Yiiikes!"

Lavi rolled to his left, rapidly gaining his feet again and taking refugee behind a wide pillar, snickering at finding himself in company of none other than Link.

"Fancy meeting you here, sir Inspector" -Lavi smiled good-naturally, his uncovered eye tracing around their surroundings, taking into consideration the situation.

"And Bookman?" -the braided man inquired, not smiling at all.

"Auuuhhh and here I thought I would be welcomed!" -the red-haired teen pouted, talking as he pulled out his Innocence weapon- "The old panda has got work to do, ya know"

"The song, then, Junior?" -the inspector bit back, clearly not happy to deal with the infamous jester exorcist.

Lavi shook his head. "So unappreciated" - he mused, and chose to leave his hiding place and join Allen on the open surface. "He's kinda pissed off, hm?" -he then engaged Allen in conversation.

Allen took a couple of seconds to give a rather embarrassed smile.

"I guess it would be my fault. He says that clearly the name of Musician should be reconsidered, if I can't guess what music that Innocence fragment responds to. Not that I ever asked for the label though"

Lavi chuckled.

"Doesn't help matters that this Innocence is rather volatile, eh? Kinda easy to understand, if ya think about all the beheading and stuff that happened here. This is a mausoleum, to begin with. The late emperor Hadrian designed it for him and his family, and it was built between the years 135 and 139 when the-"

"Lavi!" -Allen half whined and half yelled- "We're rather short of time, Miranda's limit is close now"

"Right, right" -the red-haired exorcist nodded while using Odzuchi Kodzuchi to smash a ramping Akuma against the stone structure- "So, Allen, what do you know about Giulio Rospigliosi?"

Allen blinked, and dodged another blood bullet. How many Akuma left now, only 3?

"Ah?"

"You know, Pope Clement IX? Or, hmm, Rossi, Landi...maybe Marazzoli?"

Silence among the battle ruckus.

"Italian opera, Allen! The castle's executions were performed on opera tempo!!"

By Allen's bewildered expression, it was clear to Lavi that the younger teen had no clear idea of what was being said. Lavi harrumphed. Why no one bothered to ask him things first?! He was a bookman in training, for goodness sake, he knew stuff!! Surely big bad points-on-the-forehead Howard Link thought his investigating abilities were enough.

Sorely mistaken, then.

"You are damn lucky I'm not your only backup, then! I'm pretty good with records, but knowing about music history is not the same as playing it ehh!" -Lavi tried to run past the Akuma attack and navigate among the shower of needles that activated when in close range to the angel's statue, but the green-colored needles multiplied, piercing skin and tearing clothes with precise accuracy.

Okay, so getting close to the innocence was still a no-no.

Lavi retreated, blood trails already forming on his neck and face. He spotted Allen catching his breath a couple of steps to his right.

As he spoke, his smile was nothing but devious.

"I placed a pretty specific request for Tiedoll's team to come join us"

Allen groaned in protest.

Noise Marie would undoubtedly help them solve this situation, with his sounds and music affinity. But Tiedoll's team leader was, of course, none other than Kanda Yuu.

And Kanda's presence was the last thing Allen needed right now. Because his attitude always became worst around the aloof and rude swordsman, and his emotions went amok with excitement and rebellion and pride and oh-dear-god confused attraction.

Lavi looked back at the latch door of the roof entrance.

Any minute now.

o-o-o-o-o

Noise Marie stepped into the rooftop and rapidly assumed an strategic position on a cornice's edge, behind Miranda's Time Record protection, while his auditory sensibility allowed him to place everyone on the right spot. He was carrying with him a black case.

"Allen, Lavi and Miranda, in position" -the taller exorcist spoke into his neck transmitter.

"Oi, big guy!!" -Lavi called, waving- "You guys brought the equipment?"

In response, Marie opened the case and pulled out a violin. His unoccupied hand proceeded to extend the Noel Organon strings around the circuit of the rooftop.

Both Allen and Miranda blinked at the action.

"Marie-san?" -Allen called in a confused tone- "What is the supo-"

A voice to the far left interrupted him.

"Shut up, beansprout. If you're going to be useless, let others work then"

Allen turned narrowed eyes at the Japanese exorcist coming into scene.

Lavi turned a bright smile and a laughing green eye at the owner of that voice.

"I'm not useless, Kanda!"

"Yuu-chan!"

Kanda regarded them both with a cold stare. Clearly ignoring their comments -although a murderous glare was tuned onto Lavi for the name calling during a couple of seconds- he then addressed his team mate.

"Is the sound net already set, Marie?"

"Set" -the blind Exorcist answered, as his right hand moved close to the violin, fusing the Noel Organon strings with the instrument, creating one magnifying sound source.

Kanda moved onto the impromptu battle ground, Mugen already whistling and slashing through Akuma's flesh.

"Rabbit, you've got us dragged here to help the sprout brat with Marie's violin, so what now?"

Lavi snickered at the charming words. He was not a masochist by any means, but damn it if he didn't enjoy Kanda's attention.

He was hopelessly enthused over the Japanese teen, the infatuation dangerously bordering on real emotions. Perhaps it had been fake at the beginning, the whole 'Lavi bonding with the Black Order's nasty-mouthed Kanda Yuu', but now....now....

Lavi managed to keep the smile in place and appear nonchalant.

Now, this person of red hair and green eyes whose name was nearly forgotten after 49 aliases, this Lavi-for-the-time-being was beginning to fear he was falling in love.

Oh joy and darn it. Better get back in track.

"Well? Speak up for fuck's sake" -Kanda's voice drifted back to the other exorcist, as he ran and cut and dodged the needles rain, black coat and black hair dancing.

"Italian opera, Marie!" -Lavi shouted, retreating again behind the stone pillar. Funny thing how the Link guy seemed so composed writing on his little notebook in the middle of the fight- "General Tiedoll did teach you some opera seria, a bit of Rossini, ne?"

On the cornice, Marie nodded.

Suddenly, the place was flooded with violin notes.

o-o-o-o-o

Fifteen minutes later, things had taken a rather amusing turn, in Lavi's perspective.

"As interesting and educative as this musical repertoire is, the situation is not improving" -Link's voice was clipped and serious as he regarded Lavi with patronizing eyes.

Lavi flashed his sweet I'd-like-to-punch-your-face smile at the words.

"Hey, don't blame me! How could I've known this was a bitchy piece of innocence that doesn't seem to like Rossini and Verdi? And it's not like I called upon more of the happy camper Akumas, ya know!"

In the open ground, the battle was still raging.

"Get the hell out of my way, sprout!"

"You're the one interfering!"

"If you weren't fucking blind and useless..."

"If you weren't such a bastard..."

Howard Link frowned at the exchange he could discern above the slashing, pounding and violin background.

"You are Black Order members! Would you two show some decorum!" -he yelled from his spot.

"Momma Link says you children should behave!" -Lavi howled immediately after, as he prepared himself to join back into combat.

As amused as he was pretending to be, he was fully aware of the Level 3 closing in towards Marie's place.

o-o-o-o-o

"Fuck!" -Kanda swore loudly from his place.

It all was happening fast, in a rapid and degenerating sequence.

Miranda slid to her knees as the Time Record light fluttered and then faded, Marie was forced to stop playing and join the battle as a Level 3 targeted him directly, Allen screamed over the noise of the Akuma bullets being shot, Lavi and Kanda turned into dust an evolving Level 2-nearly 3, while another one managed to get dangerously close to the lone angel's statue of the Castle Sant'Angelo rooftop.

In response to the threat, the innocence fragment resting on the angel's hand shone brighter, and instantly, the green needles became thick and sharp spikes.

Lavi thought that whatever denomination the Order decided to give that innocence, it should definitely contain a term akin to murderous, psychotic, violent, music obsessive, or the like.

Allen thought that avoiding blood bullets was tricky enough to add sedative spikes on top of it, while Marie and Miranda thought on how to avoid being eaten alive by the shrieking Level 3.

Kanda thought that this was all a stupid loss of time and that if that dammed beansprout and rabbit could just freaking hold themselves for a goddamn minute, he might as well put an end to it.

"Tch, the things I do for this bunch of fools" -the Japanese whirled on place, sheathing Mugen in one swift motion and retreating a couple of feet, cursing Tiedoll and his art lessons under his breath.

Marie's violin rested in solitary abandonment on the cornice.

o-o-o-o-o

It started with a soft bow movement, smooth and deep, an articulation of long and tranquil violin notes to form a legato.

Although the violin strings were not joined with Marie's Noel Organon any longer, the introduction of the violin music was clearly noticed by every person on the rooftop.

The Innocence fragment's light seemed to fluctuate, but the spikes attack continued to rain down.

Allen's attention turned towards the source of the renewed music, his eyes widening slightly at the picture of black-clad Kanda Yuu, holding the violin in an expert's grasp, sliding the bow over the strings in confident motions.

The long, smooth notes composing the theme's introduction flowed from the instrument in a sad, foreboding aura, gaining length and speed one after the other, creating an incoming momentum.

All the while, Kanda stood his ground, unmoving under the rain of spikes tearing through his clothes and skin, his eyes neutral over the bow movement and fingerboard.

Kanda had suspected since the beginning that this Innocence piece had chosen this resting place intentionally, this Castle of Sant'Angelo. And therefore, the moment he took hold of the violin, his first thoughts went to an opera set in this particular scenario.

Forgetting about the others -placing the sudden audience on the back of his thoughts- he focused in exceeding in his play. His pride could not stand for less.

Surely the innocence fragment would not stand for less, either.

o-o-o-o-o-o

"What are you doing, Kanda!" -Allen came out of his shock, yelling and making to jump towards the Japanese exorcist.

But Lavi's hand on his arm stopped him.

The green eye had a look of approval and near-adoration as the Bookman Junior also gazed at the long-haired exorcist.

"Leave him be, Allen. It makes sense, it's Puccini" -the red-haired teen pulled back the younger boy, both of them now facing the remaining 2 Akuma monsters- "And that's Yuu-chan for ya, choosing correctly his own blood tempo. And at the first try, at that.... La vita mi costasse, vi salvero, after all"

"What do you mean? What did you say?" -Allen questioned, assuming his fighting stance, but with one eye still trained onto the proud figure of the violin-playing exorcist.

"Even if it costs me my life, I'll save you" -Lavi chuckled in response, easily translating- "C'mon, did ya think Yuu would escape Tiedoll's infamous artistic streak? It's pretty general knowledge that Tiedoll's teams are all well versed in sketching and music instruments. Daisya was a mean percussionist, for the record. And here ya go, Allen, ya're lucky to get both Marie and Yuu-chan playing violin the same night"

"I did not know" -Allen murmured, but had no time to add more, since the Akuma opened its mouth to release acidic mist against them.

As Lavi and Allen joined forces to contain and defeat their enemies, Kanda started to advance towards the angel's statue.

He would not stop playing, though. He could already sense the weakening effect of the music upon the innocence fragment.

Kanda's eyes -lids unconsciously dropping a bit at the music's pull- narrowed on the green light of the innocence, his mind ignoring wounds being inflicted and Akuma bullets whizzing past him.

The fingers of his left hand pressed down on the string, the his right hand drew back the bow, unintended grace showing flawlessly.

The legato articulation gained its proper momentun, the music notes ascending and ascending until reaching a one-second-lasting silence, as Kanda jumped and whirled to avoid an Akuma bullet that flew directly at him.

The rhythm was not lost, though. As in everything else he applied himself to, Kanda was prideful enough to cultivate perfection into his violin plays. Movement did nothing to distort his rhythm.

The second-lasting silence broke into an accent, that can be described as a rather strong, intense bow movement, very punch-like and very swift, producing an altogether new music aura, from sad and nostalgic changing into tense and fast-paced, almost urgent.

"Vissi d'arte, vissi d'amore, e avanti a lui tremevatta tutta Roma" - Lavi continued to murmur, releasing the Fire seal and turning the struggling Akuma into ashes, as Allen took care of the last one.

The green eye followed the graceful movements of the Japanese man, as his coat billowed on the violent night wind and his high ponytail whipped and fluttered, skilled steps taking him among debris and smoke towards the angel's statue. Kanda's face ran blood from the tears made by the Innocence-induced spikes, but his hands were poised firmly on bow and violin neck, and the opera theme did not waiver once.

I lived on art, I lived on love, and all Rome trembled before him.

Indeed, what an apt description.

o-o-o-o-o

Allen de-activated Crown Clown, breath coming fast and body protesting multiple wounds. But all his attention was now fixed on Kanda, playing for and towards the Innocence fragment.

There was something equally magnificent and demented in the way the long-haired exorcist could play and -for all purposes- dance his way forward without flinching nor caring about the needles' gashes on his flesh and clothes.

The music came now in successive staccato, the bow sliding up and down in open angles -detaché movement- building tension higher and higher and thicker and thicker, each note shorter and swifter – a tremolo- a tremulous and tragic sense to it.

"What is this song?" -Allen whispered his question to Lavi, both their eyes fixed upfront.

"Opera, kid, one that's only a century-old" -the red-haired teen corrected distractedly- "Romantic tragedy, to that. A woman stolen away, a man unfairly incarcerated, a plan to fake deaths and then escape together. The final act takes place right here, in the Castle of Sant'Angelo, before the man's execution, while his letter speaks of shining stars and how he had never loved life so much. E lucevan le stelle...e non ho amato mai tanto la vita"

Kanda had reached the angel's statue pedestal, and by then, the green-colored spikes had once again reduced to fine sharp needles, decreasing in speed and number with each played note.

The sharp, tremulous notes reached the highest peak, Kanda's fingers pressing down the necessary strings, his right hand sliding the bow in one slow, smooth arc, creating a sustained series of long notes, a legato articulation that lasted one long, melancholic minute – a son filé.

Allen might have not known much about violin play, but he was almost sure that managing to create such contrasting, intense tempo was short of a real artistic achievement.

"Su, su, Mario. Su presto andiam" -Lavi's eye closed for a second, as if recalling a memory, now at the end of the play- "The heroine sees the abandoned body of her love lying on the ground, supposedly faking his death, and calls for him to stand up. But her love is really dead. The plan did not work. Faking only gets you so far, after all"

No one behind could see it, but Kanda's eyes had finally fallen closed in concentration, as the ending notes of the violin flowed and waved into the wind. The last long and smooth note lost intensity, gradually fading as the bow arched one more time and then came to lay still.

"And as the heroine throws herself from this same rooftop towards her sure death, she swears she will meet her enemy Scarpia before God, and then thinks about the shining stars. O Scarpia, avanti a Dio...e lucevan le stelle..." -Lavi finishes, walking forward at the sight of the Innocence on the angel's hand emitting one final intense green flash.

The fragment then became mute and opaque, allowing itself to be retrieved. The fine needles faded into thin air as well.

Nearly forgotten by the other three exorcist, the rest of the team sat behind stone pillars, waiting for the battle to end.

Miranda, still exhausted, looked up at Marie, with a small smile.

"I think I liked this mission, after all. The music was lovely"

Marie nodded, eyes still closed.

"General Tiedoll would be happy to know that"

On the rooftop, Kanda lowered both bow and violin, and turned cold eyes towards the approaching Allen and Lavi.

"The fuck you're waiting for, sprout. Get the fragment already, or do I have to fucking do everything around here?!"

Allen was frozen in place.

How could someone play that kind of music, and then speak that kind of words?!

Lavi burst into peals of laughter.

"Yuu-chan is such a romantic!!"

o-o-o-o-o-o

An hour later, the Exorcist teams and finder made their way to the designated hotel. Miranda and their finder lead the way, while Marie and Kanda walked in companionable silence, still brushing debris and ashes from their uniforms.

Behind them, Allen and Lavi and three steps on the rear, Howard Link.

The seven of them would spend the night in Rome, and the following day they would return through the Ark gates to France.

From that point, Marie and Lavi had received orders to stay in Headquarters , while Kanda had been assigned to accompany Allen, Miranda and Link in their on-going missions.

Kanda had rudely and loudly commented what a pain in the ass was to babysit one good-for-nothing beansprout. The fuck did he care about Allen being the 14th Noah's vessel or whatever, Kanda worked better alone or with his own team.

Allen had rudely and loudly complained about having to deal with such a bastard of an egotistic exorcist, whose dark temper was mostly to hinder than to help them. God forbid the man showed manners once in a while.

Lavi had rudely and loudly whined about missing all the fun and having to return to the HQ only to have old Panda kicking him non-stop over some arcane records. He would have preferred to stay with cute Allen and sexy Yuu-chan and do all sort of mischievous things to them.

At Lavi's last statement, both Allen and Kanda rudely and loudly agreed that the red-haired rabbit was an idiot and that they were better off without him.

Howard Link spent the following quarter of an hour silencing the bickering and whining exorcists, finally swearing that he would somehow snatch Mugen away from Kanda and kill them all with it if they didn't manage to shut up.

Kanda's intense eyes -gray blue, winter blue, dark dark blue- turned murderous intentions onto the Order's inspector. And that put an end to the childish discussion.

Qual occhio al mondo puo star di paro, all'ardente occhio tuo nero?

....

What eyes in the world could compare to your passionate dark eyes?

o-o-o-o-o

Right before the lights went out, Allen called out, addressing his room partner from his bed.

"Ne, Lavi, you never told me the name of that opera in the end" -he said, his eyes a bit glazed, recalling notes and movements, and white hands playing, and red blood trailing down smooth skin.

Allen had not dared to make any kind of comment regarding Kanda's sudden performance at the end of the mission. He was too enthralled to even try.

"Hmmmm" -Lavi hummed from his own bed, his mind replaying very similar images that the ones running through Allen's inner eye- "Didn't I?" -he murmured lightly- "It was not the opera original full theme, of course. That opera's got three acts, the music lasts over an hour"

"Do you think General Tiedoll taught Kanda that composition then?" -Allen questioned, this time turning to see Lavi's resting figure across the room.

He saw the older exorcist lying there, visible eye closed, facial expression relaxed and almost, almost caring -not smiling, not laughing, not painfully fake- and Allen knew then, that Lavi's thoughts were solely placed in Kanda in that moment.

Allen felt something akin to vertigo twisting his stomach. Oh God but he feared that he felt the same way. What had Lavi and himself gotten into?

Lavi opened his eye to look at Allen, and found the other teen gazing at him. Quickly the Bookman Junior subtly arranged his expression into a more usual happy grin.

Even though Lavi suspected Allen had caught that particular slip of his mask. How foolish and careless of him.

"I think General Tiedoll teaches all his apprentices, and not only Yuu-chan, how to compose themselves, to create their own arrangements. Who knows, maybe Yuu-chan was the one to take that opera tragedy and turned it into that up-and-down intense tempo. Kinda fits him, ne? You know what they say about people and resemblances, hmm?"

Allen gave him a quizzical look.

"What do they say about people and resemblances?"

Lavi gasped in fake shock- "All the good stuff, Allen! The size does matter, intense tempers make for intense lovers, no use crying over spilt milk, all work and no play will make Yuu-chan a dull-"

"Lavi!" -Allen huffed in annoyance, watching with a frown as the older teen erupted into a fit of chuckles- "It's too much to ask for you to be serious for over 5 seconds, I see"

With that, Allen turned towards the wall, furrowing into his blankets, and closed his eyes.

Before sleep managed to snatch his consciousness away, he thought he heard Lavi murmuring.

"Hmmm...it might as well be called Tosca fantasy, ne?"

o-o-o-o-o

END

A/N: This work is relatively old, and I had forgotten to post this fic in fanfiction-dot-net. It's been a while since it appeared in the LJ community of DGRAYMAN, so.......

This can work as kind of a backup for me, then? XD

Music Disclaimer: The opera is famous Giacomo Puccini ultra-famous Tosca, created during the late 1800 and played at the beginnings of 1900. Since its first play, the success was maddening (in the fic the time mentioned by Lavi in one part is purposely mistaken, since I had to tweak it a bit to make the plot plausible XO)

The more up-beat and contrasting summarized version I have described in the fic is the recent adaptation by Ukrainian violinist Edvin Marton, exactly called Tosca Fantasy.

I highly, highly oh so much recommend to listen to it! You can google it and surely you'll find videos in You-tube, featuring the violinist as well as famous professional skater Evgeny Plushenko, since both work together for world wide shows and competitions.