Disclaimer: D. Gray Man is H. Katsura's property. (...)
A/N: A shikigami is a spirit summoned to serve Exorcists. As you'll see when you read, I use the word 'youkai' because it sounds well (too used to watching anime with youkai in it, and translating it with 'demon' doesn't sound good :D) though I also use other words such as demon, spirit etc...
Also, this story came to my mind when I suddendly wondered 'what if DGM characters were real Exorcists, like in classical Japan?' and there we go.
Thanks to Klappy for beta-ing the chapter.
Chapter 1 – The sealed altar
"Pay attention, Allen."
The said boy raised his grey eyes to Komui Lee, who was presently talking to him and looking at him with a weary but kind look.
"I'm sorry," the boy merely apologized in his monotonous voice, and Komui sighed.
"Listen, I know this isn't the first time we talk about this, but I'll say it again. It's been three years since you've come here, and you've never practiced a single exorcism so far; you don't even have a single shikigami. I know you've never liked being an Exorcist, but you have to understand that if you aren't useful to the Temple of the Black Order," the man explained, "then someday I'll have to dismiss you. It is urgent for you now to summon a shikigami to serve you, and start taking exorcism requests."
"I know." came the usual answer.
"Then do something about it. That will be all for today. You may leave."
The boy nodded, and walked out. He went to the huge and beautiful garden of the Temple, the only place where he felt serene and at ease, and sat in the shadow of a white pine. Allen often came to that place when he had free time for it was peaceful and quiet, and it allowed him to lose himself deeply in thoughts.
The Temple of the Black Order. A shrine and a school at the same time. A school for Exorcists, necessary because of the countless numbers of youkai which kept harassing and tormenting the population. There were requests almost every day, and the duty of the Exorcists was to restlessly fight and destroy any source of evil. Gifted students came from across the seas to become Exorcists, and it was an honor to be received at the Temple and be given the teaching of the most renowned masters of that art.
Yet, Allen had never felt that way. He had never wished to become an Exorcist, even if he had the talent for it. Why? He didn't want to think about it. But unconsciously, images kept flashing through his head.
Fire and smoke.
Screams and cries.
Shrieks of youkai attacking the village.
Allen shook his head. He didn't want to remember, but those images were carved in his mind, and even the current view of the peaceful garden in front of him couldn't distract him.
Escape through the forest. Alone.
Sounds of youkai chasing him.
Run, run, run. To survive.
A tight grip on his shoulder and a devilish laugh. A scream.
A sudden pain on his left eye, then on his left arm.
Death coming near.
Allen shut his eyes tight. No matter how much he wanted it, he couldn't forget. Though he was barely nine at that time, it wasn't something anyone could forget. He ran a finger on the scar on his left eye, wondering for the hundredth time how come his eye was still intact after that youkai had slashed him. And how come his arm hadn't been ripped off, instead merely bearing a long, large scar. Allen hated his two scars, they made him so different from the others and were one of the reasons he was often alone. Sometimes, he wished that the youkai had killed him. Why was he still alive?
A sudden light behind him.
Incantation. An Exorcist.
At that time, the nine-year-old boy's mind was too confused and panicked to realize what was happening. So he ran away. Maybe the Exorcist who had saved his life had tried to catch up to him, maybe he hadn't. It didn't matter now. After the destruction of his whole village, the injured boy had wandered through the forest before arriving in a town, exhausted, on the verge of collapsing due to the heavy loss of blood. He had passed out. Next thing he knew was that he had awakened in a house, his wounds more or less treated.
Allen smiled. Among all his memories, those were the only ones he would recall gladly. Until he was twelve, he had been brought up in that house, which was actually a place for abandoned children and orphans. The woman who took care of them was the incarnation of kindness. When people usually treated Allen as a demon because of his silver hair, that woman would simply ruffle it, saying how beautiful it was. The children called her Nara.
Even now, at the Temple, many students and Exorcists didn't want to approach him because of his appearance, always regarding him warily. Only a few Exorcists didn't give a damn about his silver hair, or his scars, and among them, there were two that Allen could really call friends. The first one, Lavi, was always cheering Allen up and defending him against the others. He was like a big brother to him. The second one, Lenalee, was Komui's sister and a very kind girl. But since those two were often sent on missions, Allen was often left alone. Actually, he didn't mind being alone; it was better than seeing the people around him averting their gazes.
Once more, Allen chuckled. It was funny how time could change people. When he was at Nara's house, he was always surrounded by many other children, and, most of all, hated being alone. They all lived together, happily. Like a family.
Until that day. That day when he and his friends were playing in the streets and someone announced that an Exorcist from the Temple of the Black Order was coming to purify the town. Allen didn't pay attention to this news, too busy playing, until he noticed a person standing next to him, watching him with interest. Given his clothes, it wasn't difficult for Allen to tell that the person was an Exorcist.
"This boy is gifted," the person merely said. "I'm taking him with me."
Of course, Allen was stunned. He gripped Nara's dress, saying that he didn't want to go. But the Exorcist insisted and to Allen's dismay, Nara accepted.
"You'll see… you'll have a better life there. You have no future here," she said gently, a tear at the corner of her eye.
"A better life, huh?" Allen said to himself. He was now fifteen and to him, nothing of this could be called a better life. He missed his comrades with whom he used to play with, and he missed Nara who had been so kind to him. But he knew he would never be able to see them again… because they all had been killed by youkai.
Not a year after he had entered the Temple of the Black Order, he had heard that some Exorcists had been sent to that town again. But they were too late; the whole town had been reduced to nothing but ruins and corpses.
From that moment, his hatred for youkai grew deeper and fiercer. It was ironic how he could forgive the monsters for destroying his own village and killing his true family, but there was no way he could forgive them for killing his family a second time. And though exorcism was a way to get rid of youkai, he didn't want to have anything to do with anything related to youkai. Thus, he didn't like exorcism.
Yet, he also knew that his hatred for youkai was partly absurd since not every youkai was evil. Many of them were even useful to humans, shikigami for example. But that didn't prevent him from feeling resentful against all the youkai he met, and the simple thought of one serving him made him feel almost… disgusted. Youkai were the reason why he had lost his family twice.
A cool breeze blew on Allen's face as he sat under the white pine. Komui's words came back to him: he had to find a shikigami and start practicing exorcisms; otherwise he would have to leave. Funny, Allen thought. Leaving wasn't a bad idea, but where would he go afterwards?
"Allen!" A voice called him out.
The silver-haired boy raised his eyes and a smile appeared on his lips.
"Lavi! Lenalee!" he answered back as he stood up and went to greet his two friends.
"Always at the same spot, Allen? What were you meditating on this time?" Lavi asked, patting Allen's shoulder.
"Geez, Allen… when will you stop rotting here and go out with us? You know, it's pretty funny to exorcise spirits and youkai!"
"Yes, when the requester is a fine woman…" Lenalee added.
"Haha, what are you talking about, Lenalee?" Lavi answered, a comical sweat drop appearing by the side of his head. "Anyway, when do you intend to summon a shikigami, Allen?"
Allen sighed. His friends didn't know about his hatred for youkai since he had never told them.
"I don't know, but soon enough, I suppose. Don't have much choice anyway," he muttered.
"Don't pull that face! You'll see, when you have one, it will be much more fun!"
"Lavi, exorcism isn't a game," Lenalee reprimanded the enthusiastic red-haired. "Anyway, Brother told me you should hurry up and start filling requests if you don't want to—"
"Get thrown out of the Temple?" Allen finished. "Yes, I know."
"For real?" Lavi asked. "Damn, then you seriously have to get to work! Want me to accompany you? You should be able to find a decent shikigami in the forest."
"No. It's ok, Lavi. I'll go by myself," Allen answered.
"You sure? I can help you if you want."
"No, it's fine," the boy repeated.
"Hm… ok then. Anyway, it's lunch time. You're coming with us?"
"Sure," Allen replied.
As they headed back inside, they crossed paths with several people who simply walked away when they saw Allen – as usual. Lavi stuck his tongue out at them.
"Idiots," he merely said.
"It's ok, Lavi," Allen said, chuckling. "I'm used to it."
"Yeah, but I'm not. Someday, they'll have to learn the difference between a human and a youkai. Lame Exorcists."
"I tried to talk to my brother about it, but he said he can't really do anything about it. People believe what they want to believe," Lenalee shook her head apologetically.
"Don't bother about it," Allen reassured her.
"Anyway, to get back to the topic, if you want to go to the forest, better go at night. You'll have more chance to get a nice shikigami," the girl advised him.
"Yes, I know. I happen to learn my lessons at school, you know?" Allen replied, smiling.
"Haha! Excuse me, Allen. I tend to forget that you're not like Lavi!" Lenalee said cheerfully.
"Hey, hey… I'm not that bad, you know…" Lavi pouted.
All three of them laughed, and Allen's heart lightened a bit.
The moon was full and the sky was clear of any cloud that night, a perfect night for spirits to appear. Allen sighed heavily. Well, he wasn't going to complain about having such a nice weather, but he didn't really feel motivated to search for a shikigami. No choice, he repeated to himself.
He got out of the school, nodding at the guards at the entrance as he passed, and headed for the forest right in front of him. The forest wasn't dark, because of the many little harmless and glowing youkai floating around him like fireflies. Allen followed the main path, intending to go to a pond nearby where he could summon a water shikigami. Well, he had never practiced before, so the result could be disappointing. But at least, Komui would stop bothering him. In the trees surrounding him, he could hear sounds of the youkai who lived in the forest but it didn't worry him, since all the spirits in that area were simply peaceful creatures.
After about half an hour of walking, Allen started getting worried as he didn't see any pond, though he was certain he wasn't lost.
"I should go back," he muttered to himself. He'd ask Lavi to come with him next time, just to make sure. For tonight, it was over.
As he was about to go back though, a strange light caught his attention in the middle of the trees. At first, he thought it was simply another wandering youkai in the forest. But the light strangely intrigued him, so he decided to go and see, plainly out of curiosity.
He left the main road and headed for the light. A tree branch scraped against his cheek as he walked, but he simply wiped the few drops of blood with a hand. What he saw as he reached said light, however, rendered him speechless. He positively knew that there was no clearing around there. So why was there one right here, in front of him?
In the middle of the clearing, an altar was erected, lit by the moonlight. It was impossible! The only altar in the area was the one in the shrine of the Temple; there was no other.
The stone of the altar reflected the light of the full moon, and it seemed to Allen that it was glowing with strange shades of silver. He was simply captivated by the sight.
Allen rubbed his eyes, wondering if it wasn't some kind of hallucination, then decided to go near the altar. It was a very small one, and Allen noticed as he walked closer that there were at least a dozen of seals affixed on it. This was getting even weirder. Why were there seals on an altar? What was sealed?
Allen approached even closer to read what was written on the seals. Useless. The scriptures were written in a language unknown to him. What to do now? Leave? Maybe he could go back to the temple and fetch Lavi and Lenalee. For some unknown reason however, he felt that if he left, he wouldn't be able to find the altar again. Something was telling him to stay.
The silver-haired boy tried to examine the altar itself, but there was nothing on it which could have helped him know its purpose. A thought crossed his mind: he could perhaps try and undo the seals, but how? He'd never practiced anything like that before, he would certainly fail. And if he ever managed to break them, what if an evil spirit came out of the altar? No, that was ridiculous. If an evil spirit was truly sleeping there, the seals would be powerful enough to prevent someone at the level of Allen from breaking them.
Again, the boy found himself staring at the glowing stone, hypnotized by the pulsing light. Until a soft breeze suddenly blew on his face and a voice which seemed to come with the breeze rose, like a murmur:
Allen jumped, and then looked around him. No one else was there, so where did the voice come from? He shook his head. He was imagining things. His attention was brought back to the altar. He was confused. What to do? If he left and couldn't find the altar again later, he would be taken for a fool, and he didn't need that. Allen sighed, and then put a hand on the stone.
Immediately, a violent light dazzled him, forcing him to shut his eyes tight as he stepped back. When he opened them again, the light had disappeared, but the seals were starting to vanish as well, one by one. Allen gasped. What was happening? Was he supposed to run away? But his legs either wouldn't move or weren't able to move, he didn't know. Allen wanted to see, to know; he felt irresistibly attracted by the altar, though he couldn't tell why.
The last seal disappeared, and the stone started cracking. A new light came out of the stone and rose in the air, slowly taking a human shape. Allen blinked several times. He was dreaming, that was the only explanation. In front of him, the light faded, giving Allen a full view of what was in front of him.
A man – no, a youkai – was floating in front of him, staring at him with piercing and dark blue eyes. No word could come out of Allen's mouth. The man – no, youkai! – was simply gorgeous. The moon cast its rays on the dark figure, dressed in a black kimono, as black as his long, floating hair which framed his handsome features.
Allen could simply gaze at the view, not knowing what else to do. He didn't even step back when the man – youkai, for heaven's sake! – slowly landed on his feet right in front of Allen, his eyes still locked on the boy in a cold stare. To Allen, it was impossible that the creature was a youkai; it was too… beautiful to be a youkai. Yet, no human being could possibly appear from an altar. After what seemed an eternity to him, the youkai finally spoke:
"Aren't you going to take me at your service?" he asked coldly.
That brought Allen back to reality.
"W-What are you talking about?" he asked, too dumbfounded. The question seemed to annoy the other.
"You freed me. Now you either give me back my powers and I'll bond to you, or you seal me again."
"I… freed you? Wait, what do you mean? I didn't do anything! And I don't know how to seal you!"
"Che. Your blood freed me. And if you can't seal me, then give me back my powers." The youkai almost demanded.
"My… blood?" Allen was getting more and more confused. Then he looked at his hand with which he had touched the stone. It was the hand he had used to wipe the blood from his scratch off, and there were traces of the crimson liquid on it. He raised his eyes at the youkai.
"What are you?" he asked.
"My name is Kanda," the other replied.
"Then… how do I give you back your powers?" What was he saying? He wanted to give powers to a youkai? To a creature he was supposed to loathe? But… there was something emanating from that one which simply fascinated Allen.
"Make me your shikigami. It's the only way," Kanda answered dryly.
"My shikigami…" Allen murmured. He hadn't expected that at all, but after all, why not? Or was this some kind of trap? The boy looked at Kanda; the latter wasn't visibly very happy about becoming his shikigami, so maybe it was true. Maybe the only way for him to recover his powers was to bond to Allen.
No. There was something wrong. Shikigamis weren't supposed to be obtained like that.
But I want this one.
No, certainly not. Allen despised youkai, and even if shikigamis served humans, they were still youkai to him.
Indeed, he was. Allen had seen many of the other Exorcists' shikigamis and among them, only two or three could pretend to be that… impressing. But Allen had been taught that youkai could sometimes disguise their selves to trick humans.
There's nothing for me to lose.
If Kanda had told him the truth, then Allen would have a shikigami, and Komui would be satisfied.
The boy didn't think any further. With his hand, he traced a seal in the air and chanted. As he did so, he felt an invisible link drawing between him and the youkai, and the feeling wasn't unpleasant at all, contrary to what he had thought. There was something else; an enormous amount of power from nowhere was flowing into Kanda's body, which simply stunned Allen. He had no idea the youkai was that powerful! The boy suddenly panicked. There was no way he could control such a huge amount of spiritual energy! He had to stop right there before it was too late. He looked at Kanda, who was receiving his powers with obvious satisfaction, and again, the sight purely and simply prevented Allen from stopping. Realizing his growing obsession, the boy mentally kicked himself, and promised himself not to let that youkai take over him. He would use Kanda to fill the requests he would be given, and that would be all. No further contact. No friendly bonds like Lavi or Lenalee had with their own shikigamis. Nothing.
He was done chanting. And Kanda was now his shikigami. Allen almost felt overwhelmed by the powerful aura coming from him; the difference between their spiritual energies was simply too huge. Kanda merely stared at Allen for a moment before speaking:
"I can't believe I have to be the shikigami of such a weak Exorcist," he said with contempt.
Allen opened his eyes wide. What the hell had he gotten himself into?
Screw my exams. I know I said I wouldn't post anything before exams were over, but I keep having this story in my head and I can't concentrate on studies because of stupid Yullen! No, just kidding, Yullen is my drug... So writing fictions helps me study better, in a way, right? ^^°
Anyway, since this is my first time at AU, be kind enough to tell me whether this story is worth updating or no, because I won't spend time on it if it isn't.