WARNING! This story contains SPOILERS and YAOI! Also a few minor OCs, so don't kill me.
I want to apologize to my readers for allowing this chapter to take me a while. I lost motivation for writing halfway through due to some family and situational issues that needed to be dealt with. As of now, I am still working through the process of getting back on my feet financially and recovering from identity theft, so please excuse the lateness.
On a brighter note, I've had one of the most memorable summers of my life, and I owe all the happy moments in it to Moyashi. Aishiteru for bishwack. xD! I was also lucky enough to contact one of my readers from GaiaOnline (you're awesome, Allen) and I'd love to hear from more of you, so please feel free to send me a private message or something. I go to anime conventions! It'd be great to see some of you at the ones I attend.
Shout-out to...Broken Locket! Oh my god, I successfully converted you to Yullen? I feel so...accomplished. O_O Thank you for the awesome review, and thank you all for reviewing my stories!
With all that said and done, here's the next chapter!
Rated: T [for violence and language] Bold: Used only in dreams or flashbacks to indicate the main character's lines. Italics: Used to indicate dreams, flashbacks, and thoughts.
Chapter Twenty-One: Slipping In and Out
An impatient tap of a boot on tile was the only sound in the room, save for the occasional scratch of pencil on paper. There was a solitary lamp, shedding light down upon the notebook on the desk as the pencil painstakingly formed neat little letters with a slight curl. The words filled up one page, then the next. Pages flipped until finally the stream of pencil scrawls seemed to come to an abrupt halt. The pencil was flipped around and the eraser tapped on the surface of the paper to the beat of the boot on the floor. A light huff sounded.
"Inspector Howard Link, you are to record everything you saw of Allen Walker's fight with Kanda Yuu in great detail. Sir Leverrier will want to know every tidbit."
The blonde inspector repeated out loud to himself as he sat in a blank room at the Asian Branch, brows furrowed over his report in his notebook. It had been almost two weeks since they had arrived at the Asian Branch, but he had been instructed to hold off on writing his report until now, in case any new developments should occur. He was taking great care to do exactly as Mono Fei said, but somehow the longer he stared at the accurate and unbiased report, the more convinced he became that it was going to prove to be Walker's downfall.
There was no escaping what the boy had done, despite the fact that it hadn't been his will. The Fourteenth was responsible, and so was Allen. Kanda, too, was facing a grim prospect of detainment and possibly arrest for attacking the Fourteenth as well as Mono Fei, probably under false conceptions that he'd lashed out for no reason and at Allen Walker as a comrade, not an enemy.
Which was bullshit, in his eyes.
Link frowned and the tapping of the eraser and his foot stopped. It wasn't like he could do all that much about it. He had to give reports, even if he didn't agree with Leverrier's new direction he'd led Central in. Also, unlike the time Walker attacked the Order under the Fourteenth's will, he couldn't simply hide the evidence and pretend it was a random Noah and not Allen. Mono Fei had seen it. In the presence of two witnesses saying opposite things, which would Leverrier believe? Of course, Mono Fei. Fei was his pet. Besides, any incriminating information on Walker would surely be favored over good reports. A scowl creased the inspector's mouth.
Oh, how corrupted the Order has become.
However, there was the matter of danger. Even if he hadn't meant to, Walker had hurt and killed his own allies and had seriously injured a fellow comrade. If the comrade hadn't been Kanda Yuu specifically, Link was almost positive Walker would have ended up killing an exorcist. It was a stroke of luck that Kanda had been the victim, seeing as he had special...properties. In an ironic sort of way, they fit each other perfectly. Kanda could withstand the Fourteenth's verbal and physical attacks and Allen could be dragged out of his mental Noah by Kanda's vicious insistence. It was a pair almost doomed to never have peace, but an appropriate one nonetheless.
Fleetingly, Link wondered what Walker and Kanda would do if they were sent into isolation together. Kanda would most likely tear the Noah out of the white-haired boy molecule by molecule and Walker would probably find a way to stop the snowballing fate the Japanese samurai was caught up in. Stubborn heroic types, those two were. A faint smile passed across his face. Maybe he would talk to Leverrier about sending the two out on a long-term mission together, once they were both healed.
Whatever the case, he still had the problem of this report to worry about and it was grating on his nerves. The man sighed, moving one hand to scratch just at the base of his braided ponytail, and flipped through the pages he had written, reading small snippets as they stood out like a sore thumb.
"The exorcist Kanda Yuu then blatantly spoke words that insinuated he would not follow the orders of Mono Fei or Central, which were followed by violent physical actions. Lashing out against Mono Fei, Kanda caused multiple injuries, including a broken nose and a sprained wrist, to the inspector."
"Allen Walker, speaking in the voice of the Fourteenth Noah, the Musician, proceeded to attack Kanda Yuu and inflict severe injuries upon him. Kanda Yuu then struck out against his own comrade to inflict major damage, resulting in the loss of Allen Walker's right arm. The Musician released control of Allen Walker and both exorcists passed into unconsciousness. Their conditions are now grave."
"Kanda Yuu will be placed under arrest and questioned upon waking from his coma for the attack against a fellow comrade. Allen Walker will be brought in for questioning and Innocence restraint upon his own waking from the coma. He will be placed under room arrest for a full month while his altering mind is studied under close watch. Kanda Yuu, if found to be a threat to the Order, will be termin-"
Link slammed his fist down over his own handwritten words, gritting his teeth. Mono Fei had lied. The words he spoke on the ship insinuated that both exorcists would be given a chance, but Link knew full well that this new development and the new orders from Leverrier were going to cause both of the boys to lose their lives, whether figuratively or literally.
Something was horribly wrong and had been for a while now. Leverrier had never been this cruel and disregarding of human life. He'd never had too much of a heart, but this was going behind even the head inspector's limits. Something had to be done. Someone had to be held accountable for this.
Link flipped his pencil around and started viciously scrubbing at his notebook with the eraser, watching as the scrawled words sentencing Kanda and Walker to their doom slowly faded away. He wasn't going to just stand by and follow orders like a mindless faithful dog anymore. He was going to do something.
Ugh...I feel like shit. What the hell do you want?
"...I...am in pain..."
No, really? BaKanda had to cut off my f*cking arm just to get you to stop.
A growl sounded and the exorcist sighed wearily in his cacophony of sounds and voices. Sitting directly on the border between unconsciousness and consciousness was an interesting, yet completely aggravating place to be. Allen wanted so desperately to call out to the voices buzzing around him and ask how Kanda was doing and where he was, but his vocal chords just didn't seem to want to work.
The Fourteenth had been hit badly. In a way, Allen was happy, but he also felt a twinge of regret and sympathy. He had no idea why he was feeling even a molecule of pity for the Noah who held his mind captive, but despite how much he absolutely hated him and wanted him to leave him alone, he couldn't help it. Maybe he was too self-sacrificing.
Funny, wasn't that what he'd been told all along? Allen scoffed at himself. Finally, he was gaining an understanding of what it meant to have a 'hero complex' and care too much. Kanda had told him long ago that they were destroyers and not saviors, and he had, in his naivety, thought that he could be both. He still wanted to be both, but it was becoming more and more apparent that he really was the 'destroyer' of time, not the savior of time.
Teeth grit together as the white-haired boy felt another wave of pain slam into him, rushing through his empty shoulder and into his chest, coming from the place where his right arm should be. He gasped in air and attempted to regulate his breathing to accommodate the burning sensation, chest rising and falling rapidly until the searing agony faded into a dull ache again.
"See? Hurts...doesn't it?"
Oh, shut up, you. It's your own fault.
"If the stupid samurai-boy would have just-"
No! No, don't you get it, you f*cking Noah? You underestimated him. Kanda is strong as hell and tough as nails and he beat your ass.
Admit it, f*cker.
Tch. I'll take your silence as an agreement.
Allen had to wonder when he'd gained such a dirty mouth, even if it was just in his thoughts. Honestly, he felt more anger than depression this time around, because though he watched himself injure Kanda enough to send the Japanese into a coma, he'd also seen just how far the older exorcist would go to help him escape the mental control of the Fourteenth. Still, the Noah doubted Kanda's ability, even after being severely wounded.
Now that he thought about it, how was the Fourteenth in pain? He was only taking up his mind, right? Memories were thrust into him and he was the one being taken over. He should be the only one hurting, since it was his body. Unless.
Fourteenth...do you feel?
"Of course. Why on earth would I be in pain right now if I couldn't?"
...so...you feel what my body feels when you control me?
"...yes, I suppose you could say that."
Bingo. A sudden surge of hope flew through Allen. If his body was injured while the Noah was in control of it, he would let go of Allen's mind due to the pain. He'd already seen that when Kanda cut his arm off. Once the Noah let go, Allen's mind would register all that pain and he would then feel it in return, but if it made the Fourteenth stop, maybe it was worth it. Sure, it was a bit masochistic, but if it wor-
A rush of agony and heat assaulted his right shoulder again, burning and searing as if there had been an arm there to burn and sear. Allen let out a strangled cry and squeezed his eyes closed. The noises around him were getting louder and the darkness was being pierced with light. The pain continued to increase this time, not letting up in the least. He threw his head back and found that it smacked into a pillow as he opened his mouth and released an unearthly scream. The pain was killing him. The light was blinding him through his eyelids. The voices were deafening in his ears.
"Walker-san! Noreen, pass me the anesthesia!"
"Quick, get the Head nurse!"
"He's returned to consciousness!"
The notebook sat on the desk, closed with it's edges ruffled and abused. The light was turned off and the room was dark. Link was currently walking down the hallway, hand on his chin and eyebrows furrowed in disturbed thought. What he'd just done was...not enough. Changing his report wasn't going to change the actual outcome. He'd have to do better than that.
A shiver ran down his spine and the inspector swallowed thickly. He was going against every rule he'd ever followed so far within Central. His conscience was screaming at him, but his instincts were grinning in approval. The conflict was a lot to bear and Link soon found himself clenching his hands into fists in order to get them to stop shaking. He was beyond nervous.
However, the blonde-haired man knew without a doubt that he had to do this. He had to do more. Leverrier was no longer a reliable authority, especially if he was ordering to kill an exorcist just for snapping Allen out of his mental captivity. Mono Fei was certainly the head inspector's favorite bitch now and he no longer filled that position. Not that he'd liked it anyway. The man straightened his back and loosened his fists, trying to reassure himself as he paced down several empty hallways of the Asian Branch.
Speak of the devil.
"Ah, yes? What is it?"
Mono Fei approached Link from the opposite direction, his jacket unbuttoned and hanging casually off his shoulders. He bore a slight smile, for once, and greeted the other inspector with a wave of his hand. Suspicious, Link's back stiffened and he stopped walking, waiting for the inspector to reach him. When he did, his golden and green eyes flashed in the light, which also threw a small glare on his glasses, and he stuck out his hand towards Link.
"I figured since we'll be working together often that you and I should become better acquainted. Would you like to join me for some coffee?"
The blonde inspector narrowed his eyes as Fei came off way too friendly. Just what was he getting at? Cautiously, Link gave the man his hand and Fei shook it with a surprisingly strong grip. Fei's smile grew and he gave off the impression of having innocent intentions, but the tiny glint in the man's single golden eye gave him away. There was something else. Link frowned a little and hastily pulled his hand away once the taller man released it, but he knew there was no reason to decline the offer.
"Sure...I suppose. Fei, aren't you supposed to be doing some-"
"Ah, no, don't worry about that. I've finished my job for now. Come on, Howard. We can afford a small break. And call me Mono."
Link frowned again, but gave him a small nod and followed the man as he led him towards the Asian Branch's cafeteria. Whatever Fei was planning couldn't be good, however, if he spent some time with the man, he may be able to discover more information about just what was wrong with Leverrier. Any information would make things easier and the conclusion clearer.
As they entered the cafeteria, Link folded his arms over his chest, eyes flitting around the room in immediately analysis. There were a few scientists here and there, as well as the salmon-haired guardian, Fou, but that was all. Fei led him over to the counter and ordered an expresso with a shot of hazelnut. Link eyed the inspector before quietly ordering a cappuccino with milk and no sugar. The old man at the counter nodded once, turning around to prepare the order. Old Man Zhu was his name, if Link wasn't mistaken. He was one of the only surviving people who knew of Kanda Yuu's past.
What a tragedy that past had been. Such a young boy, forced to be put through such torture...only to lose what was most dear to him in the end. Link took his coffee as it was handed to him, as did Fei, and he stared into the murky brown mixture. He had witnessed Kanda's mantra that he repeated during missions when he was outnumbered or injured. 'I won't die, not until I find that person'. The arrogant exorcist was living with that purpose in mind. Link's chest twisted a tiny bit.
I wonder if he even realizes that person is...
Link blinked rapidly and came back into the present as Fei gave him a sly smile. The taller man led them to an empty table near the wall where no one would bother them. The blonde inspector sat across from the brunette one and sipped at his cappuccino, staring blankly past Fei's shoulder at the wall. His mind spun again.
Kanda's past was more tragic than Walker's, though the cursed boy's fate was definitely worse. Destroyer of Time was a huge name to live up to, if Allen even wanted to live up to it. It probably wasn't the best thing. Destroying time...what did it even mean? Literally or figuratively? Link had a sneaking suspicion it would backfire on the Order. Plus, with Walker holding a Noah's memories inside of him and losing his own mental control more and more often, the boy's future looked grim. So far, only Kanda had been successful at breaking through to him when he was being controlled.
That's when it hit him and Link's eyes widened. He knew exactly what he could do to help the exorcists.
"Howard, are you alright? Your mind seems to be in a completely different place."
Mono Fei smiled across his expresso cup and Link narrowed his eyes into the mismatching ones staring back at him, focusing entirely on the other inspector now. The man was calculating him. Those eyes were prying into his mind and thoughts, trying to figure something out. Link's back went stiffer than usual and his blood ran cold, sending a shiver down his back.
"I'm perfectly fine."
Fei's golden eye caught the light again. Link swore the thing was reflective.
"...alright, then. How did your report come out?"
Of course, Fei had been quick to skewer that point with a sharpened metal rod. The blonde inspector held the man's gaze evenly and replied without hesitation.
"Pristine, as usual. I'll be sending it off to Inspector Leverrier first thing in the morning."
Fei's smile widened.
"Ah, good, good. Mine also came out well. I'm sending it tonight."
Link's eyes widened to match Fei's smile.
"You aren't the one responsible for making reports. I am."
Fei chuckled into his cup of coffee.
"Mhn, I know that. Two reports are better than one though, right? I figure we'll have something different to offer from what each of us witnessed."
Link resisted the urge to scowl and instead gave a curt nod.
"Two reports can also divulge two different sets of information, which would be contradictory and therefore useless to Central."
This time the emerald eye caught the light and Fei chugged his entire expresso down, looking at Link instantly when he was finished.
"Are you implying that we have differing opinions about this matter?"
Link was caught. The cat and toyed with the mouse and prodded it right into its trap. His options were to be caught having an opposing view towards Leverrier or else...oh boy. Fei's smile gained a fiendish sort of appearance and Link cleared his throat, offering the man a cold smile in return.
"Why, of course not, Mono."
The man laughed a bit as Link took a large gulp of his coffee, nearly scalding his mouth, but hiding his reaction to the burning sensation with a small chuckle when he set down his mug. Fei shook his head and stood up.
"Howard, as much as I would love to stay and chat, I must be going. You're a very intriguing person. We'll have more talks together."
It wasn't a threat. It was a promise. Link stood as well, setting the mug of unfinished coffee down on the table and ignoring the bead of sweat that was crawling down the back of his neck underneath his tightly-braided hair.
"I should get back to work as well. Thank you for the invitation, Mono. I'll be happy to talk again."
Translation? Bring. It. On. Fei smiled. Link smiled. Then the two inspectors shook hands with very firm grips each and parted company, Fei heading to the left and Link to the right. As soon as he was alone with his thoughts. the blonde man let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding, trying desperately to calm his racing heartbeat.
Goddamn, that man is scary. Worse than Kanda. Definitely worse than Kanda.
Something tweaked at his brain and Link smirked a little.
Even if Kanda did happen to beat him up. Good job.
Suddenly, his golem rang. Link stopped walking as the flying communication device left his coat and fluttered up in front of him, buzzing to life.
"Hello, Inspector. I trust everything is running smoothly over there?"
"Yes, sir. Both exorcists are recovering in intensive care and as soon as they wake up from their comas, I will set your orders into action."
Link spoke evenly and shortly, obediently saying what the man wanted to hear as if he was a faithful dog.
"Good to hear. I expect to receive both yours and Fei's reports no later than tomorrow morning, eight a.m. Got it?"
"Of course, sir. I'm sending mine right now, actually."
There was a contented sigh from the other side of the line.
"As to be expected of you, Link. I appreciate the swiftness. I trust you and Fei the most, you know. So far, you've been worthy of every ounce of faith I have in you. Don't disappoint me."
Link responded without a thought.
"I won't, sir. Thank you, sir."
The line went dead and the golem hung up, flapping back into his coat. Link sighed again and glared at the floor as he turned around and began walking the opposite direction to retrieve his report. He would have to put his plan into action as soon as possible.
I am Inspector Howard Link. I'm not Leverrier's damn hand-maiden and I think I have enough qualifications to make a wise judgment about his leadership. I wonder if the orders he gives us are even FROM Central...though the fact that he trusts me will work to my advantage if I play him right...
With that thought in mind, Link turned a corner, only to be met with screaming. His eyes widened as he recognized the voice, however strangled it sounded. The paces shifted into long strides, which turned into a quick run as the blonde inspector pelted back the way he'd come, heading towards the infirmary quarantine braid flew out behind him and his breath shortened into pants as his heart raced with concern for his charge.
This...wasn't supposed to be happening.
Why was he floating in thin air? No, not in thin air. It was like there was an empty void with nothing inside it but him. No light, no darkness, no air, no sound, nothing whatsoever.
Kind of like water, but not re-ow, ow, it hurts to think.
If he could have hissed, he would have. The mental effort it took just to think tore at his brain. The darkness swirled and began to gain grey definition to it as smokey lines appeared like the onset of a disease, creeping slowly but surely to surround his entire body. His chest felt like there was a one hundred ton weight on it, and he couldn't breathe. It hurt so horribly. Struggling, he tried in vain to get his chest to lurch and take in air, but it would not obey him.
Just as the smokey lines appeared, noises began buzzing through his head, burning and singing at the matter there until he would have cried out from the pain if he could have made a sound. Voices. Why in f*cking hell was someone talking? Couldn't they just shut up and leave him alone?
Definition surged into the lines and he began to make out the words through the loud hissing stabbing at his mind. A human form, no, two, materialized in dark shaky shadows and the voices conversed with each other as they stood over him.
"I don't know. Leverrier said to leave him be and he would recover, but...that wound won't stop bleeding..."
"I've seen this one in here often, Marcy. He will be alright, even if he looks half dead now. It's the strangest thing, but his wounds just stitch themselves right back together and he's out of the infirmary within mere days after receiving the type of injuries that would kill a strong, able-bodied man. It ain't human, Marcy. It ain't human."
"But Vienna, are you sure? I mean...just look at him!"
Suddenly, his chest gave a violent surge and the weight was increased ten-fold. The gray lines swam around him frantically and the images of the two woman muddled together, along with their voices. Somewhere in the background, he could make out a staggered beep.
"Oh my god! He's...get...doctor...HURRY!"
"I-I thought...oh g-god..."
The crushing weight was gone. The smokey lines disappeared. Noises ceased and he was thrown back into the void of complete nothingness, his mind no longer functioning enough to register the long, mono-tone beep that still rang in the back of his head. Above him, though he couldn't hear them, the two women's voices shook.
"I...can't believe it. I never thought I-I'd...see the day..."
"O-Oh my god..."
Sorry it wasn't amazingly long to make up for being so late, but I thought this a good place to stop the chapter. Just as a note, what happens from here on may or may not reflect the new chapters of the actual manga or contain accurate information. This is, after all, my own creation. I'm not obligated to follow Katsura Hoshino's work to the 'T'. Just a disclaimer.