Disclaimer - I do not own D Gray Man
"Allen," Mana called out to his young charge. The little boy was seated in the floor with a short little picture book spread out in front of him. Mana had been teaching him how to read during the evenings before they retired for the night and the child had really taken to it, learning much quicker than the clown had expected.
"What is it Mana?" Allen asked, gazing up from his book and locking his eyes onto his guardian.
"I'm leaving this place in the morning," Mana told the child. "You're free to come along with me if you want or you can remain here. It's your choice. I won't force you to do anything."
Allen gazed up at Mana with huge eyes, his lips trembling softly. "Do. . . do you want me to come with you?"
"Of course you're welcome to come along," Mana told the child. "I just don't want you to feel like I'm forcing you to leave this place."
"Tch," Allen scoffed, his gaze going back to his book. "No one likes me here."
"Then it's settled," Mana said, walking over to the child and placing a gentle hand on his head. "You'll come with me and continue to be my second assistant."
Allen nodded and offered Mana one of his rare smiles.
Mana rose earlier than normal the next morning, dressed in a suit instead of the clown costume that he normally wore, and packed his meager belongings in the one suitcase that he owned. Then, once he had everything ready to go he walked over to the bed where Allen was still soundly sleeping and nudged the child's shoulder. "Allen. Wake up Allen."
Seeming as though he hadn't heard the words spoken to him Allen merely rolled over and pulled the shabby blanket even tighter around himself. Mana had half expected this response since Allen wasn't really a morning person and he turned his attention to the little dog, who was standing on the floor beside him. "Wake up Allen," he commanded.
The dog gave a happy little bark and immediately jumped up onto the bed. Finding the only available skin, Allen's face, the dog began licking him. Allen shrieked and made an attempt to escape before he realized that it was just the dog.
"Sorry Allen," Mana said, hiding the smile that was on his face. "But it's time to get up and you weren't being very cooperative."
The child grumbled a bit but he sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Allen immediately noticed that Mana was dressed differently than normal and he suddenly remembered that they were leaving the circus. Leaping out of bed the child immediately grabbed for his shoes.
Mana chuckled softly. "We have got to get you some clothes."
"Why?" Allen asked, gazing down at the shirt and trousers that he was wearing.
Mana stepped closer to the child and stuck his finger through one of the holes in the boy's shirt, tickling his stomach as he did so. In stead of laughing like any normal child would have Allen stepped back and glared at Mana. "Quit it!"
"That's why you need new clothes," Mana said, ignoring the scowl that Allen wore on his face. "Now come on. I want to leave before anyone else wakes up."
"Why?" Allen asked as he followed Mana over to the door, the little dog right on his heels.
"I don't like goodbyes," Mana said simply, ushering his two assistance from the trailer and then closing the door behind them.
"Oh," Allen said. That made sense.
It was a strange procession that left the circus grounds before the sun had even risen. Mana was in the lead, carrying the suitcase that contained his few possessions, followed closely behind by Allen, with the little terrier bringing up the rear.
Mana didn't really have a plan for where they were going. He simply figured that he would perform on his own until they came upon another circus that they could join up with for a few weeks. After all this was how he had operated for as long as he could remember.
The only difference was that now he had a child to support along with himself and his little dog.
"Where are we going?" Allen asked after a little while.
"Where ever we end up," Mana replied, not really having a better answer to offer the child. He didn't have any exact plans and he wasn't going to lie to the boy and tell him otherwise.
"Are you getting tired already Allen?"
"No!" the little boy snapped, picking up the pace. In a few strides the boy was beside Mana and he made an effort to stay there. However it was hard since his legs were so much shorter than those of his guardian and after awhile he became winded.
Slowly but surely the boy began to fall behind again and suddenly Mana heard a thump. Turning around he saw that Allen was sitting on his knees in the middle of the dirt road, his breaths coming in short, ragged gasps. The little dog was sitting beside him, his head tilted to one side as he gazed up at the child.
Mana slowly walked over to the spot where Allen was sitting and gazed down at the child. "Allen. Never stop walking. Keep going forward, until the day you die."
Confused by the words Allen gazed up at his guardian.
Mana offered the young boy a smile before he knelt down. "Climb onto my back."
"Come on," Mana said, looking over his shoulder at the child.
Getting to his feet Allen clamored up onto Mana's back, wrapping his little arms around the man's neck. As soon as he was sure that the child was steady Mana slowly got to his feet, picked up his suitcase, and continued the journey. The little dog gave a sharp yip before falling into step beside his master, every so often gazing up at the child that Mana was carrying.
Before long Mana heard the soft snores that signified that the child had fallen asleep. Mana tightened the grip that he had on the child's legs, so that he wouldn't fall, and continued walking. Apparently all of the walking had exhausted Allen.
The three travelers spent the vast majority of the day walking down lonely roads. When dusk began to fall the trio decided to call it a night, much to Allen's delight. He was starving, having only had a couple of stale sandwiches that Mana had made the day before, and couldn't wait to get something to eat.
Mana found a small inn that was cheap and yet at the same time comfortable. And best of all they allowed him to keep his little dog with him, which was a rarity. The clown thanked the innkeeper before leading his small troupe up the stairs to the room that they would share for the night.
As soon as Mana opened the door Allen and the terrier rushed forward and leapt onto one of the two twin beds that occupied the room. Mana smiled as his two charges curled up together and drifted off to sleep. "So much for being starved," Mana thought to himself as he closed the door behind them.
Oh well. Food could wait until morning. Taking off his jacket and placing it on the back of the chair Mana settled himself on the unoccupied bed and pulled a book from his suitcase.
The next morning Allen awoke before the sun and, for the first time since the two of them had met, he had the privilege of waking Mana. A somewhat evil grin appeared on the child's face as he walked over to the bed where Mana was peacefully sleeping. Pausing slightly the child vaulted forward and landed on the edge of the bed.
Mana awoke with a start, feeling as though the bed on which he slept was falling out from under him. Realizing that someone was now sharing the bed with him the clown glanced to his side and saw Allen grinning from ear to ear. "Good morning," he said, deciding to be a good sport about the whole incident.
"I'm hungry," Allen announced.
"Of course you are," Mana said with a smile. Tossing the covers aside Mana climbed out of bed and stood up, ignoring the sounds of his bones popping as he moved. It was always bad first thing in the morning but he was accustomed to it and paid it little attention. Walking over to the chair Mana grabbed his jacket and put it on. "Come on then. We'd better get you something to eat."
As he said this Mana absently placed his hands in his pocket and counted the coins that were hidden within. He heaved a sigh of relief as he discovered that he did indeed have enough money to feed the child. But they would have to find work today or an evening meal was far from certain.
Allen led the way down the stairs and to the small dining room that was located to the side of the little inn. Mana followed along behind his young charge, a small smile on his face, and once again the little terrier brought up the rear.
"Good morning," the innkeeper's wife called out cheerfully as the trio entered the dining room. "Are you fellows hungry?"
Allen nodded although he fell back somewhat. The child was always wary around strangers and Mana quickly walked over to him and directed the boy to one of the tables. Mana and Allen sat down while the little dog took up a position underneath the table.
"What would you like to eat?"
Mana took the opportunity to order, knowing that if he left it up to Allen then he would be paying a tremendous bill. He made sure that he ordered twice as much as any normal boy would be able to eat yet he knew that even this wouldn't be enough to completely fill the child up. Hopefully he would be able to find work so that they could have a larger meal later.
Once the two had finished their breakfast, leaving the innkeeper's wife completely shocked that Allen had actually managed to eat all of his food, Mana paid for the meal and then led his two assistants out into the bright sunlight. Allen and the little terrier followed obediently behind him as Mana led the way through town. And when they reached the edge Mana was delighted to see that a traveling circus had made camp a short distance from the town.
"Come Allen," Mana said, beginning to walk down the hill toward the camp. "Perhaps this circus will have work for a couple of clowns."
Together the trio made their way to the location where the circus was camped and, as they wandered through the gathering of caravans, they were met by a very unpleasant looking man dressed in a clown costume. "What the hell are you doing here?" he demanded in a surly voice.
"We're just a couple of clowns looking for work," Mana replied, hoping to defuse the situation before it escalated into something bad.
"We got all the clowns we need," the man snarled, glaring at the child and dog that stood by Mana's side.
"I think you should let me be the judge of that Cosimo," a stern voice said, joining the conversation. Mana turned toward the newcomer and saw a man dressed in a flashy red suit. It was obvious by the man's behavior that he was the one who ran this particular show. "So," he said, turning from Cosimo to the group of newcomers. "My name is Trevor Hopkins and I'm in charge around here. Do you have some trick that would make you an asset to this show?"
Mana nodded. "By any chance would your acrobats have a springboard that I may borrow?"
The ring master nodded, curious as to the reason why Mana needed a springboard. Trevor led the group of newcomers to the tent where a group of acrobats were practicing and, telling the performers to take a break, he gestured toward the spring board.
"Thank you," Mana said quietly. Then he turned his attention to the child who was walking beside him. "Are you ready Allen?"
The brown haired youth nodded.
"Right then." Mana borrowed a couple of unusual items from the bystanders and began juggling. Then, once he'd demonstrated that particular skills, he did some acrobatic work. Next Mana pulled three small balls from the pocket of his trousers and began a juggling act with the dog. He would toss the balls to the terrier who would launch them back using the tip of his nose. And, once he and the dog had completed their little display, Mana nodded in Allen's direction.
By now familiar with the signal Allen dashed toward the springboard and launched himself into a back flip just as he reached it. Flying through the air, his gaze focused on the wall, Allen landed on Mana's shoulders and then flipped around so that he was facing their small crowd.
"Bravo," Trevor called out, clapping his hands together a couple of times. "I must admit that I'm impressed. You guys are definitely hired. Come with me and I'll show you to your trailer and then, once you're settled, you can begin practice."
Mana nodded. "Thank you."
"I don't think that Cosimo guy likes us very much," Allen commented as he and Mana made their way to the trailer that would be their home for however long they chose to stay with this particular circus. The little dog had dashed off somewhere however Mana assured Allen that he would return soon.
"It's alright," Mana said, shrugging his shoulders. "Some people are just like that."
Allen nodded. He knew this fact all too well. During his short and somewhat tortured life he had met many people just like Cosimo and none of those experiences had been pleasant. Allen shuddered. He had more than enough bad memories and he didn't need more. It was at this point that Allen decided to avoid Cosimo whenever possible.
Mana and Allen entered the caravan. Mana handed Allen his picture book before settling down to read his own book. The two spent a quiet evening together, each absorbed in their book, and then Mana told the child that it was time for bed.
"Kay," Allen said, rubbing his eyes. The little boy got to his feet and stepped over to the door, pulling it open and whistling. Minutes passed with still no sign of the little terrier and Allen turned back to his guardian. "Mana, he won't come."
"Sometimes he likes to stay outside," Mana told the child. "Maybe he found something more interesting than us."
"Hmm," Allen said, closing the door.
"I'm sure he'll come back in the morning," Mana said. "Now to bed with you."
Allen nodded and obediently climbed into bed.
The first thing that Allen did when he woke up was go outside to look for the little dog. Mana was still sleeping so Allen didn't disturb him. He left the caravan quietly and made his way around the circus grounds, calling out to the dog as he walked.
It didn't take Allen long to find the dog however he had to choke back a sob as his gaze fell upon the little terrier's bruised and lifeless body. It appeared as though someone had taken out their frustrations on the little guy, leaving him bruised, bloody and. . .
"He's dead," Allen choked out, kneeling on the ground and running his hands over the dog's fur. His once warm and loving companion was now stiff and cold, the life having been snuffed from his body. Allen felt warm tears sliding down his face as he gently picked the dog up and held him in his arms.
Allen slowly made his way back to the caravan, the dog cradled gently in his arms.
"Allen," Mana said, stepping from the trailer. "Where were you? I was worried si. . ." His voice trailed off as he caught sight of the little body that Allen was carrying in his arms. He knew instantly that his partner was dead, could tell by the tears that were streaming down Allen's face.
"Mana. . ." Allen choked out.
The clown rushed forward, taking the dog's body from the child and placing it gently on the ground. Then he pulled Allen into his arms and held the little boy while he cried. His wasn't used to comforting anyone and didn't know exactly what to do but he wanted to do something to ease the ache in Allen's heart.
"He was. . . my friend. . ." the little boy sobbed as he buried his face in Mana's shirt.
"I know," Mana said quietly, rubbing the top of Allen's hair. "But he was an old dog and he probably wouldn't have lasted much longer anyway."
"But. . . someone killed him." Allen gazed up at Mana, his eyes filled with tears. "Doesn't that make you sad?"
"I'm sad," Mana told the child. And it was true, he did feel the loss of the dog that had been his constant companion for the last fourteen years. "Come on Allen. We should give him a proper burial."
Allen nodded and together he and Mana dug a small hole. Then Mana placed the dog's small body gently in the hole and covered it with dirt. Allen sniffed as he watched Mana bury his friend, tears still streaming down his face. The dog was the first creature to ever show him kindness and acceptance and he was crushed by the loss.
"It'll be okay Allen," Mana said as he placed one of the small juggling balls on top of the patch of earth. "He wouldn't want you to be sad. He'd want you to be happy."
"I'll. . . I'll try," Allen said, wiping the tears from his eyes.
"Good lad," Mana said, reaching out to ruffle the boy's already unruly hair.
A/N - this one was a little on the depressing side. This one-shot, fifth in the series, was requested by Mysticwolf1896 and is dedicated to them. Hope you enjoyed, please leave a review and tell me what you thought. And if anyone would like to request a scenario, feel free.