Spoilers: All the way through chapter 186, and AU from then on.
Rating: May go up in future chapters.
Beyond the Breaking Point
Allen Walker sat in the middle of a cold, grey room; shoulders hunched, he stared at the ground. Four cloaked figures surrounded him, each standing a few inches away from the chair that he was bound to. Completely covered by ornate robes and masks, the elite assassin force known as Crow had been called in from Central for the second time that year to guard him. Allen winced as he shifted, the guards matching his movement. The binding on his left arm was incredibly heavy, dragging the rest of his body as close to the ground as it could manage, given his constraints. Across from him sat the council, separated from Allen by a long table. They were the highest members of the Order, reporting directly to the Pope. They chattered quietly amongst themselves, seemingly deliberating over his heresy, the 14th Noah, and his punishment.
There was nothing more that he could do now. Allen had been given a chance to plead his defense, though in nothing but the name of protocol; the higher ups had reached their decision already, and Allen did not disagree with it. So as they discussed his fate, Allen looked down, and remembered.
Allen stood in General Cross's room, covered in bindings similar to the ones he would be wearing again five months later, glaring sullenly at the back of his Master's head as the mysterious Cross revealed information that made so many things click into place, yet raised so many other questions. Allen remained silent for the most part as Cross explained that Mana, for all intents and purposes Allen's father, was the brother of the 14th Noah; the Noah that had once betrayed and then been killed by the Millennium Earl. The general explained that he had promised to watch over Mana after the 14th died, and that in return the 14th would come back; in Allen's body. The 14th had already begun to awaken in Allen (that specter that no one else could see, always following him), and soon he would completely take control. Then, Allen would no longer exist.
And Allen could no longer remain silent. He screamed in denial, as Cross pointed out the mounting pile of evidence (you knew the Player's song, you were able to perform it despite never having touched a piano in your life. He planted those memories in you). Allen fought against the implications (Did Mana every really love him?), and fought harder against Cross's words (Mana sort of lost it after the 14th died. I don't know when it happened, the 14th did not pick you for a reason; you were simply there. You were unlucky). It was not long before he was trying to fight Cross himself (What would you do if I told you that you'll have to kill someone you love?)
Lavi looked on unflinchingly from the sidelines as Allen struggled, and was ultimately subdued by the guards; Cross walked right past the red-head on his way out. But Allen couldn't begrudge him for it. Lavi was there as a Bookman, after all; it was his job to record, not to intervene. It must have been as hard for him not to help as it was for Allen to watch his Master go, along with all of the answers.
Allen exhaled slowly, carefully moving his left hand back and forth. He could feel the guards' attention on him as he slowly worked the deformed wrist in circles, trying to return circulation to his numb arm, though he was unsure of whether he had simply been still for too long or if it was some sort of side-effect from the sealing. Allen abandoned the attempt after another minute with no response. Soon it wouldn't matter, anyway.
"Your hair's getting longer."
Lenalee looked up at Allen in surprise, raising her hand to toy with an almost shoulder-length ebony lock before smiling brightly at him. Allen's smile widened on its own in response— it was impossible not to pick up on her enthusiasm.
"Yeah, I'm thinking about keeping it short," she confided, turning to face him completely. Her attire was all black as usual, comprised of a sleeveless top and ruffled mini-skirt with long leggings and short boots, innocence hanging around her ankles in the form of twin rings. "With the boots' new power up, I think that it might get in the way if I let it grow back out all the way, but I'd like to be able to put it up in ponytails. I might let it grow out a bit more," she mused. "Brother will certainly be upset, he loves playing with my hair."
"I think it looks nice either way," Allen complimented. Lenalee grinned a thank you, glowing at the praise.
Then Allen… changed.
Lenalee's eyes widened slightly; she couldn't place exactly what was different, but suddenly it seemed as if a completely different person was standing in front of her. Taking a nervous step back, thoughts of the 14th Noah flew through her mind, as the boy that was not Allen looked at her.
"Allen?" Lenalee asked quietly, preparing to invoke her innocence. And as suddenly as it had begun, it was over. Allen blinked, taking in Lenalee's expression with confusion.
"Lenalee?" he asked worriedly. She straightened up, eyeing him with equal concern. "Are you alright?"
Wordlessly, Lenalee took a step closer to him, followed by another, until she was close enough to envelop him in an embrace. Visibly surprised, Allen wound his arms around her in return.
"Lenalee?" he repeated, chuckling. The spirit of the 14th Noah floated around them restlessly as Lenalee's arms tightened.
"I don't want to lose you," she muttered into his collarbone. Allen's smile stiffed.
A bitter smile found its way to Allen's lips. He had lied. He hadn't thought he was at the time, hadn't thought that the 14th would so nearly succeed. He hadn't wanted to think that he could ever allow himself to be taken over. But he did. And now he wouldn't ever feel her warm embrace again.
Allen's only hope now was that others would be able to.
Allen looked up and was met by Lavi's usual toothy grin, though the other Bookman was nowhere to be seen.
"Got something to show ya," he said enthusiastically, leading his fellow Exorcist through the winding corridors of HQ. Howard Link followed quietly, eyeing the Bookman's apprentice with mild suspicion.
"What?" Allen asked, glancing back at Link apprehensively.
"You'll see," Lavi replied in a singsong voice that made Allen more than a little nervous. He stood to the side as Lavi stopped in front of a door and gripped its handle, swinging it open and inviting them in with a wide wave of his arm. Allen filed in obediently, noting the multiple bookshelves lining the otherwise unremarkable room. Standing next to the bed, he turned to watch Lavi bend down by the other side of it, seemingly rummaging through something beneath its frame.
"So what exactly-"
"This," Lavi stated, standing back up and proudly displaying…
… what could only be described as a hardcore pornography magazine.
Utter silence. Link's eyes were wide, mouth slightly agape in scandalized horror. Allen wore a somewhat similar expression, while Lavi grinned at them. Allen stared at him for one more horrified moment before the sound of a door slamming distracted him.
"I will be waiting OUT HERE until you disgusting scoundrels are finished with your- your filthy, lewd magazines!" Link called from the other side, outraged. "And I will be reporting this incident to Miss Lenalee!!"
"Wait!" Allen yelled, lunging for the door. "I don't-" he stopped short as something snagged the back of his shirt, and looked back to see Lavi restraining him with a surprisingly serious look on his face.
"We need to talk," he said in a low voice, letting go of Allen's collar. Allen watched, perturbed, as Lavi tossed aside the magazine and had a seat on his bed.
"About what?" Allen asked hesitantly, matching his tone.
Allen instantly sobered.
"So you know for sure then?" he asked quietly, after a tense pause.
"That he's dead? Nah, no new information on that front, though you know things aren't looking good." Allen nodded, a bit relieved in spite of himself.
"What is there to talk about then?"
"The Old Man thinks that it was someone from Central, a higher up, that put the hit on him. During your interview with him, when he said that there were two sides to this war, Gramps stiffened up— he told me later that we might be targeted as well, for hearing it."
"Why?" Allen asked in shock. "Do you have any idea what it means?"
"No, but it worried him all the same. Listen- I'm a Bookman, I'm here to record things and not get involved. But as someone whose job it is to hear things, you make some enemies in people who don't want whatever they're doing on the record. A lot of Bookmen have died that way, from what I've heard. And, the way I see it, if they're going to make us get involved like that, I can cheat a little." Allen waited for him to continue, obviously confused. Lavi sighed, rubbing the back of his head. "Look, the Old Man and I weren't the only ones to hear that conversation that aren't affiliated with Central- there was Komui, and there was you. I'm not saying that Komui is untouchable, but with this 14th Noah stuff going on, it wouldn't even be difficult for them to have you executed. One order, a BS hearing, and that's it. You were Cross's apprentice, if they think for a second that you know whatever it is he was hinting at…"
"I understand." Allen finished for him, biting back the impulse to tell him to stop talking about Cross in past tense. He sighed, joining Lavi on the bed. "As if the 14th wasn't giving me enough problems."
"How is that?"
"Under control," Allen said coldly. Silence settled over them for a few minutes.
"Do you think it was Leverrier?" Allen asked eventually.
"I don't know; it seems pretty likely since he was there to hear it, but anyone of his rank could have gotten their hands on the tape," Lavi replied, pondering.
"He acused me of being the killer once," Allen stated solumly. "I threw the accusation right back, but I just don't know. He was there when I saw the... crime scene, and I don't think it had been very long since the attack had happened. It seems weird for him to have gone there so quickly instead of setting up some alibi if he did it."
"Not like the old guy would have done it himself, just depends on who gave the order." Lavi pointed out. "The point I'm trying to make to you is that this was an inside job. Cross was trying to tell you something that the Order's central authority doesn't want anyone to know, don't give them any reason to think that you might."
"Thanks for the advice," Allen said, standing. "But I doubt Link will stand out there for too much longer."
"Pft, prude's probably still having a seizure," Lavi said easily, pulling his legs onto the bed and resting with his hands behind his head. "I know I'm probably not telling you much you haven't already guessed, but be careful, alright? Komui can't bale you out of everything."
"I know," Allen agreed, heading for the door. "Thank you."
"Oh, wait a sec," Lavi called, turning over and grabbing the magazine from before. "You can keep this if you want."
"I DON'T WANT IT."
Allen couldn't help the small smile tugging at his lips. He had to wonder where Lavi had even gotten his hands on such a thing, though he was probably better off not knowing. The smile quickly faded. He hadn't needed that warning after all— the 14th was too much for him to handle. Whatever mystery Cross had left behind was for Lavi or someone else to solve, if they could.
His body was really starting to ache now. The council knew what they were going to decide as well as he did, why did they insist on drawing this out so long?
There were things that Allen didn't want to have time to remember.
There was no warning. One moment they were in the library, laughing as the librarian threatened to throw them out for making so much noise. Allen was apologizing between chuckles, Lavi grinned as he openly antagonized the angry woman, Link's mouth was upturned in amusement ever so slightly, and Lenalee was smiling. It took a fraction of a second for Allen's Innocence to activate, and before anyone had time to register what had happened, his clawed left hand was lodged deep in Lenalee's shoulder. Her eyes widened, lips parted in a silent scream as she watched her blood flow over his hand and down her shoulder in rivulets. Then she did scream, and everyone moved at once.
Allen ripped his hand back, splattering blood in its wake as he prepared to attack again. Lenalee staggered back a step, gripping the wound and staring at him in disbelief. Allen didn't look angry, but despite the tears cascading down his cheeks, he didn't look sad either. His eyes were dark. He crouched, ready to pounce, gazing only at her. For a moment he was airborne; then a giant mallet smashed into him, sending him careening into a bookshelf, which in turn toppled over from the impact. Lavi stood protectively in front of Lenalee, livid, as Link stood to her side, brows furrowed in concentration as twin blades appeared in his hands. Surrounded by fallen books, the 14th Noah clambered to his feet, glaring hatefully at Lavi. Now he was angry.
He was also fast. Lavi had been thrown against a wall before he'd even noticed Allen move. An alarm was blaring now, calling all Exorcists in the building to the library, but their attacker didn't seem to be worried by it. Link attacked head on, slashing at Allen and forcing him to turn his attention to Link in order to deflect the onslaught.
"Run!" Lavi yelled at Lenalee, who hadn't moved at all and was still staring at Allen in disbelief. "He wants you, run!"
Lavi turned back to the battle as Allen dodged Link's attack and lunged for his throat. Link managed to block him at the last moment, but Allen used his momentum to spin and kick Link squarely in the stomach, knocking the wind from him. Lavi charged forward as Allen left Link on the floor, retching, but by the time he had swung his mallet Allen was gone. Swerving around, Lavi saw two things: Lenalee hadn't moved, and Allen— or, the 14th Noah— was nearly on her. Swearing, Lavi dove after him, knowing that he was too late.
Lenalee watched as Allen raced towards her, searching his eyes for something, anything, to convince her that he was still there. A flicker of remorse, a hint of hesitation, anything. She saw nothing but anticipation, and knew that he would not make the mistake of missing any vitals again. Surging forward, the 14th Noah smiled as he heaved Allen's clawed hand towards her chest with all his might, preparing to go clean through-
-and was stopped. Lenalee's right foot, now covered by the sheer material of her Dark Boots, was wedged between Allen's hand and the rest of her body, the heel impaling Allen's hand but leaving the rest of her right leg bent back painfully. She had skidded back with the impact and was braced against one of the bookshelves, panting slightly, with the surprised 14th looming over her. Before he could attack again, Lenalee threw all of her strength into her right leg, shoving him back as it straightened and leaving him unbalanced. Bringing her right leg down, Lenalee immediately pressed her advantage and kicked out with her left, making contact with Allen's chest and sending him flying back. Allen crumpled against the stone wall of the library, and landed in a heap.
Trying to ignore the part of her mind that was screaming at her to make sure he was all right, Lenalee readied herself for another attack as Allen slowly pulled himself up. However, before he had managed to bring himself to a sitting position, Lavi was on him, quickly followed by Kanda. Lenalee blinked in surprise at his sudden arrival, and looked to the doorway to see several others approaching as well. Krory watched darkly as Allen was beaten to the ground again, and did not get back up, while Miranda gaped at Lenalee's wound.
"Your arm," she said quietly, voice trembling. She paused, as if afraid to continue. "Did he… did Allen…"
Lenalee didn't respond, watching as a Crow unit arrived to roughly bind Allen's arms behind his back, ringed by a growing cluster of onlookers. Still staring, she allowed herself to be pulled into an embrace by Komui, and then dragged to the hospital ward.
Allen had not been self-aware during the attack, but he had certainly heard stories.
He had not been allowed any visitors but Leverrier, for interogation purposes, and once Komui. Remorse filled Allen as he thought back on that visit, remembering the expression on Komui's face— filled with despair, anger and apology all at once. Sorry that he could not use his considerable power within the Order to help Allen, furious that his sister had been hurt, perhaps wondering if it would have been better not to have fought for Allen in the first place. Allen wouldn't have begrudged him for it. Their visit was breif and quiet, clogged with too many conflicting feelings to leave room for words.
Allen wondered if he should have said he was sorry, or if the grossly inadequate words would have simply made things worse.
"Allen Walker." A booming voice announced. Allen raised his head slightly to see the hard faces of the council turned towards him, all but the selected Voice silent. "For harboring the 14th Noah and attacking several Excorcists, we find you guilty of heresy and a threat to the purity of our Order. As such, you are hereby sentenced to death."
AN: Apologies for epically sucking at action scenes. To anyone waiting for an update on one of my other stories, sorry, I can never seem to finish them before I get distracted by another- Chance Encounters is up next as far as updates go.
Thanks go to my wonderful beta, Everystep!