Disclaimer - I do not own D Gray Man
Chapter Thirteen - Heir of the Musician
The sun was shining bright in the sky however it's rays did nothing to offer warmth on this cold December morning. Dressed in his clown costume Mana Walker emerged from his trailer and began searching for his performing partner. He hadn't seen the little dog since the previous night and he was somewhat worried. He had found the old dog a couple of years ago and had developed a soft spot for him. It was obvious by his appearance that he was an old dog but Mana didn't think that there was anything wrong with that.
And the little creature had proven that the phrase 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks' simply wasn't true. This dog had been an eager learner and had always quickly mastered any trick that Mana had taught him.
Whistling softly he began to search the circus grounds for any signs of his partner. The search didn't take long but the results were not what Mana had been hoping for. He did succeed in finding the little dog but his body was cold and lifeless, lying on the ground. Judging by the bruises that covered the little dog's body someone had taken out their frustrations on him.
Most people would cry upon discovering the battered body of a beloved pet but Mana just gazed down at the little creature. It wasn't that he wasn't sad that his partner was dead it was just that he had endured so much grief that he simply couldn't cry anymore. Something had already caused him to use up all of his tears, he somehow knew this to be the truth, but for the life of him he couldn't remember what it was. A dull ache in his heart told him that he had suffered a tremendous loss in life but Mana's brain refused to register what that loss had been.
With a little grunt Mana knelt down and scooped the little dog's body up into his arms. He would give the dog a decent burial and then he would move on with his life. Keep walking... never stop... always move forward. Mana had no idea where this mantra had came from but he found that he repeated it to himself whenever things got hard.
It seemed to offer him a measure of peace.
Mana carried his partner back to the small trailer that he called home at the moment. Placing the dog's body on the ground Mana quickly dug a shallow grave, the dog was small so the hole didn't have to be deep in order to accommodate him. When that task was complete Mana placed the dog's body in the grave, still wearing the ruffled collar that he wore for their performances.
"Is he dead?"
Mana glanced up at the sound of the voice and he saw that a child had came to stand a few feet away. The little boy was scruffy, with clothes that were too big for him and messy brown hair that he wore pulled back into an unruly ponytail. The child seemed cautious, with a wary look on his face, and remained a safe distance from Mana; close enough to talk to the man but far enough away to be out of the man's reach.
"He's dead," Mana said in a calm voice, gazing back down at the dog's small body.
"He's all covered in bruises," the boy observed as his gaze lingered on the little dog. "I bet it was that jerk Cosimo. He was jealous because you guys were better than him. He has no talent except for being a bully."
Mana vaguely listened to the child while he covered the body of his partner with earth. Then, once that task was complete, he pulled a small blue ball with yellow stars and placed it on top of the grave. It was all that he had to act as marker for his friend.
"He was an old dog," Mana said in a quiet voice, gazing down at the small grave. "He probably wouldn't have lasted much longer anyway."
"You're not gonna get revenge?" there was a scathing tone to the boy's voice and Mana felt compelled to glance back over to the small form. There was a scowl on the child's face as he gazed over at Mana, as though he couldn't believe that the man was so accepting of the dog's death.
"If I do that then I'll get thrown out of here and I won't get paid."
"Ugh," the boy said as though disgusted.
"I'm a newcomer after all," Mana continued, ignoring the child's disgusted tone. "And after Christmas tomorrow I'll move on to somewhere else."
The child was using one hand to support his head and was trying desperately to look as though he didn't care about any of this. He was failing miserably but he was still making the attempt. If Mana had been less perceptive he might have bought the act but he knew that it was an act. This child seemed desperate for something but Mana couldn't tell exactly what that something was. He wanted the world to think that everything was fine with him, that he didn't care.
It seemed to be a familiar act but Man couldn't place who else had used it.
Mana tilted his head to one side as he gazed at the child. The boy was gazing away from him and Mana tried hard to remember why this kid seemed so familiar to him. "Who are you anyway?"
"I do odd jobs around here," the boy said in a gruff voice. "I've brought you food before."
"Sorry," Mana apologized. "I have a terrible memory for faces."
Mana's gaze shifted back to the child, who had moved closer to the small grave that he had made for the dog. The boy was covered in bruises and it looked as though someone had taken their frustrations out on him as well as the dog. Was it Cosimo? Did this little boy suspect the foul tempered clown of the dog's death because he had first hand knowledge of the man's cruelty?
"It looks like you're covered in bruises too," Mana said and, without thinking about how the child might react, licked the tip of his finger and began to scrub at the kid's face.
This did not go over well. The boy looked as though he were ready to fight when he turned toward the clown, an angry expression distorting his small features. "Ah! Damn it, get your spit off me!"
"It's disinfectant," Mana said in his own defense. "Did Cosimo beat you up too?"
Mana pressed more. He had never known when to leave well enough alone although he couldn't remember who it was who had told him that. He had a vague memory of a face in his mind but it was fuzzy and he couldn't recall who it was. "Don't you have any friends?"
"Shut up!" the child snapped, louder this time. "When I get big enough I'm getting the hell out of here so I don't need any friends."
Mana thought that the child was a bit young to be so jaded and he made a funny face in an attempt to get the child to laugh at him.
It didn't work. The little boy simply stared at him as though he had lost his mind, or perhaps had never possessed one in the first place. "What are you doing?"
"You didn't think that it was funny?"
"Sorry," the little boy said, although he sounded anything but sorry. "I don't really like clowns and stuff. In fact I hate 'em."
This statement almost jarred a memory loose. Mana vaguely remembered someone else saying the same thing to him, a long time ago, but he couldn't remember who it was. And thinking about it made his head ache so he decided not to dwell on the piece of memory. It wasn't important anyway.
"Well I hate crowds and children who don't laugh."
The boy was silent for a few minutes, as though thinking about Mana's words, but when he spoke again it had nothing to do with what Mana had said to him. "Are you gonna cry? I mean he lived with you and stuff right? Aren't you sad?"
Mana produced a rope from nowhere and acted like he was going to hang himself. "I'm so sad that I could just die."
The boy didn't find this gesture funny and he was gazing at Mana as though wondering if he were mentally unstable. Sometimes Mana wondered the same thing and decided that he should get rid of the rope before he traumatized the child. "I'm sad," he said, not joking this time. "But I can't cry. Maybe my tears are all dried up but they just won't come."
The boy didn't look as though he believed the man's words but he didn't comment. "What was his name? He licked my hand yesterday, his tongue was warm."
Without warning the child began to cry, large tears rolling down his cheeks. This seemed to anger the kid for some reason and he wiped furiously at the tears. "That was all it was so... so why am I crying?"
Mana understood. His searching gaze had fallen upon the child's deformed left hand and he knew, without having to be told, that the child had suffered because of it. The dog had shown him kindness, likely the first that he had received. The dog hadn't judged him because of something that was outside of his ability to control.
Tilting his head to the side Mana gazed into the child's eyes and in those gray depths he saw a sadness that defied description. He also saw something else, the ghost of someone that he had lost long ago and that his tortured mind had forgotten until this moment. Someone precious to him.
Mana hadn't realized that he'd spoken out loud until he saw that the boy was gazing at him quizzically. "How did you know my name?"
"Lucky guess," Mana said, feeling a smile spread across his face. "Hey kid, how would you like to come with me and be my assistant?"
The kid shrugged. "Anywhere's better than here."
The next morning, as the man and boy began their journey together, Mana began to whistle a long forgotten tune and, much to his surprise the child joined in. Mana was shocked by the fact that the little boy named Allen knew this song and he had the suspicion that his brother had something to do with it.
"What have you done Allen?" he thought to himself as he walked along with the child trailing along behind him.
"You'll find out soon enough," the wind seemed to whisper back in reply.
A/N - and that's the end. Hope you enjoyed this journey into the unknown with me. It was fun to write, even if everything was wrong. Please leave a review to this final chapter and tell me what you thought. And my deepest thanks to everyone who has reviewed this story thus far. It was far more popular than I thought it would be.
The Musician: Hey, I made a reappearance.
Mana: Not yet, he's still himself at this point.
The Musician: Oh yea. 'shrugs'
Mana: You know I don't think I approve of what you did.
The Musician: 'shrugs again' too late now.