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Cross - It's Not Just a Name

He was only in this stupid little town looking for liquor and a woman or two with which to share it so why the hell did it have to turn out like this? The man cursed foully when he heard the sounds of anguished screaming coming from somewhere not that far off. Normally other people's problems wouldn't have mattered to him but there was something strange about this situation and he felt an inexplicable need to find out what the hell was going on. With another stream of curse words the man began running toward the sound of the screams.

Reaching the location of the disturbance took some time and yet the screams were still resonating through the air when Cross arrived at a little hill, decorated with a tree and one lonely grave. He paused at the bottom of the hill, the one eye that wasn't covered by a mask widening somewhat as he witnessed a small child fighting with an Akuma. A strange appendage, vaguely resembling a human hand was gripping the Akuma and pushing it along the ground, dragging the child along in it's wake.

The stupid kid was shrieking orders for his hand to stop but the overgrown appendage seemed to be acting of it's own accord. Wrapping around the Akuma it prepared to deal the killing blow and the Akuma actually begged for death. It told the kid that it loved him and then begged for the kid to end his life. This had to be the strangest thing that the man had ever witnessed, or at least the strangest thing related to an Akuma.

The kid's screams filled the air as the Akuma's wish was granted.

"Innocence," the man grumbled as he watched the traumatized kid sink to the ground in front of the tombstone. Just his luck, he'd been minding his own business when he came across some snot nosed little brat with Innocence. He truly was cursed.

Walking toward the spot where the kid was standing, his hair bleached white due to the trauma that he had just suffered, the man explained exactly what it was that had happened. Explained about Akuma and how they were the playthings for the Millennium Earl, with absolutely no will of their own.

"So kid," the man with the mane of shocking red hair said, coming to a stop a couple of feet in front of the kid. Leaning forward the man casually blew a mouthful of smoke into the boy's face, almost enjoying the sound of his strangled little coughs. He held the cigarette up as he gazed at the child in an appraising manner. "How would you like to become an Exorcist?"

The little boy gazed up at the man through the one eye that he could still use. The other eye was covered in blood due to the Akuma attack that had occurred when he attempted to bring his foster father back from the dead. A deep cut ran down the length of his face, beginning just above his left eye and running vertically down almost to his chin.

He was still somewhat traumatized over the events that had caused his injury and didn't know if he should trust this man who, much like the fat man with the wide smile who had tricked him into turning Mana into an Akuma, had appeared as though out of nowhere. Having been abandoned to fend for himself on the streets at a very early age trust had never been an easy thing for him to give.

In fact Mana was the only one who had ever gained it.


It was in this moment that the boy knew that, trust the man or not, he had to accept his offer and become an Exorcist. If there were more souls out there suffering as Mana had then he had to do something about it. He had to do it in order to atone for what he had done to the only person in the world who had ever shown him kindness. He had committed a sin and he knew that he had to make things right.

Slowly he got to his feet and nodded.

"Then move your ass boy," the man snapped, abruptly turning away from the boy. He began walking away from the lonely tombstone, expecting for the boy to follow him obediently and without speaking. That was what he was expecting but it wasn't what happened.

"My name isn't boy. It's Allen."

The red haired man turned on him with a look that made the child gasp and fall to the ground, landing on his backside with an audible thump. His eyes were narrowed, the nerve of that kid. "Wrong Idiot Apprentice. Your name is whatever I choose to call you at the time and you will answer to it, whatever it may be. And from now on you will call me Master and nothing else. You got that BOY?"

He put special emphasis on the boy part, just for good measure.

For a moment Allen glared at the man, a look of defiance in the one gray eye that he could still open, however when the man raised a hand as though preparing to strike him he nodded. "Yes. . . Master."

The man nodded and, turning away from the boy with a sneer, continued walking. Anyone else would have been sympathetic toward the child who had suffered through the loss of his father not once but twice but Cross Marian knew that the kid was going to have to toughen up if he were to survive the life of an Exorcist. There would be no room for coddling in the training that he had planned for the kid.

The life of an Exorcist was far from an easy life, especially for those unlucky enough to be found as children. This boy would have to learn strength quickly if he was to survive. Besides, Cross had never liked children. Hell he didn't like most people, except for beautiful women.

Cross wasn't just his name, it was a personality trait as well.

Cross Marian was officially one of the Black Order's five generals and as such was charged with finding Innocence and worthy Accommodators for said Innocence. Now this being said he would much rather find alcohol and beautiful women with which to enjoy it. Unfortunately for him he had been unable to ignore this strange kid with Innocence in his left hand, much as he'd wanted to. He had never taken on a student so what had possessed him to pick up this kid?

"I must be losing my mind," he muttered to himself in an irritated voice.

Muttering complaints the entire time Cross led the way to a nearby town where he was renting a room. Grabbing his new apprentice by the arm Cross pushed the door open and all but threw the child inside. "Get yourself cleaned up," he barked, sending a glare in the brat's direction. "I can't stand to look at that bloodstained face of yours any longer."

The child flinched and dashed off to do as he'd been told. When the child returned moments later he was gingerly dabbing at the cut on his face with the tip of a washcloth. Growling low in his throat Cross walked over to the kid, grabbed the cloth and proceeded to wipe the blood from the kid's face. The boy winced as the man pulled the cloth roughly over the ravaged skin of his face however he refused to cry out.

He wouldn't give this man the satisfaction of knowing that his actions caused him pain.

Cross smirked as he watched the kid bite his lower lip in an attempt to keep from crying out as the cloth ran over his wound. Perhaps this kid wasn't as weak as he had previously judged? "Ugh," he growled, sneering at the kid and pushing him away. "Can't you do anything by yourself?"

And with these words Cross shoved the washcloth back into the kid's hand and stomped across the room. Sitting down in the one chair that occupied the room he once again locked his gaze onto the child. No longer dabbing at the wound gingerly the boy had instead began to clean it as though the ravaged skin had no feeling. The glistening of tears in his right eye was the only sign that pointed to the kid's obvious distress.

"I think that's clean enough," Cross barked, tossing the boy a small box, which struck the child in the chest and almost knocked him to the ground. "Damn, you're pathetic. This is going to take some work."

Glaring at the man through the one eye that he could still see out of Allen stumbled to his feet and placed the box that Cross had thrown at him onto the small table. Opening it he found bandages and other first aid supplies. Turning he offered his new master a shaky smile.

"Don't look at me like that," Cross ordered, turning his attention away from the boy as though he couldn't bear to look at him any longer.

The smile fell from Allen's face as he placed a gauze pad over his wound, securing it in place with a couple of pieces of tape. This might turn out to be more than he had bargained for but the child was still determined to follow the path that he had chosen and train to become an Exorcist.

He would keep moving forward, no matter what obstacles were placed in front of him.

And right now the biggest obstacle seemed to be the red haired man who had offered to train him to become an Exorcist. Allen had to admit that he was confused by the man's actions. His master seemed to hate him and yet had offered to train him.

That didn't really make any sense.

"Stop staring off into space Worthless Apprentice," Cross barked, bringing Allen sharply back to reality.

"Yes Master." Allen's gaze shifted back to the red haired man who had agreed to train him and he saw that Cross was once again staring at him in extreme dislike.

Cross rolled his eyes at the faint hint of sarcasm that he heard in the boy's voice. He made a mental note to beat that out of the kid later. "Get your ass in bed. I'm leaving before the sun rises tomorrow and if you're not awake then I'm leaving you here."

Allen's face paled at the threat and all of his defiance faded away. "Yes Master."

Mere minutes later Allen was sound asleep on one of the twin beds that occupied the room. Cross pulled another cigarette from his pocket and stared at the sleeping kid as he lit the end. Timcanpy left his perch on top of Cross' head and flew over to the sleeping child, settling himself on the pillow beside Allen's face.

Leaning back in his chair Cross blew smoke across the room as he thought about the magnitude of what he had done. Cross Marian, who avoided taking responsibility for anything, had taken on an apprentice. If word of this made it's way back to the Order they would be screaming about the world coming to an end. "What the hell is wrong with me?"

A/N - yet another D Gray Man one-shot, Allen and Cross this time. Hope you enjoyed.