Disclaimer - I do not own D Gray Man

Chapter One - The Plan

The sun was just beginning to peak over the horizon as two young men set out from a small inn, eager to begin their journey anew. The older of the two had short brown hair, with one unruly lock that insisted upon hanging in front of his face. The two young men, brothers, were on the run and thus needed to get moving before someone undesirable found them.

Again.

They had barely managed to escape the last time that someone learned of their location and this wasn't a scene that either of them wished to repeat. At least not until they came up with a suitable plan to deal with the situation. The younger of the two had a possible plan, which they discussed as they made their way down the lonely dirt road toward an unknown destination.

"I'm not sure that I approve of this plan Nicholas," Mana Walker said to the young man who was walking along beside him. Although he was noticeably younger than he himself, the boy was a couple of inches taller than Mana and had medium length, mahogany colored hair that curled slightly at the ends. This gave him a charmingly disheveled look that the young man took full advantage of.

He had always been popular with the ladies.

"I'm sorry Mana," Nicholas Walker said, removing the top hat that he wore so that he could run a hand through his already unruly hair. Truth be told this wasn't his idea of the perfect plan either but something had to be done. The Millennium Earl had pursued them relentlessly ever since his failed attempt on the man's life and Nicholas didn't know how much longer they could continue to evade the determined Creator. "It's not what I wanted either but there really isn't much choice at this point. I'm going to die."

Mana winced at the boy's words, still unwilling to believe that this was the only outcome that was possible. Nicholas seemed resigned to his fate for the most part but Mana was still determined that together the two of them could beat the Earl. He may not possess the powers of a Noah but he was fairly proficient in the magical arts. "I really wish that you would stop saying that."

"It's an inevitability," Nicholas said in a calm voice. It was almost as though they were discussing the weather and not the impending death of the younger of the two brothers. He had fought against the Millennium Earl and the fight hadn't gone so well for him. Although the Noah had fallen easily enough at his hands the Creator had been a different story entirely. And now he was being relentlessly pursued by the Earl so there really wasn't much chance that he would escape. After all it wasn't as though he could hide.

"I still think that we could find some kind of spell that we could use..."

Nicholas held up his hand, halting Mana in mid sentence. He appreciated his brother's determination to find a way to save him, he really did, but the man had to face reality. And the reality was that he would not survive another encounter with the Millennium Earl. "The Earl is a sorcerer as well Mana. I really don't think that we can find a spell powerful enough to take him out. And even if we could I somehow doubt that you and I would be able to pull it off."

"We could get Cross to help," Mana suggested.

A picture of the red haired Exorcist General appeared unbidden in Nicholas' mind and he shook his head to rid himself of the sight. He didn't particularly care for Cross although he dealt with the man when it was absolutely necessary. Like a couple of days ago when he had informed Cross of his plans and told the man to keep an eye on Mana after his death.

Cross had seemed intrigued by his promise to return and kill the Earl with his own hands and had grudgingly agreed to keep an eye on Mana.

"I don't even know where Cross is," Nicholas lied, hoping that his brother didn't pick up on it. Mana had always been able to read him far better than anyone else which made it incredibly hard to lie to the man. That was inconvenient right now and Nicholas hated it.

The look in Mana's eyes showed that he didn't believe the words that his brother spoke but he decided not to pursue the matter further. For awhile the two young men continued their journey down the street in silence, each lost in their own thoughts. Both were tortured and both were searching for a way to combat the approaching horror that was their life.

"Alright then," Mana said after awhile, breaking into the thoughts of his younger brother. He had made a decision. It was difficult for him to come to his conclusion but his brother was the most important person in his world and he would do anything to help him. "Do you have any idea when we need to perform this spell? Is there a time constraint?"

Even take the life of another if it proved to be necessary.

"We?" Nicholas asked, one eyebrow arched as he gazed at his older brother in shock. To be completely honest he had expected for his brother to attempt to talk him out of his plan and he was utterly shocked to hear him practically offer to help.

Mana nodded, a determined look in his brown eyes. "We're in this together kiddo."

Beginning to regain his composure Nicholas cleared his throat. "The only time constraint is the time that I have left on this earth. I have to be alive in order to cast the spell and it has to be done by me."

"So who exactly are you going to use as this host?" Mana wanted to know.

Nicholas debated this question that had been posed to him by his brother, a thoughtful expression in his smoky gray eyes. He hadn't really given much thought to the who, having been much more concerned with the how. It was a complicated spell that he had to memorize perfectly which had taken a large amount of time and effort on his part. This hadn't left much time for the young man to think about who exactly was going to be the victim. "I really don't know."

"Well don't you think that you should make a decision?"

Nicholas nodded. "I should but this isn't really the kind of decision that you can make on the spur of the moment. I need more power than I have currently to defeat the Earl so if I choose the wrong host then it's all going to be for nothing."

"This is a problem," Mana said in a quiet voice.

Nicholas could tell, by the tone of his older brother's voice, that Mana was still uneasy with the path that he had chosen. He knew that Mana would go along with it because he had already promised to do anything in order to help his brother but the weight of it was weighing on his soul.

And for this Nicholas felt guilty.

"For what it's worth I am sorry," the young man said in a quiet voice, gazing over at the brother who was walking beside him.

"Don't apologize," Mana said, reaching out and placing his hand on his brother's shoulder. The two of them had always been close, having relied on one another to make it through their rather rough childhood, and would do anything for one another. Even if that something went against everything that they believed in. "I promised that I would help you and I have no regrets about making that promise."

Nicholas gazed at his brother, searching his brown eyes for the truth. There was a question that had to be asked and although Nicholas didn't really want to put it to words he had to know the answer. It was important. "Would you do it again? Even knowing where the path leads?"

Without so much as a second of hesitation Mana nodded.

There was no trace of a lie in the older man's eyes and Nicholas couldn't help the sad smile that appeared on his face. "Thank you Mana," the young man said, silently adding, "I just hope that you can live with the guilt of what we're going to have to do."

Mana had always been the kinder out of the two siblings and Nicholas worried about how he would feel once they had actually performed the spell that would steal the life of another person so that he could have a second chance at killing the Earl. He was fairly certain that it would be tough on his brother at first but Mana was tough and should be able to get over it quickly.

"Just keep walking forward Mana," the young man said, the same sad smile on his face. "No matter what happens, never stop. Keep moving."

In the years after that fateful conversation Mana would use this piece of advice from his brother as the mantra that kept him going through all of the bad times. Whenever he felt like giving up he would repeat those words to himself and it would give him the necessary resolve to see life through to another day.

A/N - and there's chapter one of Mana's story as told by the Musician. This one's different in that I portray the series of events as though Mana was fully aware of what his brother was going to do. Hope that you enjoyed, please leave a review and tell me what you thought.

The Musician: We're back!
Mana: I don't think you'll be here all that long this time.
The Musician: We'll doesn't that just suck?
Allen: No, not really.
The Musician: HEY! Who asked you?