A/n: Alright, you've all convinced me to continue with this. Like I said, I can't guarantee updates, but this story will go on. Thank you for the support.

p.s. I know Yeeger episode is a filler in the anime, and I did say I would stick with the manga, but this chapter had too much potential. Besides, poor Allen's not getting enough spotlight.

p.p.s. Someone suggested that the 'I'm a qualified doctor' thing should take place of the short jokes, and I absolutely LOVE that idea. To whoever it was (sorry, I did try to find you, but sadly couldn't) KUDOs!

Chapter 4- The Village of Tears

The train lumbered on, the outside scenery flashing by the golden framed windows. It was an open isle, and there weren't any compartments, but maybe that was just because he had been too embarrassed to demand a first class cart. The seats were compact; they had both a front and back seat, looking like an upside-down T shape when viewed from the side. The window ledge even cut into the seating space, making the two-seater more of a couch for one very large person.

Allen sat back on the plush purple cushions of his seat, and let out a sigh. Well, it was a lot better than the travelling arrangements he usually got with Master. Sure, Master took all the luxurious reservations –usually ones with woman- but Allen had to make himself scarce and bunk in with the cattle. It had been a hard life…

Um… best not to dwell on the past now; he didn't have to live like that anymore!

Yeah, he was part of the Black Order now, which was starting to feel like home… just a little bit. When he had gotten back and received the welcoming party of his life (Lenalee and Edward unfortunately, hadn't made it back by then), Allen had finally started to feel like he belonged somewhere.

He'd never really noticed it before—after all, he'd always been travelling. Travelling with Master, travelling with Mana… Allen never had felt that a single place could hold him down, make him feel the need to go back once everything was done. But now… now the Black Order was starting to take a special place in his heart…

The food was great, the people even better. But of course, there were the missions, and the Akuma who called him. The Black Order was only really, a place a transit for his next destination in which Allen could free the Akuma's souls. That was his promise to Mana after all.

So here he was, right after he had just gotten back from his mission with Kanda. He was on his way to General Yeeger, to deliver a suitcase of surprises to him. Still, this mission was supposed to be a quick one, beyond easy. Apparently he'd be back at Headquarters in no time.

Once again, Allen glanced at the black suitcase to his left, wondering once again what could be in it now that his thoughts had brought the subject up. His mind nagged at him with the temptation to open it. Surely Komui wouldn't mind if he just took a little peek…?

Before he knew it, Allen's hands were moving towards the suitcase, his fingers twitching in anticipation. After all, what could be so important that it had to be delivered to a General pronto?


Allen's head whipped towards the source of the voice, an innocent smile already plastered on his face, "Yes?"

Edward stared down at him blankly, standing with a brown suitcase held in a gloved hand in the middle of the train isle. The blond scratched his head, "Woah, Allen, it is you. What are you doing here?"

"I'm on a mission for Komui," Allen said, not expecting Edward to pop up but taking it all in stride. After all, that was what being Exorcists were all about wasn't it? Dealing with surprises and meeting up unexpectedly with friends. "I'm supposed to deliver this suitcase to General Yeeger."

Edward gave a crooked grin, sliding himself into a seat that was directly across from Allen's, "So why exactly were you trying to open it? You know you could get court marshaled for that."

"Court marshaled?"

Edward stared at him, and then smacked his head as if he couldn't believe there was such an idiot in the world, "You mean you joined a militant organization and don't even know what a court marshal is?"

"No…" Although now that Allen thought about it, he thought he remembered Master being referred to as 'Marshal' sometimes. "Is it a rank?"

"No it's- agh, you know what? It doesn't matter what it is! The point is, you don't know the basics of military disciplines, and you're joining a potentially dangerous organization. You could get yourself executed!"

Allen looked down, feeling bad. He fidgeted with the edge of his exorcist clothing, his mind awhirl. "It's true… it's true I don't know much, but exorcising Akuma is what I do. It's what I live for. Even if I didn't know anything about the Black Order, I'd still look for Akuma, but the Black Order provides a better way for me to use my Innocence. Or at least, that's what Master said. And despite Master sometimes being a complete madman, he rarely lies about things like this. Maybe I'm not a military expert, but I'm an Akuma expert."

Edward drew a breath, and for a moment Allen thought the blond would berate him even more, but then Edward just seemed to sigh and deflate. "Just… just read up on it, then."

Read up on it? Allen could have groaned. It wasn't that he hated reading, it was just… he had better things to do. Like eating, or sleeping, or training, or hunting Akuma, or beating the crap out of people in cards…

For a moment Allen wondered how in the world Edward knew so much about military disciplines, but then he realized that the blond had probably just read up on it. After all, Edward liked reading, didn't he? Besides, Edward was some kind of genius, right? Of course Edward would have found out everything he possibly could have before joining the Black Order.

Allen felt like an idiot, which made him feel depressed, which made him want food…

"-llen? Allen!"

"Huh? What?" Allen's head shot up, the image of the sandwich in his mind dissipating to reveal Edward's annoyed face. Allen laughed nervously, "Eh-he… so what are you doing here anyway? Did you finish your mission?"

"Hm…?" Edward's annoyed countenance seemed to instantly disappear, replaced with a contemplative sorrow, "Yeah, we did."

Allen blinked at the sudden mood change, but then remembered his own mission for the Order. It hadn't been easy to swallow, what had happened with Lala. He wondered if… Edward had experienced something similar. Allen hesitated, "Did something happen?"

"I suppose." There it was. That bitter smile again. "There was a girl, only eight years old. She also had Innocence and the Akuma targeted her. Don't worry, she didn't die, but… Allen, by any chance were you—"

Edward's question was cut off by a loud whistle that signaled the end of their train ride. Allen was glad for it. He had a pretty good idea what Edward had wanted to ask, and Allen wasn't sure if he wanted to answer. Sure, he could give the surface details about his emotional state at that time, but he knew it wasn't what Edward wanted.

It seemed that Allen would rather not answer, after all.

"Looks like we're here," Allen said with a smile as the train jerked to a stop. He stood up, grabbing the suitcase by the handle and heading towards the exit door. He could practically feel Edward's gaze on his back as Allen made to leave, but Allen didn't want to acknowledge it. He hopped off the train, and started towards the terminal's exit, when he heard someone behind him.

Allen turned around, blinking in surprise when he saw Edward hop off the train as well. Surely this place wasn't also the location of Edward's and Kanda's joint mission?

"You're just delivering, right?" Edward said with a shrug, stalking forwards until he was beside Allen, "That shouldn't take too long. I'll accompany you for a bit—anything to delay meeting with Kanda."

"He is a jerk, isn't he?" Allen grinned, but just as quickly as it came, the grin faded with worry. Kanda may have been a jerk, but even Allen had to admit that when push came to shove, the dark haired boy really pulled through. Plus, the Japanese boy was kind in his own way, even if his way was unconventional. "Is it really okay for you to delay like this though? Kanda was pretty injured when I last saw him."

"I think," Edward said, his eyes distant, "That Kanda will be fine."

Allen opened his mouth to ask why, but it was just then that a shout got his attention.

"Allen? Allen Walker?"

Allen whipped around towards the direction of the sound, seeing a middle-aged man in a finder's uniform. He had a short beard and dark brown hair, and was racing towards them. He stopped just in front of the two boys, brushing his cloak off as if he had not just run forty meters. The train whistled again, and sped off.

The man looked Allen up and down, appraisingly, then held out his hand, "You must be Allen Walker? I'm a Finder of Yeeger's unit, my name is Thierry."

Allen smiled, and shook the hand. "Ah, pleased to meet you. I am indeed Allen Walker. Thank you for taking the trouble to pick me up."

Thierry nodded, and then his eyes shifted over to the spot beside Allen. He smiled, "And who is your friend?"

"Edward Elric," Edward muttered, "Doctor."

"I see. We have heard about you. A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mr. Elric."

There were a few more muttered greetings, and when all that was done, Allen held out the suitcase, "Supervisor Komui asked me to deliver this to Marshall Yeeger."

Thierry nodded, then turned his heel and started walking, "Very well. Please follow me."

"Ah?" Allen was a little confused, "Um, if you're from Marshall Yeeger's unit, couldn't I just give this suitcase to you and then you could give it to Marshall Yeeger?"

"Oh," Thierry turned back to Allen in surprise, "Oh, it doesn't quite work like that. The reason that an exorcist was asked to make this delivery rather than a finder was because there was a high chance of this item being intercepted. Thus, an exorcist has to do the delivery in able to make sure that it reaches its target."

Edward eyed the finder warily, then snorted, "Yeah right. If exorcists had to be delivery men, then there'd be no one left to fight the Akuma."

"Perhaps it seems redundant," Thierry said mildly, "But it's a special case for the four Generals. Because it's too inconvenient for them to go back to HQ, they get a special delivery. I agree with you that none of the other exorcists get this treatment, however."

Edward's face was dark, and Allen decided it would be best to get going before the blond could explode. Why exactly would Edward explode, Allen wasn't sure, but he knew he had to stop it.

"Well then," Allen said cheerily, perhaps a little too cheerily, "Let's get going."

And so they got.

They walked for a while in the calm greenery, but it wasn't in an appreciable quiet. Edward was grumbling as they went, probably regretting his choice of staying with Allen. Thierry looked as if he were trying to enjoy the landscape, but his expression was strained. It wasn't long before Allen couldn't take the silence anymore.

"Um…" He shuffled his shoes, "I heard from Mr. Komui that Marshall Yeegar is a strict man. Is that true?"

Thierry turned his head to look at the white haired boy, a barely perceptible smile of relief on his face, "Well, he likes his manners and formalities, but he's a nice guy at heart."

"A nice guy? The Marshall?" Allen couldn't keep the surprise—no, it was outright shock—from his voice.

"What's the matter, all of a sudden?" asked Thierry, looking worried.

Allen scratched his head, "I'm sorry, it's just that 'nice' and 'Marshall' don't really go together, in my mind."

He flashed back to Master, and shivered.

Thierry chuckled nicely, though he didn't look like he really understood what Allen was thinking. "Marshall Yeegar is a nice man indeed. He knows so much about the world, and teaches it readily. Do you know what this butterfly is called?"

He was pointing to a butterfly that had fluttered across their path.

"No," Allen admitted, ashamedly. He had never had much time to study things like these, not when he was in the circus and it didn't matter, and certainly not when he was travelling with Master.

Edward glanced at it, "Monarch."

"Huh?" Allen said.

"Mr. Elric is correct," Thierry smiled, "This is a Monarch butterfly. It's a common butterfly which propagates throughout Europe and Asia."

Allen blushed, feeling a little bit embarrassed that he seemed to be the only one who didn't know about butterflies. He had been hoping Edward wouldn't know either, but he should have known better. It was really, really hard to be a doctor after all, and it required a lot of intelligence. His friends' occupation couldn't just be done by any type of person, unlike Allen's. He shook his head, trying to get back into the conversation so that Thierry wouldn't be left wanting. "Did Marshall Yeegar teach you that?"

"Yes, he did. He's sort of like a professor. I hear he was a teacher originally, so I suppose that's natural."

"Well, he certainly does sound nice."

And Allen meant it. He wished that Master had taught him things like that. Instead, Master had been too busy running away from debts and making Allen pay them. He sighed, his thoughts in gloom as they walked towards wherever their destination was. Soon they came up to a village, with nice straw roofs and people bustling about.

Thierry led them to a carriage, where an old man with a lot of smile lines was waiting. Allen realized that this must be Yeegar, and he could hardly believe it. Thierry was right; he did look nice. With Marshall Yeegar were two other finders, whom he introduced as Takagi and Kouga.

"Well," Yeegar said, looking both Allen and Edward up and down. He stepped out of his carriage, "We've got two growing young men who've come all this way to visit us, so let us not be skimpy. We will eat in the town tonight."

And so, they went back into the town.

Yeegar walked beside Allen. "You were Marshall Cross's apprentice, weren't you?"

"Um, yes."

"That must have been difficult."

"Um, well…" It had been. Very, very difficult. But to say so would make him seem ungrateful. "Oh, no, not at all! I thank God every day for my master!"

Edward snorted.

Allen glared.

"He's not really the best at human interaction," Yeegar said, a note of amusement in his voice that told Allen he had not been deceived. "But at least his desire to eliminate the Akuma is stronger than anyone else's."


"That is why he took you as his disciple, I suppose," Yeegar's voice turned wistful, almost sad. "You were born with the Innocence within you. As you know, we five Marshalls carry many Innocence fragments with us, and try to find their hosts. I currently have seven in my possession. I know not how many Innocence fragments and hosts I will be able to find while I yet live but I must continue, that this fight might see its conclusion as quickly as possible. Now here we are."

They had indeed, arrived at their destination. It was a building much bigger than the ones surrounding it, and it was obviously a very popular restaurant. The company of six slipped in, and Yeegar called for a table. The waiters showed them to their seats. Allen moved to take out his wallet, but Yeegar stopped him.

"Do not worry, I will pay for this meal, as my thanks to you."

Allen gaped up at the man. 'Marshall' and 'Paying' in the same sentence was unheard of, unless there was a 'not' in between. Then again, Allen was quickly realizing that Marshall Yeegar was very different from Master. Still… "No, but I can't let you pay. I'm just doing my job is all, so you have nothing to thank me for—"

"Thanks not for the delivery," said Yeegar gently, even as a waiter arrived with plates of steaming food. "But for becoming an exorcist."


"Though you may be a host, it is painful indeed to send one as young as yourself to the battlefield. I figure it to be for the best that you eat well, at least, while you are a member of the Order."

"Marshall Yeegar…" Allen didn't know quite what to say.

"Well I don't know about Allen," Edward said, thankfully interrupting Allen's awkward sentence, "But I'd like for dinner…"

And then, he proceeded to list off an impressive array of foods. Allen liked to eat, but he was no gourmet expert. He stared wide-eyed as Edward rattled off names of foods which he had never heard of, and didn't act the least bit embarrassed about it.

Edward, Allen realized, had probably grown up in a rich family. That was probably why he was a doctor so young as well. For some reason, this made Allen sad, as if there were now an inseparable gulf between the two of them. Nobody else thankfully, seemed to notice Allen's change in mood.

Marshall Yeegar simply looked amused by Edward's choices, "My, you do know your foods, don't you? You are the doctor I have heard so much about, then?"

"Yes," Edward replied stiffly.

"A very intelligent young man, then. I would like to thank you too, Mr. Elric, for helping the Black Order."

"Yes," Edward said dryly, "You are thanking me, by getting all those dishes I wanted."

Allen kicked him under the table.

"Ouch! What was that for!" Edward said tightly, glaring at the white haired boy.

"For being rude!" Allen hissed.

Edward sulked, and Yeegar bit back a smile. Takagi let out a laugh.

Edward's glare was instantly turned on the finder, and Allen had to admit that it was an impressive one. It was almost as scary as the guardian of Mistress Anita's. Takagi instantly shut up, gulping.

"What?" Edward demanded.

"No—nothing," Takagi stammered, "Ju—just that I never expected the exorcists to be so childish, is all."

"I'm not childish!" Edward snapped, pointing an accusing finger at Allen. His arm came up so fast it almost took Allen's nose off. "He's the one who started—"

And then, as if suddenly realizing how absolutely childish such an argument was, Edward cut himself off. This time, the only one not laughing was Marshall Yeegar, but even he couldn't hide the mad twitching of his lips. Edward crossed his arms, and sulked until the dishes came. No amount of prodding would get him to talk again.

When the dishes did come, Allen forgot all about Edward Elric.

Whatever Edward had ordered, it was good, and Allen's mouth was watering even from the smell of it all. He attacked the dishes with relish, taking bits and pieces of each plate that came.

"This is delicious! I'm starved!"

"I see." Yeegar smiled, his eyes disappearing behind wrinkles of laughter. Allen kept eating. "And even still?"

To be honest, Allen knew his eating habits unnerved people, but he had stopped letting that bug him after he found out just how hungry he could get. Instead, he went on happily eating, "Yes! This is amazing!"

"I heard that parasitic Innocence hosts had enormous appetites, but even so…"

Allen reached for another bowl, but nothing was in there. What? When had the others ate that particular- oh! Allen flushed, smiling guiltily, "I'm sorry, it looks like I ate your shares as well!"

"Not at all, eat as much as you'd like." Yeegar raised a hand, and called for the waiter again.

"It's just as you said, Mr. Thierry." Allen said happily to the finder, before turning back to the Marshall, "You really are a nice man, Marshall Yeegar. I'm sure that when you were a teacher, all the children loved and respected you."

"No, I was not a good teacher at all. I… could not save any of the students I loved so much."

"Your students?" And then, it hit him. "No…"

"Yes. It was nigh on forty years ago…"

When Marshall Yeegar finished the story, Allen felt like crying. It was… it was too sad! Too unfair!

How could something like that happen to such a nice man?

"I've fought ever since then," Yeegar concluded, "Hoping to avert tragedy. But tragedy seems to follow me where ever I go. You must have experienced some of it yourself, Allen Walker."

Allen closed his eyes, and then opened them again. He felt that after a story like that, he had to reciprocate.

"I made Mana… I made the man who raised me, the only family I had, into a demon." Did that even begin to describe what he had done, what Mana had meant to him? No, not really, but Allen wasn't sure he could bare his soul as easily as Yeegar had done. Mana was… "I destroyed that demon, as well. My left eye was cursed, and gained the ability to see the demons' souls."

"I had heard. Then you became Cross's disciple and became an exorcist, correct?"

Allen swallowed, and nodded. Silently, he thanked Marshall Yeegar for pushing the topic forward; somehow, the wise old man had known that Allen didn't really want to go into the details.

"At first I decided to atone for what I'd done to Mana," He turned to Yeegar, seeking approval, "But now I fight not to atone, but for my very life. I fight to lay those poor souls to rest, and that my life might have meaning."

Allen looked down, at his hand, at his Innocence. Oh how he had hated that hand before, but now… "I was born endowed with the Innocence, so it is my duty and the only way I can make up for having made my most precious person a demon…"

Yeegar laid a hand down on Allen's shoulder, "You've done well."

Allen looked up in shock, to see the kind face of Yeegar staring down at him.

"You've done very well indeed to refuse to curse your unhappy fate and live on," The old man said with a small, encouraging smile.

"Marshall Yeegar…"

"Is it that much of a surprise?" Edward snorted, drawing Allen's attention to him. The blond was staring moodily at a glass of water, swirling the contents with one gloved hand. "What you're doing there… is pure selflessness. Heh, when I started my journey I wasn't nearly as… and I'm the one who's supposed to fight 'for the people'."

Allen blinked, a little confused. Edward had trailed off by the last sentence, as if he had drawn into a world of his own, and Allen wasn't sure if he was supposed to be privy to it.

Finally, Edward shook his head, turning molten eyes to Allen once more, "Don't be stupid, of course you're doing good. If you think otherwise, then no amount of books can allow you into the Black Order. I'm sure the Marshall agrees, right?"

Yeegar nodded. He smiled down at Allen, his voice warm as his hand tightened encouragingly around the boy's shoulder, "I know why you and Joanne chose to recall your friends' souls. No one can blame you for it, even if they are an exorcist. Indeed, the pain and sadness you feel will surely become a point of strength in your career as an exorcist. You will be motivated even further to save their souls."

Allen's vision got blurry.

"What's the matter?" It was Thierry. He sounded concerned.

Allen blinked, and realized that he was crying. He quickly shook his head, and realized that Yeegar had taken his hand off his shoulder. He turned his head around, smiling weakly at Thierry, "Ah, I just got overwhelmed there… I'm sorry."

He quickly tried to wipe away his tears.

I wasn't wrong… I wasn't wrong to become an exorcist, Mana.

Edward and Yeegar shared a glance, but Allen didn't pay much attention to it. He felt much too overwhelmed.

The rest of dinner was a quiet affair. There was small talk from all sides, but everyone made sure to stay away from anything that could potentially cause emotional reactions. Finally, dinner had ended.

They walked back out of the restaurant. On the way, Allen bumped into a grown woman with dark skin and long black hair.

"I'm sorry," he quickly apologized, bowing low.

The woman only gave him a dirty glance, and continued on her way to a seat.

"Sheesh," Edward muttered, "Some people. No manners."

"Like you?" Yeegar asked amusedly.

Edward flushed a dark shade of red, and he turned a heated glare at the General, "What'd you just say?"

Yeegar shook his head, a slight smile on his lips. They were currently walking down the streets of the town, back towards Yeegar's carriage. "I'm sorry my boy, but you just remind me of this one student I had. He was always trying to make himself out to be the toughest person in the world, and not letting anyone get close to him."

Edward's glare, somehow, seemed to become even more intense. "Are you trying to imply something?"

"Maybe," Yeegar said with a smile, looking up at the quickly darkening sky, "I just wish I could have told that boy that whatever experiences he's had, not all of the world is like that. There are those who genuinely want to help, if he would have just let them."

Edward snorted, and looked away, crossing his arms. His voice had gone soft however, completely opposite of his angry body language. "I think… that your boy already knew that, but he also knew that no matter how much they wanted to… they couldn't help."

"I wonder," was all Yeegar said in reply.

Allen looked between the two, a little bit confused. He wondered if Edward was trying to make Yeegar feel better about the boy that Yeegar couldn't help, but he thought there was something more to it than that…

"Home sweet home," Thierry muttered before Allen could do anything. They had arrived back at the carriage.

The four made their way in. Allen was surprised by the interior. The carriage had looked tiny from the outside, but the inside was surprisingly roomy.

"Pull out the couch, will you Thierry?" Yeegar asked mildly, and the founder hurried to do as he was bid. Allen noticed that at the back, there were two bunk beds, one for Yeegar and the other for Thierry no doubt. He supposed that he and Edward would be sleeping on the couch this night.

They chatted a little more, before they finally decided to turn in for the night.

"Will you be alright?" Allen asked Edward as they both settled down on the couch. He had his exorcist robes as a blanket, but Edward did not have one. It wasn't particularly cold in Yeegar's coach, but still…

"I've slept in worse places," Edward mumbled, and took off his outer red coat in one swift motion. He snuggled into the couch and pulled the cloak up to his chin, looking unbelievably childish in that moment.

Allen had to suppress a laugh.

"Ah!" Edward suddenly cried out, sitting up.

"What's the matter?" Allen asked, also sitting up.

"I have something in here, and I don't want it to get crumpled while I sleep," Edward explained, his attention focused solely on whatever was in his pockets. He had started rummaging through them, and wasn't even looking at Allen. "It's… very important to me."

Allen bobbed his head contently. He understood the significance of certain objects.

Seconds passed, and nothing turned up. Edward's brows furrowed, his movements becoming more frantic and harrowed. Yeegar and Thierry glanced over, obviously wondering what the commotion was about.

"What…?" He muttered, sounding agitated, "Where…?"

Allen straightened, a hint of worry colouring his tone, "Is it not here?"

Edward shook his head, looking frustrated, "No." And then, quite suddenly, he stood, a light frown on his face as he started pacing across the carpet, "There were two instances where I took off my cloak after departing from the train, which was the last time that I checked to see it. One was right now, and I've found nothing. That means that it must be at the restaurant."

No sooner than he had said those words, Edward started towards the door to the carriage.

"Wait," Yeegar said, making Edward paused and glance back at him with impatience. "I know that you can probably take care of yourself, but it still isn't safe for a young man such as yourself to go out this late at night."

Edward snorted, tapping his feet, obviously just wanting to leave. Still, the blond did have some manners, and he stayed to answer the question. Sorta. "And who are you going to offer me as protection? Him?"

He jerked a thumb towards Thierry, who flushed a bright red.

"Don't be rude," Yeegar chided, "And yes, I was going to ask Thierry, if that's quite alright with him?"

Thierry didn't look pleased with the prospect, but he nodded nonetheless.

Edward's face was turning darker and darker with every passing moment. "Look, I don't need a babysitter or a—"

"Um," Allen interrupted, and all eyes turned to him. He shifted a little under all their gazes, but told himself to forge on. "Um Marshall Yeegar sir… you said that as long as someone goes with Edward to town, it should be alright, right? It can be anyone?"

Yeegar's eyes brightened, "Ah, yes."

"Then, then may I go with Edward?"

He thought it was the best solution. Edward didn't seem to keen on being alone with Thierry or Yeegar for some reason, so Allen thought that perhaps the blond just needed a familiar face. Or perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Allen was around his age. Allen wasn't sure of the reason, but Edward was acting differently than usual.

They walked out of the coach and back towards the town at which they had dinner. Allen took a moment to simply enjoy the cooling evening air, before he finally decided that his friend needed some confrontation. After all, Yeegar had been nothing but kind, and it wasn't fair that Edward acted so hostile towards him, especially when Allen knew that Edward was equally as kind.

"You pulled a Kanda back there."

Edward's head snapped to Allen's direction. "What?"

Allen puffed out his cheeks, "Why were you so hostile towards them, Edward? They were only trying to help."

"I don't trust them," Edward replied instantly, then paused. He hesitated, looking away and if Allen read it correctly, embarrassed, "Well, he just can't be that kind and get that kind of rank, right? I mean, to get up there, you have to step on some people's toes. What's he trying to pull by being all fatherly and stuff?"

Allen frowned. For some reason, the conversation between Edward and Yeegar earlier that day drifted into his mind, and with a dawning realization, he 'got' what they were talking about. "Edward… have you had a bad experience with the military?"

"It's more like, have I ever had a good experience with them?" Edward muttered, and then raised his voice. "Well it's the military isn't it? War and weaponry… is that ever supposed to be a good thing?"

Evidently, the first part wasn't supposed to have been heard, and Allen respected the blonde's wishes. He didn't ask, though he was dying with curiosity. He coughed, and decided to reply to the second part of Edward's statement. "But the Black Order is necessary… besides, we don't fight people, we fight Akuma."

Edward went tense, and although Allen couldn't see his face, he did see the tightened shoulders and picked up pace of the walk.

And then, Edward rubbed his eyes, and all the tension was gone. "Ah, you're right. It is different here. Sorry… it's just habit, I guess."

Allen wasn't quite sure what Edward meant, but he took that it had something to do with the blonde's past. He wouldn't push however. He wasn't one of those people.

"So you promise to give Marshall Yeegar a chance?" Allen asked, prodding Edward gently.

"Alright, alright," Edward said, sounding displeased, but the faint smile on his lips gave him away. "I suppose there's no harm in it."

Allen smiled, and their conversation turned to lighter things. And then, just when the restaurant was within sight of them, Edward tensed, stopping dead in his tracks.

"What's the matter?" Allen asked, having actually gone forward a few steps before he realized his sarcastic companion was no longer beside him. He walked backwards, throwing his friend a concerned look. There was an expression of pain screwed upon Edward's face, and his knuckles were completely white against his clenched fists.

"Akuma," Edward breathed, and Allen felt his heart skip a beat.

And then, without warning, Edward started pelting down the streets. Allen immediately followed after him, knowing that the blond was going after what he had sensed. Tugging Timcanpy out of his inner pockets, Allen quickly awoke the little golem, giving him instructions to find Yeegar and tell him that there were Akuma in town.

The winged golden ball flew off, and Allen inwardly breathed a sigh of relief. Now the Marshall would know.

They ran until they were at the edge of town, the edges of civilization blurring away and leaving them only with hard rock. And still, they kept running. Finally, Edward screeched to a halt, and Allen stopped with him.

Panting, Allen looked around, but he did not see any Akuma. A huge beige coloured wall of rock towered in front of them, and Allen wondered for a moment if that was why Edward had stopped. And then, he spotted the hole in the wall, or rather, a cave of some sorts.

Allen's eyes widened as he remembered what Thierry had said about this town, and how it used to support a mine. That was no doubt, the abandoned mine.

"The Akuma are around here somewhere," Edward said through gritted teeth, looking around distrustfully, "but where?"

Allen shook his head, "I don't see anything. But, my eye only reacts if I see an Akuma directly, so I guess they could be hiding or something...?"

He trailed off hesitantly, not all too sure about his assessment. After all, what reason would the Akuma have to hide? And yet, he trusted Edward's judgment completely. So then, what was the purpose of the crafted demons?

Edward brought a hand up to his temple, kneading it softly before suddenly, shaking his head, turning molten golden eyes on the entrance to the abandoned mine. "They must be in there."

Without waiting for Allen's reply, Edward started racing towards the cave entrance.

Allen quickly made to follow, but it was just then, that his eye reacted.

The white haired boy gasped as four level ones and one level two arose from behind the stone wall, obviously having been lying in hiding the whole time. He still had no idea why they would act as they did, but that was irrelevant.

Quickly he invoked his Innocence, just as the level ones drifted over to the clearing and started firing their rounds at the running blond.

"Edward—!" Allen cried out, but it was already too late. Edward was standing at the entrance of the cave, the perfect target for the Akumas as they let out a barrage of bullets to his general direction.

Edward leapt backwards, quickly bringing up his right arm and blocking the worst of the shots as he danced around the rest, quick to dodge. Most of the massive bullets had hit the top and sides of the cave entrance, shaking the stone rather than harming the person.

Breathing an inward sigh of relief at the fact that his friend was alright, Allen leapt towards the nearest Akuma. It didn't matter why they were acting strange. His job as an exorcist was to destroy those machines and free the souls.

The remaining Akuma let out a scream, and let out another barrage of bullets, although this time it seemed as if their rage had gotten the better of them, as they hit nowhere near Edward.

Edward got out his weird dagger things again, but before he could do anything, something within the cave caught his attention and he dropped his weapons, his mouth falling agape. Edward whirled, shock colouring his voice and seemingly forgetting completely about the Akuma as he gazed stupidly at the shadowed figure that had emerged from within the abandoned mine.


And then, the top of the mine entrance shook, shaken by all the massive hits, and the rocks collapsed on top of them.

A/n: I'll be honest, the manga is intimidating me. It's so chillingly good and mysterious right now that I'm not sure how I can write to live up to it. And have you read Reverse: Fragments of Fallen Snow? Allen's past is sooo sad T^T