Author's Note - I apologize for the extremely long delay, as it was never my intention to make everyone wait so long for an update. Please do keep in mind that this story will have an ending. I won't be abandoning it.
Disclaimer - I do not own D. Gray-Man. The original plot and its characters belong to their respective owner, Katsura Hoshino.
I apologize for the extremely long delay. It was not my intention to make everyone wait so long for an update.
"Who are the people occupying this room?"
"Aside from you, Lenalee, Komui, and Lavi."
The silence was tense - though not as tense as before when she'd been forced to wait outside the infirmary - as the Matron jotted notes down on her clipboard. Finally, at last, the woman reached forward, pulling the thermomoter from the white-haired Exorcist's mouth. "A slight fever," she announced as she recorded it in her file, "but nothing to worry about. You should be free to go in a few days' time."
Allen nodded, forcing a small smile to reassure them before his gaze returned to his lap once more. She moved to comfort him, but Lavi was much quicker, practically dragging their friend out of his bed as he hugged. She giggled as Bookman's apprentice continued to embarrass the poor boy.
"We missed you, Bean Sprout!"
Her attention was soon pulled away from the pair as she noticed a figure lurking by the entrance of the infirmary. Normally, she would've grown suspicious and assumed them to be a threat, but upon seeing them nod at her before exiting, she realized who they were. Carefully making her way to the exit, when she was certain she could make her leave without anyone seeing, she quickly slipped out of the room.
"His memory alright?" the cloaked figure asked her after a moment. The hallway was vacant, creating less attention on them, but she didn't dare to raise her voice.
There were spies from Central, after all, undoubtedly.
"Yes," she replied quietly with a nod. "Head Nurse says he has a small fever. Whether that's an excuse to keep him in there until all of this is resolved or not, I don't know."
The man scoffed. "Like that'll keep him in. That brat could be on life support and still insist on getting out of bed. Always been that way."
She giggled softly. "General Cross," she asked him, smiling gently, "you care for Allen a lot more than you like to show, don't you?"
For a moment, the man was silent. "If you tell him, I will deny every word," he grumbled.
"I'm sure he's in denial about it," she remarked, looking into the window of the infirmary and watching Allen. The boy had somehow managed to escape Lavi's headlock and now appeared to be berating him for calling him his much disliked name. Although it looked as though the boy had never been dragged through the front doors of Headquarters that day, she knew it was taking every fiber of his being to force himself to do so.
Allen may have returned to 'normal', but the emotional scars still remained.
"However, I'm willing to bet there's a small part of him that knows you've taken a liking to him."
"Then there's no reason for me to tell him, is there?"
She tore her gaze away from her comrade to look at the man standing beside her. "General Cross," she spoke, only now her voice held a sharper edge to it, "you told him that he harbored the memories of a Noah, which would someday erode him, and then you disappearred without a trace. Not only was he persecuted by others after the Order caught wind of it, but Central has tried to make him into a science experiment. Letting him just believe that you care about him is not what he needs. He needs to hear you tell it to him yourself."
For a moment, an awkward silence carried over them. She'd never scolded a man other than her brother before, let alone one who was much older than her. To scold a General of all people was frowned upon even more, and for that reason she found herself sucking in a breath.
She furiously shook her head. No, she couldn't think that way. Cross needed to be lectured. Not just for Allen, but for everyone else's sake as well. Lavi and her alone would not be enough to stop Leverrier. They needed help.
Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to push aside her irritation. Deep down inside, she knew the General wanted to do everything in his power to help Allen. However, under the close watchful eye of Central, he was prevented from getting too close.
"General Cross," she pressed once more, "we're going to help Allen, but we can't do this alone. We need help. Your help."
"You managed to revert him back to his old self by yourselves, did you not?" the General replied casually, though not unkindly.
She blushed. "Not exactly. Allen... Allen would still be under their control had we not found you."
"That's not the point," he replied gruffly, making her flinch. "The point is, you both knew the risks, yet you both thought nothing of it."
Unexpectedly, the door to the infirmary opened suddenly. Horrified, she spun around, blinking as she saw her brother standing there. "Ah, Lenalee, there you are. What are you doing out here?" As though finally noticing that someone else was in the hallway, he grew tense, only to instead stare in a mixture of shock and awe. "General Cross?" he sputtered. "Where on this green Earth have you been? I swear, if you were-"
"Central," the General replied as though here were just commenting on the weather. Without even waiting for an invitation, he strolled passed the Supervisor and into the room. She watched tensely as Allen looked up, eyes growing wide at the sight of his mentor.
For a moment, the room was silent as everyone waited for the General to speak. During this time, her brother wordlessly guided her back into the infirmary, shutting the door softly behind them.
"Close your mouth," the General said after a moment, though his voice wasn't as harsh as it normally was when he was in the boy's presence. Upon seeing Allen blink, he added, "it makes you look like an idiot."
Allen stared for a moment, likely puzzled, before he complied. A frown soon crossed his features, however, and she braced herself for what she would come next. "Why?"
"You know what I mean."
"That can mean a lot of things, you know."
Allen's eyes hardened. "Just answer me."
The room grew reticent once more, making her shift uncomfortably within her brother's embrace. General Cross seemed to accept the silence, however, replying undauntedly, "good news, I'm not dead."
The joke seemed to hang in the air, making the situation all the more awkward. It took every ounce of her self-control to not flinch.
"I can see that."
"You of all people should know we don't have time for that. We're scheduled to leave within the next twenty minutes." He added when he saw her eyes widen, "and there's no way you're going back there if I have anything to say about it. I'd much rather not be haunted by that clown for the rest of my life because I didn't look after his moron of a son."
Allen looked up so fast, she could have sworn his neck had cracked. "Did you...?"
"Yes, I did."
She wasn't certain what had brought the sudden change in the boy, but nevertheless walked over to his bed, sitting down beside him and pulling him into a hug. "It's going to be alright, Allen," she promised, rubbing his back as she reassured, "we won't let them take you."
At first, Allen stiffened, but then slowly relaxed, leaning into her embrace. "It's best that you guys don't get involved, Lenalee. You saw what they did to Master. If Leverrier finds out you know about everything, he'll come after you too."
"With that logic, he'd have to take the whole Order as well," Lavi piped in, grinning as Allen stared at him in confusion. "We figured Leverrier would try to silence us, like he tried to do with General Cross, so we told everyone in Headquarters."
Komui smiled, lying a hand on Allen's shoulder. "And I've informed the other branches. We're planning a revolt to remove Leverrier and the other higher officials in Central from power."
Lavi and her blinked along with Allen. It was the first time they'd heard of such a plan. "We are?" all three of them replied simultaneously.
"That's the gist of the plan, anyway."
Lavi stared incredulously. "And what is our plan, exactly?"
"We don't have one," the Supervisor replied in a cheerful tone that was concerning to the Exorcists in the room. Lenalee sighed deeply, rubbing her temples.
"Brother, you can't just call up Central and tell them all of the other branches are revolting."
"Yeah," Lavi agreed. "You don't even know for sure which branches are on your side. Besides, Central isn't going to be eager to step down. Have you even put thought into what they may do in response?"
The silence that followed was promptly broken by Cross. "Well, I'm heading back to Central. Keep the idiot in here until we're long gone. Leverrier should leave him alone for the present time, at least until things settle down. He wouldn't want to try and pull anything that would risk an outburst from the rest of you, after all." Without even waiting for a response, he turned on his heels and headed for the door.
"General Cross!" Lenalee called after him, standing up. The man stopped, but didn't turn. She took it as his invitation to speak. "Thank you," she said, smiling at him, "for everything."
"I'm a General," he replied, waving off her gratitude, "it's my job."
"That's got to be the first time I've ever seen you take your job seriously."
Everyone spun around to look at the boy who'd spoken, gawking at him as he climbed slowly out of bed. He grinned, somewhat devilishly, as the General turned.
"Considering you did a good job in getting yourself in this mess, I have to be." He then spoke to Lenalee, "do me a favor while I'm gone and make sure he doesn't do anything stupid."
She smiled, wrapping an arm around Allen to help support him as she responded, "will do." Upon meeting Allen's gaze, she nodded, releasing her hold on him and watching as he sprung forward, grabbing onto his mentor's Exorcist jacket.
"Please come home safely," he murmured, "I still have questions."
The General nodded. "Alright." He met Lenalee's gaze one last time, saying before making his leave, "make sure you tell him."
She didn't have any time to protest, and could only watch helplessly as the General left. Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to comply with his demands, leading Allen back to his bed. The boy stared at her in confusion as she sat down beside him.
She forced a smile, reaching forward and gently grabbing his hand.
"I'll start from the beginning."