This is very late. Very, very late. D: But it's late because I was in FRANCE! :D France was amazing! I loved it so much. Especially Blois, everyone was so nice. I know only basic French, though so I sounded like a four year old when I spoke to people. But at least I could talk to people. -_-
Hetalia really did get France spot on. XD
Oh, and I have 250 reviews! :D *hugs you all* And not a single one was mean or a waste of my time!
Liverpool. It was a large enough place, with plenty of surrounding areas that an orphan could come from. Far from being any easier, the search for 'Allen' was just getting more and more difficult. Now that they knew his name wasn't actually Allen they just had to try describing him as best they could. Not that any of them were even sure as to what they were looking for. Had Allen been malnourished? What kind of clothes had he worn? What was his disposition? How many people had known about his arm?
They had gone too all the orphanages in the area but no one had known who the nameless brunette could have been. In the end, they had found a single priest that seemed to have met a boy with a similar description to the child they were looking for. Except…the boy the man described was so different from the Allen they all knew that it seemed like it had to have been a different person.
The group had settled down on some benches outside of the church and tried to digest the new information. It was warming up outside and the trees above them were just beginning to turn green, but none of them were enjoying the early spring.
"I knew a boy with a red arm, although his hair was more of a reddish brown, rather than brown. It's possible that the color changed as he got older," the priest had told them. "He wouldn't speak, I don't even know if he could. He seemed almost feral. He only came to church a few times for food. Poor child, I could make out all his bones under his skin. Must have come because he was desperate. He stayed in as briefly as he possibly could and then he vanished right when he started to look a little healthier." When they pressed the old man for an age he had estimated Allen to be around seven or eight but he was very malnourished and small. He could very well have been upwards of ten.
Now they had a little bit of new information to digest. First, considering that the person the priest described really was Allen, he used to have reddish hair. Second, he must have lived on his own for a long time or had a bad experience if he was uncomfortable around people. That, or he had lived outdoors and didn't like being inside. Third, he didn't speak; either because he didn't know how or he refused to.
Lavi leaned forward on the bench and seemed to be lost in thought. Lenalee's eyes were large and her gaze kept on flickering between her other team members. Bookman had left with the golem to talk to Komui. Timothy didn't know what to think. He was in over his head and it was becoming more and more difficult to comprehend the situation he was in. He had never in his life though he would be involved in digging up another person's past like this. In all his daydreams, he had been a bright and shinning hero that could defeat everything the Earl had to offer. But now it seemed like things wouldn't be so simple.
Timothy had wanted o save Allen from his Noah. But how could he ever save Allen from his past? For how much longer could he just uncover the truth and keep going on? He brought up his knees and wrapped his arms around them as he thought. A faint breeze stirred his hair, bring with it the smells of town and Timothy shivered slightly.
"You know, you don't have to keep doing this." Timothy blinked and looked up to see his Innocence kneeling in front of him in his human form. "You could back out, they would understand." The Innocence gestured at Lavi and Lenalee.
Tsukikami, Timothy frowned at him. I can't do that. I have to protect people as an exorcist. How can I do that if I can't even help a teammate?
Tsukikami straightened up. Out of habit, Timothy checked to make sure that no one was looking at the manifestation of his Innocence but the two teens were still on either side of him, looking away. Timothy looked back at Tsukikami and was surprised to see his Innocence glaring at him. "That boy is a Noah now!" Tsukikami growled and the sound sent another shiver down Timothy's spine. "He is no longer your teammate! I'm sick of watching you hurt yourself over that!" Timothy sat, thunderstruck for a moment before his gaze hardened and he stood up quickly while clinching his fists. Tsukikami turned into vapor and disappeared as his accommodator passed through him but his feelings still lingered. Lavi turned his head at the sudden movement and lifted an eyebrow when he saw the expression on the child's face.
"That's it!" Timothy shouted.
"Eh?" Lenalee turned to look at him as well and several passersby gave him a funny look. But Timothy didn't care.
"I want to help Allen! He's not a Noah, and he can still be saved! Even if this is painful, I don't care! I will save Allen, no matter how hard it gets and no matter what I have to learn about his past! Allen is my friend and I don't want him to disappear, even if that means I have to suffer a little!" Timothy shouted at the Innocence that was no longer there. He felt like he was saying something that was beyond his years but he felt strengthened b his own words. Timothy knew that Allen would try to save him if their roles were reversed.
"Timothy," Lenalee said and Timothy realized that he had just shouted a one sided argument out loud. His cheeks immediately began to burn and he turned around slowly to face them. Much to his surprise, Lenalee was smiling at him. Lavi just looked a little surprised but he was smiling too. "You're right, Tim." Lenalee said and she held out her arms. After a short pause, Timothy walked forward into her hug. Her hair had grown longer, now it reached just past her shoulders and Timothy had to turn his head to get away from it.
"You're right. Thanks for saying that." Lenalee hugged him tightly to her chest and, after a long pause, Timothy hugged her back.
"We have new orders." Lenalee and Timothy let each other go and they both looked up to see a frowning Bookman standing next to Lavi, who had apparently noticed him coming and was not surprised by his appearance.
"What Orders?" Lavi asked impatiently as Bookman started to pause in his speech.
"Another member will be joining this team. We must wait here for him." The Bookman continued as if he had not been interrupted while simultaneously smacking Lavi offside the head and causing the teen to fall off the bench and onto the cobblestone street.
"Uh?" Timothy said, not sure what to think.
"Who?" Lavi asked resentfully around a mouthful of dust and Lenalee repeated the question just a half a second later in a clearer voice.
Cross was probably just as board as Allen. Possibly more, as the kid was constantly reading rather than loitering as Cross was forced to do. He couldn't go ahead and try to teach anything to Allen until he understood more of the basics, which might take a while. Allen was still in the segment that explained what magic was, barely past the first chapter. To be fair, it had taken Cross two months to read FALL cover to cover, but that didn't make him any less impatient. He spent his days sitting in random rooms of the Ark, brooding or reading depending on his mood.
It would take Allen even longer to read FALL if Cross was sitting in the same room as him. Cross knew that Allen was nervous around him that was what Cross had planned, after all. Allen had shown far less of his cocky side after Neah's arrival; whether because of Neah or because he was younger and weaker. For whatever the reason Allen was not the same person he had been. It was almost ironic, really.
Allen had once loathed and feared Neah once because he couldn't stand the thought of his personality changing but it had been because of his love for Neah that he had changed the most.
Cross took a long drag on his cigarette and glared out the window. Outside was a sheer wall of black rock, turned ominous under a dark and stormy sky. Rain silently hit the glass then ran down, distorting the outside world. Obviously, the image wasn't real. He was staring at an illusion cast by the Ark to reflect his own mood. Even knowing this, Cross felt a strange satisfaction to have his mood effect something, imaginary or not.
He was stuck playing babysitter for a kid that was engrossed in his own little world. Not only that but there was nothing for Cross to do! It wasn't as though Allen was going anywhere; his leg was still in a cast. Which he complained incessantly about. Neah wasn't watching Allen because he was off doing…something. Neah said that he was gathering information and weakening both the Order and the Earl but he had not been specific about his actions. Cross could see if Allen knew any more but asking his apprentice seemed wrong. It might make Allen choose between Cross and Neah and Cross didn't want to know what he would choose.
After another moment of watching the 'rain', Cross turned away and started flattening his hair back. He had lost Maria and he had lost Judgment. All he had left was his magic and his Apprentice. Cross was not stupid, he knew there was a high chance that Neah would cast him away once Allen had mastered Cross's last skill but for now, Cross couldn't convince himself that it was worth it to care. He was doing this to help Allen, not Neah. When Allen found out the truth, and Cross had no doubt that he would, he would reject both Neah and Cross regardless of what he did. That thought made Cross smirk a little.
No matter how attached to Neah Allen had become, he would go right back to loathing him the second he knew what Neah had done. He would hate Cross for lying to him as well but that would be fine by him. At the very least it would mean that Allen was back to being Allen.
Cross ground the butt of his cigarette into the ashtray Neah had begged him to use and pulled out a fresh one. He put it between his lips and held it there without lighting it. He had thought that he had heard something. After a few seconds of listening, Cross heard it again. A very faint, tentative voice saying "Master?"
Not too quickly, Cross left the room he had staked out and walked across the hall to his Apprentice's door without bringing his ashtray. He had picked a room where he could easily go to Allen's and he could hear what went on. That was how he always knew when Neah had arrived and when Allen needed something. Often times, Allen would call then decide that he could solve it by himself which was often more trouble than it was worth.
Without even bothering to knock, Cross swung open the door and stepped inside to see what Allen wanted.
Allen was sitting up, with FALL on his lap and one hand wrapped around the mask over his collar. The second the door opened, Allen looked up with a small frown on his face. He looked perplexed; evidently he had encountered something he did not understand.
As of late, Allen had started to look a bit better. He had gained some of the weight he so desperately needed and most all of his injuries had faded into faint pink marks. But his hair and clothing looked tussled and he seemed a little strained and jittery from being forced to stay put for so long. He was sitting at an odd angle to try to keep weight off a bedsore. Timcampy was resting against Allen's hip, looking more like a loyal dog than a golem. Cross took all this in a second and his face showed nothing of his inner thoughts.
"What?" Cross asked curtly, barely stepping into the room. Neah had cleaned it up a bit on principle but it still was Allen's space and Cross didn't want to venture across what might have been a floor. Allen blinked at him and seemed to be considering something before he hardened his resolve and looked at Cross evenly.
"FALL rewrote itself in Russian and I can't get it to change back." Allen pointed down at the book that Cross could no longer read and shot his Master a questioning frown. Even without looking at the book, Cross was fairly certain he knew what the problem was.
"Did you drop it?"
"No," Allen shook his head. "But what does that have to do with-"
"Did you insult it?"
"No, I… maybe." Allen admitted. Cross tossed his head and Allen continued, albeit reluctantly. "It wasn't being helpful and I said it was useless. But what does that have to do with-"
"What?" Allen asked and his eyebrows dropped low.
"Apologize to FALL." Cross said again. It took Allen a second to realize that Cross was serious before he leaned forward a bit and looked at Cross as if he was insane.
"Just do it."
With a resigned snort, Allen looked down at the book and said, "I am very sorry. Please go back into English." There was a long pause while Allen stared at FALL until he looked up again. "That didn't help."
"Oh come on!" Allen protested. "What am I supposed to be doing?"
"You offended it. FALL won't let you read it until you apologize with feeling." Cross said and it was all he could do to hold a straight face. He had once had a similar issue with the book and his Master hadn't even bothered to hide his amusement. In the end, Cross had shouted at both him and the book then took off until he had calmed down a bit. He knew for a fact that Allen would do something similar if Cross did that now. While it would be amusing, it would mean it would take even longer for Allen to get through the book.
Allen muttered something under his breath that would have made Neah proud but Cross couldn't make out the exact words so he let it slide. "FALL," Allen gave Cross a half hearted glare before he looked back at the book. "I am very sorry that I called you useless. Please, accept my apology." There was another pause while nothing happened until Allen's face suddenly lit up. "It worked!" Allen said happily. Cross just grunted then left without another word.
When he got back to the room with his ash tray, the view outside had changed to a rather serine image of Stonehenge at spring under a cloudy sky. Cross lit his cigarette and frowned at the view. Immediately, a few drops of rain started to fall but it was nothing like the torrent that had come down earlier. With a resigned snort, Cross let the window show whatever it wanted. He was in a foul mood, regardless.
Well….nothing really happened in this chapter. It feels like filler. T.T Sorry~! It just seemed like a good place to end! The next chapter Allen will get his cast off.