Everyday, Allen would ask his adoptive father to play the piano for him. Everytime, Mana would agree. They would sing to the notes of the piano, sometimes hum softly along with the tune. Every single day, they did this deed.
"Mana! Mana! Play that song you made me!" Allen asked in that sweet voice of an innocent child. Mana chuckled and patted the empty seat beside him on the bench. Then, he would sing as Allen hum with the soft lullaby. The child would fall sleep beside Mana as soon as the song was finished.
But that was three years ago.
Shouts of "encoure!" filled the auditorium, it was for one specific pianist. That pianist was Allen Walker, a living legend among all the piano players. One of the most widely known musicians of all time, probably even more so than anyone in his era.
At age five, he was already playing impossible pieces for his age fluently. He started composing his own music at this time. Even though he had no knowledge of other instruments, he could play it well enough to some degree that three years of practice for an average human in a period of one hour.
The boy was a modern day Mozart.
His talents were discovered by his guardian, Cross Marian, and was promptly made famous a few months after because of Cross's influences as a reknown scientist (and a playboy).
Though, Allen wasn't content with his fame at all.
Seven year olds shouldn't be working, they should be enjoying their childhood instead of playing the piano in front of hundreds of adults. That's what Allen wanted to do, he wanted a normal childhood; friends that would care for him, spending his days in an elementary school, and...
But Cross answered to him: "Stupid apprentience, be glad you're earning a living instead of being cooped up in a ratty old orphanage."
Allen stood up and bowed to the audience, before exiting the stage. He had gotten over his stage frights fast, but he was still a bit of nervous whenever attention was upon him.
"Good Job Allen-sama," said a redhead in a slightly accented Japanese. Allen looked up to see Lavi, one of his friends and co-worker. Lavi was the manager whenever Cross was "off somewhere to relieve his youth".
"Ah... Lavi, you know I can't understand Japanese..." Allen murmured in English, looking somewhat embarrassed. Lavi just gave him a good nature smile and ruffled the little one's white hair.
"Anyway... we found it," Lavi said and handed Allen a bottle of water. It was quite hot under the spotlight. And he know how Allen was going to be right after he said that sentence.
"Eh...?" Allen searched his brain for a reaction, "Y-you found Mana's piano?"
Lavi nodded and caught a crying Allen that flung himself into his arms.
He couldn't sleep, it was that melody again. It kept on playing, playing, and playing...! He struggled to go to sleep every night. Even if the melody was a soothing song, he couldn't help but to sweat under his sheets. There wasn't anyone home, but the song the piano was playing. It was a song that Allen knew, "Allen and Mana's lullaby". Ever since Lavi had tracked down Mana's piano, it was making a tune by itself without any musicians. This had never happened before with its previous owner, but why now? Maybe it's that reason.
The reason; Allen can see ghosts.
This was something Allen was well aware of, but he tend to ignore the ghosts. Whenever he didn't, the ghost would attempt to communicate with him until he ran off or did something drastic. In the boy's short life time, he learnt that if he didn't pay them any attention, they would soon drift away to seek someone else.
Allen shuddered, it was his first time encountering a ghost possessing anything. He had seen wandering ghosts that tend to linger in one place, but they never did anything that would affect the physical world. Besides those who can see spirits of course. Sometimes they would do something for the ghost. Technically, it wasn't the spirit's doing, but the person's.
It started again. The song was repeating itself.
Allen crawled out from under his sheets and jumped off of his bed. Cautiously, he approached the living room. He went past a sleeping Lavi who didn't seemed all that bothered by the music and toward the bedroom where the piano was kept.
Slowly, he opened the door, wincing when it slightly creaked. Inside, he saw a ghostly figure playing the piano.
The spirit stopped its playing and turned toward Allen.
Before the ghostly figure could fully turn, Allen was already gone from the door crack.
"Allen, you okay?" Lavi asked. He was concerned, Allen hadn't been himself lately. And the date of the next concert was drawing near. If Allen's health wasn't getting any better, there would be trouble and Cross would-
No, Lavi didn't want to think about that man.
Allen smiled, "I'm alright, just a bit tired. I had a nightmare last night."
Lavi didn't believe in Allen's fake smile, but he only nodded in acknowledgement.
"If you need anything, don't be afraid to ask, okay?"
"Yessir," Allen saluted jokingly.
Fear; it's a state of mind where one's heartbeat accelerates and thoughts come to them wildly. Sometimes, one would stop moving or go into shock. If one can surpress that feeling, then they would be invicible, right? Allen thought he had already overcame that sensation after Mana died. Nothing was more scary than losing the one you love. He still could remember Mana's screams as he was pulled away from his adoptive father's burning form.
Someone had set Mana on fire, but that person was never caught. Whether that action was for revenge (no one could never comprehend why someone would have a grudge against Mana) or for just pure sadism, it ruined Allen's life.
Mana would not want Allen to seek revenge, that he knew. Mana was the type of person who forgives and forgets. Never had Allen once saw Mana get angry. Frustrated, yes, but never once angry.
Allen would seek Mana when he was confused, sad, angry...
He let out a bitter laugh, a laugh not suited for a child at his age. It sounded old and weary, as if Allen had lived forty years instead of mere seven. It wasn't until now he knew how much he depended on Mana. How his sanity was diminishing by the seconds without Mana. Death striked Mana in a frightening speed, it didn't gave Allen a chance to accept this event into his mind. He thought that if he had Mana's piano back, Mana would come back to him. Then they would be together, back when Allen would smile without a mask.
Only two days from the concert, Allen had not been getting any rest, it was exhibited by those who saw him.
At such a young age, one would know if they were tired or needed sleep, but that had never been a concern for the pianist. From time to time, Allen would get sick from overexerting himself on a certain piece or pieces. Though it didn't stop him from performing the next day. To play brilliantly for many VIPs and rich men and women, and doing that under the pressure compared to a busy adult's life, it was a feat to behold for anyone that knew Allen Walker.
Lenalee Lee was a person that understood and befriended him.
She was a distinguished young lady, ingenious with dancing and her voice. It wasn't the fact that a portion of her songs' instrumental – practicullary the piano – was played and polished by Allen, it was the same experience they both had.
The lost of their parents. Sure Lenalee still had her brother, but she could still interpret Allen's feelings.
A number of times, she had been worried about his mentality, and a number of times, she had to leave his side for her own business.
Music was a part of her life. But for Allen, it was his life.
On occasions, Lenalee would visit Allen in his temporary apartment or hotel, only to see him working on a concerto or a composition.
She would always make him go to bed or get a drink (her threat was the stretching of his adorable cheeks, Allen didn't like having his cheeks stretched or touched. Lenalee learnt that when she first met him), for the sake of his wellbeing. Mostly because Lavi was busy with his work as well, he couldn't take care of Allen every hour of the day. Though the redhead was a little bit unresponsible and focused with his work like Allen, that wasn't any excuse for not taking care of his underage charge. The sole reason Lavi still hold his job today was because he was the only one who could comfort Allen.
Lenalee never made Allen laugh before, she only saw the miracle during that time when Lavi was with them.
Even then, she couldn't believe that was Allen's real laugh.
The night before his concert, Allen made up his mind to finish what he set out to do a week ago.
Get rid of the ghost that's haunting their piano.
The piano began to play, the melody that should have belong to Mana and him. Nobody should have the right to play it besides Mana and himself. No one should be allowed to hear the breathtaking melody, not even God's angel. No, not even God Himself should be hearing this. Allen believed that the song belonged to him and Mana, only to them.
Once more, he tip-toed past Lavi's sleeping figure and toward the room where the piano was kept.
A scream almost came from his throat when he found himself face to face with the ghost.
The ghost was, no doubt, a young man. He wore a long trench coat and clothing out of date in this century, and his expression was... relaxed?
Allen could briefly remember Mana telling him about his younger brother who died a few years before he was adopted. He was shown a picture of a young man with his adoptive father. They didn't even look similar, but he could felt the bond those two have when Mana smiled warmly at the picture.
Ah... he wanted to be Neah...
Allen was jealous, jealous of a dead man. Envying a man that was dead, the irony of this situation made Allen almost hysterical. Then, the ghost said one word that he did not expect.
"Play," the ghost said, pointing at the piano.
Allen stared at Mana's, no Neah's, piano and the sheet music.
He almost cried.
The symbols drawn on the sheet music wasn't one a musician would use, it was the symbols that Mana had taught Allen.
It didn't make any sense, it had been too long since Allen last saw these symbols.
Neah just smiled and guided him to play the melody that Mana taught Allen.
The crowd would shout "encore!" even though Allen Walker never played another song after the listed ones. They were surprised, even Lavi, when Allen announced that there will be another piece played in short five minutes. Murmurs spread through the audience like mad, and cameramen found themselves waiting anxiously for this next piece.
"Hey Allen, you never played an encore for people... what do you have in mind?" Lavi asked. The red head knew how Allen Walker worked, but this was absurd. He doesn't do anything beyond the minimum. Lavi knew Allen was that type of person.
"A little melody Mana used to teach me," he replied, "Wish me luck."
And thus, Allen Walker lived once more. For Mana, for Neah, for himself.
"Don't stop walking, live on.
Share the ideas.
Spread the Love.
I love you, Allen."
- Mana Walker
2/20/xxxx – 12/25/xxxx
Here lies a great musician, put to rest by a terrible tragedy.
May we cherish his stay with us, and never forget his service to the world.
This is where we must say good-bye.