CH 9

A/N: Gah, so much to write, so little motivation! And so much writers block! I have slaved and slaved to get this to you on Kanda's birthday, 6.6.12 (Ok, maybe a few hours after. I did get side-tracked watching a great thunderstorm). I know, I know, I should have slaved sooner, so you can read without further preamble.

Kanda's POV

Some might say that silver-gray eyes could look washed out, bland, lifeless. That description didn't cross my mind until today. Even if nothing else bothered me about Moyashi's behavior (which is impossible; a lack of response to my taunts pisses me off in any situation), those zombie eyes would have done it. They stared straight ahead without moving or blinking. Fake eyes, glass eyes, not the eyes of the Moyashi who annoyed the crap out of me.

I feinted a punch toward his right shoulder but finished with a kick to the left side. He took one jerky step aside at the last moment to avoid it.

If only I could make him fight.

I sent a flurry of blows toward his torso.

If only I could make him react.

He blocked the worst and passively took the rest. He'd never normally let me land a hit so easily.

If only I could make him blink.

I swung my fist directly at his face; that would make him flinch if nothing else. He stood stock still, as if he knew I wouldn't actually hit him. He didn't move, he didn't blink, and his eyes didn't refocus.

I couldn't think of anything else that might cause him to react. Why goddamn it? Why was he like this? Why him of all people, who was least likely to get depressed or lose touch with the world? All his naïve and idealistic goals and perceptions seemed to keep him grounded. I dropped strategy and just attacked. No matter what moves I threw at him, no matter how many blows he blocked or took, there was no response in those eyes. I began to get angry at whatever was clouding out their usual light.

Before long, I could see red. The anger, made all the more potent by desperation, fogged my mind, senses and reason. When the next strike still elicited no response, it blazed up hot and powerful for a moment. I don't remember grabbing my sword, but Mugen was in my hand and out of his sheath in the blink of an eye. Caution blew away on the wind of fury, and I swung the sword toward the zombie-Moyashi. I realized a moment too late to stop the momentum that I was about to slice him in two. For that instant, the anger was swept away by a powerful fear, and my mind rebelled against what my own hands were about to cause.

Instead of the feel of metal shredding flesh, Mugen was met by the resistance and clang of metal intercepted by an equally strong material. Moyashi had activated Crown Clown. My moment of relief was interrupted when I noticed the eyes were just as blank as before. The weapon had self-activated to protect the wielder, but left him in the semi-conscious state. Then, he blinked.

It was as if there had been chains weighing down his limbs and they suddenly snapped. He blinked twice, and it was like a film had cleared from in front of his eyes. He lurched forward, but caught himself and came at me again, with coordinated attacks and renewed vigor. He started responding to all my taunts as if he had just heard them. "How dare you insult Mana and my reasons for fighting! Do you even have a reason other than blood lust? And my name is Allen, Bakanda," Moyashi shouted.

I stepped forward to meet him with a smirk. Now we were getting somewhere.

"Then why did you stop walking if it's so important to you, huh?" I asked, adding a taunting tone to my voice for extra annoyance.

He bristled and swung Crown Clown's claws at my head. I caught them on Mugen; he'd used that move before. Predictable. "I haven't stopped, what are you talking about? And I won't, ever."

"Then what have you been doing these past few days?" I asked while breaking Mugen free of Crown Clown's grip and making a counter strike, "Playing around?"

He gritted his teeth and replied, "You don't know anything."

I tried to push him back with a quick series of passes, but he held his ground. "What exactly don't I know? It looks like you gave up."

"I haven't."

"Then what do you call disappearing from the Great Hall every day and not eating enough?"

He blinked and I nearly cut his right arm while he was distracted. "You noticed?"

"Che, answer the question."

"But you didn't answer mine."

"That was rhetorical," I scowled, "of course I fucking noticed. Why else would I have commented on it?"

"Well sorry."

"You still didn't answer my earlier question. What did you think you were doing hiding away and giving up? Quitters piss me off. You signed on for the long run of this damn war, and claimed you had noble reasons for it, so don't you stop now. That would be cowardly, and I can't stand cowards."

Moyashi blinked again before smiling a bit. He didn't lower his guard though, and he didn't reply either.

"What are you smiling about?" I growled, "And answer the goddamn question!" I stepped up the pace, figuring if he wouldn't answer, I'd beat it out of him.

"You do have a heart after all," he continued, that hint of a smile just taunting me on his face.

I was dumbstruck for a moment. "What the hell do you mean by that? What have I ever done to give you that impression?"

He just kept smiling that aggravating little smile and swinging Crown Clown. I spent so much time trying to get an answer out of him for that one that I completely forgot he'd never answered my earlier question. Che, I hated how he could evade a subject like that.

Eventually we stopped exchanging words at the speed of our strikes and just concentrated on sparring. Somehow it had fallen into an equal back and forth exchange. Each of us tried to get the upper hand (like I'd let him win), but it was more of a test of the other's skills than a match fueled by anger. I knew I missed fighting Akuma, but I'd always thought it was the killing, not the challenge and the chance to put my skills to use. This sparring, it was actually enjoyable. Che, who would have thought I could enjoy doing anything with the Moyashi?

"What the fuck got into your head today?" I asked eventually, when it seemed we were both loosing energy.

"I…in my head?" He stuttered, a strange expression crossing his face. Then he collapsed to the floor, barely avoiding loosing said body part, and clutched at his temples. "Why are you in my head?"

"I'm not in your head, idiot Moyashi," I informed him. I couldn't resist rolling my eyes for added effect, but when they came to rest on him again, he wasn't looking at me. He appeared to be staring at the floor, but his eyes were wide and unfocussed.

"Goddamn it, Moyashi, don't you go back into that fucking trance. I tried hard to get you out of it. You'd ruin all my work." The top of his white head presented a tempting target, so I smacked it with the flat of Mugen.

His eyes focused a bit more, so I could tell it wasn't the trance again. I stood still in front of him, both waiting for a response and happy to take a moment to catch my breath. The clock on the classroom wall said we'd been going at it for several hours. It was nearly dinner time. Eventually, Moyashi waved his hand absently in a universal go away gesture, and ignored me, disappearing back into thought. Che, obnoxious. And to think I'd been worried.

Allen's POV

"What the fuck got into your head today?" Kanda asked, the curiosity in his voice overshadowing the undercurrent of venom.

With that comment, it felt as if my head was too full, splitting in half because it couldn't hold both myself and another presence. "I…in my head?" It felt dark and ugly, full of seething resentment and sorrow, exactly the feelings that took control over my world. "Why are you in my head?" The more I bent my concentration toward this foreign thing, the more it resolved from emotions I could easily mistake as my own into a shape and a laugh. The shadow that haunted windows and mirrors, blotted out my reflection, stood clearly in my mind's eye.

I registered Kanda saying something, and then smacking me on the head with what I assumed was Mugen. I absently waved my hand at him to go away; I was too intent on figuring out just what this thing was.

As if it could sense my objective, it laughed. "It's been fun Allen Walker," it cackled. The voice was creepy, too close to my own for comfort.

"Who are you? What are you doing?" I knew I was no longer speaking aloud, but speaking to the specter in my mind.

"You know exactly who I am. I am the one you saw in the piano room on the ark, 'the fourteenth.' And as for what I'm doing, why, I'm doing what I'm supposed to do, what I want to do."

"That didn't really answer either," I grumbled. If the thing taking over my head hadn't done it, that would convince me I was going crazy. I'd started to complain about my own mind.

"The magic of that place confounded me for a little while, yes, but I found a way around it," he continued, in a tone that made it obvious he thought he was so clever. "And then I decided to play a little game. You like games, don't you boy?"

I glared at him and decided not to respond.

He sighed. "You're no fun. But if you're resisting now, even something small, maybe you'll try harder next time. I do like a good challenge, and that was just too easy. I'll leave you be for now. You had better be ready, though. If I get a hold of you again, I won't let go a second time." He smiled his creepy, shadow smile, laughed his creepy, mirrored laugh, and disappeared, like smoke blown away by the wind.

I sat on the floor of Kanda's classroom for a long moment after, staring at the boards but not seeing them. Had that thing actually been physically controlling me? I tried to recall my day, but it just wouldn't come. I remembered waking up from a disturbing dream to the even more disturbing notion that I hadn't been in control of my body during the night. Then, I had disappeared into the same manner of thoughts that had absorbed my mind as of late. Next thing I knew, my heart gave an extra loud, heavy beat that I had come to associate with Crown Clown activating ever since the innocence replaced the missing flesh. I could hear Kanda's taunts ringing in my ears, but all my other memories were almost gone. I could occasionally catch a blurred glimpse of hallway, anxious face, or classroom through the haze of depression, but that was only if I worked at it. Otherwise it all slipped away.

Like a seed sprouting insidious vines of thought, the fourteenth had begun to grow in my mind and my heart without my knowledge. Then he had begun to take over. I wondered just when it had started, and how long he had been lying dormant in the dark recesses of my mind. It could have been quite a while; after Mana died, I decided it was best to leave those shadowy places be. If I hadn't been so occupied with fighting for the Order, would he have taken over already? I felt it was only luck that he hadn't.

Now that the fourteenth had released his hold, the shadows slunk back to their forgotten corners. As horrible as the war was, and as awful the sorrow that came with loss, I still had reasons to fight and people who expected me to keep walking too. My goal had transformed from my personal reason to fight and somehow become something those around me relied upon. Lavi, Lenalee, Miranda, Komui, maybe even Kanda.

That was a pleasant, yet confusing surprise. Outwardly, Kanda was still his typical annoying jerk, but then he had to go and tell me out of nowhere that he wanted me to keep walking too, albeit with an attempt to cover the sentiment with a hatred for quitters and cowards. And he had actually tried to break me out of the hold of the fourteenth. He could have easily just left me to my own devices. Yet in the verbal sparring match after, he had acted his normal, obnoxious self, flinging insults and cuss words, bristling and snapping.

As much as I would have like to puzzle through Kanda's confusing actions, my stomach informed me that it was an issue for another time. From what Kanda said, I hadn't been eating properly lately, and I could tell. Today I felt like I actually was that bottomless pit everyone always compared me to.

"What time is it?" I suddenly asked the swordsman, looking up to find him standing in the exact same spot.

"Che, the clock is right there," he informed me, "I assume you can read it."

Yep, same old Kanda. I was pleased to note that it was only a few minutes until dinner. It was a good thing too because the entire school could probably hear my stomach growl.

I headed for the Great Hall, a bit of extra speed in my step. I could hear footsteps, somewhat slower, following me. Kanda and I were some of the first few people to enter the hall. He headed leisurely for the front of the room while I made a beeline for the Gryffindor table. I was waiting impatiently for the food to appear on the serving dishes when Harry, Ron and Hermione joined me. I had a plate heaped and cleared before they had taken their serving

"Where have you been all afternoon?" Hermione asked, worry in her voice. She probably would be watching me extra close for a while after my recent behavior.

"Can't you… find me on… that map thing?" I countered between bites of seconds.

"We could," Ron said, rolling his eyes, "But 'Mione has this thing about 'no Mauraders Map while doing homework.'"

"I see your, uh, appetite has come back," Harry remarked, staring down the pile which was considerably smaller than only moments ago.

"I was sparring with Professor Kanda. It works up a good appetite," I replied and left it at that. They seemed to decide it was best to not pursue the issue farther. Several plates and many Dango later (I had to request that one special from the house elves), I felt full and content for the first time in a while.

A/N: Oh, Kanda, you will enjoy doing many other things with the Moyashi before long ;P.

This one was really hard to write. Each chapter seems harder than the last. Aren't they supposed to get easier?