A/N: the second half of II; warnings still apply.
'…you who has done nothing but break the rules…'
Rule-breaker, was he?
How many times had they already beaten him and made her heal him, he wearily asked in his mind as he hung in the hands of the Crow, and how many times more must they do this?
"I've told you all I know, there's nothing more," he ground out as soon as he could talk. "Nothing."
He winced as he was clouted on his shoulder.
This beating around, they dragged him to near unconsciousness with their strikes. He ended up with his head tipped back against the wall, eyes shut, and blood clinging to him everywhere. He was already healing slower. His body, under Time Record or no, was going to quit on him; and Miranda, emotionally distressed, wasn't properly activated.
But they hadn't made him scream.
But anymore and he might.
A fist slammed upon his face, and for the umpteenth time he cracked the back of skull against the wall.
Poor Allen Walker.
Oh, not now. Go 'way. He feebly tried to push the Noah away.
I could help you a little here.
You don't get a say in this, my—well, host, but you're my nephew, too, aren't you?
His eyes snapped open and he tugged hard against the hands that held him up.
And he screamed as he struggled within himself.
"I-I said no!" Teeth scraped against teeth as he strained his neck and twisted his body. "Just don't—"
He felt his control slip.
"Mana!" He thrashed, and his eye activated.
And control was back in his hands, but it was final thing to shatter him.
A sob wracked him as he swayed limply, all composure gone. A heavy feeling in this throat that had nothing to do with the blood and saliva that was choking him was clawing at him. He gagged, spat up blood, and then shuddered as he tried to breathe.
Why was his burden the hardest to bear? Why were this curse and this Innocence parts of him? Why did he have to walk a difficult path?
Just…why did he have to care in the first place?
Because someone had shown him kindness when others had abandoned him.
And he could only do the same for others.
"Well, are you going to answer me, Walker?"
He wished it didn't hurt so much though, doing what he knew was right.
Slowly, he raised his head, tears staining his face, but his voice didn't tremble as he spoke. "I've made me choices." He swallowed. "You can't win this war without me, can you?" At the frosty glare he received, he continued. "You need me. So let me walk my way. You can call me a traitor all you want, but I haven't betrayed Mana."
Silence hung in the damp, cold air, save for Miranda's choked breathing. Then Leverrier jerked his chin at her. "Deactivate. And you—" he pointed one of the Crow. "—take her back."
Allen was allowed to fall on the ground, and he rolled onto his side. He bit down on his hand the instant Miranda released him, not wanting to traumatise her more with his sounds of pain.
But oh, God, did it hurt. His heartbeat, reverberating, seemed to slow, and voices were fading away.
A hand on his shoulder made him flinch, but he realised it was only Link. He felt the man lift him up, almost gently, onto his back.
"Ch-ink." Déjà vu, this. He bumped his chin against Link's shoulder as he tried to say the Inspector's name.
A pause. "It's my job, Walker." Then, more quietly, "I wish I could apologise."
"S…s'fine." And then he was finally granted unconsciousness.
So soon? He had only just closed his eyes.
He groaned and shifted his head a bit; there was something in his bloodstream again, clouding everything. But despite that…he should know that voice
"Please open your eyes…it's been a week."
A…week? Blearily, he somehow cracked open his swollen eyes and met a pair of wide, teary, dark ones.
"Len'lee," he slurred, "you're fine." It had been a while since he had last seen her…
"Of course of I am." He could faintly feel her hand closed over his. "You're the one…injured like this." Her voice broke. "A-Allen…"
"I'll be all right." Allen somehow summoned enough strength to reach a hand up and touch her cheek. "In time. Be…fine."
"They told me the Noah appeared all the around the world, and oh, God, the Thirds…Kanda's disappeared, and so have Bookman and Lavi. Chaoji is comatose, the half the Science Department are…no longer with us, and you—" Words spilled over as she spoke. "—they didn't even let me see you for a week because you were too badly injured and because they were afraid of you…the Fourteenth, he came out, didn't he? Two weeks you were like this, Allen…"
And then he knew the no-one knew he had been down there, getting the beating of his life. Or, that the "official decision" would be coming much later. He didn't know whether to be relieved that they wouldn't know how he had fallen apart, or to be grieved that this was yet another thing the Order hid.
But for the moment, Lenalee had her forehead pressed gently to his and her arms gently wrapped around his shoulders. Her forehead was blessedly cooler, but her hands comfortingly warmer. "Allen…I-I—"
A few tears fell onto his face. His throat closed, and he simply nodded against her. "Don't worry, Lenalee." He strained his arm just a bit more, to pat her on the back. His body complained at this, but he ignored it. "I'm still alive."
Battered and scorned, certainly, but he was alive.
"The others want to see you."
He shuddered before he realised what he had done. They—he couldn't face them yet. "But…they always end up seeing me half-dead," Even forced out a laugh. "I think I want to wait on that…"
But Lenalee was giving him an odd look, peering at him closely.
"Um…" A blink. "…yes?"
"You look older."
"I'm hardly…fifteen, was it?" Seventeen, he was. Another year and he would be eighteen…if he were allowed to live that long.
"No, not in that way." A hand touched the side of his face. "Your eyes…"
"I don't know what you mean." He carefully kept the weariness out of his voice, not looking at her. Yes, he was lying. He knew exactly what she meant, but he didn't want to say anything about it.
The sequence of events had happened too fast. He felt overwhelmed and more tired that anything else. Like he needed to sleep and not wake up for a month.
If only it were possible.
Exorcists had no vacations, after all, nor did they retire. It was a death job….or a life that would evidently end in death. A martyr's death.
Had he been alone in the room, he would have allowed himself a grim smile.
"…do you know where Kanda went?" Lenalee softly asked him, breaking him out of his train of thought. "They wouldn't tell me."
"Can you tell me where Lavi and Bookman are, though?"
"They disappeared, so I don't know." The girl tucked a strand of hair away from her face, and Allen saw the bandages on her cheek and hand. "But they say Kanda…you sent him somewhere."
"I can't say." He shook his head a bit. "And I would be betraying Kanda if I were to tell anyone. But he's…alive." He hoped.
"I hate the fact I can't do anything. Not even when the Third…turned into a monster, and there was a Noah telling me about you and the Fourteenth." As she talked, her fingers were running through his hair.
It was a strangely comforting motion that sent warm sensations down his neck and back, making him want to sigh and close his eyes.
"…but people are saying things about you. Things I don't like. And Timcampi—they're keeping him somewhere but I—"
"Lenalee." He swallowed carefully, wishing he had water. "How much did you know about what happened with the Thirds?"
"Barely anything." She looked frustrated. "No-one wants to say anything to me. But I have a right to know…don't I?"
He didn't reply at first.
"I even tried asking Link."
"You know he wouldn't say anything."
"But he let me in when another Crow tried to stop me."
Ah? He could almost smile at that. Link…he didn't think they could ever look each other in the eye again. But it good enough to know that the Inspector was…doing something like this.
"You have a right to know, but there's just been so much happening that I—even I," he coughed, "cannot honestly say I understand everything."
She was still stroking his hair. "Can you tell me later?"
"I won't push you now, but something happened to you." Her thumb brushed the corner of his eye. "Miranda knows something but she won't say what."
He tensed at the mention of Miranda. God, that had been terrible—forcing her to use her Innocence for that purpose.
"Was it Leverrier?"
"Somewhat," he finally ventured to say.
And then he wondered if he should lied, for her eyes were filling with tears again. "Th-that man," Her other hand found his hand. "Allen—"
"I'll be fine, really." Nothing that time wouldn't heal.
"What did he do?"
"Half of your wounds—they're from him, aren't they?" A finger was pressed his bruised eye. "I—"
Allen just shook his head. "Later." He wouldn't tell her later when he could sit up. "I promise, later."
She took a shuddering breath. "The way you try to act older…I wish you didn't have to."
That's right; he was younger than she.
But half the time, he felt older. Older than Kanda or Lavi sometimes, actually. Maybe it was the consequences of being forced to grow up quickly, but he couldn't that yes, he often tried to act older.
"Someone has to take responsibility," he finally said.
"For many things."
"You're not the only fighting."
"No, I'm not." And he felt an exhausted but genuine smile spread his face. "For which I am grateful." He curled his fingers around hers.
"I know that Central is agitated about you. They won't say what, but I can tell by the way Link acts whenever I run into him."
"When I have ever not…put them in frenzy?"
"That's what you get for trying to save everyone."
He couldn't read her tone of voice. "Do you resent the fact that I do that?"
She seemed surprised at that question. Her hand stopped moving through his hair.
"If you do, it's fine." A thin smile, half-bitter and half-resignation.
But Lenalee only shook her head. "My brother first, my friends second, and the Order is third," she said, eyes gaining a distant look them. "I don't resent it."
"..ah? Thank you."
Allen wondered if he would ever reach the point of leaving the Order to fight his own side of this War.
And if he did that, he wondered who would support him.
The possible issues of that, among other things, rose in his mind and he had to repress them lest his head split apart from his headache.
I'm still walking forward, no matter what, he thought.
It's the only thing I can do without fail.
And, it was the only thing that hadn't changed about him.
Hadn't they all sinned? He wasn't more righteous than anyone else was he? Weren't they…all trying their best? That was but a hope based on dreams, though. More often than not, saviours weren't recognised by those they saved. And more often than not, they became martyrs.
He was still alive, at least.
And so he would continue being part of the Order. For now.
A/N: After all the reviews, I was tempted to add chapters. Maybe even turn it into a multi-chapter fic. But time restraints and fear of running into writer's block (every time I try to write WIPs, that don't listen to me :/) told me not to extend this any longer. I could only end up making this longer, but not anymore.
In regards to multi-chapters fics, I have two in the planning process or in the early chapters, but I want to finish them in their entirety before beginning to post them. Reasons for this are because in the past, I just… well, can't update consistently. :/ But meanwhile, you can expect me to turn out various oneshots and two/three/four chapter-fics. Which I hope will not disappoint. =)
Thank you for reading and reviewing, and I hope you've enjoyed it!