Prequel Warning: This is a prequel to "What Lies Hidden" and "Line of Sight" Please read those first! You might get confused if you don't... maybe...
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Katsura Hoshino owns it… I just enjoy twisting her ideas for my own warped amusement…
Warning: D. Gray - Man is in its self bloody. This will have violence and bad stuff.
Spoilers: Some! some for the Manga, if you have not read up to chapter 205, and for D. Grey-man Reverse (The Mana and Allen one)… or I should say… What I read about it in someone else's Live Journal… ^^'
... this also sort of has spoilers for "What Lies Hidden" and "Line of Sight"...
Greif was twisting within his heart, sorrow burning at his dark grey eyes, but still he couldn't bring himself to cry. It had been twenty five long years since the last time that Mana Walker had last been able to cry. At that time, on that horrible day, Mana had shed more then enough tears to last him for a millennium.
Now, he was just so tired of it all.
Death, it shouldn't bother him, he had seen and delt with it so often after all. Everyone always died in the end. Everyone was always dying and he was always the one left standing and morning for those that had fallen.
He was so sick of it all.
Because here he was again, his hands stained with the blood of someone precious to him. Here he was again, facing the death of someone that he loved. Just like how Neah, his little brother's blood, had stained his hands twenty five years ago.
Grey eyes narrowed and continued to stare, though they were no longer seeing what was just before him. The clown's deep grey eyes remained dry, not even a hint of moisture was evident, his painted features remaining indifferent as he continued to look at his dirty and blood stained hands.
It was almost funny, it was all such a cruel twisted joke, all at his expense. All because of who he was, the role that he was playing.
But then this was his burden to bare.
"Are you sure he's dead?" a child's voice asked, the tone callous and surprisingly cold. Mana Walker's grey eyes refocused onto the small, broken, lifeless little brown furred body within the hole that he had just dug. Then his eyes were turning to his left a short second later. The tired clown's mouth pulling down just a fraction, though it was hard to tell that Mana was even frowning, given all the heavy white and red clown make-up he was wearing.
A little srawny thing of a human child stood a few steps to the clown's left, the boy's uncaring silver eyes looking flat and cold, much colder then his voice had been when the gloomy child had asked if the dog was really dead. The man was surprised that he hadn't noticed the child standing next to him before now, the clown's mouth pulling down even further at this. Had Mana been so deep in his grief that he had lost focus of his surroundings?
He couldn't afford to be that careless.
The traveling performer's keen grey eyes taking in the child's appearance, this of course not being the first time the older man had seen him. Though, this was the first time Mana had ever seen the child in such a poor state.
He didn't know the boy's name, but he knew that he was one of the few children that this circus employed. This particular one had brought Mana his meals a few times within the short instance that the clown himself had been in employment.
The boy had to be around six or seven years old, scrawny and obviously malnourished. His clothes were in need of a good stitching; his untidy mud brown hair was pulled back and was in need of a proper brushing also. The boy's skin was sickly pale and covered with bruises, some of them looking to be only a few hours old. His white shirt was shabby and his britches to big, his shoes and striped socks worn.
A poor lost child, a stray from the streets that had been taken in by people who didn't really care. Though, Mana had noticed that this particular stray was treated differently then the other children. He had also noticed that something seemed to be off about this child, he had notice it the first time the clown had seen him, but he couldn't yet place what it was.
The little boy wasn't looking at the clown at the moment, those lifeless silver eyes fixed on the small dog's in the make sift grave. Mana frowned deeper, the traveling clown turning his grey eyes back to the broken body of his former performing companion.
"Yes, he's dead." The man confirmed in a hollow sounding voice, the clown moving to cover his dog's body with dirt, the child watching. Once his dog was properly buried did the boy speak again, his small voice still that uncaring and cold tone.
"His bones were all broken." The stray said and Mana turned his eyes back to the child. The older man still unable to place what was wrong with this child next him. The boy's hands pushed deeper into his pockets, his pale lips twisting into a deeper frown. "I bet Kojimo killed him. He's jealous cuz people like you better."
The traveling clown narrowed his unsurprised grey eyes, Mana having already come to this conclusion himself. "He bullies anybody who's better then he is. His act stinks, but he's good at stuff like this." The boy continued, Mana frowning deeper and returned his attention back on the small mound of dirt and placed his poor dog's favorite ball on top.
"It's all right." Mana whispered, his voice betraying nothing, though that ach and pain of the fresh loss was twisting within his heart, his hands were shaking just slightly with it. The man sighed and clapped his hands before himself in mock prayer, anything to stop that horrid shaky. "He was an old dog and wouldn't have lived much longer…"
Yes, because everything and everyone died and Mana was meant to suffer as he watched those close to him become nothing more then dust. All that Mana Walker could do was move forward.
"Don't stop, keep walking."
But he wasn't ready yet, he wasn't ready to return to his path and continue walking forward. The death of his brother still to fresh, that wound was still bleeding and still aching in it rawness. Even after the twenty five years that had past since that day.
His fingers twitched with the need to lash out at the ones responsible for the events that led to Neah's death, for all those that had died on that day, to lash out at this Kojimo for killing Allen, his beloved little dog. "…Hmm…Don't you want revenge or somethin'?" the scrawny little boy asked as he crouched down next to the clown. Mana sighed and curled his fingers into fists.
Yes, he wanted revenge and what was stopping him really?
He was far too tired, that was why.
"Don't push yourself so hard…"
Mana Walker didn't have the strength anymore, because what did it matter? Was it really worth all this death and pain to keep moving forward? Mana couldn't even cry anymore, his dark grey eyes were dry, his tears…
"If I take revenge…" The clown said in an empty and tired voice, his heart aching horribly and his fists tightening. He could feel his anger, pain and grief rising and the man fought to restrain himself. If he were to take revenge he would make his presence known and he couldn't afford for that to happen.
Mana wasn't ready for certain individuals to know where he was just yet, he was still mourning for those that he had lost.
He was still mourning for Neah, for all the others, for…
"You're not alone Mana... I'll be by your side no matter what happens…"
…For that new born memory that was surely lost to the Noah now…
The child sat fully upon the ground beside him, Mana being snapped out of his reverie. The traveling performer could feel his mouth pull into a sad smile. He was only one person, shouldering so much and Mana was sure he was past his breaking point.
But Mana Walker couldn't break, he couldn't afford to.
For Neah's sake…for his families sake…
"If I take revenge, the troupe leader will throw me out without paying me." He said in a mock woeful tone. His grey eyes sliding closed as he took a grounding breath, because whether Mana wanted to or not, he had to keep going, he would have to keep walking forward at some point. "I'm just an outsider anyway. Tomorrow, when Christmas is over, I'll move on."
"Oh…" The thin thing of a child said, his silver eyes narrowing and Mana thought that he heard a little bit of sorrow in the stray's voice. His contemplative eyes watching the boy remove his right hand from his pocket, placing his elbow to his knee, and using his palm to lean his bruised cheek against.
Mana didn't miss that the boy was purposely keeping his left hand hidden within his other pocket, the clown tilting his head slightly to the right and his grey eyes narrowing in thought.
An odd child indeed, but then there it was again, that pulling… it was weak but…
He focused his senses, his grey eyes staring at the child next to him. Mana's tired and worn mind fighting to place this feeling in his heart, this feeling that was begging to be noticed. The clown's mouth pulling into a frown, because he knew there was something about this poor little stray…
"... I... m ... er..."
"Huh?" Mana uttered in a confused tone, his eyes never once looking away from the child at his side. The clown titled his head to the left, one eyebrow rising in thought, his suspicions growing. When the man spoke again his voice was lined with his confusion. "By the way, who are you again?"
The child looked annoyed; those silver eyes narrowing and those pale lips twisting into an uncaring scowl. "Just an errand girl... I've served your dinner a few times…" the child mumbled out, but the clown only heard one thing.
"You're a girl?" Mana muttered in surprise, his head titling further to the left. Though now that it had been pointed out, Mana couldn't believe that he had thought otherwise. The child's annoyed eyes narrowed to glare heatedly at the mound of dirt before them. The clown chuckled in amusement as it became apparent that Mana wasn't the first, and that this mistake happened quit often. "I thought you were a boy!"
The little girl huffed in annoyance but didn't speak again. A long moment of silence had the clown frowning, Mana once again trying to place the oddity that kept pleading to be noticed. "Where did you get all those bruises?" the man asked in a light sounding tone, trying to make the question not sound so invasive. The child didn't even twitch at the adult's question, her eyes only looking the other way. A sly smile pulled Mana's mouth up at the corners, the clown chuckling and licked his index finger.
The clown then proceeded on trying to wash away some of the dirt smudges on the gloomy child's left cheek.
This of course got the expected result, the clown fighting back a highly amused smile when the little stray shrieked and recoiled. "Gah!" the girl's left hand emerging from her pocket to scrub fiercely at her left cheek. "Yuck! Don't wipe your spit on me!"
"Yuck! That's gross Mana! Don't do that!"
The clown's smile fell then, Mana's grey eyes filling with his grief as he remembered that he used to do this very thing to Neah when ever he had the opening. He always did it to annoy his brother, and like then, Mana said the words that he had always say fallowing that anticipated reaction…
"It's a disinfectant." The clown said in a matter of fact tone, his eyes lost in memory once again, but then the man shook his head. Mana offering the irritated little girl an amused smile and a jovial chuckle, "Besides, if you weren't so dusty people wouldn't confuse you with being a boy. Little girl's are supposed to be neat and proper."
This only earned Mana an angry hissed to shut up, silver eyes now glaring at the clown angrily. And it was now that Mana took notice of the child's left hand, which was still wiping the long gone spit from her dirty and bruised left cheek…
His dark grey eyes narrowed and his smile twitched at the corners, the clown now realizing that part of the feeling in his heart was centered on the glittering little dark-green crystal imbedded in the back of the stray's left hand.
Innocence, his blood sang and the clown frowned deeper.
A Parasitic Innocence to be more exact.
But yet, that wasn't it. The feeling that he was getting from the Innocence was almost covering up the other thing, the other feeling. There was something else about this child that he was still missing, something else that Mana still couldn't place.
The clown was looking the stray over again, once again the traveling performer taking notice of the bruises that covered this scrawny little urchin. Realization dawning on the clown a moment latter.
Neah always said he could be slow…
Mana's eyes returned to the child's left hand. It wasn't lost on him that the diminutive vibration coming from the Innocence was feeble at best. Though, that would make sense with how malnourished the girl appeared to be. The meager power coming from the 'God Crystal' was quite pitiful actually.
"Did Kojimo beat you?" Mana asked, the man finding his anger at the other clown growing, the thought that he had been beating on this small thing of a human child was sickening to him, more so then it should considering who Mana really was...
The fact that the little girl was acting like the bruises weren't any big deal was even more disconcerting to the clown.
To make matters worse, this little waif probably hadn't ever been properly fed. The Parasitic Innocence was beyond weak and no doubt feeding off the girl's own life energy just enough to sustain itself. All so it wouldn't be forced to leave its compatible.
How sad, because it would only kill the child much quicker if it continued on like that. "Don't you have parents, or any friends?"
Because surely someone had to care about this poor little stray…
"Shut up!" the child hissed out angrily, her left hand becoming hidden as the little girl crossed her arms and hugged her knees to her chest. The child looking to be beyond irritated with him and Mana could only chuckle sadly. "One of these days I'll get big and leave this place. I don't need parents or friends." The little girl hissed out coldly, but Mana could see that loneliness within her eyes.
The clown frowned, then Mana smiled and put his hands to his cheeks and scrunched up his face and made fish lips at the sullen child sitting next to him. The stray didn't even flinch, there wasn't even the barest twitch of the girl lips for Mana's effort to make the child laugh.
All that the clown got was a cold, "What are you doing?" The girl was looking uncaringly at the dirt grave before the two, the stray not even deeming Mana worthy to scowl at.
Mana frowned and sat back, the man copying the child's poster in another attempt to provoke some kind of reaction from the girl. There was a long moment of silence, and then Mana once again tilted his head to the left, "Wasn't it funny?" he asked off handily when he realized the dismal child wasn't going to notice him.
"Sorry," the girl said in an emotionless tone, her voice soft yet indifferent once again. "I don't like clowns. I hate them." The child bit out coldly.
Mana tilted his head further to the left, his grey eyes widening in mock insult. "What?" he asked in disbelief, how could any child not like clowns? Though, considering this little urchin was in the same circus as that Kojimo…
He couldn't really blame the girl for hating clown's, especially if those bruises where indeed caused by the other performer. "Well, I hate children who don't laugh." He said, his tone lined with his mock offence.
This earned him a 'hmph' from the child next to him.
More silence, then the stray spoke again, her voice sounding so lost that it made Mana feel this odd need to tell her that everything was going to be ok. "Why…don't you cry?" the clown blinked, his eyes filling with confusion, and yet the little girl didn't look at him as she continued. "He was your friend. Aren't you sad?"
Mana frowned, his eyes filling with grief, though the traveling clown was quick to change the topic.
So before the child could speak again the clown was making a noose in the tree to their left, the man pretending to hang himself. "I'm so sad I could die." The man said woefully, his voice lined with doom.
"Stop that!" the child shrieked again and Mana congratulated himself on making the girl react. Though, the man's grief renewed within his heart a moment later as he allowed what the child had asked to sink in.
His eyes were still dry, because Mana Walker could no longer cry, because the tears were long gone, he had shed them all so long ago…
"I can't cry." He muttered underneath his breath, his grey eyes once again losing focus. The clown once again feeling oh so tired and drained. "My tears dried up years ago…" Mana added as the adult worked on removing his rope from the tree branch.
"What was…. his name?" a lost and lonely voice asked quietly, the traveling performer turning his grey eyes back to the child still sitting before the fresh grave. "Yesterday I pet him and he licked my hand…" the little girl whispered, the child's right hand gripping her left. "His tongue was so warm…" She added in a watery voice, one clear teardrop falling from her pained and mournful silver eyes.
"How come…" the stray hiccupped and more tears started to make a path down her bruised and dirty pale cheeks. That sensation that Mana had been feeling within his heart aching as the clown watched the stray child snivel. "…I'm always the one cryin'?"
"Mana, Why do the Noah cry… when another Noah dies?"
And finally Mana was able to place that feeling, that pull, how could he have been so blind? A small smile pulling its way across the clown's white and red painted face, his eyes falling to be halve mast.
"Allen was your friend… wasn't he?"
He could see it, he cold feel it…
"The Fourteenth Noah… If I were to die, I know you would mourn, but would the Noah within the others weep? Would they cry for the Noah that shouldn't exist? And… would the memory continue on? Or would it fade into the sands of time…?"
The Fourteenth Noah, he wasn't lost to the Noah after all, and in turn, neither was his brother truly lost to him. Mana had been afraid that he wouldn't return like the others…
Like the others of his family…
The Fourteenth Noah had died twenty five years go, but from that death the memory had been reborn anew. His little brother was dead, but yet he lived on as long as the Fourteenth continued to exist.
The clown crouched down and reached out, his right hand coming to rest against the little girl's head. Mana Walker's smile pulling into a sad, yet relieved smile now that he knew there was still a chance for his family to be truly whole. "Of course they wept for you," Mana whispered beneath his breath, "Your family after all..."
The clown's hands were dirty, they were covered with the blood of his little brother, but this time Mana Walker wouldn't let things repeat. He would move forward, no matter what, for this little stray's sake, for his family's sake.
"You little brat!" An irritated voice seethed from behind them, Mana turning his narrowing grey eyes to the one that had spoken, the head cage master was stalking towards them angrily.
The little girl's grief was soon being replaced with apprehension, the other adult reaching down and taking a harsh hold of the child's right arm and jerking her to her feet. The clown was positive the child's arm was almost dislocated in the process. "I've been looking for you for hours! The troupe leader's not feeding your worthless hide so you can skip out on your work!"
Anger was boiling and twisting forth but Mana pushed it back; it wouldn't due for him to be making a scene just yet. His fingers curling and flexing with the need to…to… do something in this child's defense, only the fact that he couldn't afford to be to careless stopping the man from acting.
He was known to overdo things after all...
The scrawny girl was being dragged away from him, the stray fighting and dragging her feet the whole way back to the tents. Her voice twisting into an angry snarl, "Let go you bastard!" the child hissed and fought to pull her arm free from the cage master's hold.
Mana just watched and then slowly stood, his grey eyes narrowing even more. The clown's mouth pulling into a cold but wide smile, once the stray and cage master disappeared into the tent that held the circus's animals.
Now that the clown was alone, he could address his other guest…
"Tryde ~ come on out, I know your there." Mana called out in a sing song voice, and in moments there were footsteps approaching him. Mana's grey eyes turning to look at the young man that was now standing behind him. The twenty-three year old was dressed in a black long coat and a plain shirt and pants, though the most noticeable thing about this Tryde was his dark grey skin and his sharp golden eyes.
The young man's hands pushed into his pockets and his head titled to the right, his narrowing gold eyes looking almost apologetic for being caught red handed in disobeying the order for Mana to be left alone. "I'm sorry…I wasn't trying to disobey your orders." Tryde explained. His golden eyes sliding from Mana's grey to look in the direction of the tents. "But two Exorcists have been spotted in the area, I thought you would want to know."
Mana's mouth pulled into a wider smile, his head nodding in understanding. "I don't doubt that they are looking for that child and her Innocence…" The young man continued, then frowned and returned his gaze back to the clown in confusion over his rather uncaring attitude. "Was that child really...?"
At this Mana nodded his head and waved his hand in a dismissing manner. "Yes, that child is indeed the next Fourteenth…" the clown mumbled out, his face twisting into a thoughtful look. Grey eyes flickering to a branch far up on the tree just to the right of them, a glint of gold and his smile was pulling into a wide amused smile.
"Then the Exorcists will need to be taken care of, before he finds out that the Fourteenth is here." The Second in the Clan of Noah said, his tone trying to convey the urgency of the situation. The traveling clown was once again nodding his head, the man in agreement of the Second's conclusion.
"I think the Millennium Earl should pay a little visit to the circus." Mana Walker stated, the clown starting in the directions of the tents. Tryde was falling into step behind him a second later, his mouth pulling into a deeper frown. "There can be no witnesses Tryde."
"So I will be playing the role of the Earl then?" the young Noah questioned, his gold eyes turning to once again look at Mana, the clown chuckled and was nodding his head in conformation.
Misdirection was the key to this little charade after all.
Mana glanced back at the other Noah, Tryde still frowning in thought. The clown offering the younger man a thankful smile, "I know that you and the others have been picking up the slack for me lately… and I appreciate that..."
Tryde blinked and a flabbergasted expression fell over his features. The Noah of Judgment chuckling and then offering the clown an amused smile. "The family understands your need for time to mourn."
A more serious look was pulling Tryde's mouth back into a frown a long moment later, his gold eyes looking over Mana's shoulder. "Though, you're the Millennium Earl, the head of the Clan of Noah…The show can't continue without you. The others have been asking when you'll be returning."
Mana smiled a genuine smile, his grey eyes turning back to the tents, the traveling performer seeing what had caught the others eyes. "I'm still not ready yet…but soon Tryde, soon we will continue this play." With that the clown continued forwards alone, the Second not following him this time, no doubt giving him time before this little show started…
They would wipe them all out. There wouldn't be anyone left that would remember him or the new host for the Fourteenth's memories.
Mana Walker approached the tent's entrance. The figure that was standing just to the right of the tent flap straightening, unconcerned brown eyes meeting his grey. The man that was standing next to the entrance was dressed in a familiar black and gold lined coat. The Exorcist General removing the cigarette from his mouth and his lips twisting into a coldly amused smile.
Mana continued passed the Exorcist without even pausing, the clown's smile twisting wider as the red haired man let him pass, a cloud of white smoke filling the air as the man exhaled. "You better start moving forward soon Mana, their starting to ketch up to you."
The clown's smile was widening at the Exorcist's words, Mana understanding the warning well. It was true that Mana was tired, that he had been pushed to his limits and had been at his limits ever since he had been forced to kill his own flesh and blood… but…
Death led to sorrow, sorrow gave birth to Akuma, Akuma brought about even more death. Everyone would always die. Everyone was always dying and he was always the one left standing and mourning for those that had fallen.
But maybe this time around…
"I know. I know. ~ "
But then, the Noah were always enduring. The cycle of the memories would always start again, until the end of time. Humanities cockroaches, as the Heart of Innocence so loved to call them, wouldn't lose this timeless war and maybe Mana Walker wasn't as tired as he thought.
He was the Millennium Earl after all; he had all the time in the world to walk forward, so maybe it would be ok to dawdle for just a little longer…
... sighs... please review... let me know what you think... please?
And yes, yes! I am working on my other stories... ... and yes, Mana is indeed the Earl! This has been sitting around for a while and I am having a hard time writing anything that I am happy with... so I'm posting something new...
Ok, Anything that was like 'this' and devided from everything else was Mana's memories of things Neah said to him, anything that was like 'this' was Neah (the Noah memory) calling out to be noticed...
...I should stop writting things that are so confusing... : (