It's like an explosion every time I hold ya
Wasn't jokin' when I told ya
You take my breath away
You're a supernova
And I'm a…
Chapter One: Spacebound
"Wake up, kid," Cross's deep rumble shook him out of his light slumber, before the scent of a cigarette smoke filled his lungs. "Get out before I kick your ass."
"…Ugh," he coughed, fanning the smoke away from his face. "Could you light up after I get off?" he asked, frowning.
"I don't repeat myself, brat," the man purposely blew a ring of smoke into his face for the hell for it. "You're going to be late."
Allen grimaced. At the age of ten, he was going to attend his first school and first school lesson, ever. In his life. It wasn't normal—he had a lot of things not normal for him, and having Cross as a guardian was the top of the list—but it couldn't be helped because he had circumstances. Anyway, he wasn't too sure when Cross decided he was ready to get an education—probably got sick of him at home more likely—but here he was, staring at the pristine white walls of his new school.
"What are you waiting for—Christmas?" Cross snorted, tapping his gloved hand on the steering wheel of his car. "If you're scared," the red haired man smirked, "I could walk you in."
"No," he huffed, opening the car door and slipped out, his dirty converses touching the pavement. He shut the door with more force than necessary, sending the other a glare. "I'm not…scared," he declared as defiantly as he could, but the edge in his voice was heard clearly well.
Cross eyed the scar that practically tore apart the younger boy's face, and then shifted his attention to the deformed red arm that was exposed due to the short sleeves and back to the uneasy expression on Allen's face.
"Well," Cross smirked, flicking his charge's head. "Given your height, you won't even be seen."
"Thanks a lot, Shishou," Allen snorted, puffing up his cheeks and turning away to trudge towards the building.
"Don't get dunked in the toilet!" his guardian snorted after him, calling loudly, purposely catching the attention of all the other school kids making their way in the same direction.
"Hey, did you see that kid?"
"Dude—check out his arm!"
"No, his face!"
Why didn't he wear a hoodie to school anyway?
Oh yeah—the school had a uniform rule to follow. It was the same everywhere. Anywhere he stepped, there would be hushed whisperings, or sometimes more vocal exclamations of how strange he looked. But he didn't have a choice. It wasn't like he chose to have a deformed arm, nor did he choose to have the prominent red scar that practically slashed his eye.
Allen smiled uneasily to himself, trying not to make himself seen, but that was rather pointless as he was the only odd one standing in front of his assigned class. All curious eyes were drawn to him, and most likely everything weird, defective, about him. He sort of regretted Cross's offer at the moment.
"Class," The teacher, his form, probably, came to pat him on the shoulder. "This is your new classmate, Allen Walker. He's just transferred from London, so be sure to be nice to him."
He refrained from correcting that he actually lived in Japan for a year already, but that was redundant information anyway. He still spoke with an accent, and his Japanese wasn't exactly adequate for someone of his age.
"Is there anything else you'd like to add, Allen-kun?" his teacher smiled at him, but his noticed the same curious stare at his scar.
"No," he mumbled, lowering his head so that his brown hair would shadow his face.
"Alright, take a seat at the last table over there."
Allen glanced towards the direction in which his seat was, noting that there were a lot of bags to by step to get there. He tried to be as careful as possible, keeping a straight face when everyone so obviously stared at him—especially the arm, and he self consciously rubbed it, cursing the short sleeves—until he was one table away when he tripped.
Actually, he knew someone had purposely stuck a foot out, because he did not just trip over thin air. Luckily he managed to catch himself before he fell embarrassingly flat on the ground, and he heard a disappointed snort coming from the person seated diagonally to him.
Settling down and smiling like nothing happened, the attention finally shifted back to the teacher whom was already starting the lesson.
Still, he felt eyes glancing at him every now and then.
It was barely five minutes into his first school day, and he hated it already.
Allen twitched an eye.
He snatched the paper ball that had sailed across the room with the intention of hitting his head again out of the air and smoothed it out on his table.
Calmly, he folded the paper into a neat small rectangle, and placed it at the corner of his desk. He was barely listening to the lesson—and judging by the numbers of the white board, he figured it was math, but he didn't even understand half the words that his teacher was rattling over and over. He knew how to count money, and that's what math was for right? So why did he have to learn about circles and diagrams that would never have helped him survive in the streets?
But then, circumstances were different as they were.
Things had changed a lot over the years, and now he was living with one insufferable guardian.
Sometimes it was better to be out in the streets again.
Cross raised an eyebrow when his charge ambled dejectedly along the pavement to reach his car after school. The boy was dripping wet, and he knew for sure it hadn't rained at all.
"Wait, hold up, brat," he snapped when Allen made to sit in the passenger seat. "You're not getting my car wet."
In fact, on closer inspection, even the kid's school bag was wet—
"Did you really get dunked in the toilet?"
"N-no!" Allen scowled, his cute adolescent face scrunching up in denial.
"Then what's with the I-just-got-bullied neon sign on your head?" Cross demanded, crossing his arms. "I never raised you to be such a weakling."
"…You never raised me," Allen muttered, shuffling his shoes. Water had collected in his shoes and there were making the most uncomfortable feeling in his toes.
"Shut up, I feed and clothe you," Cross frowned. "Get in the car, brat."
Truthfully, he did expect some shit to be going on in the brat's first day at school, especially since he himself could never understand the weird scar and arm, and he wasn't even mentioning the fact that Allen was British. At the immature age ten, he obviously expected some kind of reaction his classmates would have at the scrawny kid. But honestly he had expected the kid who had once lived in the streets to put up more of a fight.
And seeing that dejected resigned flat stare on the young boy pissed him off more.
"I'm not sending you to school to get smacked around," Cross grumbled, stepping on the accelerator to head home. "You can get a lesson like that home—for free."
"Shishou, I am not being…b-builled!"
"You don't even sound like you believe yourself," his guardian rolled his eyes. "See kid, when you have a problem—admit it, and half the battle is won,"
Allen frowned keeping quiet. "They just…don't like me," he eventually muttered. "That's all."
"I'm telling you, Lee," his guardian insisted, tapping his cigarette on the edge of a vase of flowers causing the ashes to fall in the water. Allen pitied the poor the plant. "The brat's a fucking wimp! I don't know how he's such a smart mouth with me and yet he's getting his pants pulled down in school—"
"My pants are fine!" he protested with indignantly, mortified at how Cross was over exaggerating his situation to some total stranger.
At least, the bespectacled Chinese man seated across them was a stranger to him. Apparently this man, Komui Lee, if he heard correctly—because Cross barely bothered with introductions and made himself at home the moment he stepped through the front door—was a colleague of Cross' specialising in robotic science.
"Well, I'm sure he—" Komui started, then realised he actually didn't even know the name of the young ten year old sitting on his couch. "What is your name?" he asked, looking intrigued.
"Allen—Allen Walker," Allen replied unsurely, but eased when the man smiled at back him.
"I'm sure Allen's a great kid, Marian," The Chinese said pushing up his glasses. "And if you're so concerned, bring it up with the school board."
"Pah," Cross sniffed. "I'm telling the brat to stand up for his fucking weak self. I don't see why I have to get involved with the kid's problems."
"You are in charge of Allen now," Komui sighed. "Be more responsible. You can't give up on everything you find troublesome," he gave the other an eye roll. "Like your job."
"I'm tired of doing good shit, Lee," Cross took another drag, and Allen just sat impassively staring into space while the adults talked about work. "The cases have been fucking boring and the last good one made me pick up this piece of baggage," he flickered his eyes towards his charge who huffed. "There aren't any hot ladies in this department either,"
Komui shook his head. "And you think the fashion industry is any better?"
Cross raised an eyebrow. "Models—female. Speaking of which, isn't your little kid doing some part-time modelling now? If I had a piece of that in forensics—"
The calm deposition of the Chinese man practically turned 180 degrees, shocking the hell out of Allen.
"Don't you dare dirty my precious little sister with your womanising lips!" Komui screeched indignantly, but Cross ignored him.
"Say, where's your—"
Allen blinked, noting that the light girlish voice couldn't have came from any of the three of them. He turned slightly, facing the stairs where a girl with two pigtails squatted at the railing, looking curiously at all of them.
"You didn't tell me you had guests over."
"Lenalee, go back to your room," Komui pleaded.
"Nii-san," the girl was already walking down the steps frowning. "It's rude to not greet the guests," she chided her brother firmly, whilst the said brother was frantically trying to shoo her away. "And you didn't even serve them tea!"
"See," Cross smirked, "That's what I call service."
"You are not getting any service!" Komui insisted, horrified. "Lenalee, dear, leave the two disgusting males alone, they are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves."
Lenalee merely disappeared into the kitchen and came out a few seconds later carrying a tray of cups of tea and set it on the table for them.
"Little Lee," Cross ignored how his college was now fighting with the girl to take the tray, "You've got any booze around here?"
"M-marian!" Komui coughed, practically ripping the tray from his youngest sister's grasp. "You're defiling her innocence—" then he shrieked, snatching the lit cigarette from Cross' fingers. "Lenalee! Hold your breath and go back to your room! Now!"
"It's just a bit of smoke—"
"I will not let you taint her lungs any longer—Lenalee! Room!"
"Nii-san!" Lenalee tried to protest, but her brother was already pushing her by the back to go back up the steps from whence she came.
But amidst the shrieking she noticed two eyes watching her silently from the couch. It was a young boy with a cute crop of brown hair sitting quietly in the commotion, looking at her and her brother with an almost longing expression. The look disappeared the moment they locked eyes, and the boy gave her a slight unsure smile.
"Hey," she called, smiling. "Do you want to come and play with me?"
She could tell the boy brightened up almost immediately at the prospect, but then faltered, glancing at the larger red-haired man once as if for permission.
"As long as it's not Barbies, brat," the man scoffed, snickering to himself. "I don't need you to be any gayer than you already are,"
The boy automatically scowled, pushing himself off the couch and kicking his guardian in the shin.
"—you kick like a girl!"
A red flush covered the boy's face as he stalked angrily towards the stairs. Lenalee chuckled in amusement, grinning.
"Come on," she gestured, making her way happily up the stairs.
Komui sighed watching his sister trod up finally. But before the young charge of his colleague brushed past him up the stairs, he caught the boy's arm and leaned closer, glasses glinting with a dark promise.
"If you ever touch her or so much as look at her the wrong way—I'll castrate you," he hissed seriously. "Got that?"
Allen never once feared his life so much.
The room he entered could definitely not be mistaken for anyone else's room but a girl's. From top to toe, it was coloured pink—and with frills along the sides as well. Soft toys lined the comfy bed, and even the carpet was in a shape of a unicorn. But despite the over decoration of the room, Allen found it to be more comfortable than the living room in which he had sat awkwardly between two adults.
The girl who had called him up to play sat on her carpet happily, pulling herself closer to a low table where a spread of magazines where laid. Allen closed the door behind him lightly, seating himself in front of her.
"Hey," the girl blinked slowly at him, a wide smile on her lips. "I'm Lenalee Lee! What's your name? How old are you? Are you from overse—" she stopped abruptly, realising that she hadn't given him the chance to answer at all.
"I'm Allen," he eventually answered, smiling uneasily. "I'm ten, this year,"
"Ten?" Lenalee echoed disbelievingly. "But you're so small, I thought you were seven for sure!"
It was true that he was even shorter and smaller in size than the girl, but that did not warrant her for making fun of his age. He scowled, but Lenalee just beamed wider. She stared at him for a while, scrutinising his face and truthfully he felt slightly intimidated by it, because no one really ever stared at him so blatantly.
Then he realised she must have been too repulsed by his scar to react, and he quickly slapped a hand over it.
"Sorry," he grimaced, turning away.
But to his shock, Lenalee grabbed his wrist and yanked it away. "Don't do that," she chided, coming closer to him. "Your eyes are grey in colour! They're so pretty!"
It was the first time anyone said his eyes were pretty and he blinked like an idiot for a minute.
"Your eyes," Lenalee leaned closer, peering right back in his vision. "They remind me of crystals…"
"But I thought…" he gestured vaguely to his scar.
She leaned back and scrutinised the red mark that cut all the way down to Allen's cheek, fascinated by the deep colour and pattern of it. "…Kind of looks like a tattoo doesn't it?" she muttered more to herself.
"Allen," she suddenly smiled, snapping her fingers. "You didn't tell me where you were from!"
Allen was a little taken back by how quickly the topic shifted, because he was so sure that she was going to ask about where he got his scar from, or at least stare at it a little longer. But thankfully, this girl, Lenalee, just seemed interested in knowing him, rather than knowing about his physical imperfections.
"I'm from London," he replied. "I came here about a year ago…with Shishou."
"That man downstairs?" she mused. "You don't seem to like him very much."
"He's a jerk, most of the time," he agreed, and she laughed lightly.
"But he's treating you well, isn't he?"
True, Cross didn't have any obligation to take him in, yet he did. "I guess," he admitted grudgingly, and Lenalee beamed wider. "But it's nothing compared to your brother."
"I know," she smiled fondly. "That's why while he does the most unnecessary things, I still love him."
She suddenly stood up and brushed the dress she was wearing. "What do you want to play, Allen?" she asked. "We can play a board game, but then there are only two of us…" she walked over to the cupboards and opened it. "I have card games too, or maybe we could—Allen! Don't just sit there. Come!"
He acceded, going over to stand awkwardly—he noticed he really was shorter than her—next to her.
"Don't look so stiff. Make yourself at home here," Lenalee gave him a grin, patting his shoulder. "We're friends now right?"
In all honest truth, that thought of friends didn't even cross his mind.
"Of course you are!" she looked at him incredulously.
Wasn't this a bit too abrupt? Considering he had been at school for three months now and all he got were stares or sneers, he hadn't exactly held a civil conversation with anyone except his teachers, and thus the idea of a friend…was a bit hard to comprehend.
"But I'm…" Allen mumbled. "Different."
"Different?" she echoed. "Everyone is born to be different, isn't it? Well, I wouldn't want to be someone else," she declared.
"You don't understand," he shook his head, rubbing his sleeve clad arm consciously. "I…look weird, I know,"
"Really?" she hummed. "You look pretty normal to me. Except the scar, but well, I think it looks good on you."
Not sure of the reason why, but suddenly he was determined to prove her wrong. He didn't look normal, and certainly didn't look good—he knew because of all the kids who whispered behind his back, because of all the strangers who avoided him in the streets, because he was labelled a freak everywhere he went.
He pulled off the glove he was wearing on left hand, pushing the sleeve up in the fluid motion, almost thrusting the scarred appendage in her face. Even he himself had to wince at how unnatural his arm looked—all bumpy with some blood red tissue and even the long black nails at the fingernails which just looked scary.
Lenalee was staring at his arm with widened eyes and he realised he probably shouldn't have done that, because he's barely met the girl a few minutes ago and he was already scaring away someone that could possibly be his first ever friend.
"…Can I touch it?"
His mouth dropped ever so slightly at the question, thinking it was a joke. It had to be.
"Allen, can I touch it?" Lenalee asked again, sounding excited, even.
"Um, okay," there wasn't really an answer he could give, because no one ever wanted to touch his arm—and he certainly never wanted to either.
He expected her to prod it and shy away immediately, but she did none of that. Lenalee clasped her hands around his mutilated hand first, occasionally putting pressures at certain points until it felt like she was massaging his limb.
"Can you feel?"
"Yeah," he nodded. "It's exactly the same as my other good one, just that it looks…" he coughed uncomfortably, and then jumped in shock when her hands brushed a spot at his elbow.
"Sorry," he ruffled his hair. "I didn't mean to—"
But Lenalee only laughed, eyes crinkling in amusement and a large smile was upon her lips. Her chuckles trickled gaily to his ears, her cheeks flushed with childish joy.
"You're ticklish!" she grinned.
He didn't even know he had a sensitive spot on his arm. "Lenalee!" he protested, trying to wave the hands that tried to tickle him again. He blushed when she just laughed harder at his flustered deposition.
"You're so cute," she commented, grinning.
Allen turned away, hiding his expression. "You're the first person to say that to me," he said after a moment. "Everyone else thinks I'm different."
It was then he realised that Lenalee was probably the most accepting person he's ever come across, because all she did was to frown thoughtfully for a few moments before crossing her arms defiantly.
"Well, if they think you're different, then show them how different you really are!"
It was about a month later when he found himself pushed into the school fountain for the nth time of the year that he decided to take Lenalee's advice. He knew he was different—in many ways—but somehow he just understood what the girl had been trying to say. Without a thought of regret he bought a bottle of bleach and emerged from the bathroom one Saturday afternoon, walking into his living room feeling lighter than ever.
"Are we going out for lunch, Shishou?" he asked, smiling and patting his stomach because the dye job did make him feel hungry.
"Brat, we just ate—" Cross paused the remote he was pressing toward the television in midair when his line of vision drew towards his charge—and then promptly dropped it in incredulity. "Holy fucking shit—holy fucking shit!" he stared at the now snowy white crop of hair the younger boy sported. "My god, what the fuck did you do to your hair!" he demanded, pushing himself off the couch and grabbing the boy by the collar. "What the hell?"
"I just...dyed it," Allen scowled, trying to take off the grip of the elder man on his collar, because it was choking him. "No need to get your trousers in a twist, Shishou."
Cross breathed calmly, suddenly remembering that he actually didn't care what the brat did to himself. Was he being a paranoid overprotective guardian? Over his dead body. But still, he mused, eyeing the whiteness of it all…
"You look like a gay old man," he snorted. "You know girls don't dig that kind of shit."
Allen huffed. "I wasn't waiting for your opinion."
"Wait till your schoolmates see you," his guardian smirked, dropping him on the floor without remorse. "I sure as hell don't know what you were going for, brat, but I assure you you're asking for a wedgie."
"Allen-kun, I'm sure you're aware that it is against the school rules to dye your hair, especially in such an…outstanding colour," his teacher frowned uneasily.
"Oh no, Ma'am," he smiled innocently. "It was my guardian's fault, you see," he continued convincingly. "He accidently mixed up the bottles of shampoo and bleach—and we can't spare on hair dye because we're on a tight living budget…but I'm sure it will go away naturally."
"…I see," his teacher smiled sympathetically. "Well, try not to stand out."
Allen only nodded, knowing how redundant that statement was. He let himself out of the office with a polite bow, excusing himself. Well, he expected more trouble for his actions, but then, he could easily weasel himself out. Unfortunately, there were things he had been trying to avoid, yet unable to.
"Hey, weirdo!" Someone called from across the corridor, and he sighed, turning around.
"What's up with the stupid hair?" a classmate of his, he recognised but never knew the name of—he didn't think he had to, considering none of them never bothered to use his—called. "It makes you look like the freak of nature that you really are."
Allen only smiled.
"W-what the fuck is up with you?" his classmate slowly demanded, starting to get freaked out by the lack of protest or retort. "D…d…demon!" the other finally managed, backing away when a shiver a chill settled in his bones with the look Allen was sporting.
With the white crop of hair, pale skin and grey eyes that only stared back impassively with the ironical serene smile on his lips, he looked downright creepy.
It seemed like everyone thought so too, because no one tried to call him out again.
And he was glad for that.
Lenalee was at the door to greet him the next time he got dragged to the Lee's residence—because Cross was too lazy to feed him dinner, and thus they shall head over and freeload on someone else.
"Allen—your hair!" she exclaimed, eyes wide and surprised.
"He looks fucking gay," Cross immediately said, smirking. "Be sure to tell him that, little Lee, maybe the brat will snap out of his faggot daydream."
Allen rolled his eyes, shoving his guardian into the house. "Shut up."
"Marian—" there came an indignant scream from the kitchen somewhere inside the house. "Mind your language! My darling sister doesn't need to have her ears defiled!"
"Oh come off it, Lee," the red haired man snorted, barging into the house. "Your kid's old enough to learn the ways of the real world—"
Cross disappeared into the abode, leaving Allen and Lenalee at the door.
"So, what happened?" she asked, turning back to eye the white wisps on her friend's head.
"I kind of bleached it," he shrugged sheepishly, taking off his shoes. "Does…does it look weird?" he asked, and he sounded almost insecure.
It was ironic, because he knew he stood out even more with the odd choice in colour, yet he had been so adamant that it was the right thing to do. Considering how he was left alone now—he really preferred that over the unwanted attention he usually got—there wasn't much reason to doubt his decision. But for some reason, he wanted Lenalee's approval.
Lenalee rubbed her chin thoughtfully, but a wide smile gave way to her thoughts.
"It's awesome," she declared, beaming.
Perhaps, that was when he first felt a little flutter in his chest.
Maybe I kind of failed because it was supposed to be serious and sad but I just cannot write it serious and sad? UGH.
Anyway. For those of you who haven't read Imitation Black, I encourage you to read it first to get a better picture as a whole, but this story can be read on its own as well because I will not be bringing in any OCs.