Disclaimer: I do not own -man.

A/N: Alright, here is the next chapter. The last time we parted, Cross had shown up and delivered some tough love to Allen as well as some harsh words to Kanda. I hope you are all enjoying the story. Now, onto the chapter!

Chapter 4:

Nightmares and Stitches

Cross exhaled heavily, a stream of smoke passing through his lips. It had been several hours since his apprentice had fallen asleep and he showed no signs of waking anytime soon. While it angered Cross that he had to wait on the idiot, he understood that the boy had been awake for nearly three days so he was entitled to some sleep.

Glancing up from his seat on the bed beside his apprentice, he took in the other four residents of the room. Ever since Allen had shown some signs of returning to normal, they had all insisted that they stay. Kanda has taken up residence against the far wall from the bed while Komui, Lenalee, and Lavi sat in a line against the wall perpendicular to the bed. Cross snorted softly, he had the feeling that them staying was also due to the fact that he had hit the idiot. They were situated around the room in various places, getting some rest while they could. Cross had decided to stay awake to keep an eye on Allen. At least it wasn't completely dark as Komui had gone to retrieve some candles before they went to sleep.

"How is he doing General?" Komui asked softly, careful not to wake the others.

Glancing down, he took in Allen's peaceful countenance before he snorted once again, "He's still out… Probably will be for awhile."

"Why did you hit him?" Lavi spoke, his eye still closed.

A frown crossed the general's face, "Why do you care?"

Lavi's eye opened to look in the general's eyes, "Allen is my friend, and his wellbeing is my concern."

Cross's frown deepened, "Do you care as his friend or as the Bookman?" Seeing Lavi about to answer, Cross interrupted him, "Think about it before you answer."

Lavi's brow furrowed for a few seconds before he smiled, "Both. Allen Walker is my friend and comrade. To record the actions of the Destroyer of Time is my duty as a Bookman."

"Tch, very well spoken Bookman. However, what I'm about to tell you is for your 'friend' ears only. This does not get recorded in any of those books. Do you understand?" Cross growled, lighting another cigarette.

Lavi nodded, "This conversation never happened."

Cross grinned, "Good answer."

"Now why did you hit Allen?" Lavi asked once more.

Cross exhaled slowly, "Physical pain is his grounding point… Back in the beginning, he was like… a doll. He was there but he wasn't, basically like he was earlier. For the first year, he sang that song, he didn't speak otherwise. It was a song that Mana Walker sang to him as a child. One night, after hearing that song for weeks on end I lost my temper… And I hit him. He seemed to… come around after that."

"How often have you hit him?" Komui asked the general warily.

The general's eyes narrowed at the scientist, "As often as he needed it."

"How often is that?" Komui asked, obviously not satisfied with the vague answer.

"What are you, his mother?" Cross scoffed.

"How many times Cross!" Lavi growled.

"Roughly two or three times a year… Mostly around Christmas," Cross grumbled.

"Why Christmas?" Lavi asked curiously.

"You obviously don't know him as well as you thought if you don't know that. Christmas is the time that Mana Walker both found him and the day that he died," Cross explained.

"So that's why he disappears around Christmas," Lenalee whispered, finally speaking up, "Why wouldn't he let us help him?"

"He probably didn't want to worry us," Komui comforted his sister.

"Tch," Cross scoffed, "You all try to find the best solution for everything."

"What do you mean?" Lenalee asked.

"The bean sprout didn't trust us," Kanda mumbled from his position against the wall.

"That isn't true!" Lenalee protested.

"Why is that so hard to believe?" Cross wondered, "What happened when the information about Mana got out? He was ridiculed for his mistake. He was right not to the trust the lot of you."

"He trusted us more than you think," Lavi tried to deny, "He was always courteous, always tried to help, and he always put himself in danger if it meant helping us."

Cross laughed softly, "That's not trust, that's just who he is. He never told you about Mana, he never would have. You never would have known if you didn't somehow come across the information. You also say that he hated his time with me? Tch, I bet you don't even know what went on as his time as my apprentice."

"What do you mean?" Lenalee asked, wanting to know more.

Cross's eyes narrowed once more, "If he didn't tell you, I sure as hell won't. It's none of you business."

Lenalee and Lavi went to protest at that but a soft rustling broke the silence. All their eyes turned to the bed, thinking that Allen has woken up. However, his eyes were still closed, he was just moving around.

Cross pinched the bridge of his nose, "Shit."

"What is it?" Lavi demanded to know.

"Ma…na," a soft voice whispered brokenly.

Cross sighed, putting his cigarette out in the ashtray he had requested. Standing, he removed his jacket and put it on the bed. He then rolled the sleeves of his shirt up. Tying his fire red hair back in a band, he went to stand by the bed as though waiting for something.

"What are you doing General?" Komui asked as he too rose.

"Stay back," Cross growled, his eyes not leaving the silver-haired boy on the bed.

The others, aside from Kanda, all waited with bated breath. They had no idea why Cross wasn't letting them near the bed. They all wanted to help the youngest member of their organization. Unwillingly, they let Cross take the lead.

Allen continued to shift uneasily on the bed. His once peaceful face was now twisted into a look of pain as sweat beaded on his brow. Tears slowly began to roll down his cheeks and into his hair. However, Cross still didn't move; he just kept a watchful eye on Allen's movements.

"Ma…na… N-o… I'm… so-rry," Allen whimpered, a deep pain in his voice.

"Allen," Lenalee whispered, her heart going out to the boy.

Suddenly Allen screamed, the sound echoing in the room, as he arched off the bed. His hand flew up to his face, clawing at the scar on his face. It was then that Cross acted, throwing a leg over Allen's hips, pinning his lower half down with his body weight, as his hands went up to pin Allen's arms to the bed.

"MANA!" Allen screamed again, arching up against Cross.

"Cross!" Lavi asked, eye wide.

"Shut up and stay out of it!" Cross growled.

Tears continued to roll down Allen's cheeks as he whimpered, tugging on his arms and trying to arch off the bed. Blood joined Allen's tears from the scratches on his face. He muttered incoherently for several seconds.

"For-give me… Mana!" Allen whimpered, head tossing from side to side.

Cross leaned down as he whispered in Allen's ear, "It's ok… He forgives you."

"M-an-a… Stop!" Allen sobbed.

"You're safe… Mana can't hurt you anymore… It's ok… Allen," Cross whispered, wincing slightly as he realized that his reputation was shattered to those still in the room.

"Why… Mana?" Allen muttered, "Mana!"

"Allen! Snap out of it!" Cross shouted.

"M-M-Marian," Allen sighed before crying out in pain once more, "Stop!"

"I've got you Allen… You're safe… I've got you," Cross whispered in Allen's ear, ignoring the use of his first name, "I won't let them hurt you anymore."

Allen sighed once more, seemingly calming down, "Marian."

Allen then went slack in Cross's grip, his face smoothing out. Cross breathed a relieved sigh. Glancing back at the others, he noticed them all standing there, eyes slightly wide. However, he could also see the questions in their eyes.

Moving to let go of his apprentice, he was stopped as a hand was clenched around one of his wrists. Growling in irritation, he used his other hand to pry Allen's hand free. Grunting softly, he heaved himself up off the bed and onto his feet. However, as soon as he was away from the boy, the whimpering started once again.

Cross sighed once again, "Idiot apprentice."

Sitting back down, he cursed internally as he realized his reputation would soon be ruined completely. As the whimpers increased in volume, he figured to hell with it. Reaching out, he pulled the young boy into his lap. Once there, Allen quieted once more, clenching his master's white shirt in his hands. Glancing up, he noticed the other's eyes had widened more.

"What?" Cross growled.

"Nothing!" they all chorused, excluding Kanda who just looked away.

"That's what I thought," Cross huffed.

Lavi scratched the back of his head, "Soooo… You seem familiar with this."

Cross's eyes traced the lines of Allen's face, "I've done it for over three years." Then his eyes landed on the still bleeding scratches, "I need a med kit."

Lenalee rushed to the desk situated in the room. Pulling open drawer after drawer, she finally sounded her success as she pulled out the white box. Rushing over to Cross, she gasped as she saw the deep gouges on Allen's cheek and eye.

Holding a hand over her mouth, tears sprang to her eyes, "Oh Allen."

"The med kit Lenalee," Cross huffed, holding out his hand.

"Oh! Of course, do you need anything else?" Lenalee asked as she handed over the white kit.

"Some warm water," Cross mumbled as he began opened the med kit and taking out all the things he would need.

Lenalee nodded and ran into the bathroom off to the side of the bedroom. Turning the faucet on, she tapped her foot impatiently as she waited for the water to warm up. As she did, she let her mind wander.

What Cross had told them had made her heart clench. She had trusted Allen with so much, with how she came to be at the organization and how she felt about it. It hurt to think that he didn't share important things with her. Now that she thought back on it, Allen barely talked about his life before coming to the order. If he happened to mention it, he always got that haunted look in his eyes before he covered it up with a smile. The only way that Kanda knew about Mana Walker was the fact that she overheard the Millennium Earl taunting Allen about it and she had told the samurai. A tear rolled down her cheek as she realized that Allen probably had a good reason not to trust them. She had broken that trust before she even realized she had it.

"Lenalee, I think the water is hot enough," Lavi spoke from beside her, causing her to jump slightly.

"Oh, Lavi! Sorry, I got lost in thought," she stated as she looked at the steaming water running down the drain as she wiped away the stray tear.

Lavi shot her a smile, "It's ok, I guess we all have a lot to think about."

She nodded gratefully to the bookman as she turned some cold water on as she put the small plastic basin under the faucet. Once that was full, she handed it to Lavi with a tilt of her head, signaling that he was to take it back into the room. Once he was gone, she grabbed some towels and a couple washcloths before following him.

Cross nodded his head as he took the supplies for the two exorcists and set them beside him on the bed. Timcanpy fluttered over to grab a washcloth before dropping it in the basin. Cross grunted to the golden golem before he took the now wet washcloth and began to gently rub it against the scratches. Allen hissed softly, burying his head in the general's chest. Cross held Allen's chin gently in his other hand as he continued cleaning the scratches on his face.

"Do you need anything else?" Lenalee asked softly, slightly in awe at the general's gentleness.

Glancing up, he jerked his head to the side, "Do you know how to thread a needle?"

Lenalee frowned as she shook her head. It was never something she had to learn, there was always someone to fix her up when she got injured.

Surprisingly Kanda stepped forward, "I do."

"Then do it," Cross mumbled, tossing one washcloth to floor to pick up the other that Timcanpy had dropped in the bowl.

Kanda nodded as he stepped forward, picking up the needle and stitching thread from the bed. Squinting slightly, he pushed the thread through the hole before tying it in the eye of the needle. Then he quickly cut off the other end with the small scissors that came with the kit. Suddenly Timcanpy was in his face, holding a golden lighter in its teeth. Taking the lighter, he expertly lit it and held the needle over the flame, sterilizing it before it would go into Allen's skin.

"It's done," Kanda told the general.

Holding the washcloth to Allen's face to keep pressure on the wounds, he glanced around at the others, "There are two ways we can do this. One, I can hold him down while someone puts the stitches in. Truthfully, not my favorite options as I've done this before. Second, someone else can hold him while I put in the stitches."

Again, Kanda surprised them all by volunteering, "If you hold him down, I can do the stitches."

Cross's eyes narrowed, "Why should I trust you?"

Kanda stared at the floor looking uncomfortable, "Look at it as me trying to make amends."

Cross nodded, "Alright, I'll hold him like this. If you kneel, you should be able to reach his face properly. Timcanpy glíscere." Timcanpy suddenly became twice his size with four little arms, "Grab a candle Tim, and hold it by Allen's face."

Timcanpy fluttered over to one of the various candles in the room, slower due to its larger size. Stretching out two little arms, it grasped the candle firmly before fluttering back over to the bed. Plopping itself on the bed, Timcanpy rolled slightly until the candle light hit Allen's face at just the right angle. Cross nodded to Tim as he dropped the washcloth to the floor, placing a clean one in the bowl in case it was needed.

"Alright, now make stitches about three centimeters apart. The two on the right side of his right cheek don't need stitches but everything else does. Roughly estimating, he probably needs 15 stitches on his cheek and 4 on his eyebrow," Cross spoke, his eyes scanning the sleeping boys face.

"Alright," Kanda nodded.

"If you mess up, I will hurt you," Cross snarled, eyes boring into Kanda's.

Kanda nodded slowly, realizing the general was serious, "What happens if he wakes up?"

"He won't. I've done this four other times and he's never woken up. Just do it. Ignore everything else and get the job done," Cross advised, gently yet firmly holding Allen's chin in his hand as he wrapped his other arm around Allen's upper body.

"Ignore what?" Lenalee asked softly.

Cross glanced at her and then sighed, realizing there was no reason to hide the truth, "Ignore his screams."

"Screams? Is it going to hurt him that badly?" Komui asked warily.

"He won't be screaming in pain," Cross sighed, then looked at Kanda, "Get started."

Kanda nodded before taking a deep breath. Making sure his hands were steady, he pinched the skin of Allen's face together gently, in a roundabout way trying to make up for his harshness a few days ago. Allen hissed but otherwise didn't move. Looking up at Cross and receiving a nod, pushed the needle through both sides of the cut in a well-practiced move.

Allen arched in Cross's grasp, trying to get away from Kanda's hand. He tried to turn his head but Cross's hand kept his head from moving too far. Distressed whimpers feel from Allen's lips as his brows furrowed.

Kanda's eyes narrowed as he focused on his task, trying to get it done as quickly as possible. Quickly looping the thread through itself, he tied the knot off and clipped the excess string with the scissors.

"Stop!" Allen screamed in a terror-filled voice.

Kanda's hand faltered before Cross growled, "Ignore it!"

"Mana please! I'm sorry!" Allen cried, tears once more rolling down his cheeks.

Kanda forced himself to block out Allen's whimpers, focusing on the job at hand. After repeating the process, he laid the needle and thread down to pick up the washcloth in the basin. Once he had wiped the fresh blood and tears from Allen's face, he picked the needle back up and resumed his work.

"Please! No more!" Allen cried, "I'm sorry!"

As Kanda worked on Allen's face, Cross focused his attention on keeping him still. The next concern he had to tackle was keeping the boy calm. Though he had listened to this for over two years, it was still hard to stand. The young boy in his arms had experienced far too much pain for his young years.

"Marian!" Allen screamed in desperation.

"I'm sorry… I'm so sorry," Cross whispered in his ear. "It's ok… Calm down, no one wants to hurt you."

"M-Marian," Allen whimpered, still struggling slightly.

"Tell me you're almost done," Cross demanded of Kanda.

"Three more," Kanda muttered.

"Hurry," Cross nearly pleaded, resting his forehead against the clammy one before him.

Snipping the last of the thread, Kanda stood back as he wiped the slight traces of sweat from his brow, "Finished."

"Thank God," Cross mumbled as he kept his hold on Allen.

"Marian," Allen whimpered once more, holding on to the general's shirt more tightly.

"It's ok kid, I got you," Cross soothed before he looked up at Kanda, "Get me the gauze pads and tape."

After carefully taping the bandages on Allen's face, Cross tried to lay the boy back in the bed. However, Allen wasn't willing to release his hold on his master just yet, whimpering and struggling whenever he was away from the red-haired man. In the end, Cross ended up sitting against the wall at the top of Allen's bed with the white-haired youth's head in his lap. The boy was still a little restless so Cross gently carded his fingers through his hair as he relaxed against the wall with closed eyes.

"Um… General?" Komui spoke up once more.

Cross opened one eye to glare at the head scientist as he growled, "No more questions tonight. Just leave it be for now. I don't know about you but I could use some sleep… You should all head back to your rooms and do the same."

"What about Allen?" Lenalee questioned softly.

"If there are any changes, I'll let you know. Now get out," Cross grunted as he closed his eye and relaxed once again.

Komui shushed Lenalee and Lavi as they went to protest, no doubt the two wanting to stay with the youngest exorcist, but Komui knew that the general was reaching the end of his rope. They were lucky that the man had let them stay and help as long as he had. It was time for them to let Allen in the quite capable hands of his Master.

"Good night General Cross," Komui bowed slightly before shutting the door.

Cross sighed as he was finally left alone with his apprentice. If had had the option, they wouldn't have been in the room for what they had witnessed. He knew that his apprentice was of the private kind, and he wouldn't appreciate his weakest moments being on display for all to see. However, at the time it had been unavoidable.

Running a hand over his face, he look down at the peaceful face on his lap, "Come back whole this time, there are a lot of people waiting for you over here… Don't do this to me again kid…"

To Be Continued

A/N: Aw, poor Allen, suffering from nightmares :( Good thing Cross was there to help! Even if he was a little OOC… But I like the "hard-ass can be compassionate at times" Cross :)

Wow, it has been forever since I last updated. Gomen! I won't promise regular updates now that I'm recovered but I promise to update at least once a month (I'm taking 6 classes at school this semester and they're killing me -_-).

Anyway! A big "THANK YOU" to all those who continued to support me while I was gone. It means so much to me that you all care so much :D

I hope you enjoy the chapter! Please let me know what you think!