Title: Traitorously Prodigal
Author: Calenlass Greenleaf
Disclaimer: DGM and its characters belong to Hoshino. I claim no ownership.
Spoilers: DGM in general and for recent chapters.
Rating: PG-13. It's really my default rating for everything
Warnings: Hrm, mentions of violence. Angst. So much angst. A bit of Link/Tevak—and I do mean just a little because the Character book tells us that Tevak is fifteen years old. Link is twenty. It…wouldn't really work out just yet.
Characters: Link and the Thirds
Summary: His wings were clipped differently from theirs, and so he became the prodigal. Or, maybe even a traitor to them. Speculation on the relationship between Link and the Thirds. Oneshot.
A/N: Trying to get some semblance of writing fanfic back. This actually has dialogue ;;
English, Link decides, has no appropriate word for the awkward meeting between people who haven't seen each other for a long time. Actually, he's not sure if any language has a proper word for it beyond "awkward." But the things is if you use the word "awkward" one too many times, it in itself because an…awkward word.
He wasn't sure when it turned awkward. Was it when Madarao saved him, or when Goushi accidentally smashed Allen in a wall? Perhaps it simply would have been awkward since the day they parted.
"Allen Walker is currently my responsibility. What justification do you Crow have for laying your hands on him?" Either way, he broken the awkwardness harshly, past the point of his usual verbose way of speaking.
But then they had ignored him, brushing him off to speak to Allen (Tokusa, you idiot). It was as bad as the way Madarao had looked at him right after saving him…
That look. Their looks. He recognised it for what it was—veiled contempt. Smugness. And perhaps even a bit of accusation.
He hadn't known, though, about the Akuma Egg. But even if he had, would he have still carried out the orders that he received?
Link still can't answer that question.
He did seek them out that day once he had handed Allen over to have his injury treated. An empty hallway, quiet and away from others. Madarao, Tokusa, Tevak, Goushi, Kiredori—they still walked in a group, while he walked alone. Towards them. But still apart from them. But when he stands before them, he finds he doesn't have anything to say.
"You look well, Inspector." Tokusa gives him that sardonic, far-too-wide smile Link knows, though this is the first time it's directed at Link. Even if his eyes are now different.
"You too," he says. The others only nod. And Link realises that all of their eyes different. Their pupils…weren't that of a human's anymore.
"Well?" Link swallows and forces out his words. "Don't expect me to give you a warm welcome after your first impressions."
"We weren't. Nor were we expecting you to apologise." Goushi answers this time.
"Apologise?" They had been told? "I didn't know about that."
"Of course not." Tokusa again, with one finger tapping his cheek. "You just submit."
"There's no shame in that." Though he prefers the word "obey," for "submit" has become a word with derogatory meanings now. "Orders are orders. Even Crows know that."
"You're separating yourself from Crow?"
"No." He is suddenly conscious of his uniform jacket, the ribbon around his neck, pin at his throat, and the badge. Even the gloves and trousers are reminders of the contrast to his old uniform that consisted of loose, unrestricting clothing. "Why would you think that?"
"You separated from us." Tokusa's eyes linger on him. "When they offered you that."
"Wasn't that long past?" Years and years ago even.
"They flattered you with words and promises, and now you've become the Vatican's dog." Madarao's words were cutting. Had he ever been cutting? "Inspector Howard Link, second to Chief Inspector Malcolm C. Leverrier." How his title sounded ugly.
"Better than being half-Akuma." He retorts, the words tasting just as awful as they sounded. "You've got one foot in the grave, really."
"And you have one foot in heaven? Or purgatory?" Madarao jerk his chin. The tiny beads in his hair clink, and Link wonders when he dyed it to be blue. "Eating the crumbs of the children's table…"
"I'm not better." Even so, he knows that's a lie. He thought that this life would be better than just being Crow. Flying higher. But in the process, his wings were actually more clipped. Such a pretty gilded cage it had been, and only now had he seen it was such.
"You got better at lying," Kiredori says to him, looking up. "But you're not fooling any of us. You weren't blinded by anything when you agreed to leave Crow."
He can't even say anything to that, can he? Because he hadn't been. Everyone knew about the Leverrier family. And yet they had promised him other things. But in that process, he had lost other things. His wings were clipped differently from theirs, and so he became the prodigal. Or, maybe even a traitor to them.
"I left because it was boring," he hears himself say. It was hardly boring. "It got me nowhere. But I haven't forgotten us."
"There's no 'us', Inspector Link." Tokusa smiles all the more, a cold edge to it. "It's 'we' and 'you.' You know that." And he walks away, the cue for the others to follow.
Something snaps in Link, and he looks at the only other member of the Thirds who hadn't spoken. "Tevak." Her name comes out a little stiff. "I haven't forgotten."
Hadn't forgotten when they had silly arguments that ended in hair pulling and mud throwing. Hadn't forgotten how they had studied together, practice together. "I wasn't the only one who changed. You—" His fingers curl in a fist. He ought to grab each of them, shake them. Maybe even spar with them again to make them remember. "You all changed too."
And Tevak looks evenly at him, though her eyes were shrouded and not what he remembers. "You changed first. And then you left us." And she walks away with the others, not looking back.
"Forgive us for our insubordinate words, Inspector." Tokusa offers a bow right before they turn a corner and disappear from his sight, leaving him standing there.
That's right. His rank is higher than theirs. But that gives him no pleasure.
No, it just rankles him. And as he later walks back in search of Allen, he finds his charge with his friends. Smiling. Arguing over stupid things. And it just rankles him all the more and makes him snap and drag Allen away with a stupid excuse that he ought to rest. Allen protests that he's feeling fine, but Link ignores him.
So many damn things were damn reminders of things he no longer has. It's simply become one awkward meeting after another. Whatever ties he had, they were severed without him realising it. Maybe he really was more of traitor than a prodigal.
But it wasn't just the fact that they weren't close anymore. No, the worst thing that bothers him was that fact they're half-Akuma. And that it was his fault.
Hadn't this War been first against the Earl and his Akuma? Now they were making their own versions of Akuma.
For the first time in a long time, there's something that actually makes him ill: himself and his actions.
Just outright despicable.
Awkwardness continues for a few more days until Allen received the orders for the mission to go to Jordan—along with Kanda, Tokusa, Madarao, and Tevak. Funny, it almost would have been a normal mission. He knows how his fellow Crow fight, even with their new abilities. Once you were Crow, you were always Crow, and it wasn't just about uniforms and marks on their foreheads; it was the training that stuck, deeply integrated.
And yet they said he wasn't one of them. It put him in a disagreeable mood from the start, and he can't help but note that the clothes all of them were are similar. The desert clothes remind him of what he used to wear, and in the morning before the mission began, he looked in the mirror and traced his own cheek, wondering if he ought to put the marks there. He didn't, though.
They barely say anything to each other. They just did their job, and Link wrote reports. It wasn't as if he could do much fighting; bitterly, he watches them all. He can only defend.
"Well, at least you haven't gotten rusty," is all Tokusa says when in one fight, Link briefly steps in to cover their backs.
"It isn't as if you've advanced," Link replies, and then he sweeps a hand across his shoulder; Tokusa always had the bad habit of not looking behind him in a fight, and in the past they all would give him that signal.
Tokusa only offer mock laughter before he walks away.
It's during this that it occurs that he's more human than all of them. No Innocence. No Akuma cells. Just spells. He's a witness, and he sees the look that Tevak gives once. More contempt.
Are they trying to make him feel alienated? If they are, they're doing a good job. Link ends up sitting away from all of them, saying little and writing much. And then on the second day, when Allen tells him there's two groups of high-level Akuma, he says he'll wait for them.
It not as if he belongs in either group. Why push himself where he won't fit? So he waits—until the lines go dead.
And Link has to go find them, somehow. But the only person he sees is Tevak, unconscious. The others—Finders—they're dead. No Allen, no Kanda. No Madarao or Tokusa, either. He can only wait until Tevak wakes up.
It's been a while since he's carried her—or anyone, really. For an instant, he wants to push away her hair away from her face, maybe try to wake her up, but he stops himself. She doesn't consider him part of them, anymore. It's not his right.
"…and I saw myself killing Allen Walker."
Of course, when she wakes up, her words have to be cryptically disturbing. And even when he grabs her wrist and says he'll be monitoring her, he has to wonder who's become more important to him—his past, or present. The Thirds or Allen. He can't both, but he honestly wishes that the Thirds would stop reminding him that he was different.
"Let go." Tevak twists her wrist.
Link only looks at her. "No," he says simply. For an instant, he almost sees the frown cross her face, the little-girl frown. But she quickly schools her features and lets him lead her.
"What are you doing?"
"I don't care what Kiredori says. You're still bad at lying."
"Only to people who know me well." He wait for her reaction, but there is none.
"If you say, Inspector."
"Tevak." He's sick of hearing his title from the Thirds. "I swear you've forgotten." She is quiet; he continues. "Do you hate me?"
"Then…" Link pauses. "I'm not a stranger."
"No, you're not."
But you're treating me like one.
He doesn't even have to speak that; it's in his face. Yet, maddeningly so, he can't get anything out of Tevak except a shrug. It's as if she's lost most of her emotions.
Link has to wonder if that's also his fault.
"Can they reverse it?" he finds himself asking.
"I don't know." Tevak's voice is still even. "Can an Akuma go back to being human?"
Can you be redeemed, then?
It's something else he doesn't say aloud.
It's simply another reminder of what's standing between them.
The Noah disappear, and he understands just how much he had thrown away.
Tevak had called for everyone but him. And now she and whomever else were alive were now pawns of the Noah. It wasn't better than being pawns of the Vatican, but the thing was that Noah didn't lie. They didn't have to. They just had to say the truth in their own way, and let you believe what you wanted of that truth.
But right now? It didn't even matter.
He was late.
And being late was abandoning them.
In the end, Link knows that he's a traitor. Prodigal turned traitor, he grimly thinks to himself during sleepless nights. When he could've done something but he hesitated.
Damn it all, he chose the worst times to be indecisive. It's only when he's standing before Allen (and Allen, almost everyone's your friend. So many people on your side. You're a fool sometimes, the way you act. People care about you, and yet you have take such an alternate separate route), that he realise this. And then Allen offers an apology (He smashes the bowl because he's venting his frustration because he himself is the bigger idiot) and all he thinks is that he's abandoned the closest thing he's had to a family.
Yes, he admits that. That they were like family. A family he had walked away from them because he thought there was something better than they. And then, he had betrayed them by allowing them to become what they were.
How low he had sunk. Whatever Allen had done, he had done worse. Allen could say sorry, and Link can't even do that because he's even too late for that.
Whatever attempts he's used to justify his reasons, they've all fled the instant the Noah took them away. And they hadn't trusted him to help them; there were reasons they didn't call out to them.
Because he had first changed, and first walked away.
And that's the truth that hurts the most.
There was no denying or justifying that would redeem him of that sin. The sin of disloyalty. He might have been loyal to the Order, but he hadn't been to his family.
In end, he has to wonder what's more important. What comes first.
He does get a taste of what it's like to be left behind though. Oh, it wasn't as if Allen had a choice, but it happens and he ends up with a something that's a little more than a flesh wound. As he tastes blood, his pulse weakening and vision fading, he knows what it's like now. The abandoning.
Go. You had a choice to go. I'm not holding you back. But it's like you won't be back. You'll forget me. You'll walk forward and move on, and leave me behind.
But he's not resentful; he's resigned. It's what he deserves, for what he's done to Tevak. To Madarao. To Tokusa. To Kiredori. To Goushi. To all of them. No goodbyes, no apologies, and no asking of forgiveness.
Maybe once he dies and they die, they can repair things. At least when you're died, you don't run out of time to do that.
In the end, Link knows that some families will receive their prodigal back, and that some traitors can be forgiven. Yet, he's not even asking for that much. If they remember him, it'd be enough.
Because that's more than he deserves.
A/N: /pets Link; may you later get happiness in your life. Please stay alive, too. ;;