{ { SONG OF THE FOURTEENTH } }

NOTE : This is a rewrite of my original SOTF fanfiction, which I have removed from this website. Bla, bla, blah.

NEWS : Due to past requests and askings for Allen x Kira fluff, I decided to try my hand at a one-shot for the two of them, called "Friends Don't Let Friends Freeze." It's a gift for all you awesome readers who really like the two of them, so if you wanna read it, you can find it on my profile :) Reviews are greatly appreciated on it! I may write more of them if it gets good feedback, as well as include more in this fanfiction.

DISCLAIMER : I do not own DGM or any characters, plot-lines, sayings, etc, that are in DGM. Thing not mentioned in DGM, however, are copyright to me, unless posted otherwise. Chapter quotes that are completely uncredited are my own.

FEATURE : Thank you to, MRS-Mikk, skytower1189, Z0mbieMart, Christmasloot, Victini-Kumi, WickedlyTwisted, Mozi, SeirenTheReader, iamninja159, and PaNdAbluez for adding this FanFiction to their alerts and/or favourites!


(|Recap|) for your convenience

"Ch-Chikita . . . you've . . ." Kira swallowed, eyes wide as saucers as Chikita leaned forward again, pressing her large head against Kira's smaller one. "You've grown," finished the teenager exasperated, twitching at the dark pink, sand-paper tongue that assaulted her dirty cheek.

A rumbling purr vibrated in the large cat's chest again, and Kira sighed.

I've gone bonkers. I've definitely gone bonkers.

"You're not gonna fit on my lap anymore like this."

As if to prove her point wrong, a sudden crushing weight landed on Kira's legs, and the young girl let out an alarmed noise.

"What the - CHIKITA! OWOWOWOW! BAD KITTY! BAD! AGH!"

And with that, the two siblings ran off. Link couldn't stop himself from watching them leave. For a moment - just a moment - as their silhouettes disappeared into the clouds of dust and debris, he pictured himself and several orphans running through a crowd of people . . .

The blonde man shook his head, chasing away such memories. He needed to concentrate on his task at-hand. Or charge.

Speaking of which, where was Walker?


[ Chapter 10 ]

Flee, Freeze, Fight

"In a fallen world, you can only have peace through strength." (Ronald Reagan)


After five minutes of struggling, bribing, and amused purring later, Kira was laying flat on her back on the cobbles, absolutely exhausted. She felt as if all the energy from her body had been drained, and her flesh still gave a dull ache at random intervals. Meanwhile, Chikita was sitting rather similarly to a sphinx, her large tail thumping against the earth. Her ears kept swiveling southward, and she'd let out an almost irritated growl every once in a while.

At this particular moment, another deep rumble echoed in her throat. Deciding to finally respond, Kira sighed, rolling her head to the side to look at the large cat.

"It's best if we wait here," she explained yet again. "Allen and Link will look for us where they last saw us, which is in town. And we don't know where they went anyway, so it wouldn't be smart to just go out blindly when we could be wandering in the wrong direction, no?"

. . . did Chikita just snort?

Kira twitched, rolling onto her stomach so as to reach up and poke the cat in the shoulder. "Well, do you have any better ideas, sassy?"

The large animal shifted, getting up and stretching, large claws shining as they extended out into the dirt before returning to her large paws. Chikita then stepped forward to where Kira lay, prodding her in the ribs with a warm and large, grayish purple nose. However, Kira wasn't all too inclined to move. She was quite comfortable on the ground right now, thank you very much. She'd been tossed around like a rag doll earlier, and her body deserved a break!

Unfortunately, her childhood friend didn't seem to think as much.

An agitated growl later and Kira was letting out a string of curses, her cat having grabbed her by the back of her shirt with her overlarge teeth and dragging her through the dust and dirt, heading out of town.

"Dammit, Chikita, this isn't fair! Let goooo!" the exhausted girl cried out, flailing in vain.

"Grrrrr."

"I'm not going! I'm staying here!"

"Grrrrmrroow!"

"Nej! Chikita, I said nej[1]!"

Chikita, of course, didn't listen. It wasn't long before Kira could only go limp, her muscles protesting, arms burning and tired. She whined idly as her little-cat-gone-big dragged her all the way to the south entrance of Newton-in-Furness. Only once they'd reached the grass overlooking the fields just outside did Chikita let go, allowing Kira's lifted half to plop down into the lush green below.

A moment of silence passed.

Kira didn't move.

Chikita let out a warning growl.

Kira scrambled up.

The young, dark skinned girl scowled, brushing dust and dirt off her ruined clothes. She noted that she was missing a sleeve, and there were tears in her slacks; which, she realized to her discomfort, revealed some of her black-marred skin. Unfortunately, she couldn't do much about it, and no one was around anyway, so she decided to worry about it later.

Casting an eye to her cat, Kira found the black feline looked much better off, just a few streaks of dirt mixing with the midnight shadows of fur. While her dear friend's icy stare was locked somewhere farther off in the distance, Kira's own blue trailed up to the large, white cross upon Chikita's furry chest, slightly grayed from dust.

Innocence.

It was a conclusion hard to process, hard to taste in her thoughts.

Who would've thought that all this time, this cat - this cat who chased chickens into the woods, who would trip down the steps, who would sleep by her side every night, snoring just as loud as her grandfather - was Innocence.

Noticing her young girl's wavering attention, Chikita's tail flung out and whapped the distracted teenager on the shoulder, earning a yelp and a tired, blue-eyed glare. However, Kira found that her large feline was directing her attention. Following her icy gaze, the marred, dark-skinned girl ended up looking across the wheat fields before them. Just on the horizon, a menacing pillar of black rose up from the gold and green, stretching vigorously up into the azure sky and graying fluffs of clouds.

Kira's mind was quite slow right now, admittedly. She stared blankly out at the odd sight before turning to look behind her at her smoldering town, then back out across the fields.

Smoke. That wasn't entirely uncommon.

But wait, that was a pillar of smoke-!

Her eyes widened.

"Floraston! They went to Floraston!"

Floraston was a small town just south of her own town, Newton-in-Furness. It was relatively new, but quite popular because of the area's love for flowers, which grew considerably well despite England's cold and rainy weather. This very love for blooming plants also made Floraston a popular spot for small festivals. In fact, a festival was being held today, if Kira's memory served her correct.

An approving sound left Chikita at Kira's verbal realization, and her long, silvery whiskers twitched, as if amused. At least the brunette now understood where the other humans were, where they could find them and -

"Good! We can just wait here till they get back -"

If Chikita could scowl, she would have. Kira yelped, a large head suddenly butting into the small of her back and pushing her forward.

"Ch-chikita?" she stammered out, looking back at the cat who was currently pushing her forward. "Chikita, stop it! We should stay here! Stop pushing me already! GOD!"

"GrrrmAWR!"

"If you want to go so badly, go!" cried out the dark-skinned teenager. It wasn't as if her going would be of any use. Hell, if anything, she'd only get in the way; and as much as that pissed Kira off and made her want to stamp her feet childishly, she couldn't help but admit the facts. In her condition, she'd be a sitting duck for that porcupine Akuma! Kira grit her teeth, trying to keep the frustrated tears stinging in her eyes at bay. "Leave me here! Just go check on Allen and Link if you must and then come back!"

"GRRRAR!"

"I can't walk that distance, you dunce!" snapped Kira, resorting to insults, now turning around and pushing back against the large feline, albeit unsuccessfully. Her limbs were crying out, marvelously upset at being stressed again, and the young girl was feeling dizzy as the toes of her shoes dug into the dirt with each inch Chikita gained. "Unless you grow bigger and take me there yourself, we're staying RIGHT HERE."

Kira yelped as the heavy weight pressing against her disappeared, and she fell forward, landing right onto Chikita's furry face. The cat's large, icy blue eyes gazed into Kira's own, and for the first time, the bruised up girl felt lost in their gaze.

Intelligence glowed brightly in those eyes.

Thoughts spiraling back into her earlier contemplations, Kira began to feel dizzy again. How could she not have noticed it before? All those years with her little cat, and not once had she taken note of the almost human-like actions of the small creature?

Pain crashed over her like a tidal wave, and Kira cried out, collapsing. She barely heard an agitated snarl leave Chikita's lips as she hit the ground, preparing to curl up like earlier. But to her surprise, just as quickly as the attack had come, it abruptly left. A panting girl stared in shock at her flesh, a dull ache spreading throughout her body before disappearing.

What was wrong with her?

Was her skin disease hurting her skin? After all this time of being dormant? Why now of all times?

Something nudged her face, and Kira looked up, prepared to give a snarky comment to the oh-so-stubborn Chikita. However, that comment never left her lips. Instead, she could only gasp, scrambling up onto her feet to grab her cat by the whiskers.

"Chikita! You're not going to fit in the HOUSE if you keep growing like this!" chastised the young girl.

The look of gloating success in the now tiger-sized creature's eyes flickered out, replaced with agitation. The breath in Kira's lungs fled away as the cat's head impacted with her chest.

"W-would you please stop that?" wheezed Kira, now on her knees.

Needless to say, Kira decided to stop resisting and let Chikita take the lead. After some growling, grunting, and the occasional hiss, she had managed to climb onto the now much bigger cat's back. The huge feline, the moment she was settled, whisked her away through the wheat fields, straight towards the menacing pillar of blackness glaring out from the clear, slowly darkening afternoon horizon. They met no trouble upon leaving—by now all the townspeople had fled and were hiding in the fields opposite them until someone gave the say-so that it was safe. Chikita burst passed the border of the town unbothered, leaving the old buildings behind as she sprinted into the hills.

Long grasses waved lazily in the breeze, and the sun shown down brightly, warming both cat and human. As they raced along, Kira kept her eyes peeled, looking for any signs of Akuma, just in case.

. . . what did Akuma look like again?

Kira sweat-dropped. Spheres . . . a mutated porcupine . . . okay, I'll just look out for those.

Once decided on this, it wasn't long before the teenager's thoughts went out of direction, becoming quite a mess. As her long, unkept brown hair whipped out behind her, she gripped onto Chikita's neck fur tightly, latched to the large cat's body to avoid the wind threatening to rip her off her friend.

She couldn't deny that she was scared, but it wasn't as much fear for herself anymore. While Kira knew - certainly knew now - that Allen was an Exorcist, and Link appeared to have some ability to fight back, she still feared for her guests . . . her friends.

Kira swallowed, burying her face into the thick black fur beneath her.

That was right. She cared for them like family. These people were no longer simply her guests; they were her friends - these young men that had spent the last week firmly situating themselves into her life.

And now two of them were in danger. They could die, just like Doctor Phillip and the nurses. That thought in of itself left Kira breathless, as if a chain were slowly wrapping around her bruised ribs and tightening, suffocating her. She'd lost her mother and father, and now the pharmacy. She certainly didn't want to lose anyone else. No, she wouldn't allow that to happen.

Chikita gave a particularly long leap, flying through the tall golden grass of the wheat fields. Kira's grip on her friend's neck fur tightened and she clenched her jaw, new determination set in. Even if she couldn't necessarily fight back, she could definitely find some way to help. Plus, Chikita could fight these things!

Kira felt her heart lift at this realization.

Yes, Chikita was here.

Chikita would definitely -

Her thoughts were cut off abruptly at the sight before her. Kira's eyes widened, gaze locked upon their upcoming destination. The pillar of blackness belching forth from the earth looked so much larger up-close, though it appeared to have lessoned some. Daring to peal herself from against Chikita's still fast-moving body, Kira lifted her head, looking directly above herself and following the wind-swept smoke that trailed over them with her blue gaze.

So much of it . . . a large fire? Or multiple fires?

The young girl swallowed thickly, beginning to taste the sharp tang of smoke on the wind, and she lowered her sight from the darkened sky and to the horizon. They were closing in on Floraston. She could see the outline of the light-colored buildings, which was quite reassuring. Though she wasn't close enough to dictate the state of them, just seeing them standing was comfort enough at the moment.

Now the question was, had Allen taken care of the Akuma?

That concern left Kira's mind as the stench of burning rubble smacked her fully in the face. The battered teen immediately buried her face into Chikita's fur, trying to keep her nose and mouth clear of the blown out smoke. A moment later, and Chikita burst into the town of Floraston, skidding around piles of rubble. A collapsed building here - a pile of torn up stalls there. Kira yelped as she was nearly strung up by a stray bit of flowery decor hanging over the streets. Hearing her, Chikita immediately slowed her pace, becoming mindful of the girl she carried and more careful in weaving through the mess.

Before long, the odd duo reached a small pavilion - just in time too, because the rank of smoke had just about overcome Kira. The dark-skinned girl quickly slid off Chikita's back and fell to her knees, holding her mouth and nose, tears pricking her eyes.

THIS was Floraston?

Kira's burning gaze took in the ruined pavilion around her, eyes trailing along shattered stalls and torn up decor. Small fires crackled stubbornly around the remains, some reaching out eagerly for the buildings surrounding the pavilion; and holes of various sizes bulleted the cobblestone below, scattered and leading up to what looked like the remains of a small church steeple.

And she had thought Newton-in-Furness was a wreck.

A low toned meow caught the girl's attention, and Kira turned just in time to see Chikita collapse. Crying out in worry, the brunette immediately dropped to her knees, reaching out to rest her hands on either side of her cat's overgrown head.

"Chikita?! Chikita, what's wrong?!"

All she received was a considerably exhausted look, and then, right before Kira's eyes, Chikita began to shrink. In a mere few seconds and a flash of sky blue later, a familiar little cat lay where the tiger-sized one had originally been, panting and sprawled out on the cobbles.

Shocked and confused, but worried nonethless, Kira picked up her now-normal-and-tiny friend, cradling the exhausted creature in her arms. She became concerned as her fingers brushed through tiny Chikita's matted fur, picking out debris and brushing away dust, but relaxed a little more as she felt the steady rise and fall of the cat's flank.

All this time, Kira had been noting her own exhaustion. She hadn't once thought of Chikita, not while her black cat had grown into a powerful wild cat. The young girl chastised herself for being so quick to assume Chikita was invincible. Even if she was Innocence, her friend was still a living creature, and therefore had limits.

"I'm sorry, Chikita," the battered teenager murmured guiltily, leaning down to plant a kiss on the dozing cat's head.

A weak purr answered the girl. Unfortunately, even in being forgiven, Kira couldn't help but feel dread begin to coil in the pit of her stomach. Warily, the young, now defenseless teen eyed her surroundings.

This place, it didn't look like Floraston. Floraston was supposed to be bright and cheery, smelling of various aromas, not empty and reeking of past chaos. Dying out fires stubbornly licked up the sides of shattered stalls, trailing eagerly for the stone buildings outlying the pavilion, and bullet holes littered the ground, emphasizing the ripped up and stomped on flowers that were scattered everywhere.

And she was alone. Not a single soul was in sight.

Kira tightened her grip on Chikita in her arms, staggering up and turning round and around as she took in everything around herself a second time, just in case.

Coast clear, she paused, evening out her breathing, deciding what to do next.

She had to find Allen and Link. That's why they'd come, after all.

Feeling a little comfort in Chikita's warmth and soft breathing, Kira proceeded to walk unsteadily through the remains of the town and towards the center. Twice she tripped over large chunks of wood, and a couple of times she thought she'd twisted her ankle, but she kept moving anyway, a new drive pushing her forward.

It was such an odd feeling. This sudden need to do something - to grasp onto a purpose in this chaos around her, that being to find Allen and Link. Kira almost felt as if she were acting out some part in one of her books back home, and she actually found herself chuckling tiredly at the thought.

Hopefully, I won't be that character that becomes a damsel in distress, she joked internally, automatically labeling Allen and Link the designated "heroes." Or maybe, Lavi would make a surprise entrance, that one character everyone thought they'd left behind, but who had actually followed -

Suddenly, something other than the sound of crackling fires and rocks crumbling caught Kira's attention. Freezing in place, the disheveled teen quickly gave a quick three-sixty look around, determined to find the source of the new disturbance.

Was that a footstep? A boot moving rock?

Kira swallowed the growing lump in her throat and clutched Chikita to her chest tightly, anxiety churning in her stomach.

"Show yourself!" she called out, deciding she'd rather not wait for whoever - or whatever - it was to surprise her.

Sharp movement caught the very edge of her peripheral vision - Kira whirled around, immediately pulling up one arm for some sort of defense for herself and Chikita; however, she panicked at the brief sight of a blur coming fast at her and ended up clumsily falling backwards with a cut off screech. Before she knew it, the figure was over her - blonde hair a mess, red eyes sharp, two scarlet spots just barely visible through the dirt-covered face -

Wait-!

"Link?!" Kira yelped, only to choke off as a sharp, golden knife encrusted with dirt was placed at her neck, its cool metal numbing her dark flesh. "What the-?!"

"What is the skin disease that Miss Kira is inflicted with?" demanded the man sharply, pressing his knife a little harder against her throat.

Anger and disbelief overwhelmed the exhausted teenage girl pinned beneath him, and her sky blue eyes went icy as she resisted the urge to snarl. For God's sake! She was tired, her stomach was still churning from fear, anxiety, you name it, AND her head hurt! She was NOT in the mood for this!

"If you do not remove yourself from me this instant, Two-spots, you WILL be sleeping outside for the rest of your stay! WITH Chikita!"

If Link hadn't been a former CROW, he would've flinched at such a considerable threat. Sleeping outside was one thing, but with that damned cat that kept giving him dead mice?[2] He certainly didn't want to deal with that!

"Forgive me, Miss Kira," he spoke strictly, immediately getting up, "but I had to make sure you were not the Akuma."

"W-What?" Kira couldn't manage a more intelligent reply as she was pulled up by a politely offered hand from Link. She checked distractedly on Chikita, who was still curled in her arms, before rubbing at her earlier threatened neck.

"The Akuma," Link repeated, starting to explain as his knives slipped back into his torn up, red sleeves. "The Akuma Allen and I have been battling possesses a most troublesome ability to transform-"

"Allen? Where's Allen? What happened?" blurted out Kira, momentarily forgetting herself as what Link was saying finally caught her attention.

Seemingly unbothered by her interruption (or used to it, she couldn't tell), Link continued, "I was separated from Walker when the Level Two Akuma decided to take advantage of the large human populace celebrating the festival here."

The young girl before him felt as if icy claws had gripped her heart. "The Akuma . . . did this . . . ?" Kira finally choked out, hugging Chikita more tightly to herself as she tried to keep her gaze away from the chaos around them. It had been one thing back in Newton-in-Furness, but this - this was much worse. An entire festival against a small pharmacy. "Why? Why would it . . . I don't . . ."

Images of Newton-in-Furness's injuries flashed through her mind, along with the sound of the screams from the dying man she'd heard before escaping the rubble, and Kira swallowed thickly, trying to keep herself from trembling.

Scary.

This was all so scary.

All caused by a single monster.

So much death, so much lost.

"Akuma are weapons, remember?" reminded Link, his voice just ever so slightly less strict as he recognized his host's distress. "The more they kill, the more experience they gain, and the more powerful - the more deadly - they become. They are nothing more than the Millennium Earl's killing machines."

"Then why do they cry?"

Link paused, looking down at the disheveled, dirt-stained fourteen-year-old girl before him. Her blue eyes, still filled with fear and uncertainty, gazed back at him, almost pleadingly.

"Pardon?"

"The Akuma," clarified Kira, holding Chikita closer to herself as she finally managed to keep her trembling at bay, her eyes still locked with Link's red irises, though not seeing his face. No, she was seeing the agony-torn face of the spherical Akuma that had come at her before Chikita had saved her life. "The Akuma's faces are crying, Link," Kira repeated. "Why are they crying? Why do they look like they're in pain?"

Something flashed in the blonde man's gaze, but Kira didn't recognize it.

"That's a question better asked of Walker," Link finally replied. "Now, if you are quite alright and done with inquiries, I suggest we look for him."

Although perturbed that her question went unanswered, Kira could only give a brisk nod. Right now, finding Allen was more important. They had to keep their priorities straight in this situation. Questions could be answered later.

Willing her legs to move, the dark-skinned girl jogged after Link, who had already started heading off at a brisk pace. There were no words shared between the two as they maneuvered around debris, leaving only the chaos around them to speak in its own language; the tongue of dying fires crackling idly and the occasional crumble of falling rubble crashing to the ground. Sometimes Nature would pitch in, sending through a blessed breeze that swept away some of the stench of the smoke, whistling passed the still standing buildings and stirring up burnt and shredded flower petals and dust.

Once or twice, Link slowed his pace, allowing Kira to catch up (which was something new to the young girl - that is, being slower than someone else; she'd always been proud of her speed . . .). They didn't travel far before they reached the town square - which looked hauntingly like Newton-in-Furness's own town square, though it was hidden under flung stalls and carts instead of a collapsed building.

"This was the center of the festival," explained Link as they passed through. "The Akuma entered through the North side . . ."

Kira didn't need him to finish. She already knew.

Piles of dust were everywhere. But there wasn't just dust. No, here there were some bodies, and that made Kira shake more than before. Those who hadn't fallen to the Akuma's bullets had been crushed by falling stalls, trampled by others, and - and she didn't want to think what else.

Bile rose in her throat as yet another trickle of wind rushed through, this time picking up dust rather than ripped up flower petals. Dust that was the only remains of the people who had died at the Akuma's hands . .

"There will be time for mourning later."

Kira's gaze flitted back to Link, whom she found to be looking at her, his scarlet gaze steady despite how clearly bruised up and aching his body was - despite how much horrors were around them.

"Right now, focus on the living."

Focus on the living. Right.

Kira took a deep breath and nodded, assuring the older man she had recovered herself enough to keep moving. Accepting the gesture, Link continued forward.

The two humans and one exhausted cat passed by a couple more buildings, having left the square; and it was then that Kira began to pick up faint sounds, almost like - like crashing?

Immediately, an image of Allen surrounded by a brilliant white cloak flashed through Kira's mind, and adrenaline poured into her veins.

"Link, I think -!"

She had barely gotten the words out and Link had already started sprinting. Kira broke into a fast run of her own, trying her darndest to keep up with the older man.

If those sounds are crashes, that can only mean that Allen hasn't defeated the Akuma! she concluded, keeping her eyes locked on Link's back. The porcupine Akuma could still be alive and -

Kira skidded to a halt.

It could still be alive.


"This is not my day!" choked out the Black Order's prophesied Destroyer of Time, trying to rid his mouth of the taste of dust and dirt that assaulted his tongue and throat. Allen hadn't had this much trouble with a Level Two since his Innocence had evolved, and it was incredibly frustrating; not to mention it was a harsh reminder that Akuma, regardless of their lower levels, could still be dangerous to experienced exorcists like himself. Of course, the battle grounds here, to be blunt, sucked. His Sword of Salvation was quite large, and therefore frustrating to use in these narrow streets that the Akuma had backed into. He would use his Edge End, but he feared accidentally running into a civilian, and the safety of humans took priority over his discomforts.

At the very least, the white-haired exorcist had slowed the damn thing down. While it was stupidly fast, it still could only keep up for so long before becoming tired. Between this and the limb Allen had managed to hack off, Mr (or Miss?) Porcupine Akuma wasn't very happy at the moment, and certainly not cackling like before.

Allen jerked back as a large shape lunged at him through the clouds of rubble dust, quickly raising his sword. He froze, however, as it blinked out of sight right before his face. Surprised and disconcerted, the Crown Clown Accommodator stared out around him, his cursed eye whirring wildly as he tried to locate the Level Two.

This was a new move. It hadn't done this before. Allen's thoughts raced as he tried to analyze the Akuma's next move based on the information he'd gathered so far.

Rubbish bins, wood, and people. Those seemed to be the objects the Level Two most chose to turn into, the boy reminded himself, focusing on said items. He was just beginning to feel the sweat trickling down his forehead when a familiar, horrific, mummified soul caught his left eye's attention. Without hesitation, the snowy haired exorcist lunged with a cry, slashing his sword down upon a seemingly innocent looking plank of wood.

A shriek assaulted his ears, and the piece of wood he'd cut in half trembled violently before rapidly writhing back into the shape of the Akuma, albeit missing a leg to go with it's nub of a right arm. Alarmed by it's fast morphing, Allen summoned his Clown Belts, using them to fling himself backwards just in time to dodge snapping teeth -

"OOF!"

The air left the cursed teen's lungs as he collided with something firm but soft, and he tumbled to the ground with it. Coughing as his lungs stung with a new vigor, Allen scrambled up, whirling around to confront the object of impact, only to find a particularly jagged, golden blade pointed between his eyes.

"O-oh, hello there, Link," Allen stammered out, holding up his hands in surrender.

The blond man was panting harshly, holding his ribs gingerly with his left hand, gloves long gone. While Allen didn't see blood, he could figure pretty easily that his Supervisor had likely injured some ribs when he'd been tossed into that wood building in Newton-in-Furness.

"I would like to assume," started Link firmly, catching the boy's attention,"that you've defeated that damn Akuma by now, Walker."

Allen felt himself sweat a bit as the blade wasn't removed from its threatening position in his face.

"W-Well, about that-"

"GOD DAMN EXORCIST!"

"-no; no, I haven't."

A clearly pissed off look flashed across Link's usually composed features, and the cursed exorcist at the man's weapon's tip laughed nervously. However, their little episode didn't last long, as a dark shape burst forth from the clouds of dust. Cursed eye squealing, Allen immediately yelled out for Crown Clown, and the cloak billowed out obediently, shielding him and the Central officer next to him from the attacking Dark Matter weapon -

Nothing impacted.

Allen and Link tentatively looked over Crown Clown's shape as the cloak floated gently, almost lazily back down. However, they found nothing more than the clouds of dust that still didn't seem to want to settle; and a stall which promptly decided to collapse at that moment, echoing in the sudden quiet that gripped the narrow street.

"Where did it . . . ?"

"It appears to have fled."

Exorcist and Inspector looked to each other, silver eyes meeting red, equally dumbfounded. However, barely a second passed before realization seemed to dawn on the former CROW of the duo. His scarlet eyes widened, and a rather impolite word broke from his lips.

"Miss Kira!"


Link's figure disappeared into the smoke and dust ahead, and all she could do was stare, heart pounding harshly against her ribs.

Alive - that Akuma that attacked her in Newton-in-Furness could still be alive -

Sharp teeth - an open maw lunging for her -

"Little giiiirl~!"

Fear had frozen her limbs, planting her firmly in place, and Kira tried vainly to recover her breathing again, warm tears trickling down her dirt smudged face for the second time that day.

"Don't panic. Don't panic. Don't panic - don'tpanicdon'tpanic-"

The shaking teenager leaned against the building nearest her as she held a dirty hand to her face, willing herself to regain control.

"Damnit, get a hold of yourself!" Kira whispered harshly, moving to desperately press her face into Chikita's warm fur. The small creature only mewled weakly, unable to comfort her in her state.

What could she do? Run out there with no means of defense? Chikita was out of action, and Kira certainly couldn't do a damn thing against a killing machine. No, she was at a complete disadvantage here - she would only get in the way - and that monster -

A distant crash echoed through the narrow street, and the disheveled teen gasped, staggering some in her suprise. By the time she recovered her balance, all had gone silent. So silent, in fact, that she could hear her fluttering heart and her panicked breathing.

As the ominous quiet continued, Kira pressed her shoulder against the wall next to her, straining her hearing and eyesight as the realization of her predicament dawned on her.

She was all by herself. All alone. Was she safer here? Should she have followed Link after all?

Questions buzzing through her head like angry bees, the dark-skinned girl swallowed thickly, deciding sporadically on a course of action.

Kira dared to break the quiet.

"Link?"

Despite her voice being barely a whisper, it seemed to cut sharply through the silence of the narrow street like a shout. She flinched at this, but couldn't resist trying again, now longing for a response more than anything.

"Allen? Anyone?"

It was at that moment that movement caught her eye, and a shape turned round the very corner Link had disappeared around in the dust clouds. Kira prepared herself to run, absolutely terrified at the thought that it may just be the Akuma, but paused as she realized the shape was human in form.

Sure enough, as it walked closer, footsteps thumping lightly against the cobbles, figure becoming more and more distinct, Kira recognized a mess of white hair, soon visually accompanied by a glowing ivory cloak, shining black claw, and scarlet curse mark.

"Allen!" she exclaimed, nearly losing her voice in her relief. The bruised up teenager stepped forward, only to go stiff as Chikita stirred in her arms, letting out a faint hiss in warning. "Chikita?"

Allen had cleared the dust clouds now, walking forward confidently through the narrow street and a smile flashing across his pale, blood and dirt-smudged face.

"Kira? Is that you?"

Chikita was twitching, another growl leaving her throat as her jet black fur stood on end, and Kira felt the slightest prick of the little cat's claws unsheathing. However, the exhausted animal was too weak to move, and the girl holding her stroked her small furry head distractedly, trying to figure out why her friend was suddenly aggressive, all whilst keeping her eyes on her guest's approaching shape.

"Allen?" replied Kira uncertainly. She found herself looking into stormy gray eyes from a distance . . . what was wrong with them?

Anxiety trickled through her limbs.

Yes, something was wrong. His eyes weren't right. His smile wasn't welcoming either. Almost - almost mocking -

He was still walking closer.

"I'm glad you are alright, Kira," spoke Allen. "I was quite worried when we lost sight of you."

This wasn't right. No - where was Link? Hadn't he run ahead? Why did she feel vulnerable - threatened?

The white-cloaked teenager was only a measly rooms-length away from her now. Kira could feel sweat trickle down between her shoulder blades.

"Who are you?" she demanded, finally mustering up some strength, taking a careful step back.

The figure before her paused, tilting his head slightly as if in confusion.

"It's me, Allen," he stated easily, almost as if amused. "Are you alright, Kira? You look like you've taken quite the beating . . . did you hit your head?"

Well, yeah, I sorta did - no!

Kira shook her head, trying to refocus, concentrating on trying to analyze what was off.

It didn't take long to figure it out.

The beat up girl's blood ran cold, eyes widening as she finally observed Allen's injuries clearly.

His blood was black. Streams of dark liquid trickling poisonously down his right arm and the holes in his left pants leg. The ground sizzled with every drop of it, and black stars slowly faded into existence upon the cobbles.

Link's earlier words flashed through her mind, and finally recognizing her situation, Kira clenched her teeth and took a steadying breath, ignoring the jittery feeling in her limbs.

"Stop playing with me," she said, finally managing to keep her voice steady. "I know you're not Allen, Akuma!"

Stormy gray eyes flashed, and Kira had no time to react. Strong hands had her by the throat, slamming her body into the side of the dust-coated building she had been leaning against before. Chikita was flung from her arms and skidded into the dirt farther off, making a faint yowling sound as she hit the ground. But she was too weak to make a stand and could only lay there, crying out faintly as her human was pinned down.

Meanwhile, the oh-so-familiar face of Allen was only inches from Kira's own as her body was lifted weightlessly from the ground, still pressed painfully against the brick behind her.

"Well, aren't you the smart ass," crackled the Akuma with Allen's voice, a sneer twisting his features as his eyes glared into hers. "But I enjoy killing smart asses!"

All she could do was gurgle. Which wasn't a very nice sound.

"And after you and those stupid exorcists are dead, the Earl-sama will reward me for bringing back that stupid little furball! I win this fight!"

To be perfectly honest, the moment she'd been grabbed, Kira had already come to terms that she wouldn't be able to get out of this. All fear had been abandoned for mere acceptance.

But when those words left the monster's lips, rage burned brightly in her gut, fueled by all her frustrations, pulling her out from her quickly fading consciousness.

Gathering the last of what was in her mouth, Kira summoned her remaining strength and spat directly into the fake sneering Allen's glowering face.

Immediately, an enraged snarl left the boy's lips, and anger distorted his face as one hand went to wipe off the spittle (quite unsuccessfully, since it was the clawed one - this Akuma clearly wasn't the brighest). The grip on her throat loosened just ever so slightly, and Kira jerked violently, aiming to get out of his clutches. However, her efforts were in vain, as the remaining hand on her throat was stronger than iron, palm wide and crushing her neck into the wall.

"Why you little-!"

Kira didn't hear the rest. His grip had tightened beyond vice-like now, obviously intending to crush her wind pipe. All she could do was gasp, feebly clawing at his arm, her vision slipping rapidly away as she used the last of her strength to struggle in vain.

She was going to be choked to death, and by a copy of the very boy who had pulled her from the shell of her cloak. It almost made her grin at how damn ironic it all was, even as her thoughts began to fade.

Well, at least the last thing she saw wouldn't be an ugly ass porcupine.

Her eyes rolled back, body becoming heavy, and darkness approaching -

No matter how many prayers,

Are returned to the earth,

I shall continue to pray,

Please give this child love -

Warmth trickled into her numbing body, spreading throughout her like a bird unfolding its wings, and a flash of light entered her fading vision.

Allen.

Szzhheeee!

Sight gradually sharpening back into focus, a bruised up and battered Kira watched with dazed blue eyes as the twisted face of the faker choking her blanched, shock frozen in his dilated eyes. A blackish blood trickled down from his lips, coming out in a spurt as he coughed.

"Damn . . . exorcist . . ." the Akuma gurgled out.

"Let your soul be saved, pitiful Akuma," replied a breathless voice.

The Level Two shivered once, then the hand crushing Kira's throat dissolved into dust, trickling down to the ground with a soft whispering sound.

The minute the pressure was released from her neck, Kira fell back on her feet, staggered, and gasped, breathing in large gulps of air - sweet, sweet air! A strong but gentle hand gripped her shoulder, keeping her upright and steady as she coughed out her lungs, throat stinging something awful.

It was only once her eyes opened after her fit was over that she realized she was staring at a sword.

A big ass, shiny sword.

Kira froze, staring at it blankly, still leaned over. It looked oddly familiar. Very familiar, in fact.

And.

It was impaling her.

Before her rattled brain could decide on how best to react, Allen's voice - the real Allen's voice, thank God! - spoke up quickly, "Sorry about that, Kira! Don't worry, my sword only harms evil."

Kira's dazed blue eyes looked up from the sword to focus on Allen, who was standing before her, having removed his hand from her shoulder once he'd been sure she was steady. An apologetic, sheepish smile was stretched across his face, which was quite the mix taking in his messy appearance; red-trimmed, black uniform scuffed and dirty, and glowing cloak spattered with Akuma blood and dust. Even through the grime, Kira noticed half-mindedly that the ornate, masquerade mask at the boy's throat was shining just as clean and bright as ever next to the fluff of his hood.

"I'm going to, uh, remove it now so . . . so don't freak out, okay?" said Allen, pulling her from her thoughts.

"Uhm. Sure . ." was Kira's intelligent response, too stunned to really process anything at the moment. She watched stupidly as Allen gripped the golden hilt of the huge sword with his gloved right hand, pulling it from the wall behind her and from her body without even a tingle of feeling, and without any effort, despite it's size. The silvery-white surface of the blade glittered in the afternoon sun that peeked through the clouds of smoke above as Allen lowered the weapon, catching Kira's dazed attention.

Only one thought popped into the still stunned girl's mind, which inevitably left her lips:

"Nice sword . . ."

Allen blinked, as if surprised by her rather calm reaction, before grinning, unable to help himself. He laughed, clearly amused. "I suppose it is."

If Kira weren't still in shock and didn't know any better, her cursed guests's mask seemed to shift at his neck, eyes warping in a way that almost seemed to be smiling. However, before she could take a closer look, a voice echoed through the narrow street -

"Miss Kira!"

Both teenagers jumped, turning simultaneously, one brandishing his weapon out of instinct. However, both relaxed as Link's familiar form appeared from the dust, staggering out of the very same direction the Akuma had come from, and likely Allen as well. The moment the blonde man reached them, hair awry and falling out of his braid, he paused, caught his breath, straightened his stance, and turned to Kira, admirably recovered in composure.

"Are you alright, Miss Kira?"

Kira blinked dumbly. "Er," she paused, looking down at herself. Torn up clothes, left leg bruising, a few cuts here and there. She was definitely a mess, but otherwise unscathed. "I think so?" she finally responded.

"Good," accepted Link, turning to the white cloaked boy next to her, his voice immediately changing in tone. "Now, Walker-"

Kira's brow twitched at the chastising sound of the older man's speech.

"- I hope you have apologized appropriately for impaling Miss Kira with your Sword of Salvation! Such disregard for the possible psychological consequences of such an action- have you so quickly forgotten Timothy Hearst's reaction? Surely-"

Kira watched in disbelief as Allen grinned sheepishly, holding up his hand and sword in front of him as if to ward off the onslaught of Link's critique of his actions. While the cursed boy seemed unperturbed, Kira had finally recovered herself, shock slowly fading away - but her patience followed quickly after it.

"I really don't think Allen has anything to apologize for, Link," she snipped, cutting the blonde man off mid-speech, to which he reacted to by looking at her in barely concealed surprise. "After all, he obviously knew it wouldn't hurt me, and he saved my life!" she added in finality, crossing her arms, going on a roll as she turned the tables of who was chastising who. "And I have to say, I'm getting rather tired of - Oh, Allen! What happened to your left arm?" exclaimed the dark-skinned girl, totally losing focus.

Allen, who had been watching her outburst like a rabbit watching two wolves fighting over it, jumped at suddenly being addressed. Regaining himself, he blinked and looked to the left stub of his arm where black markings surrounded it, along with a white cross in the middle where the missing limb should of been.

"Oh, this?" the white-haired teen gave a small chuckle, recognizing why Kira was so concerned. "Don't worry, my left arm is Innocence, remember?"

Blue eyes widening, Kira watched with a mixture of awe and curiosity as Allen placed the tip of his giant weapon to the socket of everyone's attention. With a flash, the shining sword seemed to melt into hexagons, melding into the socket and slowly reforming into Allen's missing hard, black left arm. Once finished, the scarred boy clenched and unclenched his segmented left fist, then rolled his shoulder for good measure.

"All good," he affirmed, looking back at Kira brightly.

Would this day get any weirder?

"We should probably head back. Surely Lavi and your grandfather have noticed the smoke in the sky," added Allen. "They'll be worried."

"Ah, right- OH!" Kira exclaimed suddenly, whirling around. "Oh God, Chikita! Chikita?!"

The snowy haired Crown Clown Accommodator moved quickly; Link wasn't as lucky though. Kira, too panicked and focused on finding her cat, thudded right into him. The blonde man staggered a bit in shock before quickly regathering himself, ignoring Allen's snickering as he brushed off his clothes with a sniff.

Kira, meanwhile, had practically dove for the spot where Chikita had fallen when the Akuma had attacked them.

"Oh, Chikita! Chikita, are you alright?!"

The little cat's ear twitched, and she lifted her small head from the cobbles to mewl at the worried girl fretting over her, still too tired to really get up and move around. If Kira had been a little clearer in the head, she would've recognized the agitated twitching of Chikita's tail and the narrowed amber eyes directed at her.

Oblivious to these signs and letting out a sound of relief, Kira immediately picked up the exhausted feline and dusted her off, swiping away dirt from her midnight-colored fur. However, the brunette soon found out that she had too quickly assumed she'd been forgiven for briefly forgetting her small cat. The moment she finished her check up and had pulled the creature to her chest again, an appropriate opening presented itself, and Chikita happily took it.

A sharp nip assaulted Kira's hand, and the attacked girl yelped, startled.

"O-oi!"

"Grrrrr!"

"I'm sorry, okay?!" exclaimed Kira, now holding a rather agitated Chikita away from her body, trying to avoid the onslaught of sharp teeth. "I was a little distracted, ya know!"

"Grrreow!"

"I had a SWORD in my gut! What would you expect me to do?!"

"GRMEOW!"

"I said I was sorry! Damnit, Chikita, stop biting me!"

As the girl continued to try and reason with her irate kitty, a certain former CROW and prophesied Destroyer of Time could only look on, both perplexed and amused.

It was going to be a long walk back to Grampy Malcolm's house.


[SOTF BLOOPER 5]

Wait-!

"Link?!" Kira yelped, only to choke off as a sharp, golden knife encrusted with dirt was placed at her neck, its cool metal numbing her dark flesh. "What the-?!"

"Ducks say quack, fish goes blub; And the seal goes ow ow ow; But there's one sound - That no one knows. What does the fox say?" demanded the man sharply, pressing his knife a little harder against her throat.

"EEEH?!"

Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding

Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow

Hatee-hatee-hatee-ho

Tchoffo-tchoffo-tchoffo-tchoffo-tchoff!

(If you don't get the reference, look up "What Does the Fox Say" on Youtube RIGHT NOW. IT IS HILARIOUS).


[1] "Nej" means "no" in Swedish, pronounced like a horse's "neigh."

[2] In a past Omake, Chikita decided to reward Link's excellent cooking by giving him a mouse. As expected, the man refused, and well, Chikita wasn't very happy about it . . . xD

* I highly suggest looking up images of what Akuma look like to see their faces. It really is quite depressing, once you start to think about it.


A / N : I have tried quite adamantly to stress the affect war has on one's mental state and portray a soldier's view, or in this case, an experienced Order officer's view, as accurately as I can. I often feel like not enough people pay enough attention to just /what/ exorcists have to go through, what feelings they push aside, and what people that get involved with them end up having to experience. I hope I did it justice here.

Anyway, this chapter about killed me. I was determined not to stretch the action to more than 2 chapters though, so here you are, haha. One or two more chapters to go, and a new arc will begin! Can you guess what that'll entail? ;D

Also, feel free to ask questions! I love hearing ya'll's theories and thoughts on what's happened so far, and what you think may happen. It truly motivates me beyond words :D For instance, for those of you who haven't read the old SOTF, what do you think Kira's Innocence is?

Now that I've settled into college, you can expect weekly updates to be back! Though they'll likely be late and at midnight, lmao. But that's only because I spend an entire day editing and rereading before I post every chapter -shot-

Many hugs and happy tears to those who reviewed! I would also love to hear some feedback from my silent readers, if ya'll wouldn't mind. Even a few words are enough :)

Please also remember to check out my mild Allen x Kira one-shot, Friends Don't Let Friends, here on this site!

99terminater - *SCREAMS WITH YOU* -shot- Ahahaha, I'm glad you think Chikita's a bad ass! I was really excited about revealing her this chapter 8D LOL, I honestly am not familiar at all with Beta-Readers or Beta-Reading itself. I was supposed to BR for someone a long, long while back, but it just never happened (and I had no idea wtf I was doing lmao). Ohohoho, I am an epic procrastinator and lazy ass. Summer kicked me in the ass with laziness xD I can totally relate to having lots of stuff to finish too; just take a peek at my to-do list on my profile on deviantART! And that's not even all of it! (amg do want to see plz show me this SOTF fan art so I can worship it regardless of if it's a WIP have all my love yes -shot- ). I liek crying under mah blankyyy. It's a comfortable place to do so and just curl up or wrap myself up like a caterpillar and make weird noises whereamIgoingwiththisidk. (LOLTRUE. Curly's a whole other being xD). Thanks for the lovely review~!

vaskeemi - here ya go :)

rainbowrunner01 - I love rainbows. So I love your username. Just sayin'. Thank you for reviewing! :D I'm sorry for the wait orz. And amg you have no idea how much that just made my day. Thank you so much for the compliment, and the kind review ;u;

XxAvengingAngelxX - I'm SO glad you reviewed! :D I'm sorry about the long wait; Chi gets so easily distracted she can't help herself orz. Technically, this is an OC x Allen fanfiction; however, I'm not one to speed into the fluff and luff and . . . stuff. It'll certainly be friendship, mentor/comrade, etc, before anything else. I prefer realistic relationships over the "LET'S HAVE SMEX NAOW" in the first five chapters of a fanfic, lmao. Buuuut, I did promise more fluff in this version of SOTF, so maybe I'll sneak in some cute scenes early. ;P Oh my gosh xD; Well, your efforts were certainly not in vain! You have made me more than happy with your nice review :D LOL, have a DGM reminder biatch slap -shot-. Thank you very much for the well wishes, and thank you for the review!

Kaite1211 - That totally makes sense so much that I'm rolling happily at your compliment amg. Perhaps it was Chikita, who can know for sure? ;D You've got some great brainstorming going there, keep around that direction! Also remember the pain Kira experienced and Chikita's reactions towards it. It'll become important in later chapters! Grampy is Kira's paternal grandfather (Swedish). Kira's mother was British/Cherokee. (It gets a little confusing, lol). I like thinking. Thinking is good yosh 8D Thank you, and thanks for the thoughtful review!

Christmasloot - Oh gosh, I know that feeling, haha. I was a little slow with this update, but I can assure you I'm back on weekly schedule now! I'm so very happy you've enjoyed SOTF so far! Thank you, and thank you for the review!

Z0mbiMart - zomgyourpenname. dolike. Thank you! I hope I can deliver for you! Thanks for the review~!

Sabet163 - I'm glad you enjoyed that chapter! Ahaha, true, true. Thankfully, college has provided me more free time to write, which is quite nice :) Thank you for the reviews!

skytower1189 - Oh gosh, thank you so much! I'm not too fond of the original, but I'm flattered you think both are amazing, haha xD Thanks for the review~!

Panthershade - YES! A REVIEW FROM YOU! xD I'm happy that you're happy, haha. Oh, wow, what irony! LOL, well, Kira's in a bit of "shock" mode at the moment, and when in shock, she gets blunt. Lots of stuff happening in rapid succession! Yes, I agree. It's probably because animal-like Akuma and monsters are more easily pictured, and it's something we can understand better, haha. Though I suppose, that makes Akuma that we can't easily picture or understand in simplistic terms more uncanny? I'm pretty familiar with the "Loo," but I only learned about "Tellie" from Harry Potter, LOL. Anyway, thanks for the review~!

Trance20666 - That's alright! Yes, the building didn't fall on Kira in the initial fanfiction. There are quite a few things I've added and changed in this rewrite :) I'm glad you think I'm improving! The ponytail, Third Exorcist that you're speaking of is Kanda, yes xD I'm hoping to include more of him in this version, since I'm more comfortable writing from his perspective and character. He only appeared once or twice in the original fanfic while being mentioned more often than anything, but he'll be appearing more this time around. Thank you very much for the compliments, and thanks for reviewing!

SasuSakuxRoyAi - Oh gosh, I'm glad you are! xD Ahaha, yes, I can relate. It's rather hard to find AllenxOC, let alone anyCanonxOC, fanfics that aren't primarily sexual or written well these days. There are still some though! I know I ran across a rather marvelous ReaderxAllen fanfic the other day on deviantART. I'm flattered that you think SOTF is amazing ohgosh. That really means a lot! Here's your update, and thank you for the lovely review!

Dana - Thank you for reviewing! Her skin disease connected to her Innocence? Maybe, maybe not. Ya'll will find out soon enough ;D Ahaha, that's good! I like surprising people xD Thanks for the review!