Okay, so I know I have some major apologizing to do. Here it is. I'm terribly sorry for not updating. I've been struggling with depression this past year, and... well, it's hard. I don't exactly get along with my family, and the fragile coexistence we had fell apart. I'm still as busy as ever, and now I'm working and stuff. I'm sorry this story hasn't been updated in almost a year, but I promise I haven't forgotten about it. I've planned how the rest of this story goes, and a sequel to go with it. I can't promise consistent updates (I wish I could) but some days, I don't have the energy to do much. I want to say that I love this story, and have no intention of abandoning it. If you stick with me, I'd be extremely happy. If you don't, I completely understand.

As for this chapter, I highly suggest going back and rereading the previous one (at least) if you want to understand. I know it can be confusing, but that's because the manga is so action-packed and the last chapter plus the next few to come follow it. I'm trying to make it as clear as I can, but it's quite the challenge.

Now, onto review responses.

xxDarkSecretxx: Oh yeah. I couldn't pass up the opportunity for Allen getting sucked up into Kanda's memories, especially since it's canon! I can't tell you what's going to happen next, of course, but I can promise you that it won't get any easier for poor Allen anytime soon. (And yes, Darker than Black was awesome!)

YourLuckyWish: I'm sorry I hurt all the feelings you have left! (And I guess I'm just evil, writing all this chaotic drama!)

Semper Tardius: I'm sorry I broke your heart! Hopefully, I'll mend it soon. :)

Mad Hatter Usagi: God, I'm sorry it's so confusing. It's difficult to mesh my own writing with the manga's, especially since the actual text in the manga doesn't flow very well. That last chapter was super rushed, even though it was incredibly long. Hopefully, some of your questions will be answered in this chapter!

Cana99: Yeah, that last chapter was crazy. I'm hoping I can slow the pace down some, because that was a little too crazy for my tastes. For the next few chapters, it will follow the manga (loosely, from here out, I think.)

TearsDrippingDown: That was the impression I got when I first read the manga, so yeah.

AliceXxX: I'm glad your wrist healed! I just recently suffered a knee injury because of color guard, but it wasn't very serious. I'm glad you're enjoying the story so far!

AllenMoyashiWalker: Thank you! I'm trying to tie it together, but I know it can be done better, so I'll keep working on that.

Metiko: I honestly have no idea how I come up with this stuff anymore. It just... comes to me. I must have a pretty screwed up mind. It does seem like nobody needs Allen, but remember our resident samurai does need him as he is. :) Thanks for telling me to take care of my wrist! That was super sweet. :)

Yullen3: I know it's rather sad... but I'm really happy you enjoyed it!

Rin asa uchiha: Thanks for the compliment! Oh, and I'll continue following the manga for a little while, but it won't be too terribly close after the next few chapters.

negimarules52: I'm really glad you think of it that way! It makes me happy. At long last, the next chapter's here.

xFullmetalSoulx: Yes, Darker than Black is great! You have no idea how happy I am that you're always so enthusiastic when you review. I always look forward to hearing what you have to say. And, yeah, I am kind of mean to Allen, aren't I? Thanks for the compliments!

SnarkyWolf: Thanks for wishing me well! Also, thanks for the reassurance about this being close to the manga. About the retirement party bit, that's in the "official" translation of DGM that you can buy! I wish the Noah did have party hats... that would have been hilarious! Thanks for telling me it's in-character! I strive to achieve that, and sometimes I'm not always sure. I love reading your reviews because they always make me smile! Thank you for reviewing so often! Btw, if you ever got into Darker than Black, you should let me know what you thought of it! If you haven't, I recommend the anime first. :D

YaoiFanGirl: I know, poor Allen! I wish I could say I was going to make things easier for him... but I'm not. Lol.

XDemonXHuntressX: If you need an explanation, then feel free to PM me and I'd be happy to explain it to you. :)

Thatperson: Thank you for the lovely compliment! And I'm going to update more often, I promise.

Guest: I'm really touched that you think this is one of the best out there! It makes me feel great. Thanks for saying that! It can be quite the confidence booster.

Cat: I will continue, I promise!

DarkAngelAnise: I'm glad you love this story!

Snipperita: Again, I'm sorry it's confusing... I'm working on that.

Shinome Akira: More has finally arrived.

Justafan: Words simply cannot describe how sorry I am for leaving everybody hanging.

Fairygirl90: You just read my story from the beginning? Wow! That fills me with joy that someone would take the time to read all of this. (It's kind of long, especially for me.) I didn't realize until I read your review that I totally did set them up to be together and then yanked them apart last minute. Wow, I'm pretty evil... And thanks for saying I write Allen well. It's been my biggest insecurity about this story, honestly. Also, that's the thing I love about Yullen, too! Bringing two people together who claim to hate each other is always interesting. Oh, and I LOVE Cross, too. I was so upset when I read the manga. I just had to bring him back. Thanks for reviewing for the whole story! :) As for the rest of your review, you'll just have to wait and see.

Chandinee Richards: Don't worry about not having anything else to say. I finally continued it! Hopefully you enjoy it. :)

THANKS FOR THE REVIEWS!


Infection

Chapter 12- Empty

When Kanda landed in Mater with Alma in his arms, he felt like he lost a part of him… he felt emptier on the inside. As the ark gate crumbled away, Kanda breathed, "Allen." The last parts of the ark broke and vanished and, the samurai was reminded of the last thing Allen said to him before sending him away. Those words were like daggers to his heart, but they hurt his very soul. You're free! You have no obligation to me! They meant so much more than the obvious. Kanda knew that Allen relieved him of his promise, but that only made Kanda nervous on the inside that the next time Kanda saw him, he wouldn't even be himself anymore.

"That poor boy," Alma said through wheezy breaths. Kanda looked to him with wide eyes. "As an akuma… I can tell. That boy is a Noah. He even had enough power to thwart the Earl's commands… Nobody else… can do that," Alma said before coughing up blood.

"Don't talk, fool," Kanda said, moving closer to him and embracing him gently.

"Just… stay with me, until the end. I know you… you love him," Alma wheezed with a sad smile. "Take care of him… never let him go, Yuu. Don't let him fall prey to the Order."

Kanda gently tightened his hold around the mangled body. "Thank you," he breathed quietly, letting a few tears fall. He felt so overwhelmed emotionally right now.

With wide eyes, he watched as an illusion of the woman and Alma walked away, through a sea of lotus flowers. Kanda's body began to crumble, but fierce determination kept him going. Slowly, his body began to reform, but it wasn't like it used to be. Something was different this time. As his consciousness evaded him, his mind showed him only one thing: Allen Walker.

When Allen woke up, he was chained up in a prison inside the Black Order with a seal wrapped around his innocence arm. They explained what happened in the fight after he fully blacked out. Neah destroyed all the third exorcists (they explained what those were, too), and the rest of the Noah fled with a threat that they would return. It was then that Link showed up and bound him to take him back to the Black Order to answer for all of his "crimes." Quite frankly, he didn't care about any of it. He couldn't bring himself to care about much at all anymore.

His thoughts stayed focused on Kanda. He hoped that at last, he was free… free of everything Allen couldn't be. The thought brought comfort to him because if he couldn't save everyone, at least he managed to save the person he cared about the most. It wasn't much, but it was enough to keep him going.

Whenever someone brought food or something to drink, he shoved it away. If they managed to put some sort of truth serum in the food, he could let it slip where he sent Kanda and Alma. There was no way he would jeopardize their safety, their privacy. His body was screaming in protest… and when the pain got to be too much, Allen sank further into the darkness that surrounded him.

Slowly, ever so slowly, he was losing himself to Neah. He knew it would only be a matter of time before he ceased to exist. The thought should have made him sad, but it didn't. It only made him feel empty. As he felt emptier and emptier, Neah took more control. It was now more common for Neah to be the one in charge. Allen's inner strength was fading rapidly, and he had the feeling it would fade quicker if he didn't think of Kanda.

Occasionally, someone would come in and try to interrogate him. They always left empty handed. Allen never said so much as a single word in their presence… it was too risky. Neah, whenever he took over, Allen assumed he didn't say anything. The recent takeovers from Neah had been total black outs for Allen.

Whatever had been happening in the battle at the North American branch wasn't happening anymore. Surely, any day Neah would steal his body and Allen would never wake up. It was coming soon, the snow haired teen knew. There was no spirit left inside him, and there was no reason to fight against Neah anymore.

Ever since he relieved Kanda of his promise, he hadn't kept up his end. There was no reason to keep fighting. Nothing tied Allen Walker to the world around him anymore. He just wanted to sleep… to escape all the tragedy, despair, and anguish he felt. It felt like Mana brushed his cheek and smiled whenever Neah took over.

Days passed… Allen didn't change. He only took water and even then, he was hesitant to drink it.

One day, Link finally had enough. He slammed open the door to his cell and shoved a bowl at his face.

"Gruel. Jerry sent it. Central would never mess around with a master chef's cooking, and Jerry made sure it would be safe!" Link yelled, clearly furious with Allen.

When the teen lifted the lid, he read Jerry's message and felt reassured it wasn't tampered with. He took a small spoonful and swallowed slowly. "Link… I'm sorry."

"For what?" the blonde haired man asked, keeping his head turned away.

"I'm sorry if you felt betrayed by me because I left the Black Order for the White Order. You don't really understand… I'm so sorry, I shouldn't have ever… It was a horrible mistake. I should never have trusted them!" Allen said, letting the flood gate of his pent up emotions open wide.

"Walker, slow down. What happened there?" Link asked, moving to his side and sitting next to him for moral support. This was the breakthrough he needed.

"Didn't Kanda already tell you all this?" Allen asked, wiping away the tears with his one free hand.

"He was tightlipped. He gave us basic information… you hold the Heart of Innocence, for one… another was that the Fourteenth was allied with the White Order. Past that, he didn't say anything…" Link answered while he crossed his arms.

"They explained everything to me… their past with the Black Order, why we were captured, the Heart of Innocence, the Fourteenth… and my parents," Allen said, desperately trying to stop crying. It wasn't doing any good.

"Your parents?" Link asked with mild interest.

"Yes… Nadia and Eric Chancellor. I had a family, a brother and a sister… but then I found out that it was a lie. My father is really Neah… the Fourteenth. Apparently, Nadia is really my mom, but I don't believe anything from anyone affiliated with the White Order anymore. I ran away… but then I found out about the Noah's attack. I went to the North American branch, and… I guess you know what happens from then on."

"Where did you send Alma and Kanda?" Link inquired with a stern gaze.

"I can't tell you. It shouldn't matter anymore… they're probably both dead. I'm going to let them rest in peace… even if it means I'm confined here against my will, Link. I'm going to give him that much," Allen answered steely. His tears stopped flowing now, but his heart was aching more than ever now that he accepted the truth out loud… Kanda was dead.

"Walker, I—" Link started, but was interrupted by Allen's grunt of pain and the bowl dropping to the ground. The dark gray skin and black stigmata emerged, but it seemed Allen was still the one in control.

"What's… happening?" he asked as his vision went fuzzy. He felt like he was shoved into an oven. It was hard to breathe and it was unbelievably hot. Everything felt like it was burning.

Suddenly, a man walked into the room. Link recognized him as a cardinal and froze. "Don't let him fall asleep," the man instructed. "If he sinks too far, Allen will disappear."

"What are you doing here?" Link asked, tensing up. Something wasn't right… there was something off about this entire situation.

"Don't worry, I'll set him right. Everyone is worried about Allen… especially the Heart," he answered as he laid a hand on Allen's chest. The young snow haired teen screamed in pure agony. His scream betrayed how excruciating the pain was. It was a blood-curdling scream, enough to terrify any sane person.

"Who… who are you?" He threw the binding wings, but the cardinal was no longer in his sights. From behind, the cardinal zapped him with some strange power, and everything was black.

Allen panicked at the sight of his friend, and used his innocence to stab the cardinal in the head. The monster let go of Link, and he fell to the ground limply. The snow haired teen freaked out internally as he realized he just killed somebody… No, that wasn't quite right. The cardinal only smirked and continued moving about, even with the innocence in his head. He got closer and closer to Allen and said, "It's amazing you can still move. Your spiritual strength is outstanding. Love… friendship… sorrow… despair. No one has a deeper or more tempestuous relationship with innocence than you. You've grown into a splendid exorcist, Allen."

Allen's heart pounded with fear. He couldn't control the pulsing of his increasing heart rate inside him. Absolute terror raced through his veins and clouded his mind. His body wouldn't move even an inch. He was frozen in fear and he didn't even know why.

"Don't be afraid, you're just going to become one with me… and leave Allen behind."

The cardinal stepped closer to him and attacked him. White hot pain replaced all of his fear, and he felt like he was on fire once again. The agony tore through him, and it felt like someone was tearing him apart from the inside.

The next thing he knew, soft arms were wrapped around his neck and a body was pressed up against his. It took him a few minutes to register that it was Road, and she was murmuring reassuring words of comfort to him. As he got over his shock, he squeezed her tightly. She was so comforting, and he needed her warmth.

When he was fully aware of what was going on around him, he looked to the cardinal that attacked him. "Is he… an accommodator?" Allen wondered aloud, still clinging to Road.

"He's neither a human or an accommodator. He's an independent-type innocence that exists to protect the Heart. The Millennium Earl calls him Apocryphos," Tyki answered before sending a terrorizing glare at the innocence.

"For seven thousand years," Road began with an apprehensive look, "we've been searching for a clue to the Heart."

"A clue?" Apocryphos asked. "I'm more like a shinigami to the Noah."

Tyki slashed to initiate an attack to the powerful being. "We lured you out, then," the Portuguese man said smoothly with narrowed eyes.

Allen watched with wide silver eyes at the battle before him. It was like a terrifying deadly dance… one slip, and the other would perish. Somewhere inside him, he felt a concern growing for the Noah of Pleasure, and that thought unsettled him. When Tyki was pinned to the wall by Apocryphos, Allen swallowed his fear and attacked, much to everybody's surprise.

"You were the one who attacked my Master," he said in a cold tone. "You're trying to hurt the other Noah. It's all you!"

"Allen… those people are all trying to sacrifice you to the Fourteenth," Apocryphos said, staring him in the face with an eerily blank stare. When Allen tried to attack with his innocence, nothing was happening. "You can't harm me with Innocence. For your own good, Crowned Clown wants you to become one with me so we can suppress the Noah's memory. I'm trying to help you. I am Cross Marian's pupil, after all…"

Allen stared at the innocence with hate flooding his veins. "The thought of becoming one with you makes me want to vomit!" The innocence prepared for a heavy attack. It was happening too fast for the snow haired teen to dodge. Suddenly, candles shot past his face and landed on the white inhuman being before him. Road's smaller body was shielding his own from any sort of impact and he watched with eyes frozen in terror. The two of them landed back a few feet away, sprawled out on the ground.

Out of the corner of his eye, Allen saw movement near where Link went down. Seals surrounded Apocryphos, and there was no denying it: Link was alive. He broke Timcanpy's seal, and instantly, the enlarged golden golem took Allen and Road into his mouth and shot out of the Order with Tyki on top of him.

When they got decently far away from the Black Order building, Allen and Road slumped out of Timcanpy's mouth. Road was unconscious, so Allen took her into his arms. He felt a deep sorrow weigh down on his soul. "Why won't she wake up? I thought innocence didn't work on Road," Allen said, struggling to keep his tone neutral.

"I don't know. Apocryphos' innocence is somehow different from yours. The damage it caused may have reached her Noah memory. I guess we can't use her doors to get out of here."

It was quiet for a little bit, just the wind blowing softly through the trees around them. Allen's thoughts drifted to Link. He was so worried about him. When he looked back down, worry for Road entered his thoughts, too.

"I got the info I needed on Apocryphos. I suggest we leave. The Earl will probably open an ark gate for us. You'll keep Road with you…"

"What? Are you serious? I'm an exorcist, I should be back in the Black Order right now! I'm not one of you! I'm going to—" Allen was cut off when his innocence arm suddenly activated. It felt like knives were jabbing his arm. Allen knew it must have been Apocryphos because he felt this same pain earlier.

"It's letting him know where we are. I'll cut it off," Tyki said, coming up behind Allen.

The snow haired teen jumped forward and screamed, "No!"

"You still intend to rely on that thing? Are you insane? Did Apocryphos really look like pure innocence of god to you? He's a monster," Tyki spat, glaring at Allen with a heated gaze.

"He's just like you, Tyki, and all the rest of the Noah! You Noah are the worst. You lead akuma around and kill people."

"You're one to talk," Tyki replied sharply. "You're already host to two monsters… the Noah memory and the innocence, and now you may end up becoming one with Apocryphos. You don't know what you are and you don't really care. You just spread confusion and conflict. You're the worst of us all, Allen Walker."

Allen let those words settle in. They struck him to his core. It hurt him to finally have it thrown in his face that he was not who he wanted to be. Instead of being the righteous exorcist he wanted so desperately to be, he was the gray man… the blurred line between good and evil. He belonged nowhere. He was always destined to be an outcast.

"Boy, if you really want to stick it out as an exorcist, don't go back. Work things out with the monster inside you. As of now, you wouldn't be any fun to play poker with."

His thoughts focused on how he was just spreading confusion and conflict. He was so up in the air, so lost, confused, and unable to stop because of the promise that he made. He hadn't realized he was thinking aloud until Road said, "That's right. Don't stop. Keep walking." Allen glanced over at her, surprised beyond belief. "Neah fought for Mana. It's a secret, okay?"

"Road!" Allen reached out to her, but she was just gone like she vanished into thin air. As he closed his hand, he felt sadness from the depths of his soul. Was that the last time he'd see Road alive? Would those words be the dying words of another person he cherished?

He was so tired of being bound by those words. He'd promised Mana, Kanda… and Road, in a way. No matter what, somehow he knew he'd fulfill those promises, but… the journey would have to be done alone. He knew that now. He accepted that now.

In that moment, he decided that today would be the last time he received help from the Black Order, the White Order, and the Noah. As he made the final ark gate, he heard footsteps from behind him.

"Lenalee?" he asked softly, taking in her form.

"What are you doing?" she asked in a shaky voice. "You aren't supposed to make a gate without permission." Tears spilled from her violet eyes, and Allen could see them even through the darkness of the forest around them.

"Yes… I know," he replied quietly, giving her a sad smile.

"Why? If you go, we'll have to fight you!" Lenalee said with deep sorrow in her words.

"Yes, but don't worry, you can beat me," he offered up lamely with a fake smile that somehow made everything worse.

"Don't joke around!" she said through her endless tears. His mask was failing.

"Lenalee," he whispered as he wrapped her up in an embrace. "Whatever happens, I'm an exorcist. Whatever road I may take, that won't change. The Order is where my heart lies because of all the wonderful people like you," he said softly as he entered the gate. His heart clenched at seeing Lenalee cry like that, but he had to leave.

The choice was made. Even through all of his grievances, he chose to live on and keep walking the dark and twisted path that lay before him. Why? He didn't know. It was his very nature to keep going, no matter what.


Thanks for reading! Again, I apologize profusely for the unexpected hiatus. Please review, I'd love to hear what you have to say.