Of Black Roses and Red Tears
Chapter 1: Fatal Error
Snow crunched under his feet, icy wind bit in his cheeks as he looked up the hill. An old field elm stood there, leaving an air of melancholy. Its branches were heavy, the trunk twisted with the effort to keep them up. A hunched tree, that's what it was. Hunched over a lone grave at its feet. He sucked in a freezing breath and made his way up there, his feet slightly slipping on the snow, yet steady with his precision. He was in stark contrast with his surroundings, his black form against the untainted snow around him.
He came to a halt in front of the frozen grave and watched the snow flakes land softly on the gray stone. Soon he would disappear again, soon he would go back into hiding. It's as his uncle had told him, trust no one, and as he promised his father, to keep walking. There was no safety when hunted by the Earl and enemy to the Black Order. Trust no one. Keep walking. A shaking breath escaped his lips as he clenched the rose he held, his hand soon relaxing not to break the stem. He closed his eyes as he took a calm breath. Silently he wrapped his coat tight around his frame, seeking comfort in its warm embrace.
It was in that very same cemetery, by that very same elm, a young boy had been weeping for his father six years ago. His head had been bowed down, his left arm limp by his body and right tucked close to him to preserve enough warmth to survive the cold winter. It was Christmas, yet there was no warmth of the sacred holiday in the boy's heart. He could only sit and stare at the name engraved in the hard stone.
That name rang a truth he was unwilling to accept. He was unwilling to accept the terrible truth that the man buried there had been the only man who had ever treated him as a human - the first man who had ever bothered to show him what truly matters in life; family...
The thoughts only made fresh tears roll down the puffy cheeks of the little boy.
He was still staring, unseeing, at the cold gray gravestone, at the words blurred my his tears. He didn't notice the figure silently watching him from the shadow of the elm tree which stood my the grave. He didn't notice the heavy footsteps of the large man, the large demon, with the large teeth and mouth stretched into a sinister grin.
Until the man spoke;
"Good evening", he greeted, his grin growing even larger with the words forced through the beastly teeth.
Allen wiped his tears with a gloved hand as he looked up and sniffled; "G-Good evening, s-sir..."
The man - if that was even what he was, leaned closer and put his hand on Allen's shoulder, continuing his speech: "Are you alright little one?" But he didn't bother to reply and it seemed the man didn't bother to wait either. He tilted his head, the strange balls, circus balls, he told himself, rolling around on his large hat. "Do you miss Mana?"
That question was what caused the crying to start anew, of course he missed his father, of course he did. He knew even then that he always would. But his eyes widened at what the man said next. He had asked whether he wanted him back. "I can bring him back?" He asked, full of hope. He didn't have to be alone, he didn't have to miss his father. It was perfect, he knew the truth, that it was his fault Mana had died when he saved him and so it only seemed fitting if it were him who'd bring the man back. So he did all the fat man asked and called him, called Mana, and unknowingly accepted the one offer he would regret for the rest of his life.
Had he only known the man's true intentions, had he only know what this man did, what this man always did.
And he had been so happy hearing the voice of his father again, hoarse and croaking through the metal of the skeletal construction. But his joy had soon faded as the man he loved lashed out at him, cursing him.
All that time, the Millennium Earl had just been standing there, grinning wickedly. It didn't bother him the Akuma disobeyed his order to kill the boy. After all, why would he? He was a man of theatre and this Akuma was putting up quite the show. He couldn't remember any other time an Akuma cursed the one who created him. Not like this, not so efficiently. It made him wonder who the man had been when he was alive, made him wonder about the things the man could do. And that's when it hit him, the realisation. Mana, of course, Mana! Rage was boiling at his very core at the grief of the Noah he had lost because of that man. It had all been his fault!
A loud scream brought his attention back to the boy.
The boy was being dragged by large white claw, crawling over the earth as a spider toward Mana. The Akuma was destroyed with merely one blow of the innocence.
And the Earl wondered why. Why had Mana been with this exorcist? What a drag. What a troublesome little brat. He should kill him, he would kill him. And yet he made no move to. In fact, he found himself making a move... to leave. He watched the boy still, as he lay bleeding from the cursed gash across the side of his face beside the grave of his twice deceased father.
Allen was crying even harder than he had before, weeping with heartbreaking sobs and wails. He felt dizzy, from the blood loss the immense grief or whatever, he did not know. He didn't care: Mana had cursed him. Why had he been so angry?
And still the Earl was watching the play before him.
A sudden pain shot through his head like a bullet through his brain. He grasped the sides of his head desperately, writhing and crying out in pain and anguish.
The Earls face wrenched with a wave of confusion. This anguish, he knew it all to well, these were the cries of the birth of a Noah. A Noah with Innocence and at such a young age...
And he had been with Mana.
No it couldn't be. His grin grew wider. Yes. Yes, this was it, this was him! This was Neah! He's back, he's finally back! This time I won't let him go.
A single tear slowly rolled down his face unnoticed as he thought back of the young man, the young man whom he had loved as a real brother.
He had longed so much to be by the man's side…
But Neah had already had a brother of his own, related by blood. Filthy, human blood. That bastard, the Earl thought despicably, If only I had been able to kill that man.
And the boy's cries still had not ceased. The crosses on his head were bleeding as if burned in his skin. The boy had fallen backwards, his back now arched by the tensed muscles, tense with pain as his blood and skin was changing.
And then the crying stopped.
The Earl's eyes widened, staring down to the kid who gazed back with his piercing golden eyes. He reached out for the child. He would bring him home. Home. He could raise him to never betray him, to never leave him. Neah would be by his side forever...
As a brother once again...
But before his gloved hands could hold the tiny ones in his own, a bright light erupted from underneath the child, dragging the boy into the white ark leaving a black rose in his wake.
It had all happened so quickly…
Neah was gone before he could have hugged him, held him close in his arms and tell him the words he had wanted to say for such a long time.
Neah was gone before he could have said "Welcome home"
After all these years the cold grave still looked the same.
Careful not to mess up his black suit, he crouched down and gently placed the black rose on the cold, snow-covered earth in front of the freezing gray stone. A wind brushed past his cheeks, chilling his face and blowing the hood off his head revealing his hair, white as the moon against the cold midnight sky.
A loud bang broke the silence of the night. His head shot straight into the direction with a start.
Silently, he stood up and made way to the old field elm, softly placing his gloved hand on the bark, his silver eyes peering down the hill.
"How dare they?" he uttered, the venom dripping from his clear voice, "How dare they fight their war at the feet of Mana's grave?"
He had barely finished his sentence before one of the akuma- a level three's head turned to his direction.
"It's him!" The level three shouted, getting the attention of not only his fellow akuma, but also of the three exorcists and the finder (who had been preoccupied with a chess-game against a ghostly hand). The exorcists however took the opportunity to deliver their final blows to the level threes.
The exorcists, one raven-haired young man and one with a head like flames together with a brown-haired woman now stared up the small hill, warily observing the white-haired youth staring down on them, his black coat danced angrily in the sweeping wind.
Allen pressed his gray lips into a fierce thin line, his eyes daring the exorcists to come get him. They would pay, for fighting by Mana's grave.
But before Allen made a move, he got hit by two bullets in his back. The force pushed him forward and he stumbled, unable to hold on to the elm and he fell down the small hill.
He grunted in pain as he tried to push himself back up but the pain in his back forced him back down. Stubbornly, he forced himself on his back, screaming as his back exploded in a searing pain.
As he opened his eyes - he hadn't even realised he had closed them - he looked up the hill where he fell from, looking up at the man who had fired the shots at him. And that man was walking down to where he lied at an angry pace. He could hear the hurried footsteps of the other exorcists coming toward him from the other side. But Allen had his full attention on the red-haired man who, in his humble opinion, seemed just that much more a threat than those teenagers.
He tried to lift his upper body off of the ground, he could only manage barely a few inches before the pain flared up again. Innocence, he cursed.
Allen glared at the man and gritted his teeth as he came closer to stand right beside him, facing him with his gun pointed down on him.
Another shot was fired.
Allen screamed and writhed, as he felt the bullet make pierce through his abdomen. The choking pain made him bend double, his right hand pressed against the wound. His back was white-hot with pain and he gurgled. Blood made its way up his throat and out his mouth through his gritted teeth. The man fired yet another shot, this time right through his right upper leg. He didn't even bother to scream, but the broken sound paired with the blood forced its way out with the shock.
"You damn Noah", he could barely comprehend the words.
The bastard didn't even wait for him to catch his breath before he fired once again, this time through his right shoulder. Allen whimpered and pressed his eyes shut, he hurt so much...
"What are you doing here, damn Noah?!"
Allen barely registered the new voice. He felt faint. He was losing too much blood, was in too much pain.
Slowly, he opened his eyes. The raven-haired exorcist was glaring daggers at him, while the red-head was more calculating, the woman looked more scared than anything and lastly, the man who shot him five times looked surprised, his eyes finally looking into his silver ones. "What the hell?"
"You, why are your eyes silver?" He inquired, quite rudely if you asked him. Allen moaned in response. His vision was getting blurry and his head heavy. He opened his mouth, to answer, no, just to sy something - anything - that might get him out of there, but he couldn't even concentrate enough on the song that was burned in his blood, on the lullaby that was engraved in his memory. He could only concentrate on sleep.
He wanted to sleep.
The Millennium Earl hummed to himself as he walked uphill through one of the less known parts of London. He was alone, he didn't have Lero with him. He was sure he was spending some time with Road. But the Earl didn't grin. His teeth were still too large for him to shut his mouth, but grin? No. Just as the song he hummed wasn't a cheery song. It was a lullaby. A sad, melancholic lullaby. The same song Neah used to play on his piano.
That's right, he was still looking for that man, trapped in the body of boy. He had been looking for years since he last saw him, on that fateful night by Mana's grave. How many years had it been? Six? It felt longer, too long, even against the thousands of years he had been alive. Six years should be a mere blink in the life of such a being.
He had told every single Akuma about the boy, ordered them to look for him, to bring him home. Some had found him, or rather, he had found some. The Earl remembers clearly, looking through the eyes of those Akuma, seeing the last thing they saw; that accursed flaw, that Innocence. Oh, how it burned him to think one of his family had such a drag to carry with him.
But in person he didn't ever see him since. He was there in London for him. He was there because he was every year on christmas eve. He knew the boy would return to his father's grave, visit him every year on the day he died. But he had yet to see him there.
Cane in hand, he approached the iron gates of the cemetery and pushed them open effortlessly.
The Earl let his eyes drift to the small hill with the field elm and the grave and would see, just for a moment, the little boy sobbing by the grave as he did all those years ago. But was a memory and nothing more.
Slowly, he walked up to the grave of the man he had despised. As he reached the shadow of the elm, he stepped in something, a puddle, but when he looked down, he saw blood. His eyes widened and he followed the red traces splattered down the hill where he saw what he wished he didn't. More blood, so much blood... It was everywhere.
That night, his heart skipped a beat. He couldn't get his eyes off of it. He just stood there, frozen, staring at the large amount of the crimson liquid.
His eyes darted to the stone grave, finding a black rose.
His eyelids fluttered, his fingers twitched. Allen moaned as his head lolled to the side. He opened his eyes slowly, closing them right after, the white of the room burning his cortex. He relaxed, white meant the ark. The ark meant it had all been a dream. A dream he'd like to forget, thank you very much.
But then the pain returned. Like the bullets hitting him all over again, the searing pain returned and left him writhing.
It had all been real. He wasn't on the ark. So where could he possibly be? He knew the answer, even as he tried to deny it, tried to think of other possibilities, but his imagination had him down a rollercoaster of options that terrified him. His ragged breaths were as desperate as his thoughts. That's when he heard the voice, the man talking, the sound muffled by his own heartbeat in his ears.
Allen's eyes shot open, ignoring the bright lights even though they blinded him, and he screamed.
Komui's head shot up, his first thought was to ask whether their prisoner, he banned the term from his mind, had woken up. But that was in the split second before he realised the scientist's voice sounded so panicked. "What happened?"
"The Noah, sir", his eyes were slightly narrowed with what only could be pain, and one hand rested against his right temple "He- he's awake- He started screaming director," the man winced, "I could swear my head was going to split-"
"-are the others still in there?" Komui interrupted him urgently, already hurrying from behind his desk.
"Go get the exorcists" He was already halfway to the door when he noticed the man still hadn't moved, "Hurry!" And then he ran. Even in the corridors he could hear the piercing scream- such a frequency- he grimaced. That man had been right; he could already feel the strain on his ears and he wasn't even in the same room yet.
And then it just stopped.
He was choking, this was it, they were going to kill him. He gagged and spluttered, his tongue forced back in his throat, pushing against whatever they showed in his mouth. He wanted to puke.
The more he squirmed, the more terrified he got; he couldn't move, he had been tied to the bed. He tugged aimlessly at the many restraints, not succeeding in getting any movement whatsoever. And he panicked. He heaved, forcing more air through his nose as was possible, he needed more air- more-! He didn't hear himself whimper. He didn't notice the man dressed in white enter the room.
"Can somebody please tell me what's happening?", he demanded, just as a group of exorcists filled the room behind him, his darling sister coming to stand beside him. For a while, everyone listened to the Noah's heavy breathing and the sound of his panicked trashing. They waited until he had calmed down - and surprisingly no one asked questions. Just this once everyone accepted his authority and followed his lead.
Allen trew his head back in defeat after god knows how long. By now he started noticing the people in the room with him, their presence mocking him. He glared at nothing in particular as he turned his gaze to the wall. It was his way of telling them to get the fuck out and leave him alone.
Though someone didn't seem to get the memo.
A men dressed in white and a stupid hat crouched down in front of him, blocking his angry gaze directed at the wall. Allen followed the man's movements with the hardest glare he had to offer.
"My name is Komui Lee, director of the European Branch of the Black Order"
I don't care, get out.
Something in the director's eyes seemed to soften as he reached for his face with one of his gloved hands, Allen jerked back. Komui stopped his movement and seemed to consider his intentions again before he spoke: "I am going to remove the gag. You will not scream, alright?" And it seemed as if he were honestly asking, waiting for Allen's reply.
Not letting his confusion show, Allen nodded once, firm glare still clearly in place on his face.
'Komui Lee, director of the European Branch of the Black Order' opened his mouth again to say whatever he had to say, but Allen wouldn't let him;
"What is the meaning of this?", he demanded immediately, showing everyone in the room who was in charge of him, even if that someone was in an uncomfortable position right now. Mentally, he smiled at the surprise on the director's face - even though the man hid it well, and getting no further reply, Allen continued.
"Oh excuse me, I didn't realise it was acceptable for you people to attack someone without reason"
Someone behind him- one of the exorcists he recognised as the samurai one- was the one who answered him: "You are a Noah. We had every reason to do so."
Allen felt the anger dwell up and the bile rise up to his throat, but he forced both down again; a situation like this could only be resolved with a clear mind. And right amount of snide comments, he decided he didn't like the samurai one bit.
"Well I'm obliged to inform you I do not side with the Earl." And kind as he is, he paused to let the Order consider his words carefully, "Nor did I ever do anything to hurt one of your people-" his glare began to resemble a lightning storm more and more as he went on, "-even if I DID have the right to do so."
To his utter annoyance, the samurai only scoffed oh he was going to kill that guy one way or another. The man who sat crouched down beside him did however pay more attention to his words as he proved when he asked him what he meant.
But that, that angered Allen all the more. He aggressively tugged at his restraints and the reminder of being bound down only added to his anger. "You had the nerve to fight your puny war at my father's grave! IS IT TOO MUCH ASKED JUST TO LEAVE MY FATHER ALONE FOR ONCE?!"
Those present were taken aback, few by his words, but more by his sudden outburst. All the same: Allen continued raging, never mind he already decided it wasn't a good tactic.
"WHAT DID MANA EVER DO TO KEEP GETTING DRAGGED INTO YOUR SHITTY WAR?!"
And only now did he notice the man who had shot him was present too. "So it's you...?" the words were uttered, not meant to be spoken aloud, he took it, but he heard them none the less.
"Oh? So I'm taking oh so suddenly it's a bad thing you shot me five times?" Ignoring his question, the man spoke again "I should've known..." It didn't slip either of their notice how every occupant in the room stared at them with clear confusion.
Allen shook his head, dismissing how the man confused him as well. "And I'm assuming you must be Cross Marian?" It was no question. And Cross knew that as well. "Who told you my name? Surely Mana couldn't have; he went insaneafter his brother died."
"He told me, Neah did."
"Of course he has" he uttered under his breath.
Allen pointedly glared at him, but when he opened mouth again for another question a chuckle broke their conversation. Allen watched as everyone in the room tensed and took arms, his eyes widening every second as he grew more desperate than he had been before. "Let me out of here! NOW!" He tugged at restraints with all his strength. "LET ME OUT!"
"Long time no see fat-ass"
Allen followed Cross's eyes to where the Earl had appeared. His eyes were wide with fear and he shifted, ignoring the restraints completely, just trying to get away from the grinning man. A sob escaped his throat before he knew it and he didn't care. He whimpered pathetically as tears gathered in his eyes and he could feel the eyes on him, he could feel one or more so of the exorcists stare at him.
The Earl had simply ignored Cross, walking up to Allen's side and then sitting down on the bed, down on him. He might look caring like that, sitting on the side of his bed as if he was visiting someone important in the hospital, but Allen knew it was to keep him down; to stop him from fighting him. But more than that. He could bet the Earl knew of the gunshots. It hurts He placed his hand on Allen's left cheek, on his scar don't touch my scar, caressing it softly. And Allen could only whimper, he couldn't find his voice someone save me. He had been running from the Earl for years and now it was all over...
The Earl was whispering soft words to him.
"Hush hush, my dear. Soon we will be home and I promise I'll never let you go again " Allen eyes widened even more, he let himself sink back in the bed, to get away from him, if only an inch- he held on to the restraints; they seemed so much more friendly now, anything but the Earl.
But the Earl wouldn't let him.
Why is no one helping me?
The Earl came closer- so close, too close, get away- and undid the only things that kept him away.
But, Allen grinned, that also meant he was free to move.
Finally. "Crown Clown... ACTIVATE!" Allen yelled, as the white light burst out of his left hand, turning it into a huge black claw which he, without any hesitation, swung at the fat man atop of him. And as he did, he heard something shatter.
A force field, that's why no one had come to aid him. From the moment it broke, he could hear a burst of sound: all the exorcist yelling orders at each other, gasp and utterances of 'innocence', people pointedly staring at his left arm and the white cape hovering around him as it was wrapping itself around him.
And the moment the exorcists too realised the barrier was down, all hell broke loose.
There were attacks concentrated at the Earl from nearly every angle, and for a moment all Allen could do was look around him with amazement.
But the amazement was short-lived as his eyes fell on the Dark Matter the Earl held in hand, stepping closer to him. Allen instinctively took a step back before he tsk-ed and leaped at the marshmallow-man. "EDGE-END!", he roared, swinging his razor-sharp claws at the man who ruined his life, Neah's life and Mana's life.
To his surprise, the Earl didn't even bother to dodge and took the attack head-on. The Earl's grin grew wider, the useless attack had brought him close. He grabbed Allen's left wrist with his own left hand and twisted the arm painfully, nearly dislocating Allen's shoulder and causing his arm to crack, just once. But god did it hurt, Allen screamed with pain.
With his right hand, the Earl trew the Dark Matter, but not at Allen; at Cross who only had enough time to shoot it.
When it exploded, everyone got thrown back, everyone except for the Earl and Allen Walker who was in the deadlock of the Earl's iron grip.
Some exorcist however, managed to return to fight quickly, gathering around the Earl and his favourite Noah.
"Hey fatso," It was Cross, obviously, "Let go of the brat."
The Earl ignored him, as he did the trashing Allen in his arms. Not that he ignored Allen; merely the fact the he has fighting him with all his strength. Allen however, wasn't as fond of name-calling; "I am not a brat!", he yelled back, taking his eyes of the Earl for a split moment, regretting having done so immediately as the Earl pulled him closer to his face, "Time to go home, Neah"
"MY NAME IS ALLEN, DAMMIT"
"Don't be silly ♥"
Allen gritted his teeth and slammed his head hard against the Earl's nose.
The Earls cursed under his breath, releasing the boy's right hand to rub his bleeding nose, and Allen smirked at him.
The Exorcists all held their breath as they saw the Earls usual sickeningly cheerful face turn into a cold glare directed at the white-haired youth. They watched as he brought his hand up and backhanded the boy so hard, his head was flung back and he slipped out of consciousness. Lenalee gasped with horror.
Grinning, the Earl swung the limp body over his shoulder and called upon the Black Ark, opening the door right beneath them. All further attempts of the exorcists to rescue Allen were futile. The Earl had him and they were disappearing into the Ark far too quickly.
"So long, exorcists, and good evening ♥"