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Assassins and Innocence

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Cross Marian

“That little shit is gonna fuck with everyone in there, I know it.” Cross growled to himself. He had just dropped off his young charge, Allen Walker, at one of his acquaintance’s facilities. Southwood Psychiatrics Retreat was considered one of the best hospitals in the country. Since he personally knew Irina Jelavic, the owner of this facility, he was able to ask for a favor with such a high chance of it working out properly. Irina was one of his… closer friends. That time when they met had been wonderful, in both their opinions. All of the things she can do with her body...

Cross trailed off into thought, too far gone to notice a man walking up beside him. “Too bad she’s not interested in messing around anymore.” He muttered, mildly dejected.

He sat in silence, allowing himself to run through all of the situations they had found themselves in, all of which they managed to mess around after. There was the time with the cops, the time with her parents, the time with the brat… and so many more. At some point, though, she up and decided that being friends would be better for both of them and left to run this place. Family business and all. She used to be annoyed by the pressure people would place on her to make sure this place did well, but at some point that switched and she started actually caring about the screw ups in this place.

“You should stop gripping the chair so hard. It would be inappropriate to break the facility’s items.” Cross shifted his head toward the black-haired man next to him. If the guy was curious about what Cross was thinking, he didn’t show it. He also didn’t seem put off by Cross’ quick glare. “You dropping off a kid for the first time, too?” With merely those words, the bag’s under the guy’s eyes became more accentuated and his brow furrowed. If Cross had to guess, the man was around age 40, maybe a couple years younger.

“Yeah, don’t know what else to do with the brat. He’s just gotten so fucked up since I took him in. Doesn’t help that his old man was crazy, too.” The raven just nodded along. “What’s up with your brat? Most people don’t like it when I say this shit.”

A sigh escaped the stranger’s mouth. “That kid’s been screwed over by life. Goes back long before I met him.” A solemn look passed his face, though he quickly hid it. “He was left for me to deal with, since I was the one who found him in the first place. No one knew where else he could go, since the kid’s so young and the people felt bad such a young kid was going into the system. A couple of them didn’t want to lose another child, the others were blinded by his charisma.” Even though Cross was definitely curious to figure out just what this kid was up to, he didn’t pry. Treat others the way you want to be treated, and all that bull. It didn’t seem like this man could be bullied into telling the story, anyway.

Allen’s story was still too fresh for him to tell in exchange. Mana’s story was still too fresh.

“Well, things like this happen, even to those too young to understand. The name’s Cross Marian, by the way. My brat is Allen. You’ll be able to tell who he is when you see him, stands out in a crowd. He’s the politest little shit you’ll ever find, but don’t let it fool you.” Cross growled. All of the women he could have taken to his bed were instead enamored with Allen’s cute younger brother act. The boy even stole a couple of his targets and took them to his own to have his way with.

“Same with Nagisa. He’s a cute little brat, and he has every act known to humanity memorized and perfected. He can read people’s personalities and tailor his own to get the best results. He won’t even wait for you to turn your back before going for the kill.” Cross paused for a moment, trying to figure out if that was literal or figurative language, but he let it pass. His mind flagged a reminder of how the kid could have ‘gone into the system’ and how the people felt bad for him.

It was a thought to ponder at a later time. Especially if the kid would actually kill someone. That entire thing about ‘going for the kill’ was too serious to fully brush off. “Well, Allen could probably do that. For now he just mimics his old man, being the gentlemanly type. It freaks people out when he steals all their cash with a smile on his face. The sadistic bastard.” This time it was the man who paused. “I never did get your name. You know mine, after all. It’s only fair.”

“Yes, I am Tadaomi Karasuma, just call me Karasuma. I am not entirely comfortable with the English way of addressing people.” Cross nodded. He’d been to Japan before, and it had been an odd switch.

“Just call me whichever you like.”

“Yes, Marian, what do you mean by stealing money? Has he been arrested before?” Cross laughed. There was no way Allen would let himself get caught by any run of the mill cop. He could charm his way out of anything, except maybe murder. Gambling didn’t exactly fall under something that most people would check for, especially where they tend to live. Then again, Cross kept the two on the move, changing location nearly every month. People didn’t tend to like having their hard earned cash taken by a young brat.

“He’s real good at betting, that’s all. People think they can swipe him of his goods, but instead he takes theirs right from under them. I’ve seen the guy strip people to their underwear before letting them leave. Sure, he normally gives back the clothing, but the people leave with their egos crushed. It’s fun to watch, sometimes.” Karasuma nodded, clearly not as put off about this than actually stealing. It’s probably a good thing he doesn't know that Allen is only 15.

“I know of one time we were on a train. I let the kid go explore since it would be a while before our stop, and he was missing for thirty minutes. Normally I wouldn’t worry about something like that, but when he left there was this grin on his face that meant trouble. So, I followed. When I found the guy in the way back of the train, he was picking on a group of three men. Next to Allen was some other brat, probably around 20, that was stripped naked. Allen seemed to be defending the boy, so I didn’t do anything. After that, it only took an hour before the three men across from him were also stripped, and the other brat had his clothing back. Allen threw the cash back at him by the time those three men had to get off the train. He gave them their stuff back, which they all took without prompt.

“I could tell they’d been sucked into his charm, probably even while they were being dominated by him. One of the guys gave Allen a gift of thanks, some rock with a small amount of value. Don’t think the kid sold it yet. He’s sentimental about shit like that.” He didn’t mention that Allen liked to have proof that he affected someone’s life, that he might have saved someone in a small way. That Allen feared he didn’t truly exist, or that his presence was that equivalent to a dying dog at the side of the road. Cross didn’t mention how the kid picked up his gambling skills, or how he was able to hold his alcohol more than was healthy for a growing boy.

In exchange, Karasuma told Cross about his adventures when chasing the Shiota family. “Nagisa’s mother was a spit fire. She was able to lie like the devil and sing like an angel. Whenever I met them, she had dinner ready and was wearing beautiful clothing, and she made sure that Nagisa was as well. She didn’t want anyone to think there was anything off about her family. Nagisa seemed to agree well enough. He acted the way she wanted, making friends with people of all ages. At first I thought some of his acquaintances would be too dangerous for a young boy to know, but I later found out that the kid could hold his own. No one wanted to mess with him, since people more powerful than them would defend the kid.

“Everywhere the two went, they left a trail of broken hearts. Not all were romantic, of course. There were many friends that were left behind by their crazy lifestyle. I spent a good portion of my life just trying to keep up with those two. It’s sad to say, but they managed to fool me multiple times into thinking that they wouldn’t be moving out of town for the next couple of weeks, and then they’d up and vanish that night. It was amazing, if you think about it. And I knew that even as I followed them. No matter how frustrated and angry I got at those two, I always had an amount of respect for their skills.” Karasuma trailed off, most likely getting lost in thought. Cross did the same.

It was six years ago when he first found that kid, Allen Walker, sitting next to the newly dug grave. The name Mana Walker was etched into the uneven stone. Allen couldn’t buy a proper grave marker, so he was forced to make one of his own using the biggest rock he could find, and carving into it with a smaller rock. The kid’s hands were bloody by the end of it, but he finished his work. Cross tried speaking to him, tried to explain that this didn’t have to be a sad thing. Mana could move on to the next life, and Allen could continue to live his without regret.

He gave Allen his current address, and said to come whenever within the week, before he planned to leave once more. Cross did plan to watch him from afar, and make sure the kid didn’t try to harm himself in any way.

It was a good thing he did. On the third day, he saw Allen with a knife. With a short shout of alarm, Cross ran to free the knife from Allen’s shaking hand. He didn’t manage to make it before Allen damaged his already scarred arm, etching two deep slits in his hand. The bloody mess took more of his attention than Allen’s reasoning. He assumed it was because Mana died, that was clear enough. The only problem was that Allen must have been told to ‘keep walking’ multiple times during his life with Mana. That man would tell anyone who gave him the time of day that they just had to keep walking, no matter what happens.

It must be carved into his mind far more than any knife could do to his hand.

Cross would figure out later what that would mean for the kid. His current worry was getting the bleeding to stop without a trip to the hospital. One of the people around this area was a nurse that owed him a favor, even though he didn’t like Cross much anymore.

Karasuma Tadaomi

Karasuma couldn’t help his train of thought. Going all the way back to when he thought Nagisa was an innocent child with a crazy mom, back when he could underestimate the boy’s cherub looks and friendly smiles.

Shiota Nagisa had been six for a couple of months when Karasuma finally got close enough to the pair to actually make contact. He knew it would be a risky move to actually initiate contact, but with such a young kid there, he had to divert from protocol.

Hiromi was at the house doing chores, watched my multiple agents to make sure she couldn’t make a run for it, or kill all of them. Since she wasn’t able to watch over Nagisa, it was the best time to talk to him and gauge just what was happening to the poor kid.

“Hello, little one. I am Karasuma Tadaomi. Are you in trouble in any way?” He asked, attempting to soften his strict features. It must have worked, because the kid smiled at him with shining eyes.

He softly answered ‘yes’ before rolling up his sleeve. Karasuma berated himself for not noticing the kid was wearing long sleeves even on such a hot day. That was a clear sign of abuse. This time he made sure to scan the boy for any other abnormalities. His clothing was perfect, no stains on it despite the child being merely 6 years old. What looked to be makeup was covering his cheek. It was professionally done, but Karasuma had seen enough people hiding wounds to know the difference between natural colouring and makeup.

Marring the pale skin was a dark, purple and green bruise the shape of a finger. Karasuma was sure that if the boy were to continue to raise his sleeve, there would be an entire hand.

“I see. Well, would you mind coming with me to a police station? Don’t worry, nothing bad will happen. We just want to talk with you for a little bit and maybe talk to your parent. Is that alright?” The quiet boy nodded his consent and took Karasuma’s outstretched hand. A couple of hidden agents moved out of their changing line of sight so the kid didn’t get scared.

“Can you tell me a little about your home life?” Karasuma asked. Nagisa grinned widely.

“My mother makes sure everything is always wonderful! I looooove her food! And she always makes sure that I can make friend with people, always! So I’m never lonely.” Karasuma couldn’t help but feel that the kid was reciting a line he’d been fed over and over. It didn’t make sense for him to smile while saying something he didn’t want to, though.

“She sounds nice.” He commented, if only to keep the boy talking.

“She is! Most of the time, at least. When mama’s in a bad mood, it’s no fun. When that happens I’m supposed to be silent or play with some other friends. But that’s okay! I like playing with the Onee-san and Onii-san! They’re really nice to me and let me do a lot of fun things.” As in on cue, a small group of people ranging from 15 years old to 25 years began to enter the street from the buildings.

“Hey, bro, where you going with our little brother?” One of the elder ones growled. Karasuma signaled for the other agents to stand down. It wouldn’t be good to fight a bunch of brats. In addition, these ones would probably accuse him of kidnapping a six year old, which would put a bad stain on his record even after everything got cleared up. The joke would go on for at least a decade.

“I believe there is a misunderstanding,” Karasuma said, voice cold. He was hoping it would be enough to scare away the brats, but with no luck. Multiple of them drew weapons ranging from blunt objects like bats to even a few guns. Karasuma debated whether or not to put his hands up and explain the situation or just take out the kids and be quick about the entire thing. It wouldn’t be much longer before Hiromi decided to check on her child, after all.

He didn’t get the chance to finish decided, though. Instead Nagisa spoke up. “Don’t worry, Onii-san. I will be fine.” The kid must have smiled, but the aura coming off of him spoke of a different story. It was the first time Karasuma began to wonder if the kid picked up on his mother’s true nature. He seemed to calm down the punks, because the one who spoke previously bowed his head slightly.

“Oh course, Nagi-san! I shouldn’t have been so forward. Just know that we got your back, ‘kay kid?” It seemed as though this change from formal to informal was normal within the group, since no one else was surprised except Karasuma and the hidden agents.

“Well, Nagi, we should get going.” Nagisa gripped his hand tighter before leading them through the parting crowd.

Karasuma’s thoughts were interrupted as Cross stretched and a groan escaped. “Honestly, all the brat does is cause trouble. Don’t even know why I took him in. There were so many other people who could have taken him in. Ah, oh well. This place can deal with his crazy now.” Cross reached into his pocket, pulling out a phone. “There’s only ten minutes ‘till they’re done with this group session thing. Aaaah, what should I do… maybe Kiyoshi will talk to me? I’m sure he’ll like an update on the brat. That guy’s been saying to get Allen mental help for years.” Cross left to make his call, leaving Karasuma alone in his thoughts. It was for the best that he was interrupted before reliving those next moments.

Instead he moved to think about some of his other cases. There was one where someone was experimenting on humans to create some sort of drug, it would seem. No one in the labs had figured out what the end goal of this person was, but each solution that was tested left a nasty side effect on the corpse. There wasn’t an age group or ethnicity that was being targeted, though the majority of the victims had been male.

There was no identifiable trend among any of the vics, and the rate of deaths weren’t going up so the unsub wasn’t frantic or panicking. It would seem they derived no joy from the deaths, only from the science they were performing.

Karasuma much perfered this case over the mind fuck that was the Shiotas.

He didn’t have much longer to think, however, seeing as the group just finished and Nagisa would be walking over to him any moment now.

There were times Karasuma wondered how Nagisa thought of him. Maybe as the one who tried abducting him multiple times when the boy was younger, maybe someone who could be thought of a constant in his chaotic life. After all, Nagisa would make contact with Karasuma at least once every year since the age of six. The kid never seemed to be upset at him for any of his actions, but the kid never seemed upset. Not even when his mother sent him on terrible missions alone, without her as backup.

“Karasuma-san,” Nagisa said as he got closer. His eyes were bright, just as they had been the first time they met. Karasuma couldn’t help but think Nagisa was just hiding underneath another mask that he hadn’t yet taken off, even after the group session. It was to be expected, though. But why he would chose this sort of personality to adopt was beyond Karasuma. The kid wouldn’t get out of therapy just by acting normal. In fact, it would only bring him farther into their grasp.

“Hello, Nagisa. How was the meeting?”

“Ah, it was great! I’ve made a lot of friends! And everyone was so weird, so I fit right in.” Nagisa’s eyes slowly became dazed as though he was euphoric. Everyone’s eyes were drawn to him, and Karasuma felt the urge to groan. The kid was already putting his skills into use.

“I see. Well, please remember why you are here. No getting into trouble. I have to head out for now, since there is a case that requires my attention. I will come in every few days to check on you, and the people here will be giving me updates on your behavior and condition.” Nagisa smiled and nodded, while everyone around them looked at Karasuma with mild dislike. He was used to that. People were always charmed by Nagisa to the point they didn’t believe anyone had the right to be mad at him. Especially not the strict-looking Karasuma.

Karasuma walked out the doors, but not before seeing Cross Marian standing with a boy with white hair and an arm covered in burns. It must have been the kid that Nagisa was talking about before. There was no way someone else that age had such white hair, even if they tried to bleach it. Even the kid’s eyebrows were stark white.

The smile on that kid’s face looked almost identical to Nagisa’s, which was probably why Nagisa copied it. If this kid took his interest, he was probably trying to create a personality that would fit best. If that meant almost identical to this kid’s, that’s what Nagisa would form. Now was the question of why. The only thing Nagisa didn’t seem to copy was this guy’s crazy eyes. They were glazed over yet intense, like he was seeing things that weren’t there. It reminded Karasuma of the druggies that he had to chase back when he started on the force. The ones who saw demons chasing them, and would rip their skin off and even bleed to death. It reminded him of the guy who ran out in front of a car because he was being chased and got hit by a car. He didn’t die instantly, but the guy probably wanted to. Even after he was unconscious and pumped full of fentanyl, the guy was still moaning.

It was a pretty terrible thought to run across his mind while looking into the eyes of a child.

Chapter Text

Shiota Nagisa

Male, heavy stress through short life, white hair, not bleached. Between age 15 and 16. Left alone as a child, found, found again due to currently unknown circumstances. Good fighter, mainly brawling. Highly muscled and well trained. Flexible. Plays the piano, but not for a few months. Definitely unstable, possible hallucinations.

Male, horrible situations, though parts of the past have been forgotten/blocked. Between ages 20 and 23. Swordsman. Been in the facility for a while, four years minimum. Second child, though hasn’t been affected for multiple years. Unstable, possible hallucinations. Is interested in flowers?

Female, horrible situation. Lost family. Between ages 18 and 23. Been in the facility for at least a year. Second child. Self-mutilation, possibly suicidal. Constant nightmares and re-living memory. Possible rape victim. Possible survivor’s guilt. Former runner, destroyed legs. Is restrained during the night.

Female. Information unknown. Age above 12, unknown limit due to contradicting information. Been in the facility for multiple years. Family visits. Unknown mental stability. Unknown problems. No physical problems. Possibly the oldest of the group, with a child mindset, but might be youngest.

Male. Kind. No mental difficulty, between ages 25 and 30. Physically fit. Possibly meant to restrain patients who get out of hand. Has a cat. Also works in a bakery. Not married, but seeing someone.

Male. Depressed. Between ages 16 and 18. Possible depression due to sport injury. Possibly suicidal. Well-muscled, sports player. Baseball. New to facility, did not choose to be here. Believes his life was ruined. No other hobbies.

Male. Intelligent. Possible lingering abandonment issues. Former drug user, nothing extreme. Passed college early. Kind. Is compensating for something by doing this job, in addition to other circumstance. Injury to eye at a young age. Very physical, no sports.

Male. Unknown mental instability. Has family member here (girl of unknowns, possible niece). Between ages 18 and 27. Mild substance use, not violent or depressed.

Nagisa entered all of the data collected from the rag tag group into his mind, storing it for later use. Each of these subjects would be part of his acts, and he had to choreograph his actions perfectly in order to get out. Though some of them, the one meant to (muscle -- restrain – orderly, intelligent male – therapist), had to have known what he did in the past and were preparing themselves for his future work. It shouldn’t be too hard to convince them he’s stable. It would have to progress slowly, or the sudden change would be seen as what it was: an act. The first of the two orderly shouldn’t be that hard to convince, seeing as the man was ( kind of) innocent when it came to killers like himself. This didn’t seem to be the place where people ruled mentally unstable in a court would be allowed entry.

Nagisa was a special case, he made sure of it. All of his performances were perfect, all possible flaws accounted for and diverted. Everyone and everything was perfectly scripted, even his unknowing participants on his stage. Just the way his mom taught him ( no Nagisa, that man is a pedophile. You have to act innocent. Let him try and play you, then flip it on him) . It was too bad she lost her sanity before he did. If she ever had it, that is.

Nagisa couldn’t remember anymore.

The other one ( therapist ) would be harder. He’s been trained to deal with deception ( not through school. Past experiences taught him caution ), especially of those deemed mentally unstable. On the other hand, if Nagisa managed to convince this guy, he’d be free to go. The court would have to allow it. There was no time restraints on his required stay in the facility. People thought a kid shouldn’t have to deal with something like this for the rest of his life ( Everyone thinks he’s a kid. Act young and innocent, get off easy).

The average person is very convenient to use. Hiding within their numbers was the best tactic, the most useful thing his mom taught him. That, and how to act. All the killing techniques were useless. Child’s play. Nagisa created his own, better and more efficient methods.

He was the talented one, not her. He even proved it, may she rot in hell.

Allen Walker

All of them were assholes. First, Cross throws him into this dump, saying Allen was seeing things and shit like that. Thrown in with the truly crazy people. One guy just kept smiling like a fucking lunatic, and Allen could see his predatory eyes taking in all of the details on everyone. There wasn’t anything attached to him, so the guy wasn’t an Akuma. Just crazy.

Then there was the brat, who had to have done something truly fucked up to get her ass tossed here. The brat couldn’t be more than 10. But she just kept smiling about the devil knows what. Maybe she was gonna snap and murder them all, though it didn’t look like that was her plan. It did seem like she wanted to go after the red headed dipshit therapist that kept on asking them questions and trying to get them to answer.

Allen would agree with the long haired dick head’s comments on what he thought about the therapist, if only that guy wasn’t such a dick.

“Ya know, you really shouldn’t be talking so rudely to the therapist guy. Honestly, what’s stuck up your butt?” God, if only he didn’t have to stay polite in order to get out of this fuck hole, everything would be fine. Cross was such a dick for getting Allen to think such shitty thoughts. He was just starting to act like a normal brat when Cross came along.

“What was that moyashi? I didn’t hear what you said with your fucking annoying voice. Maybe you should try me again?” The dipshit was still sitting, so Allen wouldn’t be able to get up and beat his ass, but that would only last as long as the guy sat. One move in the wrong direction and Allen’s hands would be at the fucker’s throat.

“Now now, Yuu, Allen, calm down. We’re just trying to get to know each other today. And Yuu, I told you to be nice to our new arrivals. This is not being nice. You haven’t even said hello to either of them.” The asshole spun to glare at the shrink sitting at the head of their ‘talking circle’.

“Don’t call me Yuu, you damn rabbit.” A cute girl placed her hand on the dickbag’s arm. Her legs were wrapped in bandages, but she had a cute smile. Her face was pale with dark bags under her eyes, though. Allen couldn’t help but wonder what happened to make her look so haunted. The idiot didn’t even pause to shrug her off. She had him whipped, it seemed. At the same time, Allen couldn’t see any other sign that they were together. Perhaps they were childhood friends.

His eyes were drawn back to the first kid, the one around his age with the calculating eyes and kind smile. He looked slightly odd, but relatively harmless if you could forget about the feeling of choking that accompanied his stare. When their eyes met, Allen couldn’t help the grin that took over his face. He might have found a companion in this shit hole. The kid was pretending, though Allen didn’t know why or even how he knew the kid was stable.

When the demented grin returned to his expression, Allen couldn’t help but be impressed. The only person who he’d met that could switch expressions with such fluidity was Mana. This kid was a performer.

Forcing his eyes off of the little brat, Allen drew his eyes back to the red-headed adult. The guy was so much like Cross that Allen wanted to puke. Long ass red hair, shitty eye patch on his face and a fucking grin. This guy made him look like an innocent puppy compared to the sadistic Cross, but the similarity was strong enough for a bit of hate to automatically make its way into his psyche.

“Alright everyone, since we haven’t managed to finish the introductions, should we try again? Yuu, no interrupting this time, please. Right, Lenalee, would you start again?” The girl nodded. Allen debated trying to remember her name this time. He already forgot about the guy with the shoulder length dark hair, the clearly depressed guy, the long haired guy (though he noted he doesn’t like the name ‘Yuu’), and even the girl about to go once more. She had been interrupted.

“I’m Lenalee Lee. I’m here since I was attacked recently and some… stuff happened. Some people say it’s survivor’s guilt.” Lavi nodded his approval and motioned for Allen.

“I’m Allen. My current guardian thinks I’m insane.” This time, Lavi didn’t approve right away, instead motioning for Allen to continue. When he didn’t, Lavi sighed.

“Okay, Road, if you would. Please keep it short though.” The little girl grinned.

“Hello everyone! My name is Road Kamelot. I’ve been in here since I was six after offing my brother’s friend since he was talking up all of Wisely’s attention. It’s okay now, though. He comes to visit me eeeevery day!” Allen blinked. That was not what he was expecting. The next boy, the one with the blue hair and sharp eyes, barely reacted.

“Thank you for making that so short, Road. Nagisa, you’re next.” Allen had heard about a ‘Nagisa Shiota’ before. There was a boy on trial by that name after his mom died, supposedly killed by the child himself. No one knew much about it, other than that the mom was a serial killer and some people thought the kid did the right thing by killing her. The trial was a special case that kept the profile of the kid hidden, probably because he was a minor at the time. It had taken a year and a half before the kid’s fate was decided. All there was to go off of was a sketch of the boy as described by a reporter that had permission to view the trial, but weren’t allowed to take photos.

No one knew if the boy had killed anyone else before his mother, but the jury didn’t seem to think so and there was no evidence left at any scenes to suggest a child was present, not that there was any evidence that could convict Hiromi Shiota either, but that didn’t matter anymore.

“Hello, I’m Nagisa Shiota. My mother was a violent psychopath, and everyone wants to make sure that I turned out okay after being raised by her. Please take care of me.” He finished with a serene smile that had a few of the other wackjobs cooing at him, though most of them did it in their head. Allen could feel himself bubbling up with rage, the same way it did every time Mana would pull something like this. Tricking people is all fine and dandy, but making people love you and then stabbing them in the back went a little too far. He pushed it down, though. Mana never did something terrible with his performances. Maybe Nagisa wouldn’t, either. Allen could give the kid the benefit of the doubt. There’s a first time for everything, after all.

“Wonderful!” Lavi exclaimed. “Now let’s move on to how everyone has been doing since our last meeting. Who would like to start?” The tiny girl raised her hand excitedly.

“My brother came to visit me again yesterday!!! He brought me a cake, too! Wise says that it’s almost my birthday, so next time he’s going to be bringing some candles along with him as well. You know those swirly purple ones that I saw in the magazine a month or so ago? Well, I think that he picked those up and is going to bring them for me. But don’t tell him I know that. I want to act surprised.” The girl let out a wicked smile. Lavi just nodded along with her words, as did the tall guy with dark brown hair. The girl with the injured legs smiled with her deadened eyes. Nagisa actually looked happy for the brat, but he probably didn’t care about the entire thing with killing her brother’s best friend.

“I’ve been getting more sleep.” The injured girl said after a short silence. Lavi clapped excitedly, completely contrary to her own sober energy.

“And how much more sleep?” She muttered something that sounded like ‘ ten minutes…’ before cutting off again. The guy with the shoulder length hair started talking about his life outside of the facility, briefly describing to the newcomers that he’s only there a couple days a month since his brother wants the best care for him, but that the guy isn’t ill enough to require more time.

“So,” the shrimp next to him said, very quiet as not to draw attention to herself. “Why are you really in here? There has to be a reason someone would pay so much for just a ‘little problem’ unless they were overbearing like my dad.”

“People are too blind to see things the way I see them. They don’t understand all of the horrible creatures that hang onto their bodies, and they don’t listen when I tell them. Not even when I show them. I was cursed with the truth years ago, and so I tried to help others to free themselves and the creatures. No one here is being controlled, which is surprising, but doesn’t mean that they won’t be possessed in the future. I have to save these creatures. I have to keep walking.” His voice stayed at a whisper the entire time, and he was grateful the other guy just kept on talking. Something about art that probably led to him getting drunk, though he didn’t say that. Maybe it was just tipsy. He might have an alcohol problem that was part of the reason he’s in here, so he can’t mention it to the red head.

“Will you show me sometime? I love to see other people’s hallucinations.” Allen was expecting that. Even people who are legitimately crazy still think what he sees is weird. If only he could show everyone else what it is he sees, then they would understand. But he can’t. People don’t believe his pictures. They never have.

 

“I don’t think you’re ready for it. Sorry, kid. No one should have to see just how horrible these poor creatures are, no one except me.”

 

“So what did you do to get cursed? I mean, there had to have been something. Did you try and create one of the creatures? That would be messed up. Then you wouldn’t be able to judge other people for not believing, when you were someone who must not have believed that they were truly that bad.”

 

“That’s why I have to help them. If someone tried to create one of these creatures, I have to stop them before their bodies get taken over, and I have to make sure the akuma soul never gets hurt in the way it would once they take over the body. There’s no one else out there that knows how to stop them. Only people with holy weapons can do it, but no one knows where the holy weapons are, or who has them. They disguise themselves, just like my arm did.” He motioned his arm forwards to draw her attention to the severely damaged skin with what looked like a cross carved deep into the back of his hand.

 

Road’s eyes lit up at the sight of such destruction still being able to function. She barely restrained herself from grabbing for the arm and clenching it tightly in her grip to see if it shattered upon contact. Lavi would scold her, and she still hadn't figured out how to break his stability like she did with the last one. This brat was too guarded for any of her ideas. She still had time though, and even more opportunities.

 

Allen glanced around the circle, searching for anything that could distract him from Road’s extreme focus. Most people would flinch away at the sight, some ignore it. Allen didn’t care one way or the other now. He had a purpose, and his arm would save the world. It didn’t make it any easier to sit still while being inspected with such detail.

 

The blue haired boy was staring at the current speaker. Allen vaguely remembered the name ‘Sugino’ to match with the face. Since the other kid was interested, he decided to give it a chance.

 

“-hard. I still can’t get my pitches the way that they were before, but the doc said that my muscles have healed enough that they can move properly.” He rubbed at the side of his neck, and Allen noted how he dragged his nails across, creating faint scratch marks that would darken later. Nagisa smiled with such a strong force of compassion that Allen had a hard time looking past it and into the uncaring depths of his eyes.

 

He was wrong. This kid is a better actor than Mana could ever be. Allen had a lot to live up to, if he wanted to reach this kid’s level. Being with the psychopathic mother definitely made a difference in his up bringing.

 

The brat automatically opened up to such an intense show of emotions without the sympathy that would normally follow. Nagisa had him hooked, with a strong bond of perceived camaraderie formed.

 

“Nagisa, would you like to share what your past week has been like? I would love to learn more about you.” The Cross look-alike was just fishing for something that would make the boy show his true colours. Maybe it was doing it entirely to help out the boy, maybe he was making sure the kid actually was meant to be in the facility. Allen didn’t care. It would be interesting to know how the blue-haired boy wanted others to perceive him.

 

“I actually haven’t been very affected by the changes, I guess it’s because mother always had us moving around. Karasuma-san was with me the majority of the time. I knew him when I was younger, so his presence didn’t bother me much. Other people staring at me was fairly annoying, but mother made sure that didn’t affect me.” Nagisa’s head slowly tilted to the side, and his eyes became foggy. So he planned to play a disturbed victim. It would take a while for Nagisa to get out of this place, but they wouldn’t throw him in jail for anything, if he did indeed do something illegal under his mother’s supervision.

 

He was also separating himself from Shiota Hiromi by calling her ‘mother’ as opposed to ‘mom’ or any other form of endearment. There was, of course, the off chance that he did call her mother naturally, but that was less likely.

 

Allen briefly wondered if Hiromi actually did teach him to go unbothered by people’s stares, and how exactly she would go about that. Nagisa had to have lived a strange life and learned a lot of different skills that most people wouldn’t even consider. Of course, so did Allen.

 

Nagisa glanced over in Allen’s direction, but his glassy eyes didn’t give away aura other than the feeling of a doll.

 

“Would you like to talk about Karasuma-san? You seem to respect him, and I would love to thank him properly for helping you.” The look-alike smiled kindly. Allen didn’t think there was an alternative motive within this guy, but he was starting to give off the feeling of a fake.

 

“Of course! He really is amazing! He managed to follow mother all around the world! Though I don’t know how he managed to do that, since he’s based in Japan, but I guess he was the only one that managed to actually keep track of us. He helped me out once when I was about to be hit by a truck. He got hit instead, but was only in the hospital for a couple of days. I don’t know how, even I don’t recover that fast. And there was this other time where dogs were chasing me across a street and he glared at them, and all of them stopped! There’s really times that I feel he isn’t actually human. But that’s okay. I don’t think mother or I are, either.” Allen checked once more that there wasn’t an akuma floating around the boy, even though there wasn’t a chance for one to have come since his last check. It was just reflex at this point.

 

“I see, he does sound very nice. Allen, do you mind talking about your week?”

 

“Let me think for a moment, please. I was mostly in Cross’s house waiting for him to decide what to do. I believe he became tired of my presence. He took care of me well, but whenever I saw something that he couldn’t, he would get upset and go drinking. I stopped telling him about everything, but I think it was too late. But it’s okay. As long as Mana believes I can keep walking, there’s not problem.” Allen touched his arm briefly, and let his finger brush over the cross that appeared on the back of his hand three day’s after Mana died. It was when Mana told him to continue: to fight.

 

Shiota Nagisa

 

Allen rubbed the ridged cross that was carved into his hand (connected to ‘Mana’, caused by him?) as he smiled. No love, that wasn’t love. That was obsession, all Allen can think of is his goal (Mana’s goal). But his smile was pretty. Not sane, never sane. Just pretty. Should he copy it? That would cause a stronger connection between him and Allen, and Lavi would believe he can’t help but be imprinted on by other people (like the doll he was made to be) . There were no downsides to use that smile at this moment (Karasuma-san will notice. He always notices) so there was no harm in doing it (Karasuma-san can’t do anything now) .

 

Allen didn’t seem to mind ( he noticed though, he has experience with copying) . Lavi didn’t notice, none of the other humans did either.

 

“I understand. Well, I believe your guardians are wondering how you are, and it’s about time for our session to be over. I’ll see you all at our next sessions. Allen, Nagisa, if either of you ever want to talk about anything at all, just ask an orderly to find me.” Lavi walked out the wooden doors while the long time patients went through a hallway. Nagisa and Allen followed the patients through to another door where Karasuma would be waiting, as long as a different case didn’t come up and he was called away.

 

Turns out there was nothing, and Karasuma was standing near a tall man with long red hair ( naturally straight, no dye). Both were lost in thought (completely open for kill shots, Karasuma’s neck was clear with back turned, he’d dodge, sensing Nagisa but that would leave him open at the shoulder joint, easy to take down fully; red-head seems purposefully open, understands Karasuma’s position and is hiding his skills, might not be able to change positioning quick enough to block) so Nagisa called out Karasuma’s name. He was asked a boring question about the meeting and Nagisa gave a boring answer.

 

Karasuma’s comment about keeping Nagisa under watch earned him dirty looks from the other patients and the orderly that were in the session. Karasuma didn’t care, but he looked (disappointment? with mild respect) annoyed that the humans were already taken by Nagisa’s act. Then he dismissed himself to go to a job (no reason to wait until the session finished, possibly sentiment or regret for not getting Nagisa away from Her earlier) before the conversation could continue.

 

With nothing else to do, Nagisa walked to where Allen (well concealed annoyance, continuing to act the gentleman) was talking with the redhead (now on guard that Karasuma has left, knows who Nagisa is, will recognize that Nagisa copied Allen’s expression). Nagisa let his eyes glass over once more, closer to how they looked during the trial, but kept the same borrowed smile.

 

“Hello,” he started. The man glared at him with the force of his mother on a good day, and he felt a little warmth inside. He loved those days (they would go to a beach sometimes and play in the salty water, Nagisa ignored the sting of his open wounds. They were having fun) when they happened. His mother’s smile was always so sweet.

 

“Allen, right? It’s nice to meet you. So you’re also new to therapy? I’m kind of excited to meet new people and actually stay with them. Mother and I moved around a lot, so there weren’t many people I could become close friends with. Ah, have I already said that? I can’t remember…” He trailed off for a moment before his eyes cleared up again (Allen noted the perfect timings, he knows this is an act for Cross’s benefit) . “You’re Cross, right? Or are you Mana? I heard something about you, probably.”

 

“Cross, and don’t compare me to Mana, you brat. I’m not that crazy.” The male (not gangster, not hitman, probably on the bad side of many governments, but not part of Karasuma’s jurisdiction, does not know Her personally) said, and well disguised fury rolled off of Allen (not obsession - worship) . Cross noticed, but didn’t care. “Well, if we’re done here, I’ll go chat up Irina (owner of the facility, friends of Karasuma, idealist with a dark past, Cross has no chance) , see if she’s willing to go one last time.”

 

The children with matching smiles watched him go.



Flashes to Karma coming in and meeting the new people a few days later. He starts talking to Nagisa and commenting on how girly the kid looks, then gets freaked out. Karma stays a little bit away from Nagisa, but still talks to him. It takes Allen’s intervention before they truly become friendly.

Chapter Text

Akabane Karma

Life has been extra annoying since Karma’s last episode a month ago. Now that the principle has helped the entire school freak out about Karma’s mental health, there’s even less reason to go to school. Now everyone is cautious around him for a reason other than the tasteful pranks he would pull, or his ability to beat them to a pulp while smiling. Of course, they were still scared of him for that, since his episode caused him to destroy an entire classroom in a fit of rage, but since the principal said it was due to his issues, people cared less about the violence and more about how pitiful he was.

Oh course, there was hardly any reason to go previously. With all the books he’s read, everything was just old information. The main reason he came to therapy was his long standing promise with Lavi. For as many times Karma came to lessons, Lavi would continue to teach him something new. That man knew a lot of information about a lot of different things.

The people were alright here, too, if a little constrained. The not-so-young lady running up to his was the most tolerable of the group.

“Karma! Guess what, we have two new people! I reeeeally like Allen, so you should come meet him first. But stay back, okay? He’s mine.” Her playful face turned dark for a moment, and Karma was reminded of how she landed herself in this place to begin with. Allen deserved some amount of pity in light of his no doubt awful future as her plaything.

Karma didn’t have any to give.

“Are you gonna go physical or mental this time?” He asked. It depended on how much ‘love’ she had for this boy.

“Ah, don’t be like that. I’m just getting to know him! I don’t even know if we’ll be friends.” So it was definitely physical for now, but mental was a distinct possibility. “But anyway, you can check out the other new guy too. His name started with an ‘N’. He doesn’t really resonate with me. Even less than you or Tyki do.” They were the only people in the facility that Road didn’t care to mess with. Tyki was her young uncle who is possibly younger than her, but Karma never cared to ask.

The guy had two personalities, one that thought of himself as an average traveler looking for work, and one who saw himself as above everyone and would become violent when challenged. Whenever he would try and ground himself in the ‘traveler’ personality, he would create works of art and focus his mind. At some point people noticed and he had become well known under an alias unconnected to the facility.

“Interesting. Well, how about you introduce me after my appointment?” Road nodded before scampering off to bug someone into submission. Karma decided to ask about the new kids during his appointment. Lavi could at least give him an unbiased answer to his questions, as long as they didn’t break confidentiality.

That was shut down pretty quick, though. “I can not tell you anything about them, you will have to find out yourself. Sorry, Karma. I’m blocked from even the basic information.”

“Really? That’s so damn annoying. Well, then tell me about you. But not the basic stuff or anything. What happened when you had to stay in a crazy house? It was an accidental overdose, right? Did they keep you there for long? Did you mess with anyone? You’re smart and all, so you had to have ideas.”

“I did,” Lavi started. “I just don’t think you’d be interested in any of them. That, and the ones you would be interested would backfire on me. But let’s save this until after our session, okay?” Karma dramatically leaned back in his chair, inspecting Lavi.

“Acceptable,” he replied after a moment of silence. Lavi copied his body positioning.

“Then let's continue.”

The time past with Karma talking openly about personal discoveries, like how he can charm old people into thinking he’s a nice kid, and how people continue to underestimate him and demand to fight as vengeance for friends and family. He brags about not sending them to the hospital, and about catching on video that they were the aggressors and not him.

He talks about how his parents are still never home, and how he’s learning to come to terms with that. Lavi simply reminds him that it’s alright. That he doesn’t need to ever be fine with that, he just needs to notice that he isn’t, and that he doesn’t ever have to respect them for their shortcomings, just respect them for their success.

He talks about the annoying people at school, and he growls about their pity. Lavi lets him rage.

He calms down, and he talks about the books he’s reading. He talks about why he likes the characters, and how he relates to them all: the protagonists and the villains. Lavi listens until the time is over. Then Lavi talks.

He talks about the favors he would pull, and how he was on the good side of everyone. He talked about the people he met, especially the psychologist that helped him figure out his path. He talked about the patience who needed help that they weren’t getting, and he talked about how sad that was.

He stopped when there was a knock on the door, warning them of the time.

Karma left after a handshake. It was time for someone else to come in and talk. Besides, Road was probably just outside the door, waiting for him to finish. It wouldn’t do to keep her waiting.

As predicted, Road latched onto his neck for a few moments right once he entered the main area. “Come oooon, let’s go see Allen! He might show you some of the akuma that he sees! He’s reaally good at drawing. Almost Tyki good!”

“Akuma as in demons? Is he Japanese?” Road shook her head.

“Nope, I think British, but I don’t know who raised him. They might have taught him some words. From what I can tell, the parent was messed up, and when he left, Allen got messed up and couldn’t function in society. He kept attacking people, saying he’d free them and the akuma possessing them. I sort of understand him, though. It’s all out of love for akuma and humans, right? Oh, but you should be careful. He’ll probably see you as a demon. For obvious reasons.”

“And you’re any less? Didn’t you torture animals for fun?”

“Please, that wasn’t torture, you meany. I just didn’t want them to die. It’s not my fault they kept trying to escape.” Only Road could look that cute when refuting her torturous acts. It didn’t help that she truly thought it was justified to cut off limbs and let the poor animal bleed to death as it screamed for release.

How her parents never put a stop to that previously was beyond him.

“We’re here. Just remember that Allen is mine, no stealing.” They opened the door to Allen’s room. Karma was greeted by a massive number of disturbing drawings of tortured souls and doll-looking killing machines. He assumed these were the akuma.

“Ah, Road, come on in. It’s lovely to see you, as always. And who is this?” A boy with white hair - that had to have been bleached - said. His arms were hidden by long sleeves, but his left hand showed some heavily damaged skin. Right once Karma’s eyes made contact with the skin, Allen’s hand disappeared under the desk.

“Hey, I’m Karma Akabane. I’m one of the stop by people. Road said you were new, and that I should come to meet you. What are you in for?”

“Ah, of course. They believe I have hallucinations of demonic creatures. It seems people do not enjoy being warned of their surroundings if the surroundings are invisible to their own eyes.” Allen had a sweet smile, and Karma could tell why Road liked him. The guy was completely lost in his own delusion. It would definitely be interesting to convince him he’s entirely right before breaking all of that down again.

Karma caught a glimpse of what was happening within Allen’s thoughts. There was a brief picture of a grinning clown that he could just barely visualize behind Allen with a large, upper face mask just behind his head and reflected in his eyes. It was interesting, since the only time Karma would feel an aura enough to actually visualize it is if the person in question has the physical and mental capabilities to be able to harm him.

Lavi says that’s a skill gained through being left on his own to defend himself against people of all ages in all different forms. Turns out that it’s not a bad thing, but it isn’t good that it had to form. Like his fighting abilities, it turned out to be necessary for survival.

“Nice to meet you, Allen. They say I have some extreme abandonment issues, which can make me unfit for society or something. Hopefully I won’t be around here too much, currently it’s just for weekly check ups. We’ll see, though. The outside world pisses me off sometimes, so I might just have to kill everyone.” He grinned with all teeth.

“Ah, that would be quite good. There are many people who are living in the world that have been taken by akuma, you know. If you are capable of destroying them, it means you have innocence. I do hope you manage to take care of the poor akuma souls.”

“Have you managed to destroy one before? You make it sound easy.”

“Yes, I have, but you should be aware that it is not simple. Only people with innocence are able to fight them and come out alive. No other weapon works on akuma. Cross, my master, has innocence, but I have not met anyone else who wields it. People are only able to protect themselves against the weakest form of akume, level ones. After that, there is only death and destruction.”

“Understood. If I see any of them, I’ll make sure to murder them like the demons they are. Sound good?” Allen’s expression shifted for a moment to one of anger before settling back at serene. He didn’t say anything.

“Well, you two should go have fun. Talk with Nagisa, he is a wonderful person. I need to return to my studies.” Allen turned away with a small smile and a wave, and Road herded him out of the room.

“You made him angry already, that’s pretty impressive! He rarely ever lets his anger show! Maybe I should bring you around more often. It’s cute to see him trying to hide it.”

“Sure, I’d love to find more buttons to press! But Lavi might get mad at you, you know. Aren’t you trying to break him? It won’t work if Lavi catches on. I’d rather you stay here so we can play.” Road touched the back of her neck and tilted her head. Her narrowed eyes seemed to gleam with mischief.

“Not if I break Lavi first. It shouldn’t be much longer, you know. He’s lasted nearly a year, which I guess is impressive, but it isn’t possible for him to be able to go on forever. I’ve already found his weaknesses. Not I just need to wear them down enough.”

“Road, normally it only takes you a month or two. Maybe this guy is better than you think. You’ve been working on those weaknesses for months already.” Road tisked at him.

“Now now, you know that people aren’t able to fully protect themselves, they can only put up flimsy defences. All people are vulnerable to the same techniques, and I just happen to know all of them. I could break you, too, but I won’t. You’re too fun. Anyway, this is Nagisa’s room. He should be in here, but I can’t say for sure. He moves around a lot. Any time there’s studying to do, he sits for a bit before getting frustrated. Turns out he doesn't know much about basic school things. Like, he has no ability with math whatsoever. It’s sorta pathetic.”

Road opened the door without knocking, and the first think Karma noticed was the giant yellow octopus sitting on the bed. The next thing was the set of Sonic Ninja everything that was resting at bedside. Karma automatically moved to inspect the merchandise. Whoever this Nagisa guy was had to be a collector for years to be able to gain all of this. There was even the new movie that wasn’t even out on DVD, which seemed pretty impossible.

“Ah, hello there. I’m sorry, but I don’t think I have seen you around before. Are you one of the people who only come around sometimes?” There was blue haired boy standing in the doorway with a smile closely resembling the one Allen had, though his eyes were glassed over.

“Nagisa Shiota, huh? I was wondering where they decided to stick you. How’d you manage to get such a nice place? Was your mom loaded when you killed her?” In Karma’s peripheral vision he saw Road’s eyes spark with interest. It seemed no one in the facility actually knew what Nagisa’s back story was. Karma had forgotten about the limited access to outside media.

“Karasuma-san is extremely kind to me, even though I don’t deserve it. I believe he feels bad about letting me stay with Mother for as long as he did. He must have asked favors of people, so that I would be allowed here.” Nagisa seemed to fold in on himself, becoming smaller and smaller until Road moved towards him and rested a hand on his shoulder.

“I’m sure there’s a reason you are here, Nagi! I mean, you managed to get away from your Mother for a reason. Being raised by a psychopath couldn’t have been easy. But you turned out fine, even if you had to kill her to do that. So don’t worry, okay?” Road was following her good girl act, and Karma couldn’t help but notice she seemed proud of Nagisa.

There’d been a rumor going around that Road killed her brother’s best friend, but it hadn’t been confirmed and Karma didn’t trust rumor. The way she was talking made it sound more like she wanted to kill a parent. Throughout all of their time together, Karma had never heard about a parent from either her or her uncle, Tyki.

“Thank you, Road. Now, could you introduce me to the person you’ve invited into my room?”

“I’m Karma Akabane. Nice collection of Sonic Ninja stuff you got. How long have you been collecting?”

“Ah, not long enough. When Mother would see that I had new things, she would break them. All of these are what I could get to Karasuma-san before they were found. The oldest one is probably a year old. Recently, Karasuma-san has been sending me what he finds around.” Karma whistled low.

“You mind if I watch some of these with you? I haven’t been able to find anyone else who actually watches Sonic Ninja since they think it’s for kids or something.” Nagisa’s eyes lit up and Karma had the distinct feeling that the other boy never talked with anyone about his interest.

“That would be so fun!” Karma barely noticed Road walk out as Nagisa began talking about his favorite characters, with Karma adding in his own reasonings every so often.

They both agreed that the main character was a useless idiot.

Shiota Nagisa

Room door open, two sets of foot steps. Small, female: large, male. Female is Road. Male is unknown, not met previously. Still a child, but knows how to move properly to stay quiet. Not attempting to attack, merely looking. ‘Road must have entered first, to see if I was in there. She must want to introduce me to the new guy.’

Never met before, lives in the outside world. Knows Nagisa’s circumstance. Possibly dangerous, possibly good to reinforce act. To be determined.

Nagisa walked through the open doorway to see a relatively tall redhead looking at his Sonic Ninja stuff. He felt a brief smile stretch his face unwillingly before he killed it.

Interested in Sonic Ninja, good to talk with. Used to fighting, brawler. Constantly exerting dominance as instinct, feels the need to be powerful, possible abandonment issues, needed to protect self from others, probably adults. Unconfirmed, over 80% likelihood.

Nagisa opened his mouth to introduce himself, giving a guess on the man’s status due to his current information (a patient that rarely stops by, long enough to become familiar with Road, long term patient, short visits) which was confirmed by the spark in the boy’s eyes.

Troublemaker, enjoys messing with people, prankster, watch out. Not homicidal, just violent. Sadistic, watch out. Not dangerous to self, but annoying in ideas. Intelligent. Good to train, could become a hit man.

Nagisa replied to his taunting with a basic but truthful answer, for the most part. Cause Road to react, she enjoys this male. Road’s affection equals his affection. Road likes cute things. Shrink. She is upset about leaving her family. Become a child as she was.

Road spoke words meant to comfort. “You turned out fine, even if you had to kill her to do that.” Yes, Mother deserved death. Nagisa did not deserve life. Mother wanted to stay with Nagisa forever, he is being a bad doll by staying apart.

Nagisa didn’t care.

It was time to learn about the redhead, and why Road enjoyed him so much. It was time to talk about Sonic Ninja, one of the only things Nagisa cared about in this place. The story of a pathetic savior who deserved nothing and got everything.

The redhead was interesting enough. He had the same viewpoint, in a way. The main didnt deserve to be the main. The other characters were wonderful, though. And less dramatic.

Karma did not mention Nagisa’s past again during the entire interaction. He was too distracted (excited, slight perspiration, voice raising, changing topics quickly) by the fact someone else enjoyed Sonic Ninja to care who that person was.

They planned days to watch some of the movies together. Karma insisted on watching all of the previous movies before the new one. Nagisa agreed, even though he had memorized them all long ago. It was best to have something playing through his head when Mother sent him on boring assignments.

Nagisa wanted Karma to leave already. It was odd. He didn’t normally feel the need to push someone away, since they would do that on their own. Unless that person was Karasuma-san, but he didn’t get pushed away (Nagisa needed a constant, Karasuma-san was always there) and Nagisa didn’t care what Karasuma-san knew. Nagisa didn’t know what to do with Karma (he will not be controlled easily, and Nagisa wasn’t looking to control him, no point in being around him, no point in connecting like this). The only option left was for him to leave.

Karma did, when it was time for him to head home.

Nagisa went to Allen’s room.

“Did you meet the redhead as well? He reminded me of Road, though possibly more sadistic.” Allen asked as Nagisa entered the room. He was in the middle of slashing a stack of old akuma drawings to pieces with a piece of glass he broke off from something. Nagisa didn’t ask how.

“Ah, yeah. He was fine.” The two smiled with similar expressions once more, until Allen’s went wicked.

“You’re interested, aren’t you. Have you decided to train him, or do you want him away from you? I could tell he was talented. Cross would enjoy fucking him over.” Nagisa had just finished sweeping the room for any listening devices or cameras. So far none of the bedrooms held them, but there was always the chance of a new addition with the two of them spending so much time in their rooms. Whoever owned the facility had to be stressed about the two most violent patients talking together without any sort of supervision.

Allen Walker

Allen knew the moment he asked the question what the answer would be.

“I don’t like him.” Nagisa didn’t drop the smile he first carried when arriving in the room, the one that reminded Allen of Mana. A chill briefly flashed through Allen when he remembered one particular time Mana smiled like that.

Nagisa’s smile changed minutely, and Allen pulled himself back to the present.

“Has he decided to play with you, the way Road plays with me? It could be interesting to see the other side of it, you know.”

“I don’t care to ‘understand’ the way you do, Allen.” Nagisa curled up on Allen’s bed and closed his eyes. Allen continued to make confetti out of his old drawings. They sat in silence for a while. Nagisa’s breathing slowed and Allen noticed how alert he seemed, even in sleep. It was something Allen had taught himself previously, back when he was still with the circus and before Mana came to help him. Allow yourself to look defenceless when you are expected to be, and strike when most underestimated.

That kept him alive long enough. It also helped him survive Cross.

Allen didn’t dare stay silent as he moved among the room. Silent meant calculating, calculating meant danger, danger meant Nagisa would attack. Allen didn’t know if Nagisa would stop his attack, even after realizing who it was. It was similar to the way Mana would react. The old clown was used to living with a dog who would make noise no matter what was happening. If Allen would move silently, Mana got freaked out and would attack, not recognizing who was making the noise.

He started with his handstand push-ups. Allen normally wouldn’t allow his body to lose muscle mass, but people outside of this room were never happy when they saw him increasing his strength. It was possibly because he was thought of as a violent patient, even though he hadn’t attacked anyone. There wasn’t anyone possessed by akuma in the facility that he’d seen yet.

There would be at some point, though. Then they wouldn’t allow him to roam as freely as he does now. Allen just needed to get the job finished before he was locked up tight. It was the only way to free the souls.

Allen heard a sniffle coming from his bed, and saw Nagisa was lightly crying. His tears trailed around his nose, down his cheek and into a growing puddle in his sheets. Allen noticed the flash of Nagisa’s grin that grew as more tears fell. It wasn’t a grin he’d seen before, not on himself, not Mana, not Cross. A small smile formed on Allen’s expressions as well. He finally saw the person behind the act, though just a part of him. At least, Allen assumed that was what this was. There was a possibility that Nagisa was acting this as he slept as well.

That person was a young brat trying to survive in this fucked up world and get past the problems from a deranged and demented mother. He was doing it the only way he knew how - keep going, keep a mask, smile at danger.

Allen could relate to that as well. Mana told him to keep walking, and taught him to smile at all times. As a clown, if you aren’t able to smile, there’s no reason for your audience to smile. Then there’s no point to your existence.

Allen got to work finishing up with lock picking kit. The facility didn’t give him hangers or anything else in the way of metal bits, so he had to grab things from other people’s rooms and anything left in community areas. He had to get the hook pick finished before doing anything else. A couple of the doors going outside required them.

Each lock in the building was different by small amounts. They were giving a good effort in stopping patients from escaping.

Chapter Text

Allen Walker

Allen had been forced into a dormant state for too long. After such a time separated from the world, there had to be akuma attacks that were going unnoticed by everyone else, or were being blamed on the wrong person. Allen had to get out there, for the sake of the akuma and the humans living in the world. They didn’t deserve the dangers being forced on them in his absence.

He needed Cross to get him out of there, if only for a short amount of time. Despite the captivity Allen was forced under, the people were nice enough to be around. But there weren’t any akuma, and Allen couldn’t survive without them. They were his purpose, the reason he was forced to harm Mana after death, the reason he had to continue moving. Continue living. Separation from them was not acceptable.

Cross was supposed to come in a approximately 5 hours, so all Allen had to do was convince him. Possibly coerce Lavi into allowing him time outside. Anything that would allow him to fulfill his duties. It can’t be only Mana who he saves. It was Mana who gave him his path in life, and he had to walk along it. No matter what.

Lavi was currently busy at the time, however. It would seem there was another patient that was meant to speak with him at this time, though Allen expected that. Lavi was always busy, even though it seemed he had time for everyone if they needed to talk. Allen didn’t yet need to force someone out of their time. They truly needed help, Allen could wait for a few minutes, maybe even an hour. He had time.

“Ah, boy. I haven't seen you around here often. Are you needing to speak with the redhead?” Allen turned to respond to Road’s young uncle, Tyki. The man knew how to move silently, though not as much as Nagisa. Allen noticed he was coming, but has suspicions that Tyki made shuffling noises on purpose. He didn’t believe that anyone within Road’s family would be as innocent as they seemed, even though he hadn’t heard any horror stories about this particular family member. It would seem Road’s father was in jail for something or other that happened after she was sent to the facility, and Road’s brother was emotionally dependent on his sociopath sister.

Allen didn’t know if that was due to Road’s manipulation or a twisted form of love on his part that started before she became wicked.

“Yes, I am. Are you meant to have a session next? I can wait until you finish, it isn’t urgent.” Allen allowed Mana’s mask to shift his face into a gentleman’s smile, and his arms relaxed to give a less threatening image. Everything had become automatic over the years he had stayed with Cross. That time had only further imbedded his actions into habit. He counteracted Cross’s rude attitude with a kind facade, the same as Mana did to balance Allen in the past.

“Nah, boy. Don’t worry about it. I can wait a bit before talkin’, not like it’ll actually effect my time or anything.” The two sat in silence for awhile before Tyki broke it. “It seems you’ve been targeted by Road. I don’t know if she likes you yet, but you better be careful. Most people don’t last long after she goes after them. Especially if they’re in her way. So, you know. Don’t get her mad, but don’t do everything she says. You seem interesting enough to keep around.”

Allen couldn’t help but be pissed that Tyki had the audacity to warn him. It wasn’t like Road was being subtle about her desires. There was no way that Allen would miss what her goal was. That Tyki was underestimating him was just an insult to all of his abilities gained in his past.

Allen briefly remembered that Tyki boasts about his gambling abilities. It would be amusing to beat him in his own game, even though there wouldn’t be cash involved. Cash was always a better motivator.

“Thank you for your warning, however I believe I will be fine. It will be interesting to see where this game of hers goes, and which one of us will end up broken at the end. I don’t suppose you would enjoy joining?” Allen kept his eyes soft and innocent, forcing the sadistic glare down. Tyki wouldn’t take him up on his offer, especially when thinking Allen wouldn’t be interesting to play with.

It wouldn’t take long before the man caught on and became curious, especially if Allen joined in on a game of poker. Tyki managed to set them up each week he was in the facility. It went under any of the staff’s notice. Tyki didn’t care who joined the game, only that they could play and were willing to bet necessities. Not that Tyki needed any of them, but he enjoyed the thrill. There wasn’t anything of equal value, and Tyki would bet some of his more important items against even a toothbrush. Most of the time he didn’t cheat if his opponents didn’t in return.

Allen had watched a game once, and was intrigued by Tyki’s playing style and morals. He didn’t care about fair games or have a problem with taking his winnings from others who were out matched, but he would lose on purpose if it was someone’s first couple of times, or if the person was more out of it that day in comparison to others.

Allen wanted to see who’s cheating was better.

“I’d rather not, boy, but you have fun. Okay? Road won’t go easy though, no matter how much she comes to like you. I don’t believe you’d be able to handle the both of us going after you.” Allen’s eyes went blank the way Nagisa’s did whenever he was acting more innocent and crazy than normal, and the same listless smile spread over his face.

“I will be fine, do not worry.” The door to Lavi’s office opened then, and a brown haired boy walked out. The one that was talking about sports the first day Allen was in the facility. The one that placed his trust in Nagisa from the start. Idiot.

Tyki motioned Allen forward.

“Hello, Allen! I wasn’t expecting to see you in here at this time. What can I help you with? Are there any changes with the akuma? I hope you haven't seen any more.”

“No, there hasn’t been any changes. Everyone in the facility that I have met so far does not have to worry, and I don’t believe they are in danger of being taken over as of yet. It takes the death of someone close to them before that will happen, and even then the chances are small.”

“Yes, you have said that before. I apologize for forgetting. Well, what is it you are here to talk about? It is rare for a visit from you, Allen. I do love seeing you, so there’s no need to avoid me. I’m always available for you to talk with.” Lavi grinned, and Allen couldn’t help but look for anything fake amongst the smile. It was far too rare for someone to be so sincere about such a thing, especially for someone as busy as Lavi.

“I was wondering if I could leave the facility for a little bit with Cross. It is difficult for me to stay here for such long periods of times, and I don’t believe I will be able to stay calm within such an enclosed area. Because of Cross and Mana’s nomadic lifestyles, I have not stayed in a singular place for more than a few weeks at a time, and even then we would travel all over the city each day. The few rooms I am enclosed in are too much right now.” Lavi seemed to debate it for a few moments.

“I will talk with Cross and the boss about this before I can give you the okay, but I’ll tell you before Cross leaves today about what will happen. I can’t promise anything, though. Since you are still new to the facility, I can’t be sure how you will act without supervision. However, you have been very level headed the entire time you’ve been here, so your probability is not bad.”

“Thank you.” Allen said and turned to leave the room. He had taken up enough of Tyki’s time. Besides, the conversation was awkward as all hell because he wasn’t able to get a clear read on Lavi’s personality. The man was there to help people, but that was the extent of what Allen could read.

He would have to talk with Nagisa about it.

“Tyki, you may come in now. I apologize for delaying your session.”

“Nah, don’t worry ‘bout it. Not like I was excited for this anyway. Talkin’ ain’t my strong suit.” Allen nodded and moved out of the doorway to let Tyki through.

“I hope you will allow me to play at your table after some time. I believe the game would be quite interesting for both of us.” Tyki sent a sideways glance at Allen as the boy walked away, but Allen didn’t stop or lead to any conclusions.

There was still around a few hours to kill before Cross showed up, so Allen went in search of other people to talk with. His room had gotten boring. There was only so much time he could spend in that small space without feeling like he would actually lose his mind the way everyone thought he already had.

Nagisa wasn’t in his room, and Allen didn’t know where to look for the small boy. Instead he found a different feminine figure, but not one he ever wanted to interact with. Kanda Yuu was walking around near the kitchen, probably about to have his meal. Allen wondered if food was worth the confrontation.

He decided it was. Kanda could leave if it got to bad, as long as Allen ate before meeting with Cross. If they were allowed to leave the facility for some amount of time, there was no way Cross would pay for his food. The asshole was cheap like that.

“Hi, Jeryy. Could you make me some stuff? Anything you feel like, please.” Allen always ate something different, and Jeryy knew the best ways to cook anything. At one point Jeryy sent him a surprise dish that was fantastic. Allen never learned what was in it, but after that he trusted Jeryy to give him experimental food and anything he was interested in cooking.

“Of course, sunshine. I was already making you a little something, so it’ll be ready in just a moment. Now honey, tell me about your day.” He shot a face at Kanda before looking at Allen again and rolling his eyes. “That one just refuses to tell me anything.” Allen grinned. Jeryy was one of his other favorite people in the facility, and not just because the man made him food.

Most people didn’t want to joke around with patients. Employees were always afraid someone was extra unstable that day and would snap with mild provocation. Jeryy wasn’t like that. He knew how far to go with every person, and it helped everyone to trust him. Even if a patient became violent, Jeryy was trained in some sort of martial art, at least that's what rumors said. No one had actually become violent around Jeryy for the past couple of years, which might be because they just love him and his cooking too much to ever want to harm him even accidently.

“Heh, it’s doing pretty good. Lavi might be getting me a pass to go outside with Cross for a little bit. It’s nice in here with everyone and all, but there are times where I can’t handle being locked up.”

“Oh sweety, I know what that’s like.” Jeryy rested his head on his hands and bent over a little ways. “Have I told you about what it was like before I left India? Dang, what a struggle. I was stuck training little brats on how to fight all day. Sure, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world and I absolutely loved being able to train my body all the time, but I wasn’t allowed to wander. I’m sure it’s similar for you, even though we started out differently.”

“You trained people? Wow. Why couldn’t you travel?”

“Honey, that’s a story for a different time. Your food is ready right about now,” Jeryy paused just before a air whistled from a pressure cooker to alert everyone it was finished cooking. “So I better go make it look nice before you put it in your little mouth.”

Allen laughed. “It won’t stay pretty for long, you know. Don’t bother.” He would say that everyday, and Jeryy would always give a similar response. Never the same, but that was just Jeryy ‘keeping things interesting’ as he would call it.

“Ah, but shouldn’t you let your eyes get a taste before your tongue does? That’s how it’s supposed to go.” Jeryy said from the stove. Allen watched as he poured the pot of food into a different bowl, one that Allen would be carrying away from the kitchen. It looked to be some sort of curry or similar looking food. Jeryy decorated it with green leaves, possibly parsley, and sprinkled some spices onto it as a garnish. He then took a hard boiled egg and cut it in half, placing both onto the spices before carrying it over to Allen’s waiting hands.

Once Allen safely held his meal, Jeryy grabbed a stick of fresh baked bread that was in a basket next to the window and put it next to an egg half. “There you go, sweety. Enjoy!” Allen barely paused long enough to shout a thank you before rushing off to sit down and eat.

Part of the way through his fantastic meal there was a disturbing presence that he felt invading his space. Ignoring it for a moment longer, Allen finished his bread with a small amount more of the curry (it was pork, which made a fantastic and unusual taste; Jeryy normally used chicken or beef for his curry). When he finally looked up, regretting leaving his life substance waiting, it was Kanda sitting at the same table only a couple meters away.

It was way too close for Allen’s comfort. Kanda acted like it was too close for him as well.

“Why are you looking at me?” Allen asked with as polite of a smile he could muster. It felt like his face would break from the strain. Kanda didn’t even give him the same courtesy, instead letting the disgust rest on his features.

Allen reminded himself to stay calm. Attacking Kanda here and now, no matter how much of an asshole he was, would only lead to being stuck in the facility for longer. Not worth it.

Yet.

“Hopefully an akuma doesn't decide to come and pray on you.” Allen muttered to himself. With Kanda’s attitude it was entirely possible, and although Allen didn’t like living around the asshole, having an akuma stuck in that man’s body would not be good for anyone.

Kanda slammed his hands onto the table. “The fuck you say, bean sprout? You really think I’d be one of your damn illusions?” Allen saw Jeryy looking at them over the counter.

“You’re too annoying to be an illusion, so no. I do think that an akuma would love to use your body, though.” Kanda grabbed Allen by the shirt and yanked him up over the table. Allen waved his hands in a placating gesture that went completely ignored by the angry male. “You don't have to worry, Kanda. If you ever became an akuma, I would free you from your bonds.” That didn’t seem to be the right thing to say.

“You crazy asshole, no way will I ever get possessed!” Kanda seemed to withdraw into himself for a moment and gaze just left of Allen”s head. “Never,” he hissed and dumped Allen onto the floor.

“So you’ve witnessed the death of someone close to you, huh. Is that why you’re stuck in here?” Allen goaded, noticing Lenalee entering the room. He subconsciously took note of her flinch, but continued on anyway. She wasn’t meant to be his target, so he wouldn’t hit on her specific story points. Kanda may end up destroyed by the end of this conversation, though. Allen would make sure he stayed away from welcoming the insane clown into his life. Of course, he’d follow through on his promise if it ever happened. The akuma would be freed, and Kanda would be dead. No harm done.

“Oh, but you don’t want to bring them back, do you. You loved them, you loved them very much. But you never want them to come back to live and torment you again. What, stockholm syndrome? Now Kanda, that’s not a good thing to hold on to. Let’s see. A friend… no. Closer. You grew up with them. A sibling. Brother. Yes, that’s who it was. Your brother died. Was it your fault?” Allen paused in his row of questioning. Kanda’s face was a confused warp of emotions being displayed.

“Well, isn’t that interesting. It is your fault, but you still believe it partially wasn’t. Kanda, acceptance is best, don’t you know? That’s what Lavi always says.” At Kanda’s growl he paused for a moment to let the Japanese to calm down for a moment.

Calm before the storm and all that. Performance was all about timing. Mana made sure Allen knew that perfectly before he was killed.

“There was some tragedy before all of this happened, too, wasn’t there. Yes, there was more than just your brother. Not strangers, you were attached to them. Family? That could be it. One, two, three, all. Everyone died before your brother, and you’re all alone now. I see.” At the side, Lenalee began hyperventilating. There was movement behind the counter, and Allen saw the end of Jeryy’s pink hair flash before the man was kneeling next to Lenalee.

Allen left Kanda to stew in his thoughts while he turned to Lenalee. Though the girl was weak, there was something impressive about her. Allen just didn’t know what.

“No!! STOP!” Allen forced himself to crouch down next to the screaming girl and ignore the mild flashbacks that were going through him. One of her feet hit the table and blood blossomed from under the bandages that constantly wrapped them. Despite the damage that were inflicted, the table got pushed away and Lenalee continued to struggle. “BROTHER!!”

“Here, Lenalee. Can you hear me? Come on. Give me your palms for a moment, I need to see something.” Allen said calmly, coaxing her into releasing her muscle tension. It was how he normally helped Mana when Mana was freaking out about an unknown nightmare. “I want you to open your eyes. Can you see anything? A color? A shape?”

“Red…” She whispered, frightened eyes fixated on her legs. “So… so much red.” Her eyeline lifted up to meet Allen’s for a moment before she shut her eyes again. “Brother…”

“Now Lenalee, can you reach for my hand? It’s just in front of you. I want you to grab it and pull it closer to your chest. Can you do that?” Her shaking hands slowly branched out from where they had death grips on each other. One gripped Allen’s hand, and the other fell loosely to the floor. Allen ignored the pain in his hand and reached for the fallen one. “I’m going to touch your hand, okay? I’m lifting it up. There you go. This hand is in the facility, you see? It’s with me and Jeryy. Can you see where your other hand is?”

“Th-the facility…?”

“Good. Now, how about you come back with us? Just follow your hands, they’re already here and waiting for you to come on back. Here, I’ll guide you through.” Allen gently pulled on her arm, straightening it just a smidge before releasing it back to its previous position. “There you go. Now where are you?”

“The facility…”

“Perfect. Now, how do you feel about grabbing something to eat? I’m sure Jeryy would love to cook your favorites. What do you like again? It was a pastry, right?”

“Cake… chocolate…”

“Right, that was it! How could I have forgotten. Jeryy, do you have any chocolate cake for the little miss? You see, I promised that she could have some, and I would rather not go breaking promises.” Allen continued to draw out the scene, making sure Lenalee could constantly hear his voice and be reminded that he was there.

“Oh honey, I always have cake for my little cuties, don’t you worry a bit. Now, give me just a moment and I’ll be right back with the most delicious slice there is. You’ll wait for me, now won’t you?” Lenalee nodded in response and Allen helped her up to a table.

“Now that cake is on the way, do you mind telling me a little about what was happening? Lavi says that it’s good to talk about it, and I trust that he’s right. My father had problems with talking and I think everything could have been fixed if he just learned to communicate his feelings properly. Will you help prove me right?”

“Yeah… I was with my brother again. We were… walking home from the movies. I was really excited about what we had just watched, something about superheros, and was acting out a ton of different scenes. Brother laughed and clapped at most of them. He would always talk about how special of a person I was. Say I was amazing and strong and other lies like that. He didn’t know we would be attacked until it was too late. There were a few guys, so we didn’t have a chance to fight back. Three of them focused on me, and two on my brother. I don’t know what they wanted, but one drew a knife on me and was about to stab me when brother used himself as a shield. I don’t know how he got away from those other guys, but he did. The guys left before he died, so it was just me sitting there as he told me not to worry.”

“Purpose, that’s what you’re needing. When Mana was killed, all I could think about was how it was my fault,” Lenalee flinched back violently, but Allen continued talking. “I either wanted to bring him back, or join him. So, I decided to try bringing him back first. There was a man who would take people’s souls from death and return them to the land of the living. I went to talk with him. He dressed as a clown, so I automatically trusted him. Mana said to always trust clowns, since he was one too. They’re much better than any other circus performer.

“The clown guy said that he could definitely take Mana back, but there would be a cost. He had me lie down on a table and then strapped my arms, legs and neck. Of course, I knew that meant something would hurt, but I didn’t care. He said it would bring Mana back.” Allen paused for dramatic effect. He found long ago that telling this tale would make people feel sorry for him. After the initial story, people let Allen get away with nearly whatever he wanted.

It didn’t affect him anymore. Before, when he was still just a brat, the thought of having his face carved into while his eye was under threat of being pulled out would make him freeze up. Since the first time, similar instances threatened other body parts, and he grew used to it. He already had a damaged hand, how hard could life be with a different area damaged. It wasn’t worth the fear.

Also, it freaked people out to smile as they held knives over his stomach.

Cross always got there in time to keep him safe enough. It wasn’t like Allen could kill a human. He wasn’t a bad person. He’d leave that to Cross to deal with.

“One of my wrists broke free without me meaning to move it, just before he injected Mana’s soul into my eye. He said that after Mana was in my eye, he would take out the eye and Mana’s body would form for him to live in. Mana’s soul was in that syringe.

“But I broke it, and Mana’s soul left. My eye started to burn and my vision turned red, and I knew he had cursed me. From that moment on, I could see akuma attached to people and even objects, and I knew I had to destroy them. If I didn’t, then why would I have forsaken Mana? To allow other akuma to suffer the pain of being created from their loved ones? No, that wouldn’t be what Mana would want me to do. I had to free everyone.”

“What happened to the clown?” Lenalee asked quietly. Her voice seemed to hide itself from the truth.

“I managed to reach the knife he carved into me with, and I stabbed him in the arm and the side. He left after that, and I went back to Mana’s tomb.”

“So… you protected yourself, and no one else had to get hurt. I see. So, if I keep others from getting hurt, does that mean that brother died for a reason?”

“No.” Allen said firmly. “No one dies for a reason, you have to create a reason and find your purpose.” Lenalee nodded slowly. “Ah, Jeryy! You’re back! What are you doing standing over there, come on over! I hope you grabbed some cake for yourself to eat, too. No way will I have this sweetness without you.”

“Oh honey, you’re such a flirt, aren’t you? Well, alright. I brought out the whole cake anyway. I knew you wouldn’t want just a single piece, would you dear. No, I’ll make sure you eat everything right up.” Allen grinned with a slight pink tinge and saliva building up. He quickly cut three slices and dished them out, starting with Lenalee. She got the second biggest piece.

“So Lenalee, you gotta figure out what to do next. I can’t really tell you, since your reasoning is different than mine, and caused a different impression on you than it would on me. The way you interpret what happened and what your purpose is decides what you should do.” Lenalee muttered a quick work of acknowledgment before falling entirely silent.

“It isn’t that simple, idiot.” Kanda said from the side. Allen had completely forgotten about the dark presence standing a few feet away. He was pretty proud of that fact. Kanda probably didn’t enjoy being ignored. “You can’t just ‘decide’ what your purpose is. It’s already been determined, and no matter what you do, you can’t change that.”

“So you were always meant to end up here? Well, isn’t that depressing. How many things happened due to fate in your life? Everything? What if you try changing them? You know, I think you really deserve to be here. Having that thought process is very unhealthy. I guess there’s no way you’d want to bring someone back to life, though, if their death was just due to fate. You believe that all you want, I’m going to save the world with my purpose, even if no one notices what I’m doing.”

“All you will become is a murderer if you fight back. That’s why I’m here. People can’t change shit.” Allen’s head tilted to the side and a soft smile spread over his face.

“That’s so cute, such a hard-headed fool has succumbed to other people’s ideals. No wonder I don’t like you.” Kanda lunged at Allen, who dodged quickly and danced away. Kanda didn’t go after him, instead opting to head towards the door.

“Bye-bye!” Allen waved to Kanda on his way out.

Chapter Text

Allen Walker

Allen chowed down on some extra food Jeryy found for him as he left the cafeteria. Cake wouldn't be enough to tide him over. There wasn’t any real reason to leave those two, but something seemed to be calling his name and drawing him away from his safe haven of food. He took to wandering the halls, an everyday activity for him, it would seem. There were areas of the facility that Allen could get to with ease. The cafeteria being one of them, and most of the time he could make it to his room without too many directions.

The front door was not that easy. Every turn he made caused someone new to give him an entirely different set of directions that he couldn't figure out. Why someone would have so much trouble was a mystery to even him, since he calmly listened to people’s directions and walked while reciting them in his head to make sure everything was correct. There was a time where he would blame the person for his inability, thinking that their directions were just awful. Cross managed to prove him wrong about that multiple times.

The only good thing about his sense of directions was that, without fail, he would find what he was looking for at some point. There were definitely times where he didn't know he was looking for that, but by the end of his search there was no doubt in his mind that wherever he ended up was exactly where he was supposed to be.

It just so happened that this day, he ended up in a dead end hallway with no one and nothing in it. So, he wandered out of the hallway and noticed an open room, where someone was fiddling with some machine that Allen noted to be important. Right after noticing it, there was a mild stinging in his eye that slowly spread from the innermost section of his iris out. A trail of burning followed his scars to form the pentagram at the top.

When his eye started hurting, Allen was dead set on making sure this person stopped what they were doing and were freed from the soul taking over their body.

He allowed his body to take control of his actions and begin to draw the akuma down to the floor. A few well-placed kicks had the man down, and within moments Allen was in front of the kneeling form with a hand placed on his forehead. Allen’s hand glowed green and his fingernails elongated to dig into the man’s flesh. With this confirmation, Allen stabbed his innocence hand into the man’s stomach and allowed a scream to ring out through the air.

Just because this was his purpose, it didn’t mean he could forget about all the humans who died in the process of freeing the akuma from their captive states. There was another death caused by his hand, even if the human was nearly -- if not entirely -- dead before Allen finished their body.

“Rest now. You are free from your constraints of this Hell.” There was an odd bubbling sound coming from the man’s body, but Allen moved on without giving it thought. It was time to find Cross and have him clean up this mess or bring Allen outside of the facility. It was Cross’ choice.

Allen walked to a nearby bathroom to wash off his bloodied weapon. It wouldn’t due to have people freaking out about the blood, which they could see. It was the black oil-like substance that didn’t seem to bother them, but that wasn’t necessarily Allen’s problem. Cross told him he had to clean his hands afterwards. He wasn’t allowed to digest any of the oil, or Cross would be mad and wash out his mouth. It happened every time he tried to sneak a lick when Cross was around.

He learned later on that other people freak out when there’s blood on his hands, and it makes it hard to get them to do anything for him. Cross refused to help him with anything one time after destroying an akuma. Not even if it was food. Allen couldn’t get any of the people in town to hand over some food for a while because he didn’t bother cleansing his appearance of blood.

Cross decided to save him after all, and they got out of the town. Allen learned not to walk around with a blood covered figure.

He was lucky that no one was in the bathroom at the time, and that they only decided to come in after he just finished cleaning everything off. It had gotten a little messy at this time and he had to roll up his sleeves to fully cover the blood. A few splotched had gotten stained a bit above the cuffs, and he didn’t have time to fully wash them out, even though they were still fresh. The rest of his shirt was clean enough, that if he just tucked it into his pants, the really noticable areas would be covered.

As he was walking out of the room, a patient that he didn’t know headed in. The red head leveled Allen with a sharp glare before pushing past, but Allen could see the hint of fear in the boy’s eyes. Allen didn’t bother confronting the guy. This redhead would cause more problems than the other one that Nagisa seemed to befriend. Kurama, or whatever his name really was.

Allen made his way to the front door, somehow managing to find it after asking a few employees and patients where to go. Ideally he would have gone to Lavi’s place, but someone who told him those directions made it even more confusing than it normally would have been. This was where Cross would come in from, and then the old man could lead him up to Lavi’s without the possibility of getting lost. Plus, Allen could tell Cross about the body he dropped that needed some cover-up.

According to the clock, Allen had arrived at the entrance approximately 25 minutes after Cross was supposed to arrive, but he didn’t take much note of that. Cross never showed up even close to on time, so there was still the chance of waiting for another half hour before his guardian arrived. Not too awful of a wait, but still too long of a time to just sit.

Thankfully his boredom was alleviated when a stranger walked into the room. The man looked similar to the boy he saw a while ago entering the restroom. Similar hairstyle and face shape, and the way he carried himself also showed a resemblance.

But there was definitely something different between this man and the kid Allen had seen. This guy’s soul was different. Not entirely missing, of course, but not purely his own. It was like an akuma had tried to take him over and he fought back with all he had, winning but becoming damaged in the process. Allen’s eye burned for the second time that day, but he didn’t know if he should react or not. His weapon didn’t extend to confirm his suspicions, but the pain in his eye was becoming unbearable as the man walked closer and closer to Allen’s sitting place. The man wasn’t headed directly to him, but in the direction Allen had walked from. The man would walk right past Allen. The burning would intensify.

Allen acted.

The man stood five feet away, and it took no time to launch himself forwards with his claw extended towards the man’s neck. His weapon was only partially activated, like it was still confused on what to do. That small amount of activation was enough for Allen, however. He just didn’t expect this akuma/man to know how to fight back from a surprise attack. He managed to dodge from Allen’s weaponized hand, but was caught in the fleshy, normal one. Allen’s weapon was restrained the entire time while the rest of his body acted on instinct. There were enough hits to the man’s body that a normal human would have fallen to the ground, but Allen’s innocence never made contact for the finishing blow.

An orderly quickly had Allen restrained before he could free the damaged soul from its vessel.

That was when Cross walked in, and pulled Allen from the orderly, receiving a sincere ‘thanks’ for his effort. Though Allen made sure not to hurt the human, his struggling managed to wear down the orderly’s strength. A moment longer and Allen would have broken free and finished the job.

The burning from Allen’s eye received, and he felt his weapon fully calm down. The man had somehow become more human than before as he glared at Allen, and Allen offered him a brief apology before turning to Cross. With an urgent whisper, he told Cross about the other akuma he found that day. The two had developed a special language for such instances where Allen dropped a body and could only inform Cross when there were other people around.

Allen loved it when time passed by quickly. He was easily susceptible to boredom, but constant activity washed past him as events disappeared from his mind. He didn’t notice the restraints being placed on him, or the walk to a padded room, or when Lavi walked into the room. Most of his time during the fights had already past, with the first one nearly completely gone. There was only a brief question of if Cross managed to clean everything up properly while in unknown territory. The old man didn’t normally have a problem with that, but this was a different situation than he normally had. He also had to cover the man’s disappearance, not just be rid of the body and other physical evidence.

The good news was that Allen no longer felt the urge to go outside of the facility. It seemed that people inside also were possessed by akuma, he just needed to wander a bit more. Meeting people outside of his normal circle of contacts would increase his encounters with the akuma. It was strange he hadn’t tried that method previously, especially since it would be easier than getting permission to leave the facility for a short time.

It was highly unlikely he would receive permission after his public act of service. People never seemed to understand just how much he was helping them.

He found himself in a padded area, very similar to what he heard of mental facilities. Allen had convinced himself they were fake, but being proven wrong isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He is still able to play with his hands, there’s just nothing in the room to mess with. The people outside of his door wouldn’t respond to anything he said, so he gave up and started to figure out what to do after getting out of here.

Most of his plans would be fun for multiple people. Road wanted to learn how to draw some stuff, and Allen was one of the few people who could teach her. Tyki was great at drawing, but he would only come in a few times per month and Road was an impatient girl. Allen was also interested in seeing what’s going on with Tyki. He hadn’t talked to the boy that much, but it seemed Tyki knew interesting things about Road.

Tyki’s warning was interesting. Allen didn’t know if he wanted to do anything with it, but learning more should be perfectly fine.

There were others he was interested in within this place, of course. That boy, from the bathroom just previously. Something was strange with him. A similar strangeness that Karma had, like a clear strength that isn’t focused on anything. Strength of mind and body, most likely. But still beaten down before even facing true battle, which was the strange part.

He could deal with that later, though. For now, an adrenaline crash was about to overtake him, so he waved at the camera and said good night before lying down on the provided bed.

Cross Marian

It was normal for the brat to force him into difficult situations to dispose of the people he dropped. Most of the time, though, Allen acted as a distraction to keep attention off Cross as Cross dragged the thing around. Now there wasn’t anyone to help out and he had a long distance to cross before finally getting out of the shit hole. There’s probably a ton of people in this place that knew how to sneak around and stay hidden. Cross might be good, but he couldn’t consider himself the best after meeting the brat that managed to escape from him more than a few times.

There was also the entire problem of finding the place that brat was talking about. What the brat said translated roughly into ‘near the bathroom with important machines close to a dead end,’ which was not the most helpful description by anyone’s standards. Cross also wasn’t entirely familiar with the facility so he had to spend far too much time wandering around. The body was most likely stinking up the hall with how long it was taking to find the room.

Wandering was the only way he'd be able to find the damn body.

It was worse since Cross didn’t have any of his regular tools. Allen only decided to inform him of the job after Cross was inside the building and had no chance of getting the proper materials that would easily dispose of the body. Allen never seems to think these sorts of problems through. It wasn’t the first time Cross had to get creative because of the brat, and it definitely wouldn't be the last.

Of course, he had to see what state the body was in before actually planning something concrete. At this point, considering how difficult it would be to get the body outside of the facility, the best idea would be to find the kitchen and get it over there to clean and burn. It was more than likely that Allen had made friends of the cook, so Cross could use that connection to get inside. That, and turning on his natural charm, would allow him access to the equipment, including an oven. There would be better knives than he was capable of carrying on him past security.

Stopping by a supplies closet before reaching the body would be preferable, though. Something to hide the stench, maybe to get him a temporary cover that would ultimately be broken after a few too many minutes.

It was a good thing Cross decided to bring his side satchel to today’s meeting. Most times he didn’t bother because hiding stuff on his person was so much easier than something people could easily grab after it got set down.

Well, that was the general idea. Not like Cross would let people take anything of his unless it was purposeful. Which was part of the plan for today. Allen needed to calm down, most likely. Giving him a petty thief to get mad at would most likely do the trick, though that clearly was unnecessary now.

At least it would be mildly helpful now.

And now with a supplies closet in sight, Cross could finally start picking up some supplies to stash in his satchel. He grabbed some bags, of course. Just in case there were parts scattered around the room. There were a few rags, some thin plastic gloves and a small bottle of bleach. Nothing to absorb the smell after he finished up, sadly, but that was the best he could get.

Far too much time had passed already. By his estimate it had been thirty minutes since Allen told him about the body, and there was no telling how long ago he actually dropped the guy. His nose wasn’t picking up on anything, so that either ment Allen actually took care with the body to hide the smell, or Cross was nowhere near where he was supposed to be.

He sped up his walking and didn’t bother to check the rooms. If there was a security area, he’d be able to tell from the distinctive sound of electronics and boredom. At least then he would be able to access cameras to see where Allen had been recently and track down the room that way.

Unlike his brat, Cross had a better than average internal compass and memory of directions.

When he heard the hum of computers, Cross also managed to smell the stench of blood. It was mild, thankfully, but definitely still there. Inside the room was a mildly gory scene. Allen had left far messier bodies in his wake. A small stab through the stomach was nothing awful. It did mean there was no reason for the bags taking up space in his bags though, and he dumped them out.

Most of the time, when Allen killed there was a reason. And not the idiotic one with hallucinations that he always talked about. Every single person had been up to something dangerous to the general public, and a few had been people he’d been hired to off by the higher ups but Allen managed to stumble onto them before he even told the kid who he was after. Might be a sixth sense or some other shit like that.

All it meant was that this guy had to have been up to something dangerous enough to Allen to go after. Same with that guy he attacked in the entryway, though that guy could only have been half bad seeing as Allen stopped before actually murdering him.

It was time for the hard part, though. Getting the body to the kitchen where he’d finish off getting rid of any evidence. It was a decent while away, but since he managed to pass by it on the way over it shouldn’t be difficult to find again.

First step was to close and lock the door. There was something strange going on with the computer, so Cross shut it down completely before continuing. He picked up the body and pushed it against the wall without dragging blood around. He needed to clean up the blood before moving from the room. It was lucky enough that no one had found it before he got there. No need for someone to walk in on a puddle of blood before he could get back.

At least the bags could come in handy, if only a small amount. It was something to set under the body so that he didn’t have to clean up any more dripped blood. There was enough of a mess as it was.

He poured some bleach onto the rag, grumbling to himself. It was such a pain to clean up blood. Despite the chemicals, there took way too much scrubbing which meant way too much time. Being on his knees was never his favorite position - in anything.

The chemicals were burning his nose mildly and his hands were starting to sting through the thin gloves he picked up. Some of his fantastic hair must have touched the bleach because of how long it was, and if anything looked anything less than perfect, Cross would kill the brat. No exceptions.

When he was finally able to move the body, and the entire mess was cleaned up, his heart really started beating as adrenaline pumped through his body. Time for the fun part. His skills hadn't been needed to this extent for a long span of time. The entire challenge of not killing anyone or even mildly beating them up and proceeding knock them out was different from what he normally experienced with clean ups. A challenge might be good.

Didn’t mean he would be any nicer to the brat after he got out of whatever hole they threw him in for the time being. It was still annoying as fuck, especially since he didn't have a distraction. Allen was always good at drawing people away for a short time.

It was up to luck, which was one thing he never had much of. Why else would he get stuck with such a shitty task.

The walk down the hallways was a long one. Any sound had him twitching for the nearest door to slip into and hide. Thankfully no one actually decided to walk down his path for a large span of time. There were only a few instances where he had to duck into a room. Thankfully those rooms were all empty.

Cross was mildly confused on why it would be this easy. Walking around to find the body forced him to bump into multiple people just wandering the halls. He took his blessings, however, and continued to move as swiftly as he could. There was only one more hall before reaching the kitchen door. There were two people talking to each other in that hallway, and no door to hide behind.

“Hey, Road!” Someone called out. Cross heard a man sauntering over to the pair. “I’ve been looking around for you everywhere. There’s only a few hours before I gotta head home again.”

“Tyki!” A female voice shouted. “Of course I’m here. You really should have just come to the kitchen first, you know. Lunch time! Besides, didn’t your therapy time get finished forever ago? It’s been hours!”

“Ah, but it started late. Some other kid needed to talk with Lavi urgently about something. The one with white hair.”

“Ah, we were just talking about him. Allen Walker. I can’t believe he would actually attack someone in plain sight, I thought he was better than that. I mean, honestly. Even as a kid I knew it was a bad idea.”

“You weren’t a normal kid, Road. There’s too much in your brain to actually consider you as normal.” A feminine voice sounded with a little jingle to it. It was different from the girl who was talking earlier, however. That laugh was rewarded with a soft hit in the arm.

“Nagisa! That isn’t funny! I was a perfectly normal kid, just like you were. Right?” Cross cringed. Assuming the kid was Nagisa Shiota, son of the serial killer Hiromi Shiota, there was no way he had a normal childhood. The girl that was comparing herself to him had to know that.

Cross realized that he made the mistake of forgetting this was where the insane go. That conversation was borderline normal until Nagisa’s name was spoken.

“Alright, come on you brats. Let’s go get some food. I wonder if Jeryy has anything interesting to give us today.”

“Of course he does Tyki! Besides, he loves me enough to just make anything I ask for. I could probably tell him not to give you anything good. Wonder what would happen.”

“I heard from Lenalee he has some fantastic chocolate cake today. I heard it was a new recipe or something that he’s trying out.” Nagisa Shiota should not be able to sound this normal. It was too similar to Allen’s attitude that it was throwing Cross off just a little. There was a very likely possibility that if Cross just walked out into the hallway with the corpse they wouldn’t give him more than a glance.

Not that he would risk it. It was interesting to entertain the possibility, however on the off chance he was wrong there would be no going back and Cross would have to deal with the fallout. Allen would also have some sort of punishment, but that mattered less.

The group began walking in the opposite way and Cross nearly let out a sigh of relief. He wouldn’t make an extra sound of course, but at least they didn’t start coming his way. The luck he was thinking about previously was still way too apparent to be true.

Warning bells were blaring in his head as he walked down the hall and slipped into the kitchen. A pink haired man was at the other end of the room looking through a window section into the cafeteria. There seemed to be a few people chatting with him about stuff definitely not related to food and the man giggled. Allen was definitely his friend.

Cross moved silently across the room and placed the body in the freezer, opening and closing the doors swiftly and as softly as he could. The doors were well oiled and didn’t have any extra sealing mechanisms, so he managed with the silent part. The cook, Jeryy according the the group of people talking outside, didn’t make any motion to indicate he heard a thing.

Cross set the body down as far back as he could, next to some rarely used materials. The ones that normally would be in the front because they aren’t meant to be frozen before consumption.

He couldn’t leave the body for a long amount of time. Jeryy seemed like the type of person to notice anything different about his freezer.

Cross escaped from the freezer as quickly as he could, still silent. After shuffling to the door into the kitchen, he knocked and walked back in.

Tyki Mikk

There was a strange redhead wandering around the halls when Tyki was looking for Road. He had a few hours before he absolutely had to get back and start working on some art projects, so he could catch up with Road later on. This guy was mildly more interesting than she was, at least at the moment. Most people wandering around didn’t have a purpose for their wandering, they were just lost. This guy, though, looked in each room and kept sniffing the air. He could be unstable, but they normally appear a little different when wandering. This guy was mostly sane.

That just made him all the more interesting, and that's why Tyki decided to leave Road alone for a bit longer. Road, while extremely intelligent, did not have that mild amount of sanity to keep her thoughts coherent. After being surrounded by the mentally unstable for so long, it becomes the sane people who are different and new.

Redhead disappeared behind a door for a few moments, probably grabbing things. Tyki heard some movements behind the door before the guy walked out with a bag full of something. That was behavior Tyki had seen before when someone was trying to smuggle something from the shop he worked at for a few weeks.

He got fired from that job fairly quickly. His coworkers noticed that Tyki never stopped people from walking out with the goods. In his defence, there wasn’t any actual reason to stop the people. They only took worthless items anyway. The cash hog owners wouldn’t miss it.

Redhead was on the move again. He walked down a few hallways, always checking around the corner for any sign of someone coming. Tyki briefly felt like laughing. People wouldn’t care if this guy was walking around. He wasn’t the strangest person in the place, after all. And there was no way someone would recognize that he didn’t belong. Unless they were Tyki of course. Or someone with as much unnecessary interest in strangers that Tyki had. It looked like that interest would pay of this time, though.

There had been days he had nothing to do and followed random people from the train all the way to their workplace. Just for fun. He hadn’t been caught yet, and a few times the people turned out to be police that just hadn't changed into uniform.

It was a good thing that Tyki new everyone’s schedule around here thanks to Road, though. It was about time for a few people to walk down this hallway that Redhead was sneaking into. The schedule works on a supposedly ‘random’ basis, but Road figured out the patterns a few years after she got in, talking about how true random was impossible. So far it had worked out well enough, and each time the ‘random’ changed she would inform Tyki with an updated schedule.

Tyki used a hallway that went along a similar path as the one Redhead was going down and intercepted the people walked through the halls.

“Hey you guys! Link, I thought it was your day off. What happened?” Tyki said. The three orderlies, Johnny, Link and Isogai were walked through the halls. Johnny was just about to turn the corner to where Redhead was before shifting to look at Tyki. He stepped back towards the group.

“Something happened with Tup so they called me in.” Link explained. His facial muscles didn’t move an inch, and Tyki had a strong urge to mess with him. Johnny interrupted him before he had the chance, though. Probably for the best.

“Oh, his sister got into an accident, so he’s with her while she gets better. At least, I think that’s how it was. He called me just before work started to spill everything, but I didn’t understand most of it because he was crying. She’s supposed to be okay though.” Johnny said.

“We should send a care package! I know a place that has a wonderful assortment of items, and each basket has an adorable plushy in to to say something cute. What do you think it should say?” Isogai asked.

The Redhead ducked into another room, one that the trio wouldn’t be checking since it wasn’t considered to be important. Tyki didn’t know what exactly was in there. Road probably did.

“Well then, just tell me how much I should pool in for the basket, kay? I’m gonna go find Road before heading out. Tell Tup I said hi!” Tyki grinning and waved them off. Link looked mildly suspicious of his actions, but Tyki made sure to always act a little more odd around him, just to throw the guy off. Link probably knew it too, and that’s why he didn’t bother anymore.

Tyki disappeared from sight and allowed Redhead to continue on his way after the trio was gone. Redhead took no time getting out of that room and creeping down the hallway once more. This time, though, he seemed to smell something and stopped outside of a room. This one, however, was actually important. Road said it had servers with some important information stored on them. Stuff like confidential patient information, and it held stuff on the really messed up people. Road, for example. Or Nagisa.

Road said that Tyki’s information is in a different, less secure area, though Tyki doubted that this room was actually secure since Redhead just walked straight in without triggering anything that he knew of. The guy did check around a little before moving in, which Tyki took to mean Redhead knew what he was doing.

There was a soft thud from inside of the room, and Tyki finally picked up on what the guy was smelling. It was faint, but there was definitely a mild stench Tyki associated with blood. He learned about it long ago from Road, and then from people he later associated with. Many of the people he used to gamble with met the same fate as whoever was in that room. Money collectors had a habit of offing people that messed with their cash flow. Their favorite style was in the same room as other gamblers as a demonstration.

Redhead took a while getting out of the room, and Tyki contemplated leaving for a bit or fully abandoning his intrigue in favor of visiting with Road. Patience wasn’t his strong suit. Taking a quick risk, he glanced into the room and saw Redhead on his knees scrubbing at some blood.

Tyki felt his bad habit forcing its way up and he fought back for a moment. People always seemed to notice when he was grinning at them, especially if they were highly in tune with their surroundings like Redhead had to be.

The cadaver leaning up against the wall caught his interest after he fully took in the sight of Redhead. There was a nice sized hole in the body’s stomach, not something made by a sharp blade but more likely a blunt instrument. It was strange that he couldn’t identify what was used to pierce through.

Redhead grumbled to himself and Tyki took that as his que to move away and hide again. His job just got a little bit harder. Before he didn’t try and stop everyone from contacting Redhead as he was wandering, just the people that would actually question who he was and what he was doing. There was no way that guy would be able to stay out of mind if he had a corpse dragging behind him.

Tyki moved into action once Redhead began to lift the body. The exits were all to the right of the room, so Redhead had to be moving that way. There were a few people he came in contact with which he decided to whistle around. Road always commented that his whistle made people want to run and hide because of the awful sound. Hopefully what she said was true. If not, there was always his dancing, and if that failed he could subtly steer them to a different halfway by talking in a roundabout manner. That was something he had to perfect when living with Sheril.

Redhead took a wrong turn at one area, however, and started to move to one of the sides where there wasn’t an exit. Tyki nearly lost him before finally realizing that the quiet footfalls that had been religiously behind him disappeared.

After circling back, Tyki saw the guy walking towards the kitchen. More importantly, he heard Road talking with one of her little insane friends. Tyki wasn’t able to identify the voice yet, so not someone he interacted with much if at all. Redhead was slowing to a stop, and Tyki took that as his opportunity to hurry down one of the other hallways, nearly running.

This little adventure was definitely testing his knowledge of connecting hallways in the facility. It was mildly annoying to check his mental map all the time.

“Hey, Road!” Road and the blue-haired kid, N-something, looked his way. Road waved at him enthusiastically but didn’t jump on him like normal. “I’ve been looking around for you everywhere. There’s only a few hours before I gotta head home again.”

“Of course I’m here.” Road said with her hands resting on her hips. For a moment Tyki almost forgot that she was nearly as old as him. “You really should have just come to the kitchen first, you know. Lunch time! Besides, didn’t your therapy time get finished forever ago? It’s been hours!” Tyki spend half a second coming up with a viable excuse. Road had an uncanny ability to tell when someone was lying to her face, and while half truths didn’t always get past her, they were far better than straight lies.

“Ah, but it started late. Some other kid needed to talk with Lavi urgently about something. The one with white hair.” Sadly Road caught on. Tyki could see it in her eyes, but it didn’t seem as though she would out him in front of Blue.

“Ah, we were just talking about him. Allen Walker. I can’t believe he would actually attack someone in plain sight, I thought he was better than that. I mean, honestly. Even as a kid I knew it was a bad idea.” Tyki quickly added that information into his brain. There might have been a connection between Redhead and Allen since they did happen on the same day. Allen could have gone violent for a bit and needed Redhead to cover up the worse one since no one witnessed it.

“You weren’t a normal kid, Road. There’s too much in your brain to actually consider you as normal.” Blue giggled at what Tyki said until Road hit him with her shoulder. Tyki noticed the way Blue shield himself from the elbow despite not actually blocking it. It seemed as though all of his body tensed in on itself getting ready for a strike before the moment past and Tyki was left wondering if what he noticed was real.

It had to be. Road wouldn’t be hanging around this kid if he was boring.

“Nagisa! That isn’t funny! I was a perfectly normal kid, just like you were. Right?” This time he hid a flinch. Road practically grew up in mental hospitals starting around age six. Comparing herself to him was entirely to send Tyki a warning about what this kid was capable of. It was highly likely that this Nagisa guy was just as capable of murder as Road was, possibly more so.

It was time to move the conversation along. Redhead was probably getting freaked out by having to stand in that hallway for so long. If Tyki was right, and he generally was, there wasn’t any door to hide behind in that span of hall. “Alright, come on you brats. Let’s go get some food. I wonder if Jeryy has anything interesting to give us today.”

“Of course he does Tyki! Besides, he loves me enough to just make anything I ask for. I could probably tell him not to give you anything good. Wonder what would happen.” Tyki let out a rather inappropriate noise. No way would Jeryy make something Tyki didn’t like. They had good chemistry, even if it was going nowhere.

“I heard from Lenalee he has some fantastic chocolate cake today. I heard it was a new recipe.” Nagisa added. Road squealed and grabbed them both by the arms to drag away. Cake was one of Road’s many favorite sweets. The chocolate part mattered less, but as long as it was cake it was acceptable.

Tyki fought back the instinct to glance behind them to where Redhead should be. If the guy needed to move farther than the kitchen he was on his own. Tyki couldn’t ditch Road now.

Chapter Text

Jeryy seemed like a nice enough guy. At first he was mildly surprised that Cross was in the kitchen in the first place, but it seemed as though he was used to random people coming in and helping him out sometimes. It wasn’t exactly something that Cross understood, seeing as he nearly murdered Allen on multiple occasions for doing just that. The kid survived, of course. Mostly.

Helping out did let him see the three people who had been talking around the corner though. One of them was the little blue-haired kid Nagisa that had imitated Allen’s mask. With him was a short girl with a mild purple tint in her hair and very feminine clothing that had a strange sense of danger hidden in the color scheme. He assumed this person was ‘Road’.

There was an adult person with them. He was fairly tall, over 180 cm at least. Dark hair and a plain face covered by hair. Cross briefly wondered why he was paying more attention to this character than he did the others, since he seemed less of a danger than the two kid-like people. Something about him kept nudging at Cross’ mind to remember the guy.

That wasn’t happening, so he ignored the nudge and went on with his day. It was time to convince his new friend Jeryy to leave the kitchen for a little while.

“Jeryy, love, do you know what the meal plan is for Allen?” As Cross predicted, right once he mentioned to Jeryy that he was Allen’s guardian the guy opened right up and they were already on good terms. It helped that Cross knew his way around a knife and was willing to help him out. Jeryy didn’t need help, of course. He could feed an entire army on his own, but having someone to chat up while working was a nice change.

Anyone who had the potential of hurting themselves were not allowed in the kitchen, which considering where he worked was basically the entire population. Only a few of the staff members had been cleared by him, and many of them were not good conversationalists.

“Of course! Though I don’t believe it’ll fill him up fully. Your honey muffin really can eat quite a bit, and he’s so sweet about it. Most children don’t understand manners, you’ve done well. I must say I am surprised, however. You don’t seem to have any manners to speak of.” Jeryy grinned, indicating to Cross that he didn’t see his rudeness as a bad point.

“Yeah, his old caretaker was the one to teach him,” Cross grumbled. After Mana passed, Cross tried his best to break Allen’s good habit. It was annoying as fuck to have people comment on how poor Cross was in comparison. Most of the time it was girls he was trying to bang, and being reminded of the brat he was watching was a massive turnoff. The habit never disappeared, much to his annoyance, but it did get them out of a few tough situations that he didn’t expect.

“Why did you ask?”

“The brat’s birthday is coming up. Normally we don’t stay in one place for long, so he isn’t able to have a party, but I would make him some good foods. Normally cuisine from whatever place we had last visited, but at this point he’s been here too long to properly remember where we were. So, I want to do a taste of home type of thing. The really hard part is that Allen grew up in a circus, so I can’t even figure out where that brat’s from. Could ya help me out?” Jeryy took only a moment before answering.

“Oh, honey, you have any doubt? I resent that. Listen, I’ll head down and talk with your candied plantain and see what he might want, okay? You be good here, I don’t want to see any fires burning your sweet ass just ‘cause you accidently bumped something,” Jeryy said, blowing a kiss before disappearing around the corner. Cross grinned at the pink braids that trailed after for a moment.

Once the footsteps disappeared Cross got to work. Allen would be able to talk Jeryy’s ear off for awhile, and Jeryy would be willing to indulge him until it was time to start cooking dinner for everyone. That was a good two hours away. Jeryy’s cooking skills were off the charts and required barely any prep time before completed dishes were flying out to his lovelies - which was really fucking good for Cross in this case.

He still needed to work quickly, of course. First closing the door, though he wouldn’t be able to lock it or else people would get suspicious. The cameras were already looped so no one would notice that he was in there, let alone doing stuff that would most definitely get him investigated and thrown in jail.

Cross had been in the kitchen with Jeryy long enough to know where all of his ingredients were. They lye was on the top shelf next to his spices (which mildly scared Cross, but Jeryy knows what he’s doing), and there was a large bucket of it. He took that down from the shelf then grabbed a few metal pots and filled them with water, throwing it on the stove and heating it. A few scoops of lye went in each before covered the pots with a small gap left open and moved on to the next step.

The corpse wasn’t fully frozen through, which was a blessing. Cross had wrapped it up as best he could before throwing the thing in the freezer. The skin was pretty cold, though. And a bit of the muscle just underneath it. Jeryy’s knives were sharp enough to slice through easily. Cross avoided the bones while separating each limb at the joint. The rib cage was going to take more effort, so he slit the diaphragm and reached in to pull out some of the squishy organs. Each bit of the body that was removed got placed on the plastic covered counter for when the water was boiling.

With the ribs cleared out and no longer in danger of splattering too much blood and guts everywhere, Cross wrapped the torso in more plastic and pushed down on the sternum to snap everything in half, just small enough to fit into the pots. Some of the ribs had already been broken by the brat so Cross didn’t need to worry about making the ribs much smaller. The rest of his dissection went swiftly, with the head removed to be tossed in whole, limbs cut into small pieces, and parts of the muscle removed messily from the bone to speed up the liquidation process.

The moment pots started boiling the larger bits of body went in, each spread out among the pots to maximize heat and space. Jeryy had already been gone for thirty minutes by the time everything was in the pots; Cross couldn’t hold in his curses. He was working slower than normal, probably because he was used to that brat making a bigger mess of the body and leaving Cross with less to tear through in the clean up process.

Cross peeled his plastic covers off the countertops to leave them sparkling clean once more and placed them in one of Jeryy’s extra trash bags. He’d have to clean those out as well, but it would be a bit easier at least. There were enough waste products that Jeryy went through in a day to hide having an extra bag. He could just throw some other things in there to further disguise it. That left him with the pots to take care of. It would take longer than two hours for the body to be fully liquidized, and leaving them out on the stove would lead to Jeryy questioning what was in them.

He’d figure that shit out when he got to it. No use worry yet. Maybe throwing in more lye would speed up the process enough so it wouldn’t be recognizable as a person?

Cross couldn’t even stir the thing. Most of the spoons Jeryy had in the kitchen were wooden or weak metals that wouldn’t stand up to the destructiveness that is heated and dissolved lye. At least some of the pots he had are carbon steel.

No matter how useful it is, Cross hates his knowledge about the kitchen and chemistry. He just wanted to murder and fuck, disposing of bodies was not one of his life goals.

One hour left, max. Then Jeryy would be back and everything will have to be hidden from sight.

Cross decided to prep some of the ingredients Jeryy would ultimately be using for dinner. Onions and some other vegetables would have to be enough, it just needed to look like he was doing something not-illegal.

After 20 more minutes of prep Cross moved the pots from the stove to a shelf. He didn’t want to cool them just yet, but throwing them into the fridge while extremely hot was sure to draw more attention than necessary.

“Fuck you brat, fuck you. This is too much fucking effort for one fucking corpse. Gah, why the hell did I think throwing you in here would make my life any fucking easier?” He mumbled to himself. Being pissed wouldn’t do shit, but it definitely made him feel better.

After washing his hands again Cross began to clean the chicken, doing his absolute best not to stab the breast furiously.

Jeryy Yuudha

Oh, that poor baby, getting in trouble like that is just not good. Attacking a guest and everything, if only the little buttercup managed to get away with it, everything would be fine. He was even trying to go out for a couple of days before this entire mess happened! Brownie must be so disappointed, even though he didn’t show it. Such a little ball of sweetness, so cute. Though that guardian of his, despite his loveliness, is far less adorable.

And less subtle than he seems to think, but that’s not important. What is important is that he doesn't contaminate Jeryy’s kitchen with his gross mixture. Thank god the lovebug had enough know how to at least put some plastic down before he began taking care of work. Jeryy had to stay long enough outside the door to make sure of that.

Goodness, Cross might be good but he doesn't check thoroughly for cameras. Well, not enough at least. Jeryy is far too used to little lovelies entering his kitchen and messing around with his things.

The sound of mildly furious stabbing at something alerted Jeryy that he should probably walk in soon before some of his tools got damaged. He takes good care of those, no reason to ruin the lovely sharpness.

He walked to the beginning of the hallway and started singing softly to himself before getting louder. That would probably be enough to alert Cross that someone was on their way over. No need to have an agitated man with a knife startled into stabbing someone, no matter how clean the stab would be.

“Hello cream cake, what’cha working on?” Jeryy purred. Cross had done some solid work on prep, far more than Jeryy expected. So sweet, and such a fast worker. Might have to keep him around for a while.

“Ah, welcome back love. Just getting some of the basic work done. I wasn’t sure what exactly you planned on making, so I washed and cut some vegetables, then cut the fatty areas off the chicken breast. The fat’s in a bowl over there if you want to use it still.

Jeryy felt a warmth blooming in his chest and pulled Cross’ head down gently to peck his temple. It was wonderful to finally have someone around that was taller than himself, if only just a couple centimeters.

“Thank you for that sugarplum, I really appreciate it.” Cross gave a lopsided grin before going back to work, his rhythm no longer as erratic as it was before.

Jeryy grabbed his apron and put it on in a sweeping motion, whirling around the kitchen to gather all the supplies he would need to start cooking. “Alright smooches, let’s get to work!”

The two spend around an hour getting everything ready to cook before the first person showed up for food. Then Jeryy was going hard with managing all of his tasks, even managing to find time and whip up Allen’s meal.

“Go,” he said, pushing Cross out the kitchen door with a tray of food in his hands. “Cinnamon’ll appreciate it, trust me. And I’ll appreciate it. Please?” Jeryy knew he’d won when a mischievous spark flashed in Cross’ eyes.

“I don’t know, what’ll I get out of it?”

“Anything. You. Want.” Jeryy purred. Cross smiled and leaned in close, careful to make sure the tray didn’t slip and drop food everywhere.

“Make me a Crème Caramel?” He asked, forehead tilted against Jeryy’s. Jeryy’s breath hitched. He hadn’t made on of those in years, it would be challenging to remember exactly what to do to make them perfect.

“Absolutely.”

Cross turned down the hallway with a new bounce in his step as Jeryy smiled. That crème brulee was too adorable sometimes. No matter how much he disagreed with that fact.

Jeryy allowed himself to stay relaxed for just a moment longer before twirling back around to take care of all his lovely customers.

Allen Walker

Honestly it was a reprieve to be in solitary confinement. Allen couldn't figure out why people hated it so much, there was finally time for him to calm down and think about his work in the world.

After his nap he woke up thinking about his good deeds. There was one less akuma in the world today because of him. Not the number he would have liked - if Cross never put him in here that number would continue growing from the dozens it was currently at. But one is always better than non, so he would take it.

“Well, little nephew. Looks like they caught you. Think Cross found the body yet? Have you already killed another of my brother’s creations?” Allen waved his hand in Neah’s direction. Once again his uncle’s ghost was following him, not quite able to pass on. He insisted that it was necessary to take down Adam before moving on.

“Oh, you know I have. Say, can you think of a way out? I need to talk with Cross. And besides, there’s no need for Cross to be perfect. The body will turn to dust and disappear entirely in a couple hours. He just needs to store it until then, don’t worry so much.”

“Oh Red, that body won’t change. It’s inside, there’s no wind to cut through the cracks in the akuma’s skin.” Neah teased, poking Allen’s nose before sitting next to him. Allen swiped at the hand, brushing it away.

“Stop that! I’m not a kid anymore, uncle!” Neah did it again and Allen giggled. “Do you think they’ll keep me in here much longer? I don’t care too much for now, but Lavi said I might be able to leave for a bit.”

“I’m sure Cross will be here soon enough, he’ll get you out.” Allen’s stomach growled loudly and Neah laughed. “Or he’ll bring food, whichever is more important.”

“Food, absolutely. Man I’m getting hungry. Do you think Jeryy’s actually going to make a meal specially for me?”

“That man loves you. And I’m sure he’s going to love Cross too, don’t you worry bout a thing. You know, I bet Cross was the one that told him to come on down and talk with you.”

“Maybe! Master never remembers when the ‘special days’ are,” Allen said, making quotation marks with his fingers. “It’s not strange that he’s off by a couple months again. Do you think he’s planning to use the kitchen? I talked with Jeryy for a while, just in case, but it probably wouldn’t be long enough for him to finish everything.”

“Nephew, I do believe you should stop talking out loud. There is a camera in here, after all. They most likely have a microphone as well.”

“Don’t worry Neah, no one ever believes me when I tell them things. Master still doesn’t think you exist, which is dumb. He met you when you were alive, right?”

“Yes, that did happen. I’m surprised I didn’t manage to kill that asshole before I died myself. Oh, if only Adam had waited a bit longer we would have been rid of that red haired menis.” Allen giggled again before stretching out on the ground.

“You know, I’m kind of tired. This room reminds me of the piano room. Remember that? I think you called it the ‘arch’ before. Everything was white except for parts of the piano. Haha, and I could only see you as a floating black head in a white jacket!! That was hilarious!”

“Red you are acting strange now, it seems confinement is starting to get to you. Am I not enough?” Mild amounts of darkness dispersed from Neah’s form. Allen reached out, trying to connect with the wisps floating away from him.

“You’re always enough Neah, always.”

“Then why don’t you leave here already? Come on, for me? This is the first time I’ve been able to talk with you in awhile. And it’s all because of this stupid place. You can try leaving Cross behind, too. That would be nice.” Allen sat down with his back to the wall.

He thought for a few moments before answering. “I don’t think that would be best. I do need to leave at times, but that’s just because akuma are still out there calling for me. But I can’t leave Lenalee or Nagisa or Road, not for too long. They might get turned, and I need to stop them.”

“No,” Neah hissed. “You need me. Only me. I can’t believe you’re starting to think otherwise… should I get rid of the others? Not Cross, not yet. You still need that asshole, but soon. Come on, Red. This is all I ask.”

“But… Neah… I can’t. I like them… and killing them would lead to more akuma, you know that. We can’t let Adam make more, especially not because of us.”

“Screw that, you can just take them down again. Come on Red, do it. They aren’t worth the effort to stay here, to be in this boring place. Kill them. Now!”

“Fine! I will!! I -” A knock sounded at the door before Cross walked in with a tray of food.

“You talkin’ with Neah again? That bastard,” Cross growled, dropping the plat down on a small table that Allen hadn’t noticed before. Maybe Neah was right, he had been in here for too long. “Eat up, everything’s going to be fine. Jeryy’s a pretty great guy, though I doubt we’ll get that close, so don’t get too attached.”

“Huh, so Cross nearly has the body gone and he’s using Jeryy’s kitchen to do it? Smart man. Maybe he’s more necessary than I thought. Didn’t even need to wait for the akuma to change to dust.”

“Of course he didn’t, Master actually has some uses you know.”

“Just tell Neah to shut up, stupid brat. Not like he really knows anything, he just fucks with you. Like the real one did.”

“Just shut up and let me eat. Did Jeryy make this? I don’t trust your cooking.”

“Red, don’t let people know what’s going on! You might alert them to his plan!” Neah stepped in front of Allen, blocking out his view of Cross and distracting him from the food.

“No I won’t, Neah. Don’t worry about it.” Allen pushed Neah to the side and stepped closer to his dinner. Cross just backed up, it wasn’t fun being in the way of a hungry Allen and his food. At least the boy decided to use silverware when eating this time. His street instincts sometimes just had him grabbing food off wherever it was and eating it with dirty hands.

“You won’t be able to leave the facility for a bit, in case you were still wondering. I assume you’re okay with that? Not like you have a choice, though. People weren’t expecting you to go ballistic out there.”

“Well, it’s not my fault that man was an akuma.” Cross’s eyes lit up for a moment. He still trusted in Allen’s instincts when it came to pointing out ‘bad people’. Nothing like murderers, otherwise he would focus more on Cross. It was people that were entirely out to harm others, who had extreme malicious intent. If that man was on Allen’s radar - though not fully, otherwise he would be dead and no one could have stopped Allen - he was bad news.

“Well, you’ll have to be content for now. At the very least, no attacking other patients.”

“He wasn't a patient, I could tell. He was here to see someone. I wonder if he’s becoming an akuma, and that’s why I needed to attack? Or he plans to? Hm… it’s curious…” Allen looked up from his food and stifled a laugh as Neah floated above Cross’s head with a leg penetrating straight through were Cross’s heart was. His ghostly form made it impossible to actually make contact, but it was still amusing.

“Is that Neah again? What’s he doing?” Cross’s expression twisted into a scowl. He already knew Neah’s patterns because Allen would sometimes explain the more amusing ones to the redhead. Anytime Allen snickered like he just did meant Neah was doing something at Cross’s expense. Again. “Tell him to stop.”

“Heh, he won’t. And he really doesn’t like being told what to do,” Allen said. Neah was in Cross’ face, waving his hands through the man’s head and kneeing him in the groin.

“Fuck it, I don’t care anymore. I’ll have to see you later, brat. I just came to give you your grub. Jeryy asked for some help in the kitchen after you’re done here, and man is that man alluring.”

“No you fucking don’t, asshole. No messing with the man who makes my food. I don’t want you to piss him off at some point and make him start giving me trashy food. Been there, done that, got the fucking t-shirt.” Allen briefly allowed his more rude self show through. It wasn’t bad, though. Only Cross and Neah were in the room, and at least it amused Neah enough to make him stop sticking his tongue through Cross’s ear.

That was getting distracting.

“Yeah, yeah. Whatever you say, brat. I doubt you wanted to stay around her anyway. Besides, not my fault she tried poisoning you. You were being a dick the entire time.” Allen held back a growl.

“Maybe next time you shouldn’t get with some chick that would be willing to poison the kid you’re taking care of. Besides, that chick was crazy.” Cross was already walking out by the time Allen was finishing up his sentence.