Author's Note - Hello! This is officially my very first story in the D. Gray-Man fandom. Hopefully everyone enjoys reading this as much as I enjoy writing it. As a warning, since I understand that some people dislike original characters, this does have an original character in it. I thank you all that give my work a chance, but if you don't like original characters in FanFiction, this is not your cup of tea. You have been warned.
Dedicated to my friends for their help and support. Especially Ozuchi-Kozuchi for being my BETA. Thanks, guys!
Disclaimer - D. Gray-Man and its characters are property of Katsura Hoshino.
She had to be hallucinating.
There was no other logical explanation for why she was seeing the Ark laid out in front of her neatly, as though naturally. The Subway bag she was carrying, still full of fresh, hot Subway sandwiches, dropped from her hand as an eerie feeling overcame her. Shakily, she began to walk through the streets aimlessly, hoping to run into something, anything to tell her that this wasn't real.
"Hello?" She called out, half expecting her friends to just appear in their cosplay costumes and accurately impersonate their own characters. "Guys, is this some kind of joke?"
When calling out for someone didn't help, she began to open doors randomly, hoping to find someone. There was no way this could be real. The Ark was an animation, not based on some place real, right? Not to mention, it was entirely impossible for your hotel room to just become the place from a story during an Anime convention. A laugh escaped her lips as she collapsed onto the couch within a replica of the Fourteenth's room.
"Okay," she called out, "you can all come out now. Funny joke." She asked when no response came, "seriously, when did you all plan this?"
Looking to her side, she screeched loudly, tightly gripping her clawed-hand as she noticed the familiar shadow looming in the reflection of the mirror. It cocked it's head to the side in a puzzled manner.
"Did your voice just crack?"
"No!" She yelled, "now cut it out!"
"Geez, I was just asking..."
Bewildered, she scratched the side of her head as she tried to piece it all together. Something about the shadow was off, but she couldn't quite place her finger on it. Letting out a dreadful, long sigh, she slumped down onto the stool in front of the piano, resisting the urge to lay her head on the keys.
Minutes passed by, and she felt herself growing agitated. What was she supposed to do now? As cruel as her friends could be for doing this to her, she was fully aware they would've at least snickered a while ago. What was the explanation for this, though? She glanced at the mirror once more, squinting her eyes in confusion. The shadow was defiantly the Fourteenth, although she shouldn't be able to see him. Of course, she was cosplaying as Allen, but that didn't mean she had everything he had. For Goodness' sake, her "claw" was just paper mache!
"What's with the sudden change of outfit?" The Fourteenth asked her, likely still under the impression she was his host. "Thought you trashed it."
Then again, there was really no need to cause any commotion was there? If she were to run into any of the other characters, what would she say? No way would they believe she was really an average girl from a "parallel" universe cosplaying as an Exorcist. Let alone that they were technically ink on paper.
Ignoring the shadow seemed to do itself good, because he didn't bother to push the subject any longer, leaving her in peace. A seemingly bright idea suddenly came to mind and she dug into her pocket and pulled out her cheap-ish cell phone. She frowned, however, as her fears were confirmed; no coverage, meaning that she really was in a different place.
She almost screamed. Almost. With frightened eyes, she glanced up at the silent newcomer, mentally cursing herself when she realized it was Lavi. Quickly, she hid the foreign device to keep it away, out of sight, smiling innocently. "What's what?"
Lavi paused. "Did your voice crack?"
She lowered her head in embarrassment, thankful that her wig's bangs were hiding her red cheeks. The Fourteenth was laughing now. "No," she growled in irritancy. I'm a girl! she wanted to yell, but knew better.
"What's with the old outfit, Bean Sprout? Didn't you trash it back on the Ark?"
"Shut up you stupid rabbit." She winced as Kanda reached Lavi, grabbing the red-head by the collar and dragging him out. Just when she thought she was safe, Kanda leaned his head in and barked at her, "hurry up!"
She didn't need to think twice to shake her head. "Heck no." Were they crazy? How could they not know their own comrade? Didn't Crown Clown even look fake? Here she was with no experience in fighting and a "weapon" made out of paper (not even intended to work as a weapon, mind you) and she was expected to fight Akuma.
Both men paused upon hearing her voice. "It's a little late to be cracking your voice, don't you think?" Lavi teased, "you're fifteen."
She sighed angrily. "My voice hasn't cracked," she growled. "And for the last time, my outfit isn't trashed. I knitted Crown Clown, for Goodness' sake; it's supposed to have many small, tiny holes!"
Something told her she should've kept that to herself. What was she thinking, coming into here and just thinking everything would settle itself? Maybe she should've hid in the middle of the street behind some building having yet to be used. What was she supposed to do now? Run away and open some random door and escape? True, everyone seemed to be connected to some church, but she could run, escape town, and have it all behind her. How would they help her get back, anyway? The Order existed to take care of Akuma, Earl, and Noah, not lost teenagers stuck in a book.
And that's exactly what she did. Without any warning, she grabbed every last of her belongings, which happened to be her backpack which was still on her back, and the multiple sandwiches she'd purchased just recently, and raced towards them. She managed to squirm away, evading both Kanda and Lavi as they tried to catch her, still under the impression she was Allen. Where was she supposed to go? Connected gates had numbers on them, she faintly remembered, silently thanking God that she was such a lover of books that it didn't irritate her no end to read the same ones over and over again. Where were they, though?
It took a surprise appearance of Lavi from one of the side street to make her realize she was racing in circles around the same block. She stopped, the older Exorcist missing her by centimeters and ending up sprawled on the ground, but completely forgot about his Japanese partner and therefore, was unable to prevent getting caught from behind.
"What's with you?" Lavi asked her, getting back up onto his feet. She didn't give up right there, though, and immediately spun around and kicked at the unsuspecting man behind her and ripped herself out of his grip before dashing off once more, the chase resuming. Spotting a registered gate out of the corner of her eye, she grabbed hold of the handle and pushed it open, ready to make her escape. She wasn't expecting for someone to be on the other side ready to use it as well, though, and had to drop to her knees and crawl between their legs. It would've been comical how Lavi crashed right into the poor man, but she still wasn't out of the woods yet.
"Hey!" A cloaked man called after her as she sidestepped him, her heart racing, "who are you and what business do you have here?!"
She was out on the streets now, weaving in and out of crowds in the crowded place in high hopes of shaking off the Exorcists. She was panting heavily, desperately wanting to stop for a break, but she knew she couldn't stop now. Not when she was almost free. Turning a corner sharply, a group of clowns likely promoting a circus was set up on the sidelines, juggling. Seeing no other route to escape with, she quickly decided on the dark alley, making her way towards the back before she ducked down low, forcing herself not to breathe heavily in order to trick the Exorcists into passing by.
It seemed like she waited forever there, waiting for them to pass, but they finally did, and it was a long while before she mustered up the courage to escape from the town. Letting out a long, deep breath, she got up onto her feet, already establishing a plan. It would do her no good to be mistaken for any Exorcist, especially Allen, so she would need to do odd jobs somewhere after arriving at another town. Thank God she was cosplaying. It may have been her first time (and boy was she never going to do it again), but her friends were into it and had not only begged her for months to cosplay, but had also made sure she didn't "make a fool of herself". One stop to a place with water would let her to wash Allen's curse mark from her face and dispose of his wig. The outfit would have to wait, but perhaps until she saved up more she could buy materials and make cheap adjustments to get rid of the aspects that just cried out "Exorcist".
She barely planted a foot forward before someone harshly grabbed onto the fabric she'd used to make Crown Clown, pulling her back and holding her against them in attempts to make sure she wouldn't escape again. "Don't move," a firm voice commanded, but it wasn't either of the Exorcists. She only fought harder, unsure of the situation she was getting herself into, but froze upon her captor grabbing hold of the back of her neck. "I'll suffocate you if I have to keep you quiet," they warned roughly, letting go of her neck and grabbing onto the back of "Crown Clown" once more. "Now, get down on your knees and give me all your valuables and money."
Valuables? What valuables? Back at home, her phone would be considered a valuable as much as the iPods she'd never been able to afford, but what about here? Should she give up what money she had?
"Here," she quickly told them, tossing the few bills she had left from her lunch trip. "It's all I have. I swear."
"Heh," the man scoffed before roughly shoving her against the wall of the building, tearing off her backpack and beginning to search through her belongings as well as her pockets. "What the heck is this?" He demanded as he fingered her cell phone, flipping it open and pressing random buttons. He hit her after a few moments. "I asked you a question, brat! What is this?!"
"M-My phone," she stuttered, wincing. He never answered and instead searched the rest of her belongings, pocketing her money and phone, which seemed to be mainly out of interest. Catching him eying her, she dared herself to ask, "what do you want?"
"Deciding what I want to do with you." He pressed her against the wall. "You're a brainless idiot, staying all quiet when there's a crowd full of people down there."
"It's loud," she snarled. "No one's going to hear me. All robbers have some weapon on them, and quite frankly, I don't find a few bucks and a cell phone that's useless here worth dying over. I have nothing left, so if you're done, get out of here before someone catches you."
"Shut up." He pressed her head against the building once more. "That kind of mouth's gonna get'cha beat up."
"That's awfully manly of you," a familiar voice said casually, "to have the guts to threaten a young lady."
The thief released his hold on her, but she still stayed glued to the surface, afraid to even breathe. "Consider yourself lucky, brat," he hissed before attempting to make his leave. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw her savior latch onto the man's wrist.
"I believe you have something to return."
She yelped when the man snarled, spinning on his heels to face her and shoving her belongings in her face before taking off down the alley way. Several seconds passed after he left before she could calm herself and exhale once more. Slowly, she bent down to pack her belongings back into her backpack. Calmly, she moved to leave before her savior could stop her, not wanting to make anymore commotion in case the Exorcists happened to still be in the town. The figure grabbed hold of her arm as soon as she was exposed to the light, making her look back in shock. No wonder the voice sounded familiar; it was Allen.
Seeing Lavi and Kanda gathering around her, trapping her, she laughed nervously. "Merry Christmas?" she offered, only to receive two puzzled looks and a scowl. Avoiding all of their gazes, she ended up having nowhere to look but the ground. She suddenly felt small and lost, but as the silence grew too disturbing for her to bear, she quietly murmured, "may I help you?"
"Why are you stealing the Beansprout's identity?"
Even though it was Kanda who'd asked her, she still did not look at him, and absently began to play with her boots. "Someone gave it to me as they were passing by," she tried to lie, but as she replayed her words in her head, she nearly slapped herself on the forehead. How lame was that?
"That was such a bad lie, I don't know how to respond to that..." she heard Lavi mutter to Allen before she felt his eyes on her once again."If that's the case, why do you look exactly like him?"
"I hear it's the new look," she said dumbly, hoping they'd get tired of her talking so stupidly and give up. Should she run? Nah, they were circled around her, anyway. "Really, guys, I need to go. Miss Akama's gonna kill me if I don't deliver those books before social security runs out. Plus, I shouldn't talk to strangers..."
"We're not really strangers if you're dressing as one of us, are we?"
"Shoot. That's a good point." Slowly she stood, watching her surroundings. As the thought crossed her mind, she faked a horrified face, pointing into the darkness of the alley. The moment all their attention averted away from her, she clocked it, searching for another crowd to lose them, but as though the people of this town disliked her, they were no longer around.
She was halfway down the street when something soft, yet strong wound around her arm, yanking her backwards and making her fall flat on her back. Tilting her head to look at her arm when she couldn't pull it forward anymore, she rolled her eyes when she realized what it was. Just her luck for Allen to put Crown Belt to good use...
Someone helped her rise back onto her feet, and upon seeing Crown Belt free her from its grip, she figured it was Allen. His hand was wrapped around her arm tightly, locking her into place, but it didn't stop her. Wildly, she flung her arm his way, but he ducked his head just in time, his grip tightening as he pulled her forward, wrapping an arm around her torso in order to maintain his hold on her.
She tried to stomp on his foot, but his boots seemed to do a fair well job of cushioning the assault. Of course, she had no experience with karate or tae kwando, so she obviously looked just as pathetic to them as a dog trying to climb a tree, but it didn't mean she wouldn't try.
"Please," Allen told her as he pinned her arms behind her back, leaving her sitting on her knees in the middle of the road, Lavi and Kanda finally arriving at the scene, "we mean no harm, I swear. If you know me enough to look like me, you should know the kind of person I am."
Technically, no. To her, he should've been nothing more than ink on paper. A favorite character, yes, but there was certain extent to which you could take something. And growing ecstatic while glomping him was not an option she could take. Plus, in downright sense, who on Earth was going to lay back and enjoy all of this? What about her friends? How are they going to feel about her heading to Subway, just next door to the hotel the convention was being held at, only to disappear with no trace or witnesses at all?
She hadn't realized she'd begun to cry until he was shaking her. "Ma'am, are you alright?! Seriously, you're not in trouble! I mean, you only nearly mowed me down back at the church to get away, right?"
"I want to go home!" she wailed. "It's not fair! I should've chosen paper instead of scissors!"
"Stop crying," Kanda snapped. "After you're interrogated you can go home."
She only began to sob louder, barely hearing Allen as he yelled at the Japanese man, "Kanda! Can't you see she's scared?!"
"I'm not scared!" she snapped. "I'm terrified! When they can't find me, they're going to think I'm dead and hold a funeral. I'm fifteen; I don't want my name written on a headstone yet!"
"No, no, it's okay, ma'am, really!" Allen assured her, still having yet to remove his hands from her shoulders. "Where are you from?"
"A small little town that probably doesn't even exist. I'm going to be homeless for the rest of my life. I'm so under-educated a circus wouldn't hire me."
"Under-educated?" Allen and Lavi repeated in question, looking at each other, hoping for answers. By now she had calmed herself, but was still shaking. She only looked up when Allen offered her his hand.
"We mean no harm, ma'am. Please, would you come?"
"I don't get it... are you or are you not stealing Allen's identity?"
She sighed and, as impossible as it seemed, managed to slouch lower into the sofa. Why couldn't she just be unnoticeable? At home no one ever noticed her and heck, even at the convention no one seemed to care who she cosplayed as, so why would everyone now suddenly ask her so many questions at once? Granted, there were many possibilities that were likely rising in each of their minds that easily ranged from psychotic to being a spy for the Earl, but still, why her?
It could've been worse, though. Although she'd been hoping to get as far away from the raging war and go about her "daily" life until she returned home, she could've easily fallen into the hands of the Earl.
"I wasn't stealing his identity," she said as she remembered she'd been asked a question. It was embarrassing, being caught in this mess, and didn't really have the guts to say aloud, "my friend forced me to dress up as him"; while it was true, it was something they didn't need to know.
"Why are you dressing as him, then?"
Quickly, she lied. "Someone turned me into their doll. It's pretty hard to change out of an outfit forced upon you if they burn your clothes. And it's not like I could've worked for the money. Even the circus refuses to hire someone to pick up after their animals if they have no diploma."
"What's a diploma?"
"You know, those things they give you when you graduate school, saying that you met all of the requirements?" She stopped abruptly as she remembered the likeliness of none of them understanding what she was saying. "Oh yeah, it's easier to get by here..." she muttered absently to herself, eyes widening as she slapped a hand against her mouth. Unfortunately, Allen had been beside her and heard the whole thing.
"It didn't sound like nothing."
"How do you know it's not nothing if you have no idea what I'm talking about?" she challenged. "What isn't nothing is the fact that I have a paper due on Tuesday, an ASL test on Wednesday, and a volley ball tournament this Friday." She shrugged. "That I don't really care about, though. I'm the worse on my team unlike..." her face fell, "shoot. I have to get back! I have Solo and Ensemble next Saturday! It's meant to be a violin, cello, viola trio, not a cello and viola duet!"
As she sunk her head in shame, muttering to herself about her failure, Allen exchanged looks with the other occupants in the room. "Don't look at me," he told Komui, "I have no idea what she's talking about."
"Excuse me," Komui spoke to her, ceasing her mutter and making her forget about her immediate doom for the time being, "what do you mean "I have to go back"?"
She resisted the urge to roll her eyes at him. Shouldn't it have been obvious? "Home."
"Where is home, though?"
"In the twenty-first century," she accidentally blurted out. Just when she was beginning to mentally pound her head Komui nodded.
"Oh, okay? Where is that, might I ask? It's a town, right?"
Shouldn't he have caught on? "Uh, yeah!" she chirped, "it's in America!"
"Ahh! Splendid, they speak English, then! How shall I get a hold of them to inform them of your safety?"
Wasn't she being interrogated? What kind of "military" phoned parents of suspicious children? What could he possibly say even if she was from this century and world? That she was safe unless otherwise proven as a threat, in which case she'd be disposed of?
"I don't have parents."
"You're really confusing," Lavi said to her. "I mean, how can a town you're from not exist yet? The only way that'd be possible was if you were from the future..."
All at once everyone sprung up out of their seats, pointing accusing fingers at her as they screamed, "you're from the future?!"
"Not your future." Once again, what was she thinking? Was she trying to get herself into more of a mess? Now there was no way she was getting out of here.
"Huh?" Komui responded to that remark.
"What do you mean?" Allen asked.
"I already told you. I'm from the future, but not your future."
"If you're not from our future like you say you are," Link, who'd join their group upon returning to Headquarters, asked, "then why is it that you know enough about us to dress like Walker?"
"Makes sense," Lavi mused in amusement, "she's so small and scrawny. Yuu, isn't she a bean sprout?"
"Don't call me that!" she snapped.
"Can hardly tell the difference!"
"Lavi does have a point, though." Allen agreed. "If you're not from our world, how would you know so much about us?"
"I don't know," she lied. "I just do."
"What am I supposed to do with five sandwiches?"
It was a dilemma, indeed. While she was starving, there was no way she was going to eat five Footlongs in one standing. Yet, she didn't really want them to go to waste, considering that was about twenty-five dollars going down the toilet. What was she supposed to do with them, though?
"You must be the new girl." Lenalee sat down in the seat across from her, suddenly making her sink further into her seat. At least the older girl was aware she wasn't Allen, but it was still unnerving. "I'm Lenalee."
She forced a smile. "Madelynn."
"You're one to talk, Link. All you have is junk food!"
Madelynn blinked as Allen and Link set down their load of food beside her. Calmly, she pushed her bag towards Allen, whose eyes immediately lit up. "Here," she said politely. Allen didn't waste even half of a second; stuffing his mouth with the food as though afraid Link would confiscate them.
"So you're Madelynn?" Allen said for the sake of starting a conversation at their table before they all became too enveloped in its silence. She nodded, not really sure of what to say. It wasn't like she'd been intending to speak to them all like this. However, she was fully aware that they were being careful not to let her know she was pretty much stuck here. It was disappointing, but it couldn't be helped. At least it gave her shelter in the free time, and a possible chance at finding answers to her questions, before she made her escape.
"What do you do for a living?" Link asked her, cracking one eye her way. If she didn't know any better, she'd assume he was memorizing information to hand over to Leverrier.
"Not much," she said truthfully. "By law, we are required to attend school Monday through Friday. I'm part of a small community and don't particularly have much in common with my peers so I help the elderly a lot."
"What do you do in school?" Lenalee asked her.
She shrugged. "The usual."
"What's the usual?"
"Math, science, English... but I'm also part of the string orchestra, and am learning American Sign Language."
"They teach foreign languages?"
She nodded. "Education's very important."
Johnny joined the group after being beckoned over by Lenalee and Allen, taking the empty spot beside her. "You must be the new girl." He held out his hand, grinning behind his glasses. "The name's Johnny."
She shook it, gladly returning the welcoming smile. "Madelynn." She blinked. "You know, I swear they're making these not as filling anymore. I'm still hungry." Allen handed her a stick with mitarashi dango on it.
"Try it. It's really good."
"Really, Allen, really?" Lavi asked him, earning a shrug in response
She took a bite. "Hey, this is good. You wouldn't mind if I stole the rest, would you?"
That afternoon, lunch had been interesting.
Madelynn stared at her reflection in the mirror, completely horror-struck. She hastily applied soap to the rag, scrubbing at the left side of her face until she thought her skin would fall off. The results were still the same, no matter how hard she tried.
"Why... why won't it come off?!"
The makeup came off, exposing the acne she'd purposely been hiding, but no matter how much she scrubbed, the curse mark wouldn't wash away. What had Katie done? Apply twenty pounds of make-up to her face? Was she aware she was just supposed to draw Allen's scar, or had she thought she was preparing a clown for a circus show?
She was satisfied when she looked at the cloth, finding red spots, but the smile fell when she looked back into the reflective surface and realized it was still there, as though untouched. Hesitantly, she raised a hand to her face, brushing her fingers over the "scar". Red covered her fingers, she saw, so why did it look like the make-up was multiplying?
Curiously she smelt it, only to recoil as the horrible smell entered her nose. There was no way that was make-up, so what was it?
She screamed when she realized it was blood.
Madelynn wasn't quite sure how long she scrambled around like an idiot, dropping the rag multiple times in her quest to apply it to her cheek to stop the bleeding. Her efforts were fruitless, as well as her luck, which must've been horrible to have the door open and sending her scrambling to make it look like she was still in the bathroom stall.
"Madelynn?" It was Lenalee. "Are you alright? You've been gone for a long time."
Glaring at her reflection in the toilet, she replied, her voice nervously high, "yeah."
"Would you like help?"
Why did her chest feel so tight suddenly? "N-No..."
Lenalee seemed hesitant to leave her, but she accepted her answer and left, much to Madelynn's liking. As she climbed out of the stall, she held a hand to her chest, unsure of what to do. Was she having a medical emergency? It wasn't painful, but it was getting harder to breathe. Maybe she should sit? As much as it embarrassed herself to say it, the day had been rough; perhaps she was getting overwhelmed.
The blood was dry, but the whole left side of her face was sore so she didn't dare to touch it. She removed her wig, pulling her red hair out of its messy bun only it wasn't red anymore. Frozen in shock, she felt her hair, which was now entirely white like Allen's, as well as the scar. Why was all of this suddenly permanent? Where was the ugly, deformed hair kids used to pick on her endlessly for?
The door suddenly flew open once more, Lenalee emerging. "Allen-kun and Lavi are going to the training floor, would you like to join us-" she gasped in surprise, stepping backwards as she noticed the change. "Wh-What happened to your hair?"
She didn't answer, instead sunk down to her knees, resting her chin on them as she glared at the sinks. "I did it for their friggin' safety, so why'd they curse me? Ridding wagons into the street can be a dangerous thing!" she wailed, recalling the event prior to leaving for the convention in which her next-door neighbors "cursed" her for banning them from riding the wagon into the street.
The pain returned, only this time more intense. She stifled a scream as she clutched her chest, doubling over. Panic took over Lenalee as she rushed to her side. "Madelynn? Madelynn?!" When she didn't respond, she turned to face the open door, yelling out to someone for help.
"B-But Lenalee, that's the girls' restroom!"
"She's having a heart attack! Are you telling me staying out there and not helping her is going to make you more of a gentleman?!"
A couple of Finders who happened to be females entered, but she denied the help, getting to her feet. "I'm fine," she croaked. "It's nothing."
"Nothing?! You were just-"
"It's not a heart attack. I'm fine, Lenalee." She winced, the pain hadn't subsided yet. "I just need some time."
Lenalee still didn't accept her answer though, and laid her hand on her forehead. "You're really warm, Madelynn. You should see Head Nurse."
Her legs gave out, and she nearly collapsed if it hadn't been for Allen to reach forward and help Lenalee pull her back up. She let forth a sharp hiss of pain, though, as his left hand touched her, pulling away from him quickly. "It hurts," she finally complained, trying to stop him from attempting to pick her up.
"Sorry," he said before lifting her onto his back, careful not to touch her with his left hand. Seeing that she'd lost the fight for her independence from him, she hesitantly wrapped her arms around him, unable to hold her head up any longer and lying it on his shoulder.
She wasn't sure how long she dozed off for, exactly. When she awoke again, she was still on his back. As she cracked an eye open, she winced in pain; his left hand was holding onto her leg to hold her up, probably because she'd been asleep. They were rushing through halls of the Order. How come it felt like she'd been asleep for a long time?
As her vision focused, she came to realize she wasn't in the halls of the Black Order, but Hevlaska's lair. Why were they taking her here? She wanted to voice her protests, but her voice was too hoarse, preventing her from doing so.
"Set her down," she heard Hevlaska order Allen. The boy gently laid her up against a nearby wall, joining in with everyone else as they gazed up at her. "Activate your Innocence."
Immediately, white clouded her eye sight, and it didn't take long for her to realize it was because Crown Clown was enveloping around her, almost as though trying to comfort her. Everyones' mouths fell open in shock, making her squint her eyes to try and focus on the Innocence. What was so different?
"Allen-kun," it was Lenalee who spoke, "why... why is Crown Clown splitting?"
That made her move. Her first reflex was to escape. Run. Her body had different plans, however, and she groaned as she moved, rolling over instead. Hevlaska moaned like a mother getting ready to deliver her child.
"Komui... the Innocence... it wants out..."
Komui looked at her for a moment. "Who is it's accommodator?"
"I cannot tell... but I feel that it is that child." She moaned once more. "I can't hold it."
"We'll take our chances," Komui told her with a nod. "Go ahead and let it free."
Her? An accommodator? Weren't accommodators supposed to be heroes? She wasn't anything but a town's girl... what interest could God possibly have in her?
She hissed in pain as the Innocence covered her left hand, sinking through her skin and making it burn. What was happening to her? First she stole Allen's scar and now she was stealing his hand? What was next? His Innocence? She must've jinxed it with that last thought, because one of the "halves" of Crown Clown moved to her side, pressing up against her back and rubbing a tendril over her warm cheek. Was it comforting her?
The others weren't of much help, only stepping back. Of course, they were mistaking her for an accommodator.
"Alright," she muttered aloud, a bit louder than she wanted, "I know I'm technically stealing your host's identity, but I'm not Allen. He's over there. Leave me alone..."
But Crown Clown refused to part with her. The rest of the Innocence advanced towards her, pressing itself harder against her body. She gasped as she felt it enter her body. Her back began to burn, and she whimpered in pain as she curled up in a ball on the ground, trying to ease the pain somehow as the Innocence pushed itself further and further into her body. In shock, she watched as the creamy, black color began to spread through the rest of her arm.
She wasn't sure how long she laid there, pathetically rocking herself back and forth, telling her that this was all just a nightmare. Someone finally dared to move, kneeling by her side and forcing her to roll over onto her back and look at them. It was Allen, and surprisingly, he didn't look even remotely angry about the fact that she'd just absorbed half of his Innocence. Wasn't he supposed to be close to Crown Clown emotionally? Wasn't he at all sad?
"Madelynn?" He was speaking, she realized, really only because he helped her sit up. "Are you alright?"
She wasn't sure of what to say, and could only stand up numbly, rubbing her sore left arm. It felt stiff; incapable of functioning on its own. "Ouch," she mumbled when she poked it and a sharp pain sprung up her arm, "I thought it hurt when I ran into that stop sign or got hit in the head with a volley ball or locker door..."
Lavi's voice rung through her ears, popping out of nowhere and nearly giving them all a heart attack, after letting forth a whistle, "Beansprout's Innocence just gave her brain damage. Stop sign? Locker?" He laughed when he recalled previous events, however. "Oh, yeah! I completely forgot she was from some alien planet!"
"No one knows if they even exist," she replied, a bit irritated at the insult. "And it isn't funny! I already get picked on for my hair a school! If they made jokes just because of a deformed brown gene, how do you think they're going to feel about this? I'm left-handed, for crying out loud! How am I supposed to write when I can't even move my arm?!"
"You care about that? Leverrier's going to throw a fit when he finds out you can't use your weapon."
Speaking of which, this meant she seriously was stuck here, didn't it? Chances were high, considering their obvious lack of Exorcists; they wouldn't even care enough to search for a way to send her back home. And she was still clueless as to how she could see the Fourteenth or how she even got here.
The Fourteenth, she assumed, was better off a secret. If they were placing Allen under so much suspicion, who knew what she, a complete stranger to the organization, would receive?
Then, remembering Lavi's words, she retorted, "yes, I do. I'm left-handed, so how am I supposed to live with it as stiff as a board? I kind of need my fingers - violin geek here!"
"Eh? You understand her, Allen - you're the one who speaks Beansprout."
"Please don't call me that!"
"You know, this is kind of interesting." Lavi grinned. "I thought you would've screamed the moment you saw your hand."
Momentarily, she studied her now-abnormal hand. "The color's not the point! This is serious! My whole life might as well revolve around my violin studies - it's like you guys and Akuma!" She shouldn't have said that, but she already did by the time she realized it and could only slap herself mentally.
The comment seemed to fly over their heads as Allen took hold of her hand, pressing his own against it as though to compare and contrast them. When he finished, he began to curl his fingers around her's, forcing them to bend. It was painful at first, but eventually she could feel the tension in her hand loosening.
His hand was warm; human. Suddenly, she didn't feel so alone. These people... were they something more than the characters of a book? They should be just ink, but here they were just as human as her. They breathed, laughed, interacted; they acted human. What did that make her, exactly? Was she cold to them?
"Madelynn? Is something wrong?"
She didn't know what to say, and could only tremble as tears rolled down her cheeks. What was wrong? Was she scared? Sad? Craving for home? Unable to answer him, she allowed the darkness to claim her.
"Oh, you're awake!"
The blinding light made it difficult to adjust to her surroundings. She was defiantly lying on something hard, which turned out to be an examination table. Wires were connected to various areas on her body. Resting her head on her hand sleepily, she tried to force her eyes open further; the voice was familiar, but she couldn't place her finger on it.
"Whoa! Take it easy!" Light seemed to reflect off of something... glasses, maybe? Ah, that was right! It was Johnny.
"I'm fine," she spoke, a bit gruffly on accident. The scientist seemed to understand, however, and handed her a glass of water. The wires were removed from her skin as she drank the liquids. Amazingly, she drank it all in one gulp.
"Allen stopped by a while ago." Johnny informed her, "he advises to flex your fingers and use your hand normally or it'll be harder to get it from its stiff state."
Out of curiosity, she flexed her fingers. It didn't hurt, but her fingers were defiantly still stiff, as well as her wrist. She made a fluid motion with her wrist like she would do vibrato exercises with her violin; obviously, it would be nearly impossible to play her instrument in this state, which horrified her, but it didn't matter. She had no access to a violin, anyway, as depressing as it sounded.
"Don't overdo it, though!"
"It's fine," she replied, shaking off Johnny's warning. "I do this all the time."
There was a slight pause before the young man curiously asked her, "so you play volley ball?"
Grimly, she nodded. "I hate it."
"Then why do you participate?"
"My mother doesn't approve of my attachment to my violin. She says the only way I can continue playing is if I play volley ball." Her mother, at her age during high school, had loved playing volley ball. She, unfortunately, lacked the same talent and was, no doubt, bad at it. "I love the violin so much it's like All-" she caught herself before she finished her thought, "Ally and books." Good thing she caught herself; who knows what events would've occurred if she'd have finished with "Allen and his food".
Great. She made that all up, so what was she supposed to say about a friend that didn't exist? "Ally's... this girl at my school. She reads a lot of books."
Their conversation died as soon as Komui entered, smiling at her as a greeting before adjusting his glasses. His assistant... Brooke, she thought, followed in after him, likely making sure he was performing the tasks at hand he was supposed to accomplish. "I see that you're up, Madelynn. I'm Komui Lee, the supervisor here."
She nodded, a bit intimidated. Maybe she'd be lucky and he wouldn't pull a drill out of nowhere. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Supervisor."
"There's a few questions we have, if you don't mind." Not even waiting for an answer, he sat down in a vacant chair near her. "How, exactly, is it that you entered the Ark? No one has any records of seeing you enter it."
"I opened a door and it was there." Technically, she wasn't lying; just leaving certain bits and pieces out. Komui seemed to know this, though.
"How do you know of us? If you were running, and stealing Allen's identity, then you know about us, correct?"
She let out a long sigh. "I wasn't stealing his identity. And why wouldn't I run? You'd be pretty freaked out, too, if you were me and entering a possible war scene."
"You still haven't told use why you were dressed like Allen, though."
What was she supposed to say? There had to be a way to come clean without giving off the sense that she was a psychopath, unless that meant they got rid of her...
"I don't feel comfortable answering that question with everyone here."
With a wave of his hand, everyone slowly left the room, leaving only her and him. Once the door closed, the man smiled comfortingly at her. "Okay, I'm listening."
She hesitated for a moment, making certain that no one was still beside the door. When she was ready, she spoke softly, "I'm... not from the future, as it may sound. I'm from a parallel universe in the twenty-first century." She drew her legs up to her chest. "There's a book based on your time period back home."
She was trying not to give the man too much information. She was still uncertain about the extent she should take with these characters. It scared her how they were no longer just drawings on paper, and her fears only grew as she found herself more and more excuses to be trapped here. There was more than just not wanting to screw up a good story that gave her a reason to push them away.
"So, to you, we're not technically living." Komui clarified for her, offering a smile. At least, at the moment, he had a more human characteristic to him besides that crazy character others had always joked about. Perhaps it was because of all the events that had occurred recently.
"I was hoping to keep that a secret," she mumbled to herself, but it was also partially directed toward the scientist. "Sorry for causing you all so much trouble. It's... somewhat common to dress as you guys."
"Well, I could do without really getting white hair and a curse." She shrugged. "But oh well, I'll live."
"That's the spirit. You look like you're starving, why not go eat?"
She laughed sheepishly. "Thanks." She made a run for the door but stopped as a sly smile crossed her face. Turning back to face the man, she told him, "oh, and just you know, you'd be really horrified if you knew who people from my world paired your sister up with."
Her giggles carried through the hall.
"You're really quiet."
Madelynn tore her gaze away from the sight of Kanda and Allen sparing to look at Lenalee, who had taken a seat next to her against the wall. Seeing the slight pain in her eyes made her hold up her hands. "N-No, I'm alright, really! I honestly don't talk very much. That's all." She rubbed the back of her head sheepishly. "Sorry..."
"What about your friends?" Lenalee said, "you were with your friends before, right? Don't you talk to them?"
"That's... complicated. They're not really friends, I guess... well, maybe they are, just not best friends."
After a while, she returned her attention to the spare in front of her, performing vibrato exercises with her left hand. Both girls were silent for a while before Lenalee smiled at her. "You know, if you want, maybe we could do something. Isolating yourself wouldn't be too good."
Madelynn gave her a smile. "Okay. I'd like that."
"Hey!" Lavi called out to them, waving his arms wildly. "Come out here, Mattie!" In response she shook her head, backing up against the wall even further. Were they crazy? They'd kill her! "Awww, come on! Don't worry, we won't kill you!"
"I don't even know how to fight!" she complained.
"All the more reason to get over here and learn! Come on, it's easy! Beansprout's pretty easy to take down." Barely even looking, he grabbed hold of Allen's clawed hand as the boy growled at him. "See?"
She laughed nervously. "I'm good."
"Come on, Mattie!" Lenalee, ignoring her protests of horror, latched onto her arm, dragging her out to where Allen was. "At least invoke. It's really easy. Allen-kun will show you."
"I will?" Lenalee elbowed him in the ribs. "Okay, I will."
"Really, guys. It's fine... I'll try on my own."
"Alright, then." Allen slyly crossed his arms, taking a step back. "Invoke Crown Clown then."
"I said I would try."
Before she could take back her words, Lavi grinned, seeming to take her response the wrong way. "Okay! Give it a try!"
"Uhh..." Truth was, she didn't have the slightest clue to how even invoke Crown Clown. It wasn't like the Innocence was going to love her as much as Allen and just pop up out of the blue. How could they even expect her to fight, anyway? She wasn't even trained for this. "It's not working," she announced, holding up her hand to pretend she tried.
"Madelynn," Allen seemed to be stifling laughter, "you didn't even try..."
"You sure I can't just distract the Akuma with music? It's a lot easier than trying to teach me how to fight..."
"Don't be silly," Allen stepped forward, gently taking her hand and holding it up so that she could see it clearly. "It's simple to invoke Crown Clown once you get the hang of it. However, you have to trust the Innocence before it trusts you."
Staring absently at her hand, she repeated quietly and slowly, as though to assure herself. "Trust it...?" Was it possible to trust the Innocence? She could see it was there, but was there really a spirit lingering within for her to trust? Of course Allen could feel it, he was a fictional character for Pete's sake, but she wasn't. Did anyone else even trust their weapons to the same extent?
Maybe she could befriend Crown Clown, as corny as it sounded coming from her. Generally, she was pretty trusting with new people, which she admitted had led her to some pretty tough times. How was she supposed to do that, though? "Ummm... how, exactly?"
At this, Allen scratched his head, but his expression told her he was far from giving up. Seeing this, she forced herself to straighten her posture, even staring him directly in the eyes to deliver the message that he had her full attention. She wasn't quite sure what had struck the need to learn how to use Crown Clown, but whatever it was, she wouldn't back down now.
Suddenly feeling a strong current of wind blow around her, she glanced around, realizing that it was circling around her. It passed by quickly before anyone could comment on it, but their puzzled expressions died off as soon as Crown Clown appeared, unraveling itself and covering her entire back with its fluffy material. Without warning, the weight of its claw pulled her down to the ground. It felt entirely different from the one she'd made for her cosplay - or rather, her friend had made, as she technically only colored it - in more ways than just the weight. Her whole hand had morphed into the weapon, and the mask was much lighter than the clayed one she'd made. The impact of the wind had blown her hair in front of her face, leaving it at odd angles. Truth was, she never really realized just how long it'd gotten. Long hair annoyed her, as it always gave her problems when she tried to play the violin.
Once she adjusted to the change, she managed to stand back up again. Thankfully, she grew used to the weight quickly and within time, it felt just the same as her hand. When she looked up, however, she was shocked to find that Lavi and Lenalee had disappeared.
"Komui thinks it'd be best if I taught you," Allen told her. "We have the same Innocence, after all."
Nodding, she replied, "okay." It felt odd being alone with him, for some reason. Maybe it was just because she was still stuck in her cosplay outfit, and had been caught by him specifically "stealing his identity".
They were at it for a while, with literally no progress being made. She was extremely hesitant to fight and, according to him, didn't trust Crown Clown enough for the Innocence to work with her willingly. Really, she didn't have the slightest clue how he was aware of this, but let it sink in, anyway.
There was no way she was ever going to get this.
"Here," Allen suggested, "let's try it a different way."
He appeared in front of her, and if she hadn't taken a step back and tripped, he would've easily scratched her with his claw. On the ground, she rolled away from him, wincing as her claws made a sharp screech as they ran across the floor in her haste to get back onto her feet. It was a mistake on her part, though, because Allen had expected the move and leapt onto her, pinning her arms to the floor.
"Pretty good," he commented, helping her back onto her feet. "I'll have to teach you some other techniques besides just rolling on the floor, though."
The second he turned away from her, she collapsed onto the floor, Crown Clown dispersing before she allowed sleep to claim her.
"I'm not Allen."
The shadow of the Fourteenth, if possible, grinned wider at her from the window in the room she woke up in. "Of course," he replied. "I see all that goes on around him through his eyes. However, recently, I've been able to see through your's too."
"What? That has to be a mistake. I'm not Allen-"
"Perhaps you aren't, but how do you know who you really are? Just yesterday, your hair was red and that scar was only fake. Just yesterday, you were a normal girl without the abnormal arm."
Although she despised the dark, having been afraid of it since a young child, she allowed herself to sit on the edge of the bed in the room's darkness. "That doesn't mean anything, though. You and everyone else should not be reality. I shouldn't be here, like this."
"Some things aren't meant to make sense. You think Allen completely understands why it was him I implanted my memories into? Who knows, maybe that God you Exorcists believe so much in couldn't find any other worthy to hold onto something so precious to his favorite?"
Running her fingers over her black arm, she lightly shook her head. "What makes me so worthy of Crown Clown? I'm just a normal school girl and Allen's..." She trailed off there. What was she supposed to say? What was there about Allen that made himself so much above her, exactly? True, he was an Exorcist. True, he was wiser than her. But what exactly was he, compared to her? Everything?
She wasn't exactly sure, honestly. Everyone had their own specialties; that's what she'd been taught growing up. It were words from her grandmother; words that their family cherished as much as Allen did with Mana's famous "keep walking".
"He's just better than me, okay?" she finally told the shadow. "I'm not even supposed to be here. I know it. If God was really looking for a fan dedicated to this stuff, why choose me? What about all those girls who fight over him?"
"Because God isn't sadistic. Honestly, child, do you think God was searching for a warrior or a pathetic comedy?"
"But I'm not the warrior type!" She protested, "how am I supposed to save Akuma if I can't even save my homework from the neighbor's dog?" It'd been hectic that time the dog next door ate her homework, indeed. What other kid would take the remains and practically sob while insisting to their teacher that a dog ate their homework?
"Believe what you want. You're as real as this world is now. You'll disappear along with the rest of civilization with time, but you wouldn't want your time to come too soon, would you?"
She gritted her teeth, wanting to retort, but the door opened. Allen stood there, dazed as he saw her angrily glaring at a window, crossing her arms. Upon seeing him, however, she forced herself to calm and smile at him. "Good morning. I wasn't too much of a nuisance, was I?"
"...No." He paused. "Are you okay? You're glaring at a window."
So was he, in her defense. "Yeah. I take it windows annoy you, too?"
"I guess you could say that," he replied tonelessly, gently stepping inside and closing the door behind him. As though realizing then that the light was off, he flipped it on, making her grimace as her eyes adjusted to the light. "You okay?"
Immediately, she snapped her head away from the window to look at him. "Yes? Oh... yes, I am. Why do you ask?"
"You're sitting in the dark glaring at a window."
"Technically, so have you," she retorted, but her voice was even. However, she decided that it could have come across rude and immediately shook her head. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that..."
"No worries," he replied, taking a seat next to her. "But really, are you okay? With Crown Clown and... everything, I mean."
Honestly, she was still shocked at all of it. It just felt so odd. With her friends, they'd always joked about how they'd be so excited to pop up randomly in Katsura Hoshino's creation, but now that it'd really happened, it scared her. Would even Martha, who enjoyed to torment people through ways of pranks and jokes, find her situation enjoyable?
"Yeah... I guess." That last part was soft, but she didn't bother to correct it. Instead, she allowed her gaze to linger at the window, where the Fourteenth was grinning. His presence unnerved her. She'd always thought she understood how Allen felt, but didn't really until now.
If she even did yet, that is.
"Allen's just jealous that Mattie wears his clothes better than him."
The comment only made her fall off the bed. "What?" she cried out before she could stop herself. By then it was already too late; Allen was completely aware of the fact that she was capable of seeing and hearing the deceased Noah. "I appreciate the nickname, but... could you please not call me that?" Many people thought her distaste of "Mattie" was odd, but really, it was a matter of wanting her own identity. Lots of people had her name, and almost all of them she'd met in person were called that for short.
"You can hear him?" Allen asked her, astonished, "how?"
"Hear what?" she tried, but his frown signaled that he wasn't falling for it. "Well, you see, sound travels through the air and-"
"You know what I'm talking about."
Nervously, she drew her legs to her chest, hugging them and lying her chin on top of them as she stared at the floor. Swallowing a lump in her throat, she shook her head. 'It's... I mean... well..." She didn't know what to say, and instead ended up blurting out nonsensical phrases. Finally, unable to bear it anymore, she began to cry once more. "I just don't know. Leave me alone."
At first, the boy was motionless, as though surprised by her reaction, but then laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. "No, no! It's okay, Madelynn, really! I just... I'm the only one who should be able to see the Fourteenth."
His words weren't very comforting, and she continued to softly cry into her knees. Of course only he was supposed to see the Fourteenth, but why was it that she could see him too? Maybe it was because she knew he existed? But so did Lenalee and everyone else, so why wouldn't they be able to see him, too?
Blinking when she felt him wrap a blanket around her, she looked at him with teary eyes, only to see him smile softly before pushing her into the bed. "You should rest," he told her. "We can find out later."
She wanted to argue and insist on staying awake, but she was too tired to resist the urge to close her eyes. Nodding slowly, she reached forward, slipping her hand into his and squeezing it gently. He turned his head back to look at her, confusion written on his face.
"You won't tell anyone, right?"
She wasn't sure what she'd do if he did. Her chances of being executed were high, because she was still a complete stranger to the Order. Truthfully, she was ready to do anything in exchange for him not telling anyone.
But Allen only nodded. There was a softer look in his eyes than what she'd seen in the previous chapters. Where was she, in their timeline, anyway? They'd obviously moved to their new Headquarters, and Allen had already been told by Cross about the Fourteenth. Other than that, she had no idea, and didn't plan on asking, either. She'd already humiliated herself by putting her costume on, and she had no plans to worsen it by letting anyone else know what she'd told Komui.
"Don't worry," he assured her, standing back up and making his way to the door. Bidding her goodnight one last time, he shut the door silently, his footsteps padding quietly through the hall before he was too far away for her to hear them anymore. When she was certain she was at last alone, she removed her sore left arm, holding it in the moonlight so she could study its features.
Letting out a long sigh, she turned over, holding her hand against her as an effort to fall asleep. "I need my violin," she murmured softly, the words rolling off her tongue. "I'd play anything…"
The fact that a shadow was watching her was unnerving, probably the reason why she couldn't sleep. "Yeah, sure. As long as you actually put it in sheet music and not a bunch of lines."
There was a clapping noise from the mirror. "Madelynn will learn eventually."
"Not without sheet music," she murmured before drifting off to sleep.