Short chapter this time. Sorry guys! Stay safe, keep fighting for equity, and I love you all.

"Ah, Cross! I hear your boy has managed to evade my children a few too many times," Tiedoll shouted from across the room, already walking closer. "Poor Yuu doesn't know what to do with himself. He's normally so proud of his tracking abilities. And he won't even give my Marie a break!" The poofy haired man wiped away a tear - an actual tear - before looking up with wet eyes. Cross held in a sigh. He was only in the building for a few minutes and already it was suffocating.

The idiot apprentice better be worth it.

Okay, fine. If he wants to talk, Cross will talk. Even if the man was annoying, it's better to chat with him than ignore his existence. Ignoring never works with the persistent asshole. He's tried more than a few times only to fail and suffer for even longer. "Ha! Just shows the brat's better than yours. Didn't have to swaddle it or anything." Tiedoll gave Cross an afronted look.

"Cross! Your child is not an 'it,' you know." The man tisked, a glare that was way too gentle still fixated on Cross. Glares aren't meant to be gentle or scolding. They're supposed to put fear in people's hearts. Or at least provoke them. "I hear he is a good boy, though. Kanda seems to think he had potential before he, you know, left."

Sure. A good boy that was broken with the death of his so called father. No wonder Tiedoll was so curious about him, he always did like the broken ones. Kanda just happened to be the worst of them so far. It's actually impressive how he can just figure out who's messed up inside, even when they're acting all normal.

Though, Allen doesn't necessarily act normal. Just not himself. All that happened since Allen got his memories back was regaining some spirit from the time of Red. Becoming more like himself again.

Maybe a little less broken.

"The brat didn't just leave, idiot. He came to his senses and fled, like any rational person would do." Well. Not so much coming to his senses, more like following the instinctual knowledge that he gained being around truly shitty people when he was growing up.

Cross was shitty, but not that type. Not the type that forced Red out on the streets and made him work without food. Not the type that made him instinctively raise his hackles and enter fight or flight mode. Just the other kind that made the brat fight creatures he didn't understand and pay for stuff without knowing how to work.

"You haven't fled yet, Cross," Cross had to hold his tongue. Tiedoll didn't need to know what he did behind the scenes. Why he needed to stay. "So clearly you must not actually think that."

"Haven't I?" No, he hasn't. Coming back doesn't count as fleeing. Just an extended vacation while he contemplated his plan to help Neah. "And besides, I said rational. I might be smart and watch my back, but there's no way I'd come back to this dump if I still had my wits."

"Come now, there must be a reason to return each time." Tiedoll looked smug. He knew something, but the idiot was about to show his hand. He was dumb like that. Pure could be another word for it, but it was a stupid word.

"You talked with your apprentice recently, didn't you?" This asshole, that was a private conversation in a warded room. There's no way he just happened to hear anything that Cross said.

"You were creeping on me, weren't you. Well, whatever. Yes, I talked with the brat. Checked up on him, I guess. He's still being an idiot, but at least he found his head."

"Ah, and what does that mean? I heard he lost his memory before leaving, which was the catalyst. Are you saying that his memory has been regained, and he will return to us? Or are you saying it was a good thing that his memory is gone."

For fucks sake, he already knew. Persistent and had a brain. This was why he's Cross' least favorite.

"Guess you'll have to find out."

The man kept following him around, maybe making sure he didn't disappear but more likely curious about the brat. Sure, he's Cross' first, and likely last, apprentice. Didn't mean he's actually anything, though. Just a brat that got forced on him.

And maybe, maybe Cross cared enough to hope he didn't die.


"Oh, come on. You could at least tell me a little about the child? I tell you all about mine."

"And that's the problem." A grown man shouldn't pout. Even if it fit on his face so well, looking all natural. What a child.

"He sounded different than I thought he would. More brash. Did you teach him to act that way?" The man had the gall to look affronted! Which only means one thing - another scolding that he knows won't be followed. "Cross, you shouldn't speak to children like that. I thought you would know at least that much. Come now, I do believe Lvellie is waiting in his office. Er, Komui's office, more accurately. He probably wants to speak with you."

"Well of course he does. He lost my brat." Shit. That sounded more possessive than it was supposed to, now Tiedoll could give him the look.

Yep. The sparkly eyes, stupid grin, everything. Asshole.

The guards in red standing outside Komui's door was indication enough of who was inside. Not that Cross really cared. He shot a glare at Tiedoll and the crazy looking man took a step back. He probably wouldn't mention the conversation with Allen to the big bad boss.

He opened the doors and stepped inside. The desk was clean, though Komui had a small mess at his feet in the corner he took up space. Lvellie had taken his desk and his chair, leaving only a small stool and a notepad to work on.

It was a good way to keep Komui awake, at least. That and the guards watching his every move. If Cross remembered correctly, the dark haired man didn't even want to be part of the order. Only there for his cute sister who was stolen away at too young an age.

This. This was why Cross truly despised the Order, despite all the other crappy things they've done. Experimentation on unwilling children went just a bit too far.

Well, that and all the other boring, stuffy people that work in the already shady organization.

"General Cross," Lvellie started as soon as Cross looked at his eyes. Cross nipped that in the bud. Just because he was here, listening to the asshole's orders, did not mean he would be the man's dog.

"Alright, I'm here. What do you want, and where's the booze." He wouldn't let the bastard have the upper hand, especially not in the mood he was in.

Listening to Tiedoll first thing? Not a good way to start his trip.

"General, I suggest you take a seat and listen to what I have to say. It would seem your apprentice has gone missing. It seems to me he has learned your tricks of… evasion. I want you to find him and bring him back.

"I heard reports that his Innocence is highly effective in removing threats and his control is adequate," he continued. "We don't have time to test compatibility if reports of the upcoming war are to be trusted." Komui looked up, his face forlorn. Huh, the Earl must really be ramping up production. That or the Noah were getting restless and attacking more exorcists than normal. Either way, those were good indications of a change in strategy from the Earl's side.

"Alright. But if I taught him everything, don't you think it would be a tad difficult for me to find him? And trust me, some of his strategies aren't ones that I taught him." Cross liked to travel loud and escape quiet. Allen always preferred to stay silent for both parts. Red even more so.

"I… trust that you will be able to find this child." Lvellie's eyes turned icy as the words fell out of his mouth. Cross scowled. That was a threat if he ever heard one. Very, very well disguised threat but Lvellie didn't do trust. There's nothing that he could use to threaten Cross with, though. It's funny that he didn't know that.

"Fine, I'll look around a bit. Now, I believe there was supposed to be booze? And shouldn't I have a nice room with some… entertainment?" He had to stay in this stuffy dump, might as well get his money's worth. Not like they paid him anyway.

Lvellie waved his hand and one of the Crows moved to the door, escorting Cross out.

Cross may have accidentally left a scrap of paper in the room. One that had a communication spell that only he could turn off. And happened to be designed for one way transmission. It was far less reliable than any gollum he had met, but it did it's job and went unnoticed most of the time.

Might as well hear Lvellie's plan for the future, if Cross was going to be stuck in the middle of it.

Allen had the right idea to get out while he could. Or, Red did. Whoever the brat is now.

"Hey, Tyki, you should head back. See how your people are doing, say hi to Allen, all that." Tyki held down his fright response as Road talked right in his ear. He had been reading one of his books - Sheril had got him a shelf last year and was always disappointed to find they weren't read - while facing the door. Which was left undisturbed.

How did she even get there? Really, that brat was way too silent.

Back to her strange statement, "How come?"

"You've been here for a bit, I'm sure you're missing them. Besides, not like we need you here." Rude. "I've already finished up my homework, all that's left is copying the Arc. And sorry Tyki, but you aren't much help with that." Okay, a little less rude. Sure, he wasn't able to do anything with the giant ship that only Road and the Earl had a chance of manipulating, but he was still able to hang around.

But did he want to?

"Yeah, you might be right. Skinn is doing fine, and I'm sure Sheril will be heading back soon enough…"

"You definitely don't want to be here for that. Or the balls that are coming up. Millenie has a lot of them planned to try and get humans to help take down the Order. Sheril already picked out my dresses."

"Sounds stuffy. But he's still my brother. At some point I need to talk to him again, even if I won't be allowed to leave his sight for the next year."

"Yeah. Avoid that," Road started walking around his room, thinking. "I'll go tell Millenie that you'll be heading out, so go ahead. But you should probably travel by train instead of akuma. It seems like the Order is staying aware of what's happening around us with the akuma. They probably know something's about to happen."

"Great, we'll be able to have some fun soon enough." He let out a blood thirsty grin, the Noah of Pleasure rising to the surface for just a moment.

"Yep! Now shoo, go have fun with your humans before we have to kill them." Tyki waved back at his relative, stepping through the door she made. Road had decent control over the arc and could transport across the world, but it wasn't accurate enough to pick a specific city to drop Tyki off in. He would have to figure out where exactly he was before getting back to the group.

He popped out of a random house's door in the middle of a city. Now he just needed to figure out where to go.

Train stations tended to have maps of more than just the train system, so Tyki started heading to the sound of train tracks.

Millenie and Road had been planning the transfer of the arc for more than a few years now. Road was working on it when Tyki first turned into a Noah, back before he found his group of misfits and started traveling the continent.

Tyki still had his internal struggle. He was human, and he loved humans. He was fine staying around them and having fun playing poker or chatting with Crack and Momo in the mines. He also loved killing exorcists and destroying the group of people that have harmed his family for centuries. The ones that were just as awful to each other as they were to the world around them. He didn't need to be Joyd to revel in the pleasure that destruction brings.

Tyki never had the same personality shift that his other relatives had when they first awakened. Sheril used to be a total ass. Sure, he took care of Tyki, but that was it. After he awoke, that changed. He started to love the other Noah while still disregarding the humans they lived around. He was barely able to fake it enough to find a wife and solidify his political position.

The twins started out as a shy person that jumped at their own shadow. Tyki just happened to be there just before their awakening. Circumstance, of course. His group had business in the same town.

Tyki was never taken over. There might be influence of Joyd every here or there, but he could safely say that all of his thoughts were his own. It could be that Tyki's personality was too close to Joyd's for a dramatic change, it could be that Tyki's won out over Joyd's.

It didn't matter.

What did matter is that Tyki had no clue where to go because he managed to forget where the group was. It was probably around here, but he didn't have time to look at the maps in that town before getting picked up and heading to Skinn.

He followed the town they were previously at and drew his finger north on the map, hopefully following the train lines. It was a couple days' travel, so they made it past the mountain area and maybe a bit farther than that…

It was a start.

Tyki hopped onto the train and prepared to wait. This time he had enough cash (stollen from the twins because they deserved it) to actually pay for a ticket and sit in the main cars. It would probably be a day travel, but at least he was closer to their current spot than the last town was.

Tyki tried to tidy up his appearence just a tad so he didn't look like the hobo he was. Instead of letting his frizzy hair get out of control, he brushed it and pulled it back. He was already clean from the time spent with the Earl, but he pulled out some washed clothes (that woulnd't stay that way for long) to change into.

He did debate wiht the glasses, though. They made for a good disguize, a distraction from everything that he was actually capable of. But they also made him stand out as a loon.

He could skip them for a day, at least until making it back to the group.

After an hour being bored out of his mind - normally he was with his group on the train and they could play a few games of poker in the back - Tyki finally found something interesting.


It was the one that scared little Eeez.

Ooooh, so many options. Little Allen would be fuming if Tyki just did nothing to the two men, specifically the dark haired one with a sword. But they were still exorcists, they were constantly on alert of everyone.

And they probably remember his face. Remember him as the one that pushed back an Exorcist.

Except the growling one looked directly at his face and din't say anything. So maybe, just maybe he looked different enough without his glasses to go unnoticed by them as well.

And maybe he could use that to cause a little mischief.

Tyki waited for a few minutes after the train started again and the exorcists with their finders settled down.

Maybe they would be up for a quick game of poker. To pass the time, of course. Tyki wouldn't even cheat for the first few games, though he will definitely win.