Author's Notes: Day Four has arrived! The prompt I picked for today was "Ace of Spades". For a bit I struggled with how to create a story based on or at least connected to that prompt. Then I found out about the song Ace of Spades by Motörhead, a British heavy metal band from the 70s-80s. So here comes a story that references it!

Warnings: PokerPair; Fem!Allen; 1980s AU; Aged-down characters (Tyki is a teenager in this); Dog!Timcanpy; Overprotective!Cross; Mention of a truly controversial time period (no flames, please); Possible historical inaccuracies; Probable OOC-ness; An American writing about life in England

Disclaimer: Katsura Hoshino is the sole owner of D. Gray – Man and everything connected to it.

Running The Gauntlet

- xXx -

England, 1981

Tyki Mikk had never really worked hard in his life.

The eighteen-year old didn't have any reasons to. His adoptive father, Adam Campbell, was extremely rich, well-connected, and loved to spoil his large brood of children. Which certainly played to Tyki's advantage, as he could indulge in good food and entertainment anytime he wished to.

And as for schoolwork, well… he had excellent persuasion skills. Any partner he was assigned to complete a project with ended up happily completing it by themselves. Teachers were easily convinced to just let him coast through classes he was bored by. Overall, life was smooth sailing…

Until he met Ellen Walker.

Two years his junior and on the Honor roll, she had been assigned by his Math teacher, a newer hire who was just as vulnerable to his charm but still wanted him to do better in school, to be his tutor. During their first meeting, he remembered slightly raising an eyebrow as he took in her appearance: thin, petite-figured with short white hair and a strange red scar on the left side of her face contrasting greatly with her plain school uniform. Not exactly the picture that came to mind upon hearing the phrase 'student tutor'.

Not that Tyki had been put off by that. He had always found contradictions and the unusual to be quite fascinating. And she was still pretty cute; what with her 'girl next door' aura, pink lips and large silver-gray eyes. So he quickly decided that once he got Ellen to accept that the tutoring will be done his way, he'll ask her out on a dinner date.

The possibility of her rejecting either offer never crossed his mind. Putting aside his silver tongue, Tyki was a handsome young man who had half the girls at school pining after him. And while he rarely dated due to his preference for lazing about, he was well aware of how the girls he did take out gushed about their experience to the others. Which thereafter raised the teenager's desirability among the female population. Who on Earth would ever say no?

Well, Ellen did.

With a swift slap across the face.

After letting Tyki get over the shock that a frail-appearing underclassmen had delivered the harshest smack he had ever experienced in his life, the sixteen-year had told him in no uncertain terms that she wouldn't betray Mrs. Hoshino's (the math teacher) trust in her and instead he will the one to do the work – even if she had to drag him to the library by his ankles, tie him to a chair, and force the pencil into his hand.

And as for the other matter? She had narrowed her eyes and scoffed, "I don't date good-for-nothing slackers."

He had to admit; that had stung a lot more than the slap.

However, rather than being discouraged, Tyki became more intrigued by Ellen. From that moment on – every study session at the library or his home, whenever they passed each other in the halls at school, or even if they coincidentally met in the streets – the upperclassmen would shamelessly flirt with and tease her. In response she would roll her eyes and tell him to focus on an upcoming quiz or the worksheet in front of him.

Yet as time rolled on, Ellen started to soften her previous stance on him. Yes, she still made him study and complete his homework. But her tone whenever she spoke to him also grew fonder, and she soon allowed him to sit closer while they poured over numbers and equations. They started telling the other about their likes and dislikes, hobbies and more. She even smiled and laughed at his jokes during study-breaks and would sometimes join him for lunch.

Unfortunately, the white-haired girl also kept turning him down.

Eventually it got to the point where Tyki straight-up asked what it would take for her to go on just one date with him. A mark of desperation, perhaps. But to be fair… he was really that desperate.

Ellen had looked away before answering, "If you get an A on the next math test, and at least Bs on your other subjects, then I'll agree to go on one date with you."

As Tyki was generally a C student and the tests were next week, her stipulation seemed to be too strict and challenging for the laid-back eighteen-year old to accomplish. But he was not about to let that prevent him from finally getting a date with her. So he knuckled down, dragged in Wisely to help him with other subjects besides Math and English Literature (he already had a A in the latter), and studied like he never had before.

And he succeeded.

Which leads to his current location: parked in front of Ellen's house on a Friday to pick her up for their date.

Tyki got out of his car, locked it and took a quick look around. The white-haired girl had told him she lived in a poorer neighborhood, so the crack-riddled pavement and worn-down relics of the Victorian era were by no means a surprise. And honestly, he'd seen worse.

The young man walked up the flight of steps leading to her townhouse and knocked on the door. He was left waiting for about thirty seconds, listening to the barks of a dog alerting the home's residents of his presence, before the door opened. But instead of the sixteen-year old girl he was expecting, the person behind the piece of wood was a tall, well-dressed redheaded man smoking a cigarette. It took a few seconds for Tyki to realize that he was actually Cross Marian, Ellen's somewhat irresponsible legal guardian.

"What do you want?" Cross gruffly questioned, raising an eyebrow and taking a drag of his cigarette as he looked at Tyki. A Golden Retriever, who the teenager immediately recognized as Timcanpy from all the photos Ellen had happily shown him, slipped by the older man to check out the unexpected visitor.

"Hi, I'm Tyki Mikk," the eighteen-year old casually greeted as he let the large dog sniff him. "You must be Mr. Marian. I'm here to pick up Ellen for our date. Is she ready?"

The older man's visible brown eye – the other was hidden under a strange half mask – narrowed once he heard the teenager's question. Then he turned in the direction of the stairs and yelled out, "Hey, brat!"

"What?" Ellen's voice floated from somewhere downstairs, sounding a little exasperated with Cross.

"There's someone named Tyki Mikk at the door. Says he's here to pick you up," the redhead answered, exhaling smoke and ignoring the subsequent thud from the ceiling. Timcanpy, on the other hand, whined with concern and ran back into the house and up the stairs.

"Tyki!? Uh- I'll be down in a few minutes! Let him in!" she hurriedly shouted, followed by the slam of two doors, a few woofs from Timcanpy, and the whirl of a hairdryer.

Tyki hid a few chuckles behind his hand as he listened in. Ellen always projected an image of effortless preparation and neatness at school, so to learn that he had caught her off guard by arriving early was actually pretty endearing to him.

But his mirth died down once Cross turned his head to once again face the teenager, eye sharp and lips set in a tense line.

"Come in," he eventually grunted before walking away from the door without a backwards glance at the eighteen-year old.

Tyki raised an eyebrow at that, but just shrugged and entered the house, closing the door behind him. He followed Cross as the older man led him to a cramped drawing room with two armchairs, an oak side table, a green sofa, an antique wall clock, TV set, fireplace and a white piano.

"Sit down," Cross commanded, pointing at the sofa while settling into the wider of the armchairs, the one accompanied by the side table. Once the redhead himself was comfortable, he tapped a finger against an armrest and asked, "So… you're from her school, right?"

"Yes," Tyki replied as he took a seat.

That brown eye coolly analyzed the teenager. "Hmm… you seem to be a little tall for a ninth year student."

"Actually, I'm in my final year," Tyki corrected the other.

"Oh? Then how exactly did you and the brat meet?"

"She's my math tutor."

Cross leaned back in the armchair and crossed his legs at the ankles. "So you're eighteen, into younger girls and not too bright," he concluded with a rather flat tone.

Tyki's polite smile grew strained as he felt a little insulted. "While Ellen is younger, that doesn't mean I only date girls her age. And my grades have gone up from Cs to Bs."

The older man took a drag of his cigarette and grunted, keeping his thoughts to himself but projecting their exact sentiments with his air alone. He released another toxic cloud before switching topics. "And just where are you taking her for your… date?"

The teenager forced himself to relax as he looked straight at the other. "First we're going to a concert. Then we'll get something to eat before I'll drop her off," he explained.

"Well, the brat will certainly like the second part. Provided that you pick a restaurant she can afford."

"Actually, I'm paying for both of us."

Cross raised an eyebrow at that statement after flicking ashes onto the table's ashtray. "You must have deep pockets if you're willing to risk bankruptcy."

"More like my dad is generous with pocket money," Tyki amended with a slightly too sharp grin. Not polite, but the adult in front of him was really starting to get on his nerves.

The older man frowned but ultimately declined to comment. "Just who is this concert for, anyway?" he asked the eighteen-year old.

"It's for Motörhead," the teenager replied.

Cross stared at him with hidden shock, temporarily taken aback. His one-eye gaze fully focused onto the house guest as he sat up in his armchair. "A heavy metal band? You're actually going to take her there for a first date?" the redhead asked with a hint of disbelief in his tone.

Tyki nonchalantly nodded. "It's more rock and roll, but yeah. During our study sessions we would talk about a lot of things. Eventually music came up and she mentioned that she liked them. So I got a hold of a couple of tickets."

The teenager deliberately chose to gloss over the fact that his discovery of Ellen's fondness for Motörhead was only half true. Yes, he did find out about it while they were studying, but she hadn't revealed it on purpose. Rather, his sister Road – crashing the session so as to witness him ask for a date and be rejected yet again – decided to snoop through the sixteen-year old's bag and found a newly purchased poster for the band. He could still remember how flustered she was trying to retrieve it from the younger girl. And he especially relished the memory of how wide her silver-gray eyes grew with happiness once he presented the tickets to her.

The older man scowled and opened his mouth to further interrogate the eighteen-year old. But before a single word could be uttered, both he and Tyki heard two sets of rapid steps, accompanied by the panting of a dog, descend the stairs and head towards the drawing room. The dog came in first, heading straight to the armchair to beg for ear scratches. But the second set – Ellen's – was close behind.

Tyki had turned his head to the doorway right as she burst into the room and subsequently bent over to catch her breath, and felt his brain stop and heart skip a beat once he saw her current appearance. On top she had on a cream-colored crop top that showcased her flat stomach, and a thin silver chain with a jade pendant hung from her pale neck. Her legs were encased in tight blue jeans stuffed into black knee-high boots. And when she raised her head after regaining her breath, he noticed she was wearing makeup and had on dangling ace of spades earrings.

The sixteen-year old saw her upperclassman on her sofa and sent him a sheepish smile, carefully rimmed with light pink lip gloss. "I'm sorry for making you wait," she apologized while walking towards him. "I thought you weren't coming for another thirty minutes, so I went and took a long bath."

Snapping into action, Tyki laughed and got up from the piece of furniture. "Don't be, menina. I got here early so that we wouldn't be caught in traffic. You look good, by the way," the older teenager grinned. He had already seen her in casual clothes before. But her outfit right now was quite the sight to behold, in his opinion.

"Thank you. Ah, so do you." As she said this, her black-lined eyes scanned his own outfit of a tight shirt, looser trousers, a black Members Only jacket and Chuck Taylors. The older teenager felt a little smug when he noticed her gaze lingering on his chest, outlined by the shirt's fit, before hastily moving away once she caught herself staring. Tyki chuckled at her blushing cheeks but refrained from teasing her. There would be plenty of time to do that later.

"Yes, well…" Ellen murmured to herself before her blush faded and she could look him in the eyes once more. "I suppose you're ready to go now, so let me just grab my coat." She then turned to Cross, who had been silently watching the two teenagers with a critical eye, and said, "Don't forget to feed Tim while I'm gone, Cross."

The redhead raised his eyebrow while absentmindedly patting the Golden Retriever's head. "Are you sure you what to go out like that?"

Ellen frowned and looked down at her outfit. "What do you mean?" she asked her guardian. "These clothes are perfectly acceptable for both a rock concert and-"

The white-haired girl abruptly ended her sentence to look at Tyki. "Wait, which restaurant did you say we were going to?"

"The Jade Dragon in the city centre," the older teenager replied.

"Ah yes, now I remember. But isn't it really far from the concert venue…?"

But Tyki was already waving away her concerns. "Forget it, menina. I'm not going to let you talk me out of taking you there. Especially since you've always wanted to go there."

Ellen blinked, surprised that he remembered something she mentioned months ago. Then she all but beamed as she looked up at her date. "If you say so," she conceded before turning back to her guardian with a raised eyebrow of inquiry.

Cross got up and snorted as he said, "I wasn't talking about your outfit."

She rolled her eyes in response. "Must we talk about this again? I won't be the only one wearing makeup there."

"No, but you're also sixteen-years old," the redheaded man countered while taking another drag of his cigarette.

"What does that have to do with anything? Plenty of girls my age wear makeup. And Anitta didn't find it peculiar when she helped buy it earlier. Or would you like to discuss it with her the next time she comes over?"

Cross pursed his lips as he took in the stubborn set in Ellen's posture, then sighed which released the smoke previously inhabiting his lungs. He then turned to Tyki with a glare. "She better be back by 10:00 PM, or else. You understand me, boy?"

Ellen tensed at the venomous tone in his voice, but Tyki just smirked. "Crystal, sir," the eighteen-year old confirmed with a sneaky glint in his golden eyes. If his date wanted to return home by that time, he would respect her wishes. However, if she wanted to stay out a little longer, regardless of exactly where they are… well, who was he to say no?

And as if he read the teenager's thoughts, the older man all but shot daggers from his eye.

That was when the sole female in the room decided it would be best to hasten her and the older teenager's departure. After gently herding Tyki to the entry way and grabbing her leather jacket from the coat rack, they bid farewell to Cross and Timcanpy – well, Ellen did; Tyki just scratched the dog's ears after the animal nudged his hand – and exited the home.

"I'm sorry for Cross's behavior," Ellen sighed as they descended the steps. "He isn't particularly good at tolerating men."

Tyki snorted in amusement as they reached his car. "I noticed, menina. How did he end up as your guardian, anyway?" he asked while unlocking the passenger-side seat door for her.

"Via my father's will," Ellen started to explain as she took a seat, closed the door, and buckled up. "He and Cross were childhood friends, despite having diametrically opposed personalities. So after Mana – my father – adopted me, he updated his will so that Cross would gain custody in case… well…"

Tyki, also seated and about to start the engine, noticed the somber mood taking hold of his date and quickly moved to dissipate it. "Hmm. You're adopted, I'm adopted… That's a rather interesting coincidence there, menina. I don't suppose you're also Portuguese and love fish?" he joked.

Ellen let out a snort of amusement and shook her head. "Sorry, but I was born in the North. I do like fish, though."

"Eh, two out of three ain't bad," the eighteen-year old shrugged as the engine came to life.

"Was that an accident, or did you just quote Meat Loaf?"

"Hey, it's a good power ballad."

"And you are rather cheesy," Ellen stated, laughing in response to Tyki's answering grin. He put the car in drive and started pulling away from the townhouse.

The younger teenager began watching the blurring scenery as they made their way to the concert. Then she frowned as a thought came to her.

"It's rather strange, though…"

"Hm? What is?" Tyki asked as he kept his eyes on the road.

"The last time I saw Cross that tense was when I first met him, back in '75," Ellen mused as they came to an intersection.

As the light was red, Tyki felt free to turn his head and look at her. "What happened then, menina?"

Ellen sighed as she said, "Well, that was the year that Mana died. On top of what he had experienced in Northern Ireland… it was no wonder that Cross was on edge."

While the young man didn't constantly follow current events like his brother Sheril, only someone hiding under a rock for the last twenty years was ignorant of what was happening there. "Ah… well, that's understandable," he settled on saying as the light turned green and he resumed driving.

"Yes," Ellen sighed, then huffed as she resumed, "but that doesn't mean he had to glare at you like that. I mean, it's not like you were a violent IRA member he was up against."

Tyki chuckled at the sixteen-year old's indignation on his behalf. But his eyes started to widen as his brain fully processed what she had just said. "Wait, what do you mean by 'up against'?"

The younger girl blinked at the question before realization came over her. "Oh, I guess Cross didn't mention it to you. He used to serve in the British Army; in fact he was deployed to Northern Ireland after the Battle of the Bogside. He obtained a discharge after becoming my guardian, though."

A shiver of dread ran up Tyki's spine once he heard that, and suddenly Cross's warning seemed a great deal more ominous.

"She better be back by 10:00 PM, or else."

'Looks like I have a curfew to keep, after all.'

- Later that night -

"If you like to gamble, I tell you I'm your man…" Ellen sang as she and Tyki exited his car. As they were the only people outside, her voice was easily carried by the night wind passing through her neighborhood.

"Careful, menina," the older teenager laughed as he retrieved her bag of concert souvenirs from the trunk. "You might wake up everyone else."

"I doubt that," the younger teenager replied while accepting the bag handed to her. She took a peek inside and further commented, "You know, not that I'm ungrateful or anything, you really didn't have to buy their LP for me. Or pay for my order at the Jade Dragon, for that matter."

"Well, I wanted to. Besides, what kind of date would it have been if I hadn't done so?"

Ellen gave a little hum as they walked up the stairs to her townhouse. "I wouldn't know, since I've never been on one before tonight."

Tyki turned his head to look at her in surprise. "Wait. Are you actually telling me that this is your first date ever?"

"Yes," she answered with a sheepish nod as they arrived in front of her door. "I never had time to do so in the past because I was too busy with studying, my friends, tutoring, working part-time… There was just never a good time to try dating."

"Is that so…" Tyki mused to himself. It certainly made sense, now that he thought about it; whenever he saw her at school or in public, she was always doing something or helping someone. There were times where he wondered if she ever rested for just five minutes.

Still, he couldn't help feeling pleased that he had been her first date. "In that case, I'm glad you set up that ultimatum of yours," he chuckled before he shot her a playful smirk.

Ellen blushed and looked down, suddenly interested in the toes of her boots. Then she reached out with her free hand to hold his hand.

"I'm glad, too. Tonight was really nice, Tyki. Thank you," the sixteen-year old shyly whispered.

After recovering from the surprise, the eighteen-year old grinned and stepped closer to his date. "I'll be more than happy to take you out in the future, menina. Just say the word." He said this while reaching out with his free hand to tuck an errant lock of hair behind her ear, letting his index finger slowly brush against cartilage and briefly touch an ace of spades before retreating.

She shivered at his touch, then raised her head to look at him with those gorgeous eyes, their silver-gray depths shimmering under the early moonlight. "I… I could clear my schedule for next Saturday. We wouldn't have to go out, per se… maybe just hang out at the park or your house?"

"Sounds good to me, menina."

Ellen smiled, then carefully set down her bag against the door. Tyki was momentarily confused by this, but was distracted by her next action of releasing his hand so as to wrap her arms around his neck and pull him down closer to her height.

"Then, it's a date," she murmured before rising up on her toes to kiss him.

Any shock he felt at her bold action was swiftly knocked aside in favor of reciprocating it. And he did; resting one hand on the small of her back and the other on her nape, he transformed her simple press of the lips into a sinfully slow snogging session that pulled the most interesting gasps and moans from her mouth.

The two teenagers were so preoccupied with each other that they didn't notice the door slowly opening with a creak.

Or the flopping of the bag once it no longer was supported.

Or the confused sniffing of Timcanpy, wondering just what was going on.

They did flinch at the cold, enraged voice barking out from the dark void of Ellen's house. Which was swiftly followed by the clicking sound associated with the safety of a gun being turned off.

"You have three seconds to put her down before my bullet makes itself at home in your skull, boy."

- xXx -

Cultural Notes:

Ninth Year student – Someone completing their ninth or tenth year of compulsory education. A high school sophomore in the US education system.

Pocket money – An allowance.

Members Only – Clothing brand creating in 1975 that became popular during the 80s. Their racer jackets had knitted trims and narrow epaulettes (shoulder straps) and collar straps.

Chuck Taylors – Also known as Chuck Taylor All-Stars. A casual shoe initially marketed as a basketball shoe in the early 20th century. It declined in popularity during the 70s, but recovered in the 80s as the retro-look came into fashion.

City centre – What we in the US would call downtown.

The North – Reference to Northern England, not Game of Thrones. It's comprised of Cheshire, Cumberland, County Durham, Lancashire, Northumberland, Westmorland, and Yorkshire.

Meat Loaf – A musician who began his career in the late 60s. The song being referenced is "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" and was released in 1978.

IRA – Stands for Irish Republican Army. Originally formed in 1919 to fight for Irish independence, a branch of them (the Provisional IRA, which split from the Anti-treaty IRA in 1969, who hated the results of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922) became involved in the Troubles after the Battle of the Bogside. For the rest of the Troubles, the Provisional IRA and the British Army and paramilitary loyalists (Northern Ireland residents who didn't want to join with the Republic of Ireland) would square off in bloody conflict until the Good Friday Agreement. The Provisional IRA was officially decommissioned in 2005, though some claim that it's still currently active.

Battle of the Bogside – A riot that took place in Derry, Northern Ireland from August 12th to the 14th,1969. Sparked by a parade organized by Protestants going through a Catholic neighborhood, residents of the Bogside area clashed with the Royal Ulster Constabulary and forced the latter out by the end. The British Army was then deployed to Northern Ireland. Considered by many to be one of the first large contributions to the Troubles.

Snogging – A UK term for making out.

- x -

Yeah, this really doesn't have much to do with the actual song. But I do feel that Tyki and Allen would like it, given all the poker references.

I truly hope I haven't pissed anyone off by mentioning the Troubles here! When I first thought up the story, I didn't have any intention of mentioning it. But after setting the story in 80s Britain, I pondered how Tyki could legitimately feel intimidated by Cross. And given that Motörhead's song was released in 1980, my brain reminded me that Feature History(a YouTube channel) made two videos about the conflict. Thus, Cross became a former member of the British Army. Who is very protective of Ellen, regardless of how he talks to her. And he survived the Provisional IRA (who, regardless of your personal views on them, were very crafty and tough as nails). And he has a gun… Run, Tyki!

If anyone is interested in learning more about the Troubles, I suggest starting with Feature History's videos. They serve as a nice outline of the entirety of this conflict and even start off explaining how Anglo-Irish relations thoroughly decayed (mostly because the English acted like jackasses, in my opinion) up to then.

If you liked this story and have something to say, please leave a review or send me a PM. I really do want to know what you think!