Disclaimer: -Man is the property of the great Hoshino Katsura. *blinks* Why are you still up here anyway? Scroll down!
Prologue: The Destroyer of Time
24th December, 1859 / Circus Grounds / Greenwich, England
Grumbling to himself, ten year old Allen Walker made his way through the swarming circus grounds with a defiant smirk tugging at his lips and a thick layer of grime smeared across his alabaster skin. His smirk got wider, stretching the slightly bruised muscles in his face, and his careful steps slowly gained an elegant swagger—the same graceful, confident, walk that any performer worth his hat would have—as his stormy grey eyes drifted away from his tattered leather boots and focused on the mangy mutt yipping and barking as it pushed its way through the crowd.
Softly humming an eerie tune that sounded like a haunting lullaby, Allen tugged absently at the tattered sleeve of his shirt in a habitual attempt to shield the raw flesh of his deformed left hand from view. The joyously barking mutt bounded back towards him at the sound of his gentle voice and licked lovingly at his fingers, long tongue warm and slimy on his chilled hand, and the boy felt a genuine smile spread across his face at the sensation. Reaching out with his right hand Allen gently rubbed the fur on the top of the dog's head, locks of tangled mouse brown hair whipping around his face as the shabby strip of leather holding it back began to fray, and sighed contentedly.
Mana walked only a few steps behind him with his dark mahogany hair neatly coifed beneath his tall top hat and warm eyes sparkling with mirth, occasionally allowing his hand to brush against Allen's shoulder, and the clown grinned impishly at him—an unreadable smile that suited his vagabond guardian well—as his graceful saunter morphed into a light jog. Allen reluctantly tore his gaze away from the man's face and snickered humourlessly as it landed on the tarnished silver pocket watch hanging from the waistband of his baggy grey trousers, the one he'd pilfered from Cosimo before they'd begun their journey westward almost two and half years ago.
He smiled at the irony of his situation as he crooned a soft lullaby, his warm alto rising above the sound of innocent giggles escaping from the small child gazing lovingly up at him through two beautiful silvery eyes and the maddeningly slow ticking of the clock. His fingers traced over the boy's rounded cheeks and gently tangled themselves in the dishevelled mop of brown locks atop his head, teasing the soft strands until they began to curl around his fingertips and the little one blinked a silent protest at the treatment.
Allen froze, shaking his head to clear the hazy flood of memories from the cobwebbed corners of his mind, and a petulant scowl formed on his face as he realized they would not leave him no matter how much he tried to force them away. A comforting hand on his shoulder drew him back to the world outside of his head once more and he glanced up, frowning defiantly, at the tall clown smiling down at him through worried brown eyes with the brim of his hat tilted to cover his face in a mask made of shadows.
"Are you alright Allen?" Mana asked softly, his gruff yet somehow melodious voice soothing his worries away like waves of satin flowing over the turbulent storm within his mind.
He glared incredulously at the man before responding, his own voice clipped and suspiciously flat. "I'm fine Father."
"Ah," The clown sighed, nodding sagely as he scrunched his nose in a comical show of disbelief. His eyes closed, pale skin wrinkling and creasing around them, and Mana continued on with a devious smile, "Are you happy?"
"Why wouldn't I be happy?" The little girl retorted, luminous golden eyes narrowing and lips pursing in a show of distaste as he heaved an exasperated sigh—smiling fondly at her despite the way her perfectly manicured nails dug into the soft flesh of his back and knees rocked violently against his thighs.
"Yeah…happy…" Allen murmured absently, focusing on dispelling the new onslaught of memories that were certainly not meant to be in his head.
A sudden flare of pain—like a thousand nails drilling their way into his temples—drew a strangled cry of from his parted lips and Allen's eyes widened in shock as he collapsed to his knees. Cautiously, he wiped at his brow with the back of his right hand, and cringed at the sharp pain that flared in response to his touch.
Pulling it back down to eyelevel, Allen stared blankly at the warm crimson blood smeared across his alabaster skin and two glove clad hands—the soft white silk warm from body heat—gently cupped his cheeks, drawing his wavering gaze back to the concerned brown eyes of his adoptive father. Mana was frowning, wrinkles marring the area around his downturned lips, and Allen gave a silent gasp as he asked slowly, "Allen, can you still hear me son?"
"Stupid clown," He muttered, breathless with pain and lips parting on silent condemnations as his forehead burned and throbbed. A scream tore from his throat, blood dripping down from the wounds carved upon his forehead, and he finally allowed the tears to fall as Mana's strong arms embraced him. "It hurts…Father…"