Since 222, I’ve seen that Cross had stirred some displeasure within some of the fans, to put it lightly so I’ll put him in another perspective, since i feel that he was entirely dehumanised. Long post ahead
Not much is known of his background, only that he unwillingly became accomplice of the 14th and promised Neah that he’d watch over Mana. Meaning that Cross was already around 35 years ago when Sokalo was still a kid. Hoshino has revealed that Cross is the closest to the truth, and he carried a lot of sorrow which he eases with alcohol. He used to be a member of the Science Department before he became an Exorcist, then somewhen even got control over Grave of Maria. Cross has been in war for the longest time, just who knows exactly how many people he lost to this war, Anita was just one of the many.
He first meets Allen when he wasn’t Allen yet, therefore he demands him to stay away from Mana before mysteriously disappearing. Second time when sadly the Earl catches up with Mana and supposedly forcefully merges with him, resulting in broken memories, more than they already were. Cross is furious because if Allen didn’t hit Mana with his left hand, then this probably wouldn’t have happened and if it wasn’t for Tim he would have hurt Red, who unknowingly brought about Mana’s demise. He even says it out loud to Allen out of anger before he once again vanishes.
The third time they meet is at Mana’s grave stone, that’s when Cross realises that Allen is an Accommodator and probably with Tim’s help that he’s the vessel of the 14th. He instantly takes him to Mother and watches over him, he sits by Allen’s side gazing at him, trying to figure out what goes through Allen’s head. He expresses his frustration why Allen is the host when Neah has been dead for 30 years, why is the vessel an innocent child? When mother asks him if some good for nothing was it he quickly attacks. She also says that she’s not supporter of the 14th, yet she’s willing to stand beside Cross even when a child was to be sacrificed - if Cross was a horrible person he wouldn’t have such blind trust.
He is shown to look after Allen even outside the room, Mother might have told him to feed him himself so that way he’s gain Allen’s familiarity but there was no need for him to cook for Allen or wash his soiled sheets, Allen didn’t see him he could have slacked off and leave it to Barba. But he didn’t, he continued the routine, always returning to watch Allen until he realises just how deep Allen’s love for Mana ran, that without Mana, Allen didn’t want to live. Bringing up his memory Cross manages to make Allen function again, but he wasn’t the same - and this both angered and horrified Cross. He’s enraged that Allen loved Mana so much that he mirrored his personality, suppressing his own, when Cross was aware that Mana might have not even loved Allen, just Neah. After all it was very suspicious that Mana stumbled on Allen by accident, it’s too convenient. After some time Allen was deemed healthy enough to leave Mother’s and start his apprenticeship. It is shown that to Cross’ approval did Allen take on the Walker surname, this shows that Allen already held Cross high enough to accept Mana’s surname as his own.
The manga didn’t detail Allen’s apprenticeship much, Cross appeared in a flashback when Allen wondered how could he continue fighting without his eye, he recalled Cross explaining he wore the Exorcist coat to become the Akuma’s target, this way luring them away from civilians.
The anime dedicated an episode to their past but it lost its credit when Allen said that “Mana’s death was nothing compared to the hell Cross put him through.” Yeah, thanks, fuck you too. The episode made it look as if Cross forced Allen to work 24/7 whereas in the manga Allen said that he lived off rich acquaintances and Allen only gambled when they were really broke, he didn’t even mention manual labour. It doesn’t make sense that Cross treated Allen like some pimp and that he’d send Allen out to work even when they lived at a Maharaja’s palace. Or how he forced Allen to risk capturing a lion - which by the way, Allen is scared of - for his own entertainment. That whole episode was a trainwreck that derailed both Allen’s and Cross’ character and I don’t even want to think about those women developing crush on Cross.
Cross could be harsh and he was physical with Allen like 3 times, his behavior cannot be classified as abusive, he never used violence to beat Allen into submission or instill fear in him, he never made Allen believe he was worthless and only existed to cater to Cross. On the contrary, he did everything to irk him and lure out his “Dark Allen” traits.
He did everything in his power to distance himself from Allen and empathise with him as little as he can, thus shoved his debts on Allen to make Allen hate him. He didn’t expect however that Allen was willing to close everyone in his heart to show him the least crumble of love and Cross was already there and you can hardly feel indifferent towards someone who loves you. And Allen’s affection does have it’s reaction, Hoshino said that Cross grew to love Allen as his own child. Cross might not be a good role model but he was there.
When Allen was 14 he promoted Allen into a fulltime Exorcist and sent him to HQ, while he himself- he actually went back all the way to Romania to give Rosanne to Krory, then proceed to China. Despite his warnings, a group of Exorcists follow him to Edo, where he uses them as decoys to slip into the Ark, they were the ones insisting on following him anyway.
He finds the Egg, which he cannot destroy so he goes and saves Allen and co. from the freshly awakened Joyd, then meets the Earl. Lavi and Chaoji falls, which fills Allen with bitterness, causing him to lunge at the Earl. Cross scolds him for letting the blood flow in his head and tells him to get over it; Allen is bound to know what would happen if he dwelled on their death. Allen stops the download and Cross praises him for it.
His next relevant scene is when Leverrier turns up for the first time and reveals that he is very much aware that Allen has something to do with the 14th. Cross shows momentarily surprise and concern, but he quickly cloaks it and says that “inspect all you like”. Cross knew that Leverrier would be unable to have info from Allen when he himself had no idea what was going on, but like this he gained some time, resistance would have been futile.
During the invasion when Lulu Bell captured Miranda the Generals came to an agreement that if they keep holding back for Miranda then they won’t destroy the Egg, which is the Earl’s primary source of power. After some seconds of hesitation Cross gives the ok to the all out attack and smiles when Allen saves Miranda. When the Level 4 blows Allen away he looks frightened.
After the Level 4 fight he made a secret pact with Leverrier offering up everything he knew just to talk to Allen.
And finally we arrive to that fateful night. After being isolated from each other, forbidden to talk they finally meet and he quickly wants to fill Allen in. Allen is naturally shocked but they had no time for Allen to really let his emotions wash over him, right now Allen had to soak up all the information Cross was providing.
Hearing the truth of course breaks Allen, and Cross remembers the same broken child he picked up 4 years ago - and he finally drops his indifferent air. He kneels down and hugs Allen to himself to show that even if he couldn’t tell whether Mana really loved him or not, Cross did care for him and not just as the vessel of the 14th. If he didn’t, why would he comfort him? If he was truly as shameless as he likes to pose as, he would have just bark to “get over it”. An unstable mind would have been even easier for Neah to take so why even bother with comforting if he didn’t care? Why would he refer to Allen as sacrifice if he wasn’t precious? If Allen didn’t mean him anything he’d be merely payment. He even bitterly notes that he can’t berate Tiedoll for caring because he grew to care for Allen too. This also strongly implies that as far as Cross knows, Allen can’t be saved. He knew Allen would be gone one day and he tried to let Allen experience happiness before his time came. Looking after might have been his duty but that never entailed making Allen happy, the bare minimum that was expected from him is to keep Allen alive, yet he sent Allen to the Order, because it was Allen’s dream to become an official Exorcist. Cross could have simply taken him to Edo, they were in Indiam he could have taken Allen to the Ark and make him play, who knows Allen might have even disappeared right then and there. Before joining the Order Allen’s sole purpose of living was to destroy Akuma, there’s a chance that Allen might have even willingly submitted himself to Neah, since his only goal was to free the Akuma. This situation could have been much more advantageous to Cross, but he didn’t take it; he let Allen be Allen and live his life to the fullest, surrounded with people he loved.
Then he drops that “what if i told you that when you become the 14th you must kill someone you love” bomb. Allen then snaps and shows that their relationship is not that asymmetrical when it comes to tough love. Allen pretty much gives zero fucks about what Cross said about the 14th and this - this fills Cross with joy. The boy who wanted nothing more than to see his deceased father had found meaning in his life.
Before he disappear he leaves a message to Allen. He doesn’t ask him to yield, he asks him to find out the truth himself, he repeats many times to ask the 14th. Why does Cross still urge Allen to keep walking his own path and drop the mask of Mana? Again, it would have made it much easier for the 14th if Cross broke Allen’s mind or just leave him without even that message, yet he still pushes Allen to carry on.
And finally we arrive to that dreaded 222. Allen wakes up in Neah’s dreamscape, petrified to realise that he’s been swallowed up when Cross appears and faces Allen with the truth. He told Allen that he cannot change the fact that he, “Allen” would disappear. So Cross offers an easy way out: give up and stay with him. This situation is as if Allen had a terminal, incurable disease where he could only hope for the best, which is like a less than 1% rate of survival. Cross is sure that Allen would disappear, so in the last moments, he thanks him for being the host and offers to stay and seek sweet relief in his own memories. In the end, Cross wants to ease Allen’s pain as much as his situation lets it.
Being told that you’re doomed and you almost surely cannot prevent it is sure a painful slap for Allen, he is tempted but resists - and in that moment, Cross is proud of the young man he raised, a part of him was glad that Allen had still had fight in him, that he was determined to fight to the very end even if it would kill him.
And probably this is what Cross means under wolf in a sheeps clothing. Allen refuses to be the gentle sacrificial lamb, even though he has no chance of winning he still fights with tooth and nail until his last breath, it’s basically his old, but much softer Red persona shining through. He is scared, but he refuses to yield, if he must go down he will do it while fighting.
Now you must be saying that if Cross cared he wouldn’t have asked Allen to disappear for Neah, but you forget some important factors.
Cross is an Exorcist, whose duty is to save humanity. Cross will fight to save as many as he can, but he knows that he can’t save everyone and sometimes he has to choose between two things. During his life Cross lost many, many people so he learned to distance himself from the dead. He was ready to sacrifice Miranda’s life to destroy the tgg and save people from turning into Akuma. The Order is terribly weak compared to the Noah, risking the life of millions is not worth it for one life. If they risk and save Miranda that’s good, but there’s a big chance that they fail and have Miranda dead and the Egg stays intact. The Order cannot afford to fail.
It’s similar with Allen. Cross is torn between his love for Allen and his sense of duty, which dictates that he prioritises Neah. But why would Cross want Neah to return when he was shown to be so ruthless? Gentle reminder that Neah single handedly massacred the Noah clan sans Road and the Earl, a feat no one else managed to pull off. Allen on the contrary was unable to Exorcise Joyd from Tyki. The power gap between the two is great.
If you want to end the war, then Neah is the sensible choice out of the two. Cross wants Allen to live but he doesn’t want the death of the millions who died for this war to be in vain. He can adore Allen to bits, but he knows that sentiments like that won’t change he war. Strictly speaking, by just sacrificing Allen this long war could be brought to an end, choosing Neah is less risky. The sooner the war ends, the more lives they can save, the sooner the dead can find their peace. Just because he is ready to sacrifice Allen it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love him.
But let’s imagine that Allen somehow manages to win, would his problems get solved? Absolutely not. Allen has yet to learn that the father he adored, the man who taught him how to love and laugh, who accepted him, the devil child with his grotesque deformity is not dead; and his body is currently used by his greatest enemy, just like his is used by Neah: if Allen somehow wins he has to destroy Mana again. Allen couldn’t bring himself to kill Tyki, where’s the guarantee that he can kill Mana/Earl? Most likely he would be unable to. This is what Cross is trying to shield Allen from: the terror of realising that all his suffering was completely in vain, that he was the one to spur up the Earl from whatever slumber he was in which resulted in Mana’s insanity and the pain of killing the person he loves the most.
But of course, Allen stays true to himself and his promise, deciding that it doesn’t matter if he loses himself if he can keep it. Seeing his determination Cross cracks and gives Allen a purpose. Cross betrays Neah. He can’t choose between his heart and duty, so he creates a flip the coin situation, survival of the fittest, fight to the death. He knows that was a mistake because Allen can be danger to Neah’s plan, who could finally put an end to this war. Either Allen wins and learn the truth or loses and disappears, he will suffer. Allen is so important to Cross that he pretty much gambles the survival of humanity for Allen’s sake.