debris like falling leaves, dust carried with the wind blowing like hurricanes in a desert

The War is over.

The prophecy has been fulfilled. There are clumps of ashes where the Noah members were, blowing away with each gust of the wind.

He does a quick visual scan of his surroundings, not sure what he wants to do or where he is supposed to go. Finders – Exorcists – Scientists – their bodies lie around him. Some familiar faces, others strangers. All united in death.

He can make out the gray silhouettes of people through the dusty wind, the ones who survived. Allen is kneeling down, back hunched and posture slumped, leaning against his sword. He has not moved since he landed the finishing blow.

Lenalee is at the far end of the battlefield. She is facing away into the distance. He wonders what she sees. What future is there for them, who have been raised in the world of war and sacrifice, of death, pain and hatred? For him, this War is just another chapter in the history of the world.

Except – his breath catches. Where is Yuu? He has not seen any trace of the stoic swordsman since they fought a Giant Akuma a few hours ago.

He wades through the carnage.

He finds Kanda lying, eyes closed, near a pile of rubble and half-destroyed walls marred by Akuma bullet holes. He doesn't recognize the other at first, until he sees the long ebony hair, now matted and tangled with blood. There is a big splotch of red between his ribs. A fatal spot, as any warrior knows. Dread and fear churn in Lavi's stomach. No – no –

"Yuu," he murmurs, kneeling down and holding the other up. He sees the faintest rise and fall of Yuu's chest and the knot in his stomach relaxes just a little.

Jet black eyes force themselves open. "Usagi," he rasps. "Is it over?"

Lavi nods. "The beansprout did it."

"Of course he did," Kanda says, a mixture of pride and arrogance edging back into his tone. "Pity I won't be able to see him." He coughs, and chokes. There is the sound of blood gurgling in his throat.

"Yuu – You're going to be okay, I'm going to bring you to the Head Nurse, she's going to –"

"I'm not going to make it, Lavi."

Lavi freezes. It has been two years since the Japanese called him by name. He cannot think of any answer, because Kanda is right. It is a miracle that he hasn't died yet, with the scale of injury he has sustained. But this is too surreal, too unbelievable, and Lavi wants it not to be real.

"Leave," Kanda says. "There is no use pining over me. Ink on paper, Lavi."

Lavi feels his eyes prick. "Ink on paper?" he asks. "You were never just ink on paper to me, Yuu. You could never be. Rules of the Clan be damned – you are my comrade, friend and brother. I will not leave you now."

Kanda sighs, closing his eyes. "Tch."

"I'm not going to have anyone to annoy anymore," Lavi says. His lips quirk up into a sad smile. "I'm going to miss you, Yuu."

"Quit the nonsense," the other replies, coughing again, harsher than before.

On impulse, Lavi grabs Kanda's left hand which is lying limply by his side. Cold and slender fingers wrap around his hand.

"Lavi," Kanda mutters a while later. He looks up at Lavi, eyes opening slightly. Already they are becoming unfocused.

The tears come before Lavi expects them to.

"Have a safe journey," Lavi manages, gripping the other's hand tightly. "Alma is waiting for you."

Kanda gives a small smirk. "Don't cry, baka. I'll meet you on the other side."

His hold on Lavi's hand, weak as it already is, slackens.

Lavi does not move. The Bookman in him is already noting everything down – "Kanda Yuu. Occupation: Exorcist. Died in the Final War of the Black Order and the Noah Clan, aged 18" – but the other side of him, which he has become all too aware of in recent days, is feeling numb.

Two years ago, two days after entering Order, Lavi walked into the cafeteria and sat down opposite a dark-haired, Japanese boy around his age, his next target to practice his Bookman charms on. It was the only time he failed.

"What do you want," was the answer he received when he tried to start small talk with the other. "Why are you smiling like that?"

"Hey, hey, what's with that, can't I be friendly?"

"You're just creepy." Lavi had no answer.

Six months later on the 13th of July, that same boy had asked him in a half-curious, half-surly way – "Does it make you happy to live a fake life?"

Again he had no answer.

And eleven missions later, when they were in Berlin, Germany, they had been assaulted by a group of thugs. One moment, Lavi had been trying to fend off a particularly heavy-sized thug. The next moment, all he heard was a muffled "Oomph" and a very angry "Fuck you" from his companion, who had been punched in the gut by a thug who had been aiming for Lavi's unguarded back.

That was when Lavi realized – that no matter how much Kanda tried to be an asshole, he was the most reliable person he could ever meet. That was when he began to trust the other more, knowing the swordsman would always be covering his back.

Two weeks ago, before the war started, Kanda was eating his usual soba and looking grouchy when Lavi sidled in next to him. "Morning, Yuu-chan!"

"What the fuck," Kanda said, throwing his chopsticks at the other. "It's too early to put up with your nonsense."

Unfazed, Lavi continued his daily Piss Kanda Off routine, which eventually progressed to, "What are you going to do when the war ends?"

"Maybe I'll travel around the world. I'm sick of this place."

"You can join the panda and I when we leave, Yuu-chan!"

"Who the fuck are you calling Yuu-chan?"

Lavi had given him the look of a hurt puppy, but ended up laughing at Kanda's irritated face. Later, when he was alone in his room, he found himself thinking – maybe it won't be so bad after all. The War will end and Yuu will join us when we head to South Africa. Away from all the bad memories that he has – two lifetimes of sadness, two lifetimes of war and anger.

He stays, kneeled over the body he holds in his hands. He feels people come up to him, separate him from Kanda, but he cannot do anything. He is empty.

This story was inspired by an image found on Zerochan. The link to that image is on my profile.
It sparked the muse in me, and this happened. I'm not satisfied with the ending; maybe I will come back and fix it in the future. But for now, this is the best I can do.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it. Do leave a review!