Originally this chapter was gonna be a bit more tragic, but… Saya couldn't bring herself to do it, even though she had a glorious scene planned out… Ah, she's getting soft in her old age, or sommat. On another note, Saya never intended for this fic to get so long, what the heck happened here? It was supposed to be a oneshot, how the heck did it turn into a chapter fic? How? Oh well, Saya's enjoying herself.

Saya owns the play but not the actors, they belong to Hoshino-ka.

Rated T... Because a kiss doesn't call for an M rating. Hasn't been much of that recently anyway.

37. Decisions, Decisions

While it didn't make the situation any better, Kanda was relieved to find that he'd fought off larger numbers of akuma on his own than he was facing now. He could've destroyed them all on his own in a few hours, and since he had backup the clean-up time should be even quicker. But he couldn't be so hopeful because he knew that just on the other side of what was left of the barrier there was a nation of akuma just waiting for him.

With a longsuffering sigh Kanda leapt into the air, striking down akuma and pushing off of their shells just before they exploded in order to propel himself further into the air. It was as he was coming down to land on a rooftop (for it was significantly closer to him than the ground was) that he saw two people running down the street, right toward the battlefield. For a moment Kanda was reminded of that mission he'd taken in Ethiopia, when the girl in the village had been killed because she'd been out during an akuma attack. That alarmed feeling grew worse when he saw just who the two were. Kanda jumped to the ground and ran toward them, forgetting about his job for just a moment.

Just because he'd forgotten that he had akuma to slay, didn't mean the akuma had forgotten they had exorcists to kill. The moment Kanda had turned his attention elsewhere they trained their guns on him. Lavi was not oblivious to this; he was also not oblivious to the reason why Kanda was turning his back on the enemy. It was such a careless move, especially for Kanda, clearly there had to be a good reason for it.

Quickly he used his fire seal to destroy the akuma that dared to attack his comrade while his back was turned. However even the roaring fire that ignited behind him didn't deter Kanda from his task. Oh, this was going to be difficult indeed. The three of them were already pitifully outnumbered as it was, Lavi wasn't sure he could protect Kanda and himself at the same time. He was going to have to try though, because there were civilians involved, too.

Annoyed with the situation, Lavi swung his hammer again and conjured up a second pillar of flames.

"What the hell are you two doing here?!" Kanda shouted as he ran toward his idiot brother and his idiot childhood friend. He faintly realized that there was still a battle raging behind him, but he hardly cared. Hayate was still trying to drag Yori back home, but that clearly wasn't getting him anywhere.

"Yuu, I know I can't help you fight but at least just let me stay nearby! You guys can't fight wounded, so let me treat your wounds when they get too serious!" Yori demanded, knowing that he would not be allowed to fight not matter what he did. Still, at least if he was here he could do something, maybe stop one of them from dying of blood loss or drag them off the battlefield when they could no longer fight. At the very least, they wouldn't have to drag each other across the town just to get medical treatment.

"No! Now get the hell away from here!" Kanda couldn't even believe Yori was stupid enough to suggest it. Clearly he could not stay in this dangerous place. He had to get far away and fast. "The more civilians there are around, the harder it is to do my job! You're a liability!" Harsh words, but Kanda couldn't think of anything he could say that would get Yori to back off for the time being.

For a moment, it seemed like those words had done the trick, but of course Yori was just too stubborn to accept that and leave.

"I won't leave! I can't stand just sitting in some safe place doing nothing! I need to be out here, where I feel like I can do something if I'm needed!"

"You can't do anything here though!"

"There has to be something!"

"Please just go!" Kanda wanted to flinch away from the nearly pleading tone of his voice. He didn't mean to sound like he was upset by this but he was. His brother (who he did love despite all the torture) and his closest friend were both in mortal danger and yet Yori wanted to stick around. Kanda remembered the people he'd seen die by akuma bullets, he remembered the rooms of the dead that he'd lived in for the past year, he remembered too many morbid things and he didn't want to let his family and Yori become a part of those memories. They were supposed to be a reprieve from the bad thoughts that haunted him.

"Look… you'll die if you stay here. You aren't like me; you can't live through a shot. So… just go." Kanda found it hard to look Yori in the face while he was nearly pleading like this ('nearly' only because Yuu refused to admit that he was indeed pleading), but he was able to look up long enough to see that this seemed to be getting to Yori better than yelling ever did. Using his concern for human life to overtake his pride, he decided to land the final blow.

"Please leave… Don't make me worry about you." Somehow he managed to say this while looking Yori in the eye, and he knew he had won. Yori scowled and cursed, but it was clear in his eyes that he felt bad just thinking about how much worry he might be causing Kanda. Yuu felt like he'd just done something a bit underhanded.

"…Fine, Yuu, fine, I'll go, but only 'cause you went and made that face…" Yori murmured, and his scowl deepened as he turned to leave.

"Thank goodness someone managed to talk some sense into this kid," Hayate mumbled as he grabbed Yori and prepared to run him back home. With a relieved sigh Kanda turned from the two, only to startle a little when he came face-to-face with a fire serpent. Well, that explained why they hadn't been attacked, Kanda had thought it was strange that nothing had tried to kill him.

"They're leaving, Lavi," Marie informed the redhead of the situation so that he would get the snake out of Kanda's way. Lavi let the flames of his invocation die in response, heaving a sigh of relief as he did so. Now that Kanda was back in the fight things would get easier.

But of course, it was the moment that Lavi and Kanda thought the two were in the clear that something went wrong. It was something Lavi, even with his all-seeing eye, hardly noticed until it was clearly too late. Creeping along the side of buildings and skulking in the shadows was a thin level 2 akuma that looked something like a manta ray. It seemed to have been waiting for Lavi's fire serpent to diminish so that it could attack the two he was protecting. The redhead grit his teeth in frustration. The invocation he was holding now was fading and he was going to have to start another attack before he could do any damage. To make matters worse Kanda had already gotten through the gaps opening up in the dying fire serpent and had started to fight again. Lavi wanted to ask Marie for help, but he was more than busy with keeping the hordes of akuma at bay. The akuma had gotten the opening it had been waiting for.

Lavi knew that even if he were to immediately release another attack it wouldn't hit in time to be of any use, he knew his own timing better than anyone. Still, that was Kanda's brother and his friend, Lavi had to try to save them, he wouldn't be able to face Yuu otherwise. So pushing himself to be quicker, Lavi released his fire seal anew, simultaneously shouting to the other about the impending danger. Yuu was pretty quick on his feet; hopefully he could make it in time if Lavi's attack didn't.

Over the fierce roar of fire Kanda hardly heard Lavi's warning. But he did, and once again he turned his back to the enemy without regard for his own personal safety. Something in the back of his mind told him not to make a habit of that behavior; it was going to kill him some day. He hardly cared about self-preservation or being careful though, two important people were in danger.

"You two, run the hell faster!" Kanda shouted when he saw the akuma Lavi had shouted about for himself. It was too close to them, he was sure he wouldn't make it if they didn't buy themselves some time. Thankfully Hayate and Yori had good flight instincts and knew better than to look back when Kanda told them to run faster. However, whether they actually put any distance between themselves and the akuma, Kanda couldn't tell.

Grinding his teeth, Kanda kicked off the ground with greater force, propelling himself farther with each step. At this rate he might actually make it, but he had to be sure of their safety. With a wide swing of Mugen, Kanda released his first illusion and Hell's Insects shot through the air, attacking the akuma. It thrashed wildly about, trying to break loose of the deadly insects, but to no avail. In a last-ditch effort to do some harm the akuma started randomly shooting off bullets from its tail.

And that was when everything went wrong.

One of the bullets actually hit its mark. The poisonous bullet just barely grazed the skin of Yori's forearm, but already Kanda could see stars forming on the older man's wrists and hands, slowly creeping up his skin. Vaguely he registered the explosion the akuma made when it was finally destroyed. The insects came back to his blade just as he reached the boy, who'd been too stunned by the introduction of poison to his system to move. Because the wound was so shallow, not much poison had made it into Yori so the stars were spreading slower than normal. Despite that the poison was already close to his elbow.

He was going to die. Kanda had no idea how he was going to deal with this. Had Fate sent him back here just to make things right with Yori and then lead the man to his death? It was cruel, Kanda couldn't take this. There had to be a way to save his life, surely there was one.

Kanda thought quickly but came up with only one solution that would save Yori's life.

"Yori!" Kanda got the shocked man's attention by sharply calling his name. He was so transfixed by the way his arm was changing colors, by the fact that he was facing death that he couldn't find it in himself to pay attention to anything else. Still, he managed to rip his eyes away from his arm and look at Yuu. It might be the last time he ever saw the boy, after all.

"Choose quickly, lose your arm or your life." For a moment Yori could hardly comprehend what Kanda was asking. Kanda was annoyed by this, they didn't have any time to spare, if the poison reached his heart he was dead! "Quickly Yori!" Kanda shouted again, raising Mugen to Yori's arm as if to show what he was going to do. Yori's eyes widened in understanding.

"My arm! Cut it the hell off!" If it would let him live another day then Yori didn't care if he had to lose his right arm; he was left-handed anyway. With the last of his strength he raised his arm into the air; Kanda was quick to slice clean through it. He almost felt like vomiting at the ease with which Mugen sliced through flesh, it felt nothing at all like cutting through machinery. The blood that spilled out of the wound only contributed to the feeling.

Yori nearly went into shock from the immense pain that shot through his body. He dropped to his knees weakly and just stared before him with wide eyes. He couldn't even muster up a scream. Yuu's grip around Mugen became shaky when he saw this reaction, saw the blood and the way it drained out of severed flesh- so human and real. He could hardly believe that he had just done that.

"He's gonna bleed out!" Kanda said his body running on autopilot since his mind was too horrified with what he'd done to think properly. "Hayate get him out of here quickly and make him stop bleeding! Just… just make it stop!" Kanda couldn't stand to look at the blood any longer and ran back into battle, hoping he could make the lingering feeling of cutting through human flesh and bone vanish if he destroyed enough akuma.

Hayate was more horrified than anyone else by what he saw, but was quick to work to save his friend, lest he die of blood loss. He faintly wondered what Kanda had meant by his last statement; at that moment, the repetition of that phrase made it seem like he was talking about more than Yori's bleeding. Maybe he wanted this battle to stop, or the war, or everything, Hayate couldn't tell. He just knew that he'd never seen Yuu look quite so panicked and undone.

With speed he hadn't known he possessed, the eldest son carried Yori out of the dangerous street and into the nearest untouched building. He used his shirt to wrap the wound so that the bleeding would stop and prayed that Yori would hold out until the battle was over and they could get him fixed up properly.


Kanda had not come out of his room since everyone had returned home from the fight. His official reason was that he was packing; they would be leaving the next day to meet the enemy head-on outside of the town's barriers. But everyone knew that he didn't have nearly enough with him to excuse this. Another thing just about everyone knew was the he wasn't really avoiding them as a whole so much as he was avoiding Yori.

Yori was a strong guy both physically and mentally, and even though he'd suffered such blood loss, he'd been determined to be up and moving by the next day. When the battle had been won the Tiedoll unit brought Yori to one of the Order's medical teams that were stationed in the town for the finders, so he'd had the best medical care. It had been very difficult to get Yuu away from the then-unconscious boy; at least it had been until Yori woke up. Kanda went conspicuously missing after that.

It was clear to see that he felt like he'd done something wrong. He'd save Yori's life, sure, but he'd also debilitated him. Yori was just fine with that, he wasn't sure how much he needed his right arm for, but he'd find a way around it. He was just grateful to be alive, and he didn't understand how Kanda could be so upset over something that seemed so minor.

So one by one everyone went into the room he shared with Hayate and tried to get him to come out. He seemed to see no reason why he should, and refused. So when the entire family had failed (even Naoko, and she'd really pulled out all the stops, too), the friends (or at least the ones who assumed themselves his friends) moved in.

Lavi dodged a flying pillow as he walked through the door. That was such a prissy girl move, he thought, he could hardly believe Kanda had done it. He was more or less expecting to be speared upon entry, or at the very least he was expecting something that hurt more than a pillow.

"Good evenin' to you too, Yuu-chan."

"Sleeping. Go the hell away."

"You haven't even had dinner yet, no way are you sleeping now."

Lavi heard a sigh from Kanda and the boy sat up in his futon. His glare said 'leave now and I'll spare your life' but the redhead had never heeded such warnings and so walked right up to the boy and sat down beside him. Kanda attempted another glare, but just decided it was a pointless effort and sighed again.

"Yuu, we're leaving tomorrow, shouldn't you be spending tonight with your family?" Who knew when the next chance to come here would be? Kanda should've been making the most of it.


"And judging by the way you're reacting to what happened, I can assume you'll never come back here again unless the war ends, right? So you really should be out there enjoying your-"

"Of course I'm never coming back!" Kanda said, almost indignant at the idea of returning. "Everywhere exorcists go, destruction follows. Hayate and Yori could've been killed because our presence attracted more akuma to the town! If being here means putting this place in danger then I'll never come back!" Yuu didn't want to take the chance of letting something like this happen again. He knew he shouldn't have broken the rules to come here; rules were put in place for a reason. He should've just stayed outside of the town and worked on depleting the Earl's forces from outside of the barrier. Instead he'd selfishly endangered everyone and he was too weak to stop Yori from getting hurt.

Yuu wasn't strong enough to be here. He'd thought he was getting stronger, but instead the Order had made him soft. He was trusting people that weren't related to him by blood with his life. He was fighting side-by-side with a schizophrenic redhead and hoping to God that the two-faced asshole would have his back. He was fighting an enemy he couldn't see, one that hid in human shells, he couldn't afford to trust and yet he did. He was foolish and weak.

Weak. He couldn't protect anyone. Kanda thought back to his first mission; he couldn't protect himself and Lavi had almost died because of his weakness. He thought about his mission with Lenalee in Ethiopia; he couldn't protect himself or the innocent. That girl ended up dead and he'd gotten shot. He remembered the past year of battle; he'd been too weak to protect his own teammate, and Daisya ended up suffering horrific burns and nearly died. Then of course there was yesterday; he couldn't even protect the people who meant the most to him, and Yori had been shot, nearly died, and ended up without a right arm. Kanda was too weak to protect anything.

Right, he was too weak to protect, he had too much to protect already. The only way to solve this problem was to stay far away from anything he could hurt, and make sure that he didn't get attached to anything more. He was in over his head as it was, so until he had the strength to protect everything, he couldn't care about anything at all. Then it wouldn't matter as much when he lost it.

Lavi gave Yuu a moment to go through with his introspection, before speaking again.

"Of course things get ruined when we're around, Yuu-chan. We're exorcists, we're magnets for trouble. Honestly, we're not here to save anyone, we're not new wave messiahs. We just destroy whatever opposes us, what opposes 'God.' If you think of it that way, then the fact that you managed to save someone is a miracle in and of itself. You might be upset because Yori was hurt, but he's just grateful to be alive. Shouldn't you be grateful that he's alive, too?"

Kanda gave Lavi a sideways glance at this. The idea was an interesting one, and it went right along with what he was just thinking. If he was just a destroyer then he couldn't be expected to protect anything. If he failed to save something then it wouldn't be a problem because it simply wasn't his job to. It would be something of an achievement when he did. He'd forgotten to be grateful that Yori was alive too; he was just being too pessimistic about it. It wasn't like he'd forgotten that Yori could've died, it was just he was so hung up over that possibility that he'd neglected the fact that it hadn't happened.

Mulling these new thoughts over in his head, Kanda looked away from Lavi and to the floor. What was the right way to think? Was this it, or was he just thinking whatever was convenient for him? Why did it have to be so difficult to determine these sorts of things anyway?

Lavi could tell that he'd had some sort of affect on Kanda, but he didn't know if he'd done something good or bad. He also realized that Kanda probably wasn't going to say anything more to him no matter how long he sat there. So Lavi got up, pat Yuu on the head (amazingly he didn't lose his hand), and left.

"So you're just destroyers, hm? Gotta say that's a sort of depressing fate." Yori was leaning on the wall by the door just outside of Kanda's room. His one arm rested over his abdomen; if he had both arms they probably would've been crossed over his chest. "Is it my turn yet?"

Lavi shrugged in response. "Guess so. Ya still look like shit though, white as a ghost. You sure you wanna show him such an unhealthy face?"

"Well he hasn't seen me since I woke up; I think pale and shitty-looking is better than unconscious. Maybe he'll feel better seeing me for himself, you know? Walkin' and talkin' and living."

"Or maybe he'll see the missing arm and spiral into a guilt-induced depression."

"Can't be much worse than it is now, right?"

"Point taken. Good luck then." Lavi put his hand on Yori's shoulder for a moment in something that almost seemed like a gesture of peace. It slipped off as the redhead made his way down the hall. Yori watched him leave for a moment before entering the room.

"Ya know Yuu, only little kids would go to bed this early."

"I'm not in bed anymore."

"Do you still want to be?"

"Yes." Kanda wasn't really out of bed, in Yori's opinion; he was still sitting on top of it. But well, what did that matter? Yori walked between Yuu and Hayate's futons, then picked up the quilt covering it, sat down beside Kanda, and pulled the thick cover over their heads. Yuu let out a surprised sound and scowled in Yori's direction. They were way too old to be sitting under the covers like this. When they were kids they used to hide under the covers when they stayed up past their bedtime to talk.

"Well, you're back in bed now. Feel better?"

"I feel foolish." Kanda tried to fix his messed up hair for a moment before deciding it was a pointless gesture; every move he made would only make it worse. With a halfhearted glare he stared at Yori. For a moment he forgot that the man was injured; Yori was sitting to his right and it was hard to see under the thick quilt. It was his fault, certainly there must've been another way to save Yori, if he'd only been calm and thought logically…!

"Yuu, I know you're blaming yourself for what happened, but honestly, you saved me so could you go a little easier on yourself?"

"I've had this same conversation five times today already so I hope you've got something new to say. And I'm alright now, really"-Kanda pouted and then added-"Not that there was anything wrong in the first place."

Yori laughed at Yuu's stubborn attitude and pat him on the head as though he was still a little kid. "Man, that's not fair. I wanted to be the one that said all the cool lines that made you feel better! Seriously, it's so unfair that Red gets to be so close to you, he's only known you for two years!" Yori sounded rather indignant, and Kanda couldn't quite understand why. He also didn't see how he was close to Lavi at all. That stupid rabbit just had no concept of personal space or manners.

"We aren't close! I hate that guy!" Kanda declared, because he definitely hated that two-faced fake of a redhead. Definitely.

"Really? Then why does he call you Yuu-chan? And do you always let people you hate kiss you? I don't recall ever being invited to."

"W-wha-what?! I-"

"No use hidin' it, 'cause it was definitely you yelling "Not in my mother's house!" at him, which by the way makes it seem like you'd be okay with him kissing you as long as you aren't here."

Kanda opened his mouth to respond, but then closed it and covered it with his hand. His face was so hot that he was sure he must be glowing red or something. He had not wanted anyone to ever see anything like that, and it was made all the more embarrassing because Yori of all people had seen it.

And what was that last comment about, anyway? It was clearly unnecessary.

"I don't want him to do that stuff, he does it on his own! It's always a surprise attack with that guy! And I've been telling him not to call me Yuu-chan since the day we met but he just won't stop! He's infuriating and I hate him!"

But if he really hated Lavi then he wouldn't have let him in the room, and he wouldn't have listened to him talk. He wouldn't have cared about a thing Lavi had said, he'd just brush it all off. He wouldn't let Lavi off so easily for doing all of those rude and indecent things either, if he hated him so much. Kanda didn't want to admit it, but he sort of didn't hate Lavi. It was unnerving to even think that he could like that insane, schizo, rabbit brat.

"Surprise attacks, hm? I'm sure they are. But, we're very off topic right now. If you're feeling better, why won't you come out of this room? Everyone wants to see you before you leave."

"I…" Well Kanda didn't know why he didn't want to leave. He knew if he did he'd just get upset, and he was tired of feeling anything. He'd gone so long with only feeling things like anger and indignation that it was exhausting to feel anything out of that range. His family made him soft, they made him happy, but those were two very useless emotions. He'd miss them when they were gone.

Kanda just didn't want to leave. If he just sat in his room, maybe time wouldn't move forward? He knew that wouldn't work, that he was just wasting time, but still.

"…I get it Yuu, no need to say a thing," Yori said; he sounded so sure of himself, Kanda wondered why. It was as if he'd analyzed the silence and had managed to get something out of it. Yori had always been able to do that though, he supposed it wasn't anything terribly new.

"But really though, staying in here is just a waste of time for you. You should enjoy our company while you can."

"Didn't I tell you to say something new?" Kanda muttered, though he didn't really care anymore. He'd gotten to the point where he'd leave this room just to make everyone stop telling him to.

"Something new, then? Hm…" Yori thought for a minute, deciding that a completely unrelated subject would be best. He quickly decided on one and went with it. "You're still growing out your hair, I see. I'd have thought you would have cut it by now."

"Well, there was just no need to cut it." Before Kanda had left home, he hadn't been allowed to cut his hair. Well, if he really wanted to he could have, but his mother and his sister loved to play with it and they got so upset any time he said anything about cutting it. Naoko had even made him promise to never cut it once, and she could talk him into promising her the world, if she wanted to. She just couldn't get him to leave his room.

"You haven't cut yours, either," Kanda observed, "There was never any reason for you to wear yours long."

"Of course there was a reason, I promised remember?" And he had. Kanda used to get so annoyed about feeling feminine because of his long hair that Yori had promised he'd wear his long too, just to make Kanda feel better. Sure, they'd been little kids when he promised that, but he still kept to it, even now. Besides, it rather suited him.

"… I forgot." Why would Kanda remember something like that? It hardly seemed like an important promise to make. On the other hand, it was sort of amazing that Yori had kept a promise so small.

"Sorta figured you had. Oh well, doesn't matter now. So anyway, since you're feeling so great now why don't we go spend some time with the others?"

Kanda nodded and started to get up. "Sure, just give me a minute."

Just as Kanda was getting to his feet, he was suddenly pulled back down by the hand and before he could even register what was happening, Yori's lips came into contact with his own and were gone just as quickly. "Okay Yuu-chan, but you only get a minute." Abruptly Yori stood up and a barrage of cold air assaulted the two. Kanda shivered a bit but disregarded it as he tried to make sense of what had just happened. Yori slipped out of the danger zone as the younger man thought.

A moment later Kanda had fully comprehended the situation and he did the only thing he could think to do. Yell out his embarrassment.

"What the hell! Why is everyone turning gay on me?!"

Yori chuckled at Kanda's yelling as he made his way down the hall.

This is pretty much the end of the Japan arc, Saya just couldn't have Kanda leave Japan without Yori getting something. Saya loves Yori too much, really. But she knows, she just knows, that she's going to get at least one review with someone threatening Yori. Poor guy. On the other hand though, a lot of people have actually been rooting for him… haha, never expected that to happen! A few people have even asked for a YorixYuu one shot…. Would anyone read that? Saya wonders.