The next morning, Allen had a large headache. He had never drunk before, so the massive amounts he consumed last night had hit him hard. He was mildly surprised he hadn't died of alcohol poisoning.
His mood was not improved by Lavi's appearance.
He looked at Lavi through narrowed eyes. "What is it?"
Lavi didn't look very excited for his part, either. "We need to talk."
Allen sighed. "I should have known."
"Look, this needs to be said. I know you're pissed at me for bailing last night, but I had some thinking to do."
"I'm not upset about that."
"Well, you sure as hell were at the time. That's not the point. The point is, I did think about it, and I figured out why I bolted like that. It's because I'm pretty sure I'm in love with you, and that scared the shit out of me."
At this revelation, Allen looked hopeful, but still wary. "Okay. So what does that mean right now?"
Lavi sighed. "I'm not entirely sure. Loving someone and being with them are two entirely different things, and I'm not sure I can do this."
Allen looked to the ground, trying to hide his face from Lavi. It wouldn't do to let the other see that he's upset. "Well. Why not?"
The bookman scratched the back of his head uncomfortably. "Because I care too much. I saw you die once, and it tore me apart inside. I can't go through with that again. You allways do reckless things, willing to sacrifice yourself for anyone, and I can't deal with that kind of worry. The fact that the next mission you could go on could easily be your last, the thought that you'd throw yourself into a fire to pull out someone who's allready dying. I would be sacrificing a lot for this, and I can't do that for something that will only bring me pain. Cowardly as it is, I just can't do it, Allen. Not even for you."
"I..." The exorcist faltered with his words. Hesitantly, he tried to explain, "I understand. And you're right. I could never stop doing these things. Not only because I rarely think before I act, but... Because this is my life." He looked up at Lavi. "I realized a long time ago that being an Exorcist is the only reason I exist," he said, lifting his left hand foreword to look at it. "I live for the sake of saving others. Saving people from Akuma," Allen lifted his right hand now, too, "And saving Akuma from themselves." He rolled up the sleeve of his left arm, flexing the blackened skin of his Innocence. "This is the proof of that. I can't give that up. I can't let myself be so selfish as to forget my purpose. I do love you; I want to spend every day with you; talking to you, anything. But I can't. And you're right. This is for the best. You have your life as a Bookman, and I have mine as a weapon. Neither of us can afford to be distracted."
Allen looked Lavi in the eye. "But you're wrong about one thing. I don't want to forget about this. And I don't want you to, either. I won't take back what I said last night. I want you to dream of me every night, Lavi. Becasue I know..." he hesitated, unsure if he should finish. "Because I'll be dreaming of you."
Lavi's expression softened. "Yeah.I'll also-" His words were interrupted by the high-pitched squeal of Allen's eye activating, "What the FUCK?"
Allen blinked. "An Akuma, it seems."
"From last night?"
The younger shook his head. "Impossible. Last night Cho told me they'd tracked her down- Kanda killed her. This one is..." Allen's eyes widened. "Oh God. We have to find Kanda."
"What? Why him?"
Allen was allready making his way towards the door. "Because I know who this is. Or was. Come on."
The pair rushed up the stairs to their joined bedroom, where they were fortunate enough to find the Exorcist combing his hair out. "What is it?" He asked irritably. He looked up to see Allen's eye reeling. "An Akuma?"
Allen looked at him with a pained face, eyes shining with emotion. "I'm sorry, Kanda."
The swordsman's eyes widened. He didn't say another word, merely grabbing Mugen and running out of the room.
Lavi and Allen followed.
They passed out of the bordello and into the rainy morning easily enough, but not without being noticed by Lo Mein and Ranfan.
The two girls looked at eachother. "What do you suppose their hurry is?" Lo Mein asked.
Ranfan's eyes narrowed. "I don't know, but there's something weird going on. I'll follow them, you go find Lady Cho."
Lo Mein saluted. "Right-o! I'm on it!" She said, dashing off. Or at least tried to. She fell over before getting three steps.
Ranfan sighed. "Nevermind, I forgot who I was dealing with. You follow the three of them, I'll find Lady Cho. Got it?"
When Kanda, Allen and Lavi got outside, they found out that Chi-Lin was allready there.
"Nan'Uei," She said, surprised, "What are you doing here allready? You usually don't come until after nightfall." She pinched her eyebrows together as concern dawned. "Are you allright? You look... Strange..." She commented, watching the odd way her brother lumbered foreward.
Disturbed by the lack of response, she questioned further. "Where is Xian'Ou? His ship docked yesterday, didn't it? Is he still home?"
Finally, the creature stopped, mere metres away from the scarlet woman. An eerie metallic chuckle escaped its lips. "Xian'Ou... Is dead. Dead, dear sister."
Her eyes widened. "Wh-what? What do you mean? What happened? Nan'Uei?"
Kanda stepped in front of her, pointing his blade at the Akuma. "That's not your brother."
Chi-Lin stared at him. "What do you mean? How could that be? What is going on here, Yuuko? And where is Xian'Ou?"
By now, the entire populus of the House was gathered by the door. No one moved, however. They simply watched quietly. The rain showered down over them, but none seemed to even notice.
Kanda took another step towards the Akuma, readying his blade. "Xian'Ou is dead. I saw it with my own eyes. And Nan'Uei is dead, too. This is a monster wearing his skin, and nothing more."
Chi-Lin gasped in horror, covering her mouth with her hands as the tears welled in her eyes. Thunder crashed in the sky, and the rain began to downpour more, pelting the muddy ground incessantly.
The Akuma laughed that horrid inhuman laugh once more. "That's true," it said, as its face contorted, twisting into the barrel of a pistol. Chi-Lin cried out in horror, and Kanda lunged foreward.
This time, the Akuma didn't get a chance to fire before the Exorcist cleaved it into scrap metal. The rain hardened further, and the wind blew viciously as Chi-Lin fell to her knees, weeping.
There were no words. Just Chi-Lin's anguished cries.
"Why?!" The bereft woman cried, "Why is this happening?! My parents weren't enough, my lover wasn't enough, now you had to take both of my brothers as well?!" She sobbed. Lightning crashed, and the rain pelted down with enough force to sting the skin. "It's not fair! It's not fair! I hate this wretched city and everyone in it! This damnable hellhole would be better off destroyed!" Puddles of rain grew into lakes, and the entire ground was covered by at least an inch of water. "Everything should be drowned! The sea should swallow the land and wash away the stench of this foul place!" Somewhere, a dam broke.
"Wash it all away! Wash it all away! Wash it all away!"
Water flooded everywhere, and by now everyone was up to their ankles.
"WASH IT ALL AWAY!"
Skin turned red by the harsh abuse of the down-pouring rain.
"WASH IT ALL AWAY!"
"CHI-LIN! Get ahold of yourself, woman!"
She looked up at Kanda. The sound of rain was the only fill to the silence. Kanda began speaking again.
"The one responsible for the deaths of your brothers is called The Millenium Earl. I can't give you condolences for your lover or parents, but your brothers you can avenge. And even if vengeance doesn't appeal to you, you can't deny the opportunity to prevent this from happening to other people. Chi-Lin. This rain is proof of your power. You are a disciple of God, and you have the power to do great things. You can flood this city, or you can use this power for something better. It's up to you."
Chi-Lin stared up at Kanda. Slowly, she nodded.
The rain slowed, and finally, for the first time in months, stopped.
The sun broke through the clouds.
In the end, the Innocence was in the form a small doll with human hair and glowing green eyes. It had been a gift to Chi-Lin from her her fiance as an early wedding present, apparently given with the promise that it would belong to their first child. After he died, however, she couldn't bring herself to part with it.
Lady Cho, Ranfan and Lo Mein, now the only three people remaining in Lady Anita's Hose of Pleasure, abandoned the brothel when they were offered jobs in the Black Order. Lady Cho would be a Finder, and Allen was confident that there would be a job for Lo Mein somewhere.Apparently, Ranfan was a scholar, or so she claimed during an enraged tangent upon her realization that she no longer had anywhere to work. Apparently, aside from a foul temper, Ranfan also had degrees in both English and Chinese Literature, and was fluent in the writing of both languages, knowing over twenty-thousand characters of the complex Chinese alphabet. She had learned from her father, who had planned on arranging a job for her at a University. However, the University had been destroyed, her father killed, and she was left with no options. And she was pissed. Upon the end of her rant, Lavi informed her that the Order could use someone of her skills, as there was no shortage of overdue paperwork she could help with. Particularly since Komui had a tendency to write in both English and Chinese when he was in a hurry, and no one knew how to read his notes because of the mish-mash of languages, forcing one to be both fluent in the writing systems and understand how Komui thinks in order for there to be any hope of reading them. Ranfan was perfect for the job. It also got her to stop yelling, which was a plus for everyone.
On the train home, Lavi, Allen and Kanda shared a compartment. Kanda sat on a side to himself, and didn't move him eyes away from the window for the entire trip. In the window's reflection, he could see Lavi and Allen sitting next to each other, leaning on one another. Their hands were woven together tightly, cling to one another as though they were afraid that if they let go the other would disappear.
There were no words spoken.
Okay not really. Epilogue and Author's notes and explanations await.
Except no. They would've, but I just stopped caring. There. Fic's done. Can't be improved. I tried. That's what took so long- me trying to make it better. But no. I give up. Done now.