Lou Fa had cried herself to sleep the night that he left, as the reasonable scientist within her chastised every tear. It's just an infatuation, she told herself. Her colleagues had been polite enough to ignore her occasional fits of weeping when she could no longer concentrate on her work. The day that Allen Walker returned to the Asian Branch, Lou Fa had ran as fast as she could to the ark's portal, her short legs pounding faster even than Bak Chan's in her dazed delight.

"I'm so glad you're back," she gushed, stopping just short of toppling the clearly exhausted boy.

He hardly seemed to notice her in the crowd of well-wishers. She was nearly crying again, out of utter joy and sheer frustration, but her tears were stopped in their tracks when she saw what, or rather who, was taking up Allen's attention. From his coat she knew he was an exorcist, and by the gold trimming no mere rank and file warrior, but a bona fide General. She gasped when he met her watery gaze and smirked.

"Oh, is this your woman then, Allen?"

She could have died then.

I'm Mr. Walker's woman?

She was grinning inanely by now. She knew it was a flippant remark, but to have somebody notice! Allen could be quite dense sometimes, now that she considered it. Maybe he simply didn't know her affection… She closed her eyes and imagined their mutual confessions of undying love.

"Strike!"

Lou Fa winced. She hadn't meant to say that out loud. Hopefully in all the commotion no one had noticed her. She looked around sheepishly. Luckily, most everyone's attention was on the general, who was currently entwined in the embrace of another of the recently returned exorcists, a girl Lou Fa didn't recognize. She breathed once more, relieved, until she noticed that one of Allen's companions, a tall, lanky red-head, was staring at her strangely.

"What did you say?" he asked her, leaning down to look her in the face.

She shrunk back, blushing. "N..nn…nothing."

"You're in love with Allen, aren't you," he asked, peering at her even more intensely. She blushed deeper. Then he stood up and laughed. "Good luck with that, girl," he said, turning to follow the rest of his companions, "that Allen is a strange person."

Lavi walked away, contemplating the idea of Allen with this little scientist for a girlfriend. She was kind of cute, he thought, twisting his head to get one last look at the girl. She was still blushing, but she seemed almost sparkling with happiness. He stopped. The corners of his mouth drew up a little. "Strike," he whispered. He suddenly realized he had been left behind in the crowd, and, embarrassed, he shook off the smile and ran back to catch up with the other exorcists.

"Oi, Lavi, did you say something?" Allen asked

Lavi shook his head.

"Nothing."


Lavi was happy to be back with his companions, even installed in the hospital wing listening to Krory's thunderous stomach and Yu's constant complaints. Komui was weeping over Lenalee, and Allen was devouring a mountain of food. The uproar of people around him was a little overwhelming- he realized that he hadn't been alone, really alone, for a long time. Lavi suppressed the thought. It was a dark path towards obscurity that he walked, if he was to become bookman, and there would be loneliness enough when the time came. For now, that wound was still too close.

Who was I, before Lavi?

He didn't want to know.

Lou Fa was curious about him.

"His name is Lavi," Li Kei told Lou Fa over their evening meal, "He's the successor of Bookman."

"Bookman?"

"The Bookmen keep the secret records of the Black Order," he continued, "He's in the war to document the battles, people, happenings. Don't you remember, Lou Fa, they taught us that in history class during training."

"Hmmm," she responded ambiguously. She supposed that his skills as a historian made him especially observant, so it was mercifully likely no one else had noticed her minor outburst. Yes, that must have been it. She would just have to be more careful…


Be more careful!

Lou Fa silently cursed herself for running into yet another wall on her way to the infirmary. If only she'd brought a lamp. She pushed her glasses back up onto her nose and felt her way around the final corner… and nearly screamed.

A dark figure was silhouetted against the moonlight not five feet from her. She let out a small yelp. She saw the person's head turn towards her, and she leaped back out into the hallway. The footsteps she heard were surely a figment of her imagination. She closed her eyes, trying to breathe calmly, her back pressed against the stone wall in terror.

"Hey, aren't you the girl from earlier?" A voice whispered in her ear. She jumped, then cracked an eyelid slowly.

"L..ll.llavi."

The figure grinned, white teeth flashing in the dark, a bit of light glancing off his red hair, now loose and disheveled. "Hey you know my name! And you're Lou Fa. I got it out of Allen. He said you always hung around when he was fighting with Fou. In fact, he said that one time Fou…"

"Please don't talk about that!"

Lavi shrugged. "If you don't want to, that's fine. So what are you doing here, Lou Fa?"

"I…I came to see if All- um, M…MM…Mr. Walker was alright."

"In the middle of the night? Isn't that a bit stalkerish?" Lavi asked, one eyebrow pitched in a quizzical expression.

"Hmm."

Lavi peered at the girl intently, waiting for the rest of her response, but it was clear she no longer saw him. She did look sort of cute, standing there looking so longingly at Allen's snoring, sleeping form. He sighed and gazed at his bare feet. He would have to be straight with her.

"You know…uh...I'm sorry to say this… well… he may not know it yet, but Allen is certainly in love…"

"With her," she sighed.

Lavi looked up and followed Lou Fa's gaze to its inevitable end. Lenalee remained fast asleep, unaware of the sudden attention.

Lavi nodded.

"I know it will never happen," she said, her eyes glistening with tears behind her glasses.

Suddenly he was sympathetic with the girl. Looking at Lenalee, Lavi felt like crying too. "No," he said, both to the trembling girl beside him and to himself, "no, it won't." He reached out to put a comforting hand on Lou Fa's shoulder. He rubbed the back of her lab coat awkwardly, trying to seem more composed than he felt. Within an instant she had buried her face in his shirt, now sobbing. He hugged her close, glad that at least she wouldn't see him depressed too. He was the successor of Bookman, after all, and above such emotional display. Drops, he thought, staring at Lenalee's ink black hair. We are all mere drops of ink on the pages of time.

Below him Lou Fa sniffed. His shirt had begun to gap dangerously, and her hair was starting to tickle…

"Ah! Cold!" Lavi jerked back. He barely caught Lou Fa as she tripped forward.

"Sorry," he apologized sheepishly, "your glasses were against my skin."

"Oh!" Lou Fa blushed. She couldn't believe what she had just been doing. "I'm very, very sorry. Oh! It's late, I really have to go. Thank you for your time." Lavi started to shake with laughter at the absurdity of the situation.

She's so cute

He thought about the way that she had looked at him when he first caught her looking at Allen. She had been elated then. They had all been so relieved.

So why are we standing in the dark crying?

She bowed, still brimming with tears, and was about to leave when Lavi caught her wrist, twirled her around, and kissed her full on the lips. She was petrified, and pulled back, astonished.

"Come on," he whispered, "That's not very good luck." She blushed, then leaned in for a second kiss. He seemed surprised, but took it for all it was worth.

"That's for hope," he said, when she finally stepped back, "Please don't get all depressed on me." She smiled for the first time that evening. It was dazzling. "Do your best, Mr. Lavi," she said, her eyes sparkling above flushed cheeks, "and keep Mr. Walker safe."

"I will."

Lavi watched her run off towards the science wing, her pigtails flapping behind her.

I'm not sure who Lavi is, he thought, but he is awfully bold. He walked back into the infirmary, pausing at Lenalee's side and brushing a bit of hair out of her eyes. Climbing back into bed, listening to Allen's snores, he was content.

I'm not Bookman yet. I am Lavi.

The thought pleased him.

Strike!