Summary: Lavi decides to stop hoping.
The passing wind brushed his red hair, fluttering it, caressing it with its gentle hand. The water was serene and peaceful; the boat didn't shake as much. High above, the big, perfectly round moon hovered over him, but he didn't seem to notice. A thousand stars decorated the black sky, beautiful and breathtaking, but he didn't seem to mind or care. He was too lost to appreciate the elegance of the night.
Lavi just didn't want to think of anything else––no distractions, please, no deviation of thought––other than the words he said to Lenalee several hours ago.
Why is it, he asked himself, that when I say something with good intention, it always ends up sounding wrong? I always become the bad guy.
His visible left eye looked distant and dazed; a hint of sadness mixed with a stifled aggravation was apparent and comprehensible as well. He was leaning against the wooden railing of the boat, his arms folded on the smooth surface and his head rested on them. He closed his eye and recalled what he said––practically shouted, strictly scolding––to the sixteen-year-old, female exorcist when they were all inside the exorcist quarters.
Just cut this out already. There was nothing we could've done; we were all desperately fighting for our lives yesterday.
Lavi's mind scantily wavered from its tranquil state. His patience was being nibbled down bit by bit as the statement resonated behind his ears.
There was no way any of us could have helped him. This is a war! We had no choice!
He gritted his teeth, bracing himself for the next set of words.
Get over it and stand up!
He forced his eye to snap open, evanescing the flashback that had materialized before the thick darkness. He couldn't bear it. If he had kept seeing black nothingness instead of a view, he would've had an etched picture of Lenalee crying, of Lenalee blaming herself, condemning herself, burned inside his (now) disorganized mind. And he didn't want that. (You made her cry.)
"Didn't you see," he asked the wind, "that I was trying to heave that burden off you?"
Silence, he was answered by an exanimate reply. It was irritating.
He sighed tiredly and acutely. "Guess not," he whispered. He was a shattered porcelain vase tonight, in pieces, broken. In a distant place, he was an aching wound, he was a throbbing headache; in a distant echo, he was a cry of frustration; in a distant hymn, he was a melancholy melody, a tearful song; he was all that, in one package, this evening. He then hid his face, his forehead now against his right forearm; he was looking at the floor. "I don't like this." He muttered under his breath.
"I know." He answered.
Detach, Lavi. It's what you're supposed to do.
"I know, old man." He grumbled in annoyance.
Bookmen have no need for a heart. Remember that, Lavi.
He didn't say anything. He just stared at the floor, numb. "Shut up, Panda."
Something sticking out of his pocket then caught his attention. He took it and laid his sight on it properly. It was the card he took from the place where Allen met the Noah, from the place where Allen's career as an exorcist expired.
The ace of spades.
(Another gentle sea breeze wafted by; it made his orange scarf sway.)
He felt like crumpling it and throwing it overboard, and at the same time he felt a sudden overwhelming emotion of loss. He then lifted his head and held the black-marked card against the giant white disk hanging within the black, star-designed canvas, remembering his friend, the ex-exorcist, Allen Walker. White-hair. Bean sprout. He wanted to chuckle at the nickname, but the will to do so died inside his chest, and it evaporated in his throat. He breathed deeply.
Lavi remembered Lenalee's tears for Allen. He remembered her haunted eyes as she was mentally punishing herself for leaving him. He remembered her face, her soul, completely devoid of anything.
(Completely devoid. It sounded familiar.)
Allen, Allen, Allen. It was always him. What, he asked himself calmly, did you see in him? He lowered his hand and looked at the vast expansion of water in front of him. Why can't it be Lavi sometimes, Lenalee?
He knew she liked Allen, it was obvious; the way she worried about him was very different from how she would worry about other people, even from the way she worried about Komui. It was funny, he didn't hate Allen for it, he hated––loathed––himself for not being… Allen; he hated himself for lacking.
He hated himself for being Lavi.
You're an observer, that's what you are. You're not God's Apostle. We're just on the Order's side by chance. You mustn't let your emotions carry you, Lavi; they're detrimental for your work––either lock them up or throw them away; always maintain your level-headedness.
"It's hard," he whispered, "being a Bookman."
Lavi felt alone and rueful. First of all, he made Lenalee cry, something he promised never to do. Second.
He was somewhat envious––
Was he imagining that? His name, he heard it in Lenalee's voice; it rolled out of her lips so nicely, it was pleasant to hear when she said it, sweet like candy.
He was shaken from his thoughts when he heard a wood creak due to it being stepped on. He spun around and was surprised. There: Long, ebony hair, violet eyes, creamy skin.
"Lenalee." He couldn't find his voice, he couldn't place them in the right tone; he wanted to face away but her eyes lured him in like a trap. "Why aren't you asleep yet? Go back inside, it's cold out here." He studied her, the moonlight illuminated her face, and he had never seen anything so wonderfully perfect, so entrancing and beautiful. At that instant, the guilt of being responsible for her tears this morning tugged at him; he wanted to apologize for what he said to her before, but he decided on something else at the last second. "What's… wrong?"
Lenalee allowed a shallow smile, something faint. "Nothing. I just… couldn't sleep." She looked at the floor, "And," she paused; she then looked up at him again with regret in her eyes, "I wanted to apologize."
Lavi's eye widened slightly. "What? No––I should––I'm the one who––"
She shook her head. "You were right. I'm sorry; I was being selfish." She bowed slightly. "Thank you for worrying about me, Lavi." Seconds later, droplets of water skidded down her cheeks and plopped on the deck, shimmering as the moonlight hit them.
Not for me.
He slid the ace of spades inside his pocket again and walked toward her in even strides. When she was a hair away from him, he raised his arms and locked them around her small frame, her face burrowed in his shoulder. She was shaking, trembling. He hushed her, encouraging her to calm down, but at the same time acquiesced her to release everything––in moderated amounts, not detrimental for her current state. "I'm sorry." He felt her shake her head. "I was wrong; don't apologize for something you didn't do."
It was painful. Holding her like this, pretending she was his (God forgive him for fooling himself). It tore him open, it ripped his heart––something nonexistent when one was to become a Bookman––he felt hollow but warm.
The last time. He mouthed. I'm saying goodbye. He breathed in the scent of her soft, milky skin, the fragrance of her long hair. She smelt like something he would miss everyday. It was strange and ironic at how she fitted so well in his arms, against him, despite that she wasn't supposed to because she would fit in someone else's arms better. But the sensation of it all was incomparable.
(Let go, but not too soon for it would hurt.)
I'm giving up. I have no chance.
They stood entangled in the embrace, under the twinkling eyes of the stars, the spotlight of the moon, the cool night, for what seemed like forever. It was then that Lavi heard Bookman's voice.
You don't need a heart. Don't entertain unnecessary things.
He ignored it.
He ignored it.
Don't be taken in by this––the war.
The red-haired successor smiled. I'm done, old man. I'm done, so stay quiet.