"Innocence, activate! Fire seal!" Lavi's hammer was raised up, spectral symbols surrounding it. They aligned the seal of fire before his hammer as he swung it down, smashing it into the ground. A vortex of flames instantly sprang up around him, taking the form of a huge snake. Lavi grinned as he controlled the snake, making it weave its way into the hoards of Akuma, easily burning those it passed through to a crisp. The fire matched his dark red hair, held up by a green headband. His emerald eye flickered with the reflection of his hellfire, the other covered by an eye patch. He almost looked like a rather cheerful devil, in his black and silver exorcist outfit.
By the time it died down, most of the Akuma were gone. He looked up. Lenalee was cutting through a few level ones by easily crushing them under the momentum of her boots. Golden bullets could be seen pummeling the remaining Akuma, the source being Allen's left arm, which resembled a crude-looking cannon. Bookman had trapped an impressive amount of Akuma all at once with his needles, which not long after they struck, made the Akuma cry out and explode. Krory busied himself with drinking the blood from a level two, his hair erect and looking absolutely feral. The battle was already over.
The comrades met up on the ground. Lavi made his hammer shrink to its miniature size, slipping it into his leg strap. He put his hands behind his head, watching as Lenalee touched ground gracefully while deactivating her Dark Boots, her long green hair falling to either side of her. Bookman and Krory were already beside him, and Allen leapt from the rooftops as his left arm transformed into a more human looking one – even though it was still dark red in color. His left eye, which had previously been mecha-red and had a gear situated over it like a monocle, had also changed to match his right one, which was cloudy gray.
"Somehow, I knew this would happen," Lenalee said grimly, looking around the wrecked town square. Krory frowned in agreement.
"At least nobody got hurt, right?" Lavi said, but was smacked by Bookman.
"Baka, look at the damage here. I've no doubt in my mind there were people in some of those homes."
"I meant us…" Lavi mumbled, and Bookman simply pinned a glare on him to keep him silent.
"We should look for survivors," Allen suggested.
"Everyone, split up and search for the injured. Meet back here in one hour. Allen, Krory, you go together. Lavi, take Lenalee with you. I'll go alone."
They all nodded, and spilt up. Lavi scowled at the old panda, rubbing the spot where he was hit on his head. He and Lenalee then headed for the south side of the city. They had passed several places where the homes were completely in shambles, with no chance there could be any survivors, because the place was already under combustion. It was disturbing to think he allowed all this to happen.
"Are you alright?" Lenalee asked suddenly, noticing how something seemed to be irritating him. Lavi was taken aback by her concern, and allowed his eye to drift down to her level.
"No, I'm fine. I just can't believe all this could happen with us around." He answered honestly. Lenalee nodded.
"I can't either." Was all she said.
'But why? My duty is simply to stand by and watch, and then write what I see,' Lavi thought gravely.
He stopped as he heard a faint scream to his right, his head whipping around. There was a house there, and only half of it had been destroyed.
"Did you hear that?" Lenalee asked, and Lavi nodded.
Acting upon instinct, they rushed to get inside. The place was dark, illuminated only by the fire that had engulfed half of it and was quickly spreading.
"Anybody in here?" Lavi called in attempt to get some sort of response. Nothing but the roaring of fire responded. Lavi withdrew his hammer, activating it and making it grow a bit larger. He cautiously walked around inside the house that was slowly being devoured by the flames. Lenalee went upstairs.
"I know I heard somebody scream," he mumbled, looking around what he thought was a dining room. There was a thump behind him. He turned around and gasped. Before him was a level two Akuma, a bit small for one, too. It appeared to be a clown, its face stretched by a wide grin plastered over its chin. Its eyes were bulging with glee, bloodshot and nearing insanity. It was giggling madly. Strangely, the Akuma was only half his height; usually level twos were at least the size of a building.
"Hee hee! Exorcist! Hahahaha!" its voice certainly sounded like a clown. Lavi rolled his eyes and raised his hammer to strike, but the Akuma disappeared and reappeared behind him. It kicked out and hit him in the back. Lavi fell forward in surprise. How could such a runty thing be so quick? Lavi underestimated it. The Akuma continued laughing hysterically.
"Oh- oh- this will be fun! Yes! So much fun!" it giggled, making Lavi roll his eyes again. As he got up once more, his hammer came around and smashed into the Akuma. He knocked the wind out of it, sending it flying into a wall.
"No, you were rather boring, actually," Lavi said, sighing. He turned around to get Lenalee and leave the house, putting his hammer away into its special little pocket. The Akuma, however, wasn't quite over yet. It giggled; which caused Lavi to pause as he had thought that hit would have finished it off. The Akuma raised its hand and pointed its index finger at Lavi.
"Hee hee!" it giggled once more. A small purple light appeared at the tip of its finger and shot out like a needle towards Lavi, hitting him square in the back. Lavi's entire body was now glowing with this purple light, his world spinning. He heard footsteps from upstairs, and Lenalee screaming, the Akuma giggling. The last thing he saw before he blacked out was Lenalee rushing past him with her boots activated.
"Lavi!" came a voice from above. Lavi's eyes scrunched up. Was he dead? The voice was so angelic, coming from the heavens as well. His fingers curled up on a soft surface. 'So warm and soft – I MUST be in heaven,' Lavi thought, rolling over lazily onto his back. 'Oh, but it can't be,' Lavi thought as he slowly opened his eyes. He blinked in disbelief. His eyes bulged out into hearts.
"Strike!" he shouted, realizing the angel looked just like Lenalee!
"Lavi!" the angel said again, clearly in anger. It wasn't until now that Lavi realized his present situation. He looked up, analyzing her red face. Slowly it occurred to him that her features were taking up his entire line of vision, and that he was currently sitting in the palm of her hand.
"L-L-Lenalee! How did you-? What-?" he staggered back on her hand, backing up against her thumb. His headband had apparently slipped off and was resting around his neck over his orange scarf, his crimson hair loose around his head.
"I think you should be the one explaining," Lenalee said innocently, pulling her face away from him a little. Lavi stared at her.
"How did you get so big, Lenalee?" he asked. Lenalee frowned.
"I didn't." she said, grimly. Lavi went pale as the information sunk in.
"Wait, you mean…" Lavi looked about the surroundings, noticing how everything seemed so far away, including the ground. She nodded, her eyes hidden by her bangs. Inside, Lavi was seriously freaking out.
'No, no, no! This sucks! This really sucks! I can't let Yuu see me like this! Not Allen either! I can't even call him beansprout anymore – gah! I'm the beansprout!'
Lavi thrashed about in his inner conflict, while Lenalee watched him in confusion, becoming slightly annoyed.
"Lavi! Think! How did this happen?" she finally said, snapping Lavi out of his thoughts. Lavi crossed his legs, placing a hand on his chin.
'How did this happen? It must have been that Akuma somehow… but didn't I smash it? No, wait – I didn't. One of his bullets hit me… oh crud.'
"I think it was that clown Akuma. I thought he was done for, but I let my guard down and turned my back on him – and that's when he hit me with something," Lavi explained to her, "That's probably what caused this."
"But- wait- if it was the Akuma who shrunk you then… how come you're still this size?" Lenalee wondered out loud. Lavi looked up in surprise.
"What do you mean?" he asked, getting a sinking feeling in his stomach. Lenalee looked about to cry.
"I mean- oh no… oh no… Lavi… I'm sorry…" her eyes glistened with tears. Lavi felt cold.
"Lavi – if it was the Akuma who did this, it would be the Akuma who can fix it. And unless this condition is temporary…" a tear crept down her face toward her chin. Lavi got the message.
"Don't tell me you exorcised it." Lavi asked, although he already knew the answer. Lenalee nodded, shaking.
Lavi felt distant, even though he was now standing on her hands. What now? Would he always be this size? Was it really only the Akuma that could fix it? Lavi's hands shook.
No, I won't give up. We'll find a way to fix it. I need to see gramps, he might know a way around it.
Lavi looked up, conjuring a cheerful grin. He walked up closer to her face and put his hand on her cheek, making her open her eyes and look down at him.
"It's okay, Lenalee. You were only doing your job as an Exorcist." He reassured her.
"We'll find a way to fix it, I'm positive." A white lie, straight out. Although he did have his hopes, they weren't as strong as he made them out to be. Lenalee sniffed and stopped her tears, then looked up at the sky.
"What are we going to do?" she asked.
"I think we should ask that old panda," Lavi said, walking to the side of her hand and leaning on her index finger, "Surely he's heard of this before."
Lenalee started walking. Lavi didn't hold on and fell back on her hand as it moved.
"Er, Lenalee… this isn't going to work," he finally said, having stumbled too much to even be sure he could stay on her hand. Even so, if she came back and everyone saw her holding Lavi the way she was, surely it would cause the road to his suicide to open up nice and wide.
"What do you mean?"
"Let me walk."
"But you'll only slow us down."
"Well, I can't just sit here, you see."
"What do you want to do about it then?"
Lavi thought for a moment before answering.
"Let me ride in your hair," he suggested. Lenalee raised a brow.
"Won't that make it worse? What if you were to fall? Then what?" she sounded worried. Lavi felt warm inside.
"I have my hammer, don't I? Don't worry; I've had much worse in the past."
Lenalee stared at him long and hard before reluctantly raising her hands so that Lavi could jump on her head. He positioned himself on his stomach and let his hands entwine themselves into her long green hair. It was then that he noticed the scent.
"Your hair smells nice," he mentioned, causing Lenalee to turn bright pink, which Lavi couldn't see.
"Ready?" Lenalee asked, trying to will the blushing away.
"Yeah," Lavi said, nodding. She started to walk again, and Lavi now had a better grip, sitting there in her bangs. He felt much higher up, but slightly more at ease as the wind tickled him gently.
Slowly, she made her way back to the meeting point. It had indeed been more than an hour, but currently, nobody else had arrived. So instead she sat down and allowed Lavi to get off and sit on the ground next to her. Lavi helped her start a fire, as it was pretty cold now and the sun had long since sunk under the horizon.
"What are we going to tell the others?" she asked, laying on her back and looking up at the stars. Lavi turned away from the fire and, much to his expense, the first thing he noticed were her generous breasts. Perfectly round, they took up a good percent of his vision, and regrettably this produced a rather pronounced reaction in his trousers.
He was red all over, and if it weren't for the fire he was standing so close to, Lenalee would immediately notice; of course, if she didn't notice the great bulge forming much lower than his face first.
"Tell them what? I can't let them see me! Not like this!" Lavi groaned, turning back to the fire in attempt to hide his redness. Lenalee looked up at the moon and sighed.
"Don't be ridiculous. They would think you're dead. We can't just hide you." She pointed out. Lavi groaned, sitting on his butt and crossing his arms. He turned his head and looked at the ground childishly. Lenalee giggled at his defeat.
"You know, you're kinda cute at this size." She said, starting a whole new wave of redness. "I could eat you right up," she added, looming over him and licking her lips. Lavi froze. His head slowly tilted upward to see Lenalee's mischievous face looking straight down at him.
"Wha- Lenalee-?" he stuttered nervously. Her slender hand wrapped around him and lifted him off the ground. Lavi struggled; afraid of what was to come. Her hand brought him closer to her face, and her lips parted.
"Lenalee! Wait- ah! I don't taste good! Yeep!" Lavi was seriously freaking out. Lenalee giggled. She licked him on the face which left some saliva in his hair, but then brought him up to her cheek and cuddled him.
"You think I would seriously eat you?" she cooed, pressing him gently against her soft cheek. Meanwhile, poor Lavi nearly suffered a heart attack. He was limp from shock in her fingers, his heart cold and pounding against his chest. His face resembled that look you get when you see a ghost.
"Don't ever do that again…" he managed to say, regaining the use of his jaws. Lenalee smiled at his expense, holding him there a moment before setting him back on the ground.
"What's it like?" she asked as soon as he recovered. Lenalee was now sitting on her stomach, her arms crossed under her chin as to be level with Lavi.
"What's what like?" Lavi asked, sitting with his legs crossed and twirling his hammer between his fingers.
"You know, what the world seems to you right now?" she clarified.
"Big," Lavi said, still twirling his hammer, "Like the world just got a lot vaster."
"But it didn't, huh?" she finished, looking sympathetic. Lavi grinned boyishly.
"It's a small world to begin with."
Just then, there was a shadow on the moon. Lavi looked up.
"Oh crap, its gramps!" he squeaked, then leapt in between her folded arms. However, he didn't intend to land where he did. Lenalee instantly turned red.
"Gyaahh!" she shrieked, quickly fishing him out from her breasts and holding him in between her thumb and index finger by his leg. Bookman landed on a rooftop, and quickly followed it to the ground. It wasn't long until he noticed the lack of a second person in the area.
"Lenalee, why are you here alone?" he asked. "Where is that idiot?"
Lenalee frowned, looking at Lavi, whom Bookman's old eyes had not yet seen. There was a large amount of blood running down his face from his nostrils.
'What a little pervert,' Lenalee thought angrily before turning around to show Bookman. Once Bookman saw Lavi and his current condition, several things ran through his mind, yet his expression remained indifferent.
"How did this happen?" he asked warily, leaning in to get a closer look.
"There was another Akuma left over, and apparently it did something to Lavi that made him shrink," Lenalee explained, "and we thought that maybe the Akuma could reverse the effect, but that wasn't thought of until after I had defeated it." She finished shamefully.
"Hmmm.." the Bookman gave Lavi a good poke in the stomach, which apparently woke him from his mindless trance.
"PANDA!" he shouted instantly, earning him a good flick to the head. Bookman sighed, worrying Lenalee.
"There may be little we can do for him now," he said, "If you hadn't exorcised the Akuma, there may have been a chance."
Lenalee looked down, her eyes once again shrouded.
"Oh no… Lavi, it's my entire fault. I'm such an idiot…" she sniffed. Lavi looked up, a bit lightheaded.
"I'm kinda losing the feeling in my legs… Lenalee…" he said, referring to the fact that he was currently being dangled upside down by his leg. Lenalee swept him up in her other hand. At this, he stood and faced Bookman.
"What do you mean there's nothing? Isn't there some sort of magic or innocence that can reverse it?" he asked incredulously.
"There's nothing to my knowledge that can make you grow back. Unless the effects were temporary, I'm afraid you're out of luck. Can you still use your innocence?"
Lavi withdrew his hammer and wielded it.
"Innocence, activate!" he said, "Grow!" the hammer grew slightly.
"Yeah, I guess so."
"Then you can still defeat Akuma, yes?" Bookman said. Lavi raised a brow.
"What are you getting at, jiji?"
"There shouldn't be a problem. As long as you can still use your innocence, and record history-"
"You've got to be kidding me! You think I'm just going to stay like this forever ya old panda? You don't give a crap about my health?" he roared, marching up to the tip of Lenalee's hand and poking his hammer sharply into Bookman's cheek.
"Do you have a choice?" Bookman said indifferently.
"Like hell I've got a choice! How the hell will I survive at this size? God, I'm smaller than Timcampy!" he stormed on, fuming.
"You look fine to me."
"Gramps, you must be insane." Lavi pouted, falling on his knees.
"Give it some time," the old man sighed, then looked up as two more figures appeared in the darkness; Allen and Krory. Tim was sitting peacefully on Allen's head as they approached.
"Everything is in ashes on this side," Krory announced gloomily. Allen remained silent, staring at the ground broodingly.
"We should leave before the smoke gets to our lungs," Lenalee suggested, and Bookman agreed. Krory was also about to agree, that is, until he noticed one little detail.
"Where's Lavi?" he asked. That darned question. Lavi was becoming more and more humiliated by the minute.
"He went ahead to scout out any remaining Akuma, he knows where to find us later. Let's go?" Lenalee lied, holding Lavi behind her back. Lavi, surprised that she would cover for him, made an involuntary grin.
"I'll go help him, where is he?" Allen offered, finally looking up. Lenalee hesitated.
"N-no, that's fine. Lavi said he could do it himself, it's nothing really! There probably aren't any Akuma left anyway!"
"No, I want to help him!" Allen said, and Lenalee sighed, knowing how determined the teen could get. Allen simply ran off into the night. Lenalee looked down at Bookman, who nodded as if to say 'Let him go'.
They had settled into a little clearing in the woods some three miles from the little town. Krory and Bookman were comfortable after having eaten a nice little meal of fish that Krory had so easily caught. Lenalee almost felt sorry for Allen having missed his meal to look for Lavi – who he wouldn't find since he was currently cuddled up into a small chest pocket on her coat. Lenalee chose a moment when Krory was distracted by an owl to slip a small piece of the fish for Lavi, for she could hear his stomach growling even though he was so much smaller.
"I wonder when Allen and Lavi will get back," Krory wondered out loud. Bookman made no effort to respond, but Lenalee was sure that if he had the choice, he would tell Krory exactly what had happened to his apprentice. Lenalee then stood up, causing a small squeak of surprise from her chest pocket from the sudden movement. She quickly placed a hand over it, albeit gently, and excused herself.
"I'll go find some more firewood," she offered as an excuse to separate herself and the mini-Lavi from the rest of the group. Bookman nodded and Krory just smiled. She casually walked into the woods and when she felt safe, fished Lavi out of his hiding place. He looked up at her innocently, and Lenalee had to restrain herself from smashing him into her cheek in a mind blowing cuddle right then and there.
"I can't hide you forever, Lavi," she admitted, trying to sound serious. Lavi frowned, but didn't argue because he knew it was true. He brought his hand up to his face and scratched at the string to his eye patch that ran across the bridge of his nose.
"But," he began, placing that hand now on her palm, "I guess it can't be helped if I'm trapped like this," he said helplessly. Lenalee felt guilty for some reason, and Lavi seemed to notice, having tensed up rather quickly.
"I mean, it is my fault, but still," he added briskly. Lenalee looked him straight in the eye, wondering how to put her thoughts into words.
"Lavi, I know you think you're doomed and all but," she said calmly, choosing her words with care, "there must be a way to reverse this."
Again Lavi looked up at her beautiful face, turning a slight shade of red that was invisible to Lenalee in the dark.
"Wouldn't it be best if we found help at the Headquarters? I'm sure Komui can think of something!" she suggested, trying to sound hopeful. Apparently Lavi didn't like this approach. Lenalee could feel his shudder.
"Lenalee," he said quietly. Lenalee blinked.
Lavi looked up. Right now he felt like taking a plunge to the forest floor and going splat right on the spot, but he took a deep breath and tried to ignore the warm blood rushing to his face.
"Thank you. You're the only person who…" Lavi's nervousness had reached a peak in which it hindered his ability to speak. However, Lenalee put the pieces together easily.
"Lavi," she said, and brought him closer, now pressing him against her cheek.
This is it, now or never, Lavi thought desperately as his face was currently squished into hers.
"Lenalee, I really love you," he said, but Lenalee couldn't hear him as his voice was muffled by her cheek. Of course she couldn't hear him. Lavi was subjected to find a different approach. He waited until her cuddling was finished and she lowered her hands a bit before he opened his mouth to speak again, but what he didn't expect was to be victim of Lenalee's puckered lips on his head. She had kissed him.
"I love you too, Lavi," she said quietly. Lavi could clearly see that she was blushing; and so was he.
"I love you no matter how big or small you are," she continued, making Lavi simply melt into her hand. She kissed him on the head again. Lavi felt bad how he couldn't really do that for her in this state.
"Lenalee," he said lovingly, falling into her palm, looking up at the stars that were her eyes, "and if I had to stay like this forever, I would do it as long as I had you."
"Me too, Lavi,"
They stood there in silence a bit before deciding to actually find some firewood so as to not cause any suspicion.
"So, are you ready to show them?" By them she meant, of course, Krory and Allen, and then everyone else in due time. Lavi frowned, but nodded.
"But not until the morning, please," Lavi begged, and Lenalee giggled.
"Alright, but as soon as we wake up, you're going to have some explaining to do."
Once again she hid Lavi away in her pocket as she reappeared with Krory and Bookman waiting for her.
"Sorry it took so long, there was quite a walk before any started to show up," she said, setting the wood next to the fire and tossing a couple of them into it. It didn't take her long to realize that only Bookman was still awake, and that Krory seemed to have fallen asleep right next to the blaze. Lenalee smiled.
By the time Lenalee settled down into a sleeping position, Bookman had already hit the sack and so left only Lenalee and Lavi awake. Lavi crawled out of her pocket and cuddled up next to her, amazed by the heat that was radiating off her body alone.
"What if this is all just a bad dream?" Lavi mumbled, already feeling the effects of drowsiness taking him.
"It couldn't be all that bad," Lenalee admitted, causing him to blush as he realized the meaning of her words.
"Good night, Lenalee," Lavi said, almost a sigh as his mind drifted. Somewhere in the distance, he heard a faint 'good night' before he faded into the darkness completely.
There was a bird twittering happily on a branch as the early morning sun glowed just under the horizon. The fire had long since died out and apparently Allen had returned somewhere in the night and collapsed right on top of poor Krory. Somehow, the man managed to sleep through it all.
Bookman's old eyes lifted – always first to awaken in the morning. It wasn't so much a habit than it was an instinct. The man made a show of getting up, being sure to crack every bone in his body along the way. He scratched his head and yawned, getting his bearings. It was then that he looked down.
Not two feet away from him slept Lenalee, a strong arm wrapped around her waist protectively. Bookman frowned. How he ever allowed his apprentice to develop feelings with ink was beyond him. But – he decided – he could let it slip. Just this once. The old man chuckled as he lit up and took a nice long drag before going to kick Lavi hard in the gut.