The wind was still blowing hard over his body five minutes after the explosion. Shrapnel and bricks thudded deafeningly to Earth, bouncing slightly in a slow motion giant scale mockery of rain. Amazingly enough, he had yet to be crushed by any of the falling debris and laid almost peacefully in his state of unconsciousness, face down before the lone standing wall he'd slammed against after the initial blast. The black of his uniform seemed gray, nearly khaki, from the tawny dirt floated and deposited on it by the fiercely whipping winds. In fact, the shadow solidifying through the clouds of swirling dust was much darker by contrast, save for a slim white-gloved hand that extended to lift a clump of dust covered hair from his face.

"And what have we here?"


He winced slightly and felt the muscles in his eyelids twitch involuntarily again, more fully open this time.


And again.

Blue. Sky.


Dark. Trees.

The nervous system chugged, slowly up the slope to full awareness.

Coolness at his back. He managed to close his fist.


He kept his eyes open after one more flutter.

Blue. Sky.

Dark. Trees.

Person. What? Person…person…person, person, personpersonpersonperson,

"What!?" Consciousness exploded throughout his senses with such force that he fell back to the ground as soon as he tried to sit up.

"I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee, won't Earl-samma be so proud of me? I'm bringing home a baby bumblebee-"

"Ouch!" he winced trying to rub his head and realizing his wrist was tied on a lead, attached to a nearby tree.

"He stung-eh?" Yellow eyes cut back towards him. "Oh!" Tyki Mikk turned, standing shin-deep in a small creek, koi fish thrashing in one hand, to face Lavi, splayed unceremoniously near the tree he was tethered to. "Good morning, sleeping beauty!" He turned back to the creek, leaning over the water with a hungry look in his eyes, free hand hovering over the swiftly moving water.

What the…


The hand and much of the Noah it belonged to disappeared in a spray of water.

"Oh! Drat!" Tyki frowned, following the retreat of his prey downstream with his eyes.


Lavi stared agape at the spectacle before him.

Well… I guess since he's busy…

Not one to idle in the presence of evil, Lavi quickly ran a systems check of his body and, with a quick backwards glance of incredulity, began to inch around the tree, grabbing a sharp looking rock on the way.


He jumped, whipping his head around. Tyki was sucking his finger and shaking a now sodden arm, glaring reproachfully at his captive fish. "No biting!"

Lavi exhaled, relief flooding him as he realized he had not yet been noticed.

"Okay…" he pressed his wrist and bond rope against the root of the tree and commenced with hacking at the rope with his rock, fervently praying the soft wood would deaden any thumping noises sufficiently. Lavi's eyes flashed up and down from the not-quickly-enough fraying fibers to the tree trunk through which he could imagine the Noah standing in the water, head turning towards him with a menacing grin each time he looked up. "Aaah…" his heartbeat urged his frenzied pounding to keep pace.


Lavi held his once bound wrist in his free hand and twisted it, rubbing circulation back to a consistent flow. The severed lead hung limply behind him as Lavi lost no time in turning due-away-from-the-Noah and scrambling away as speedily as possible.

"Ah, no, I'm afraid that won't do," he lurched forward as his movement stopped at his neck courtesy of a hand on the back of his shirt.

So it had not been as easy as it had seemed, he had not expected it would, it would not be a set back.

Tyki blinked down at the suddenly non-resisting jacket that had (in the moments before he'd switched his gaze to his fish still in his hand) contained his captive exorcist. "Eh? Aah…" he shook his head and began casually walking through the bushes into the small forest of trees, as a frustrated parent would if apprehending a child found committing a frequent offense. Tyki stopped after five or so paces, finding himself in a clearing with shrubbery creating ideal coverage for fleeing fugitives, such as Lavi, who indeed was taking advantage of the foliage. Tyki put one hand on his hip, holding the now weakly but desperately flailing koi away from his body and, smiling in quite the snobbish condescending manner so befitting of his features, called, "Olie olie oxen free!" Lavi was behind him, having planned to circle back towards the stream, as that seemed the most disorienting route of escape. He paused at the call and looked back into the clearing between twiggy limbs and leaves at Tyki's back.

This man was not the most knowledgeable Noah in the brood.

Not that that mattered, though it did make things easier, the main goal here was to get back with his fellow exorcists and away from Tyki and the potential harm that came with the name of anyone or thing under the Earl's control. Shortly, Lavi was back to the stream and, after checking for signs of persual, across it and straight into captivity for the final time. A dark hand was protruding from a tree to his right and had clamped down around his neck. Lavi gripped fingers encircling his throat and grappled with them for no more than half a second before the fingers melted into his flesh and he froze as the strange sensation of one's spinal cord being touched burst up to his brain.


"Stop. Now. As much as I do love hide and seek," Tyki's head with mocking grin and shoulder's appeared, "now is not the time nor the place to partake in such games. Agreed?" The Noah stood outside the dogwood now, fish finally limp in his hand. Lavi glared at his patronizing stare but didn't dare do anything else. "Oh, right. Can't exactly nod when your spinal cord's constrained," the dark hand formed again as it oozed from his own neck.


Tyki brushed his curly hair back to lie flat on top of his head, letting his eyes shut and head fall forward.


Lavi desperately lunged forward, all rationality abandoning him. He fell flat down due to a foot smoothly slid into his path as Tyki lifted his head with a toss and let his eyes open slowly to gaze down at the fallen exorcist.

"Not the brightest Bookman on the shelf, are we?" Lavi winced as a bare heel dug into the small of his back, pressing just harder than necessary to make his statement of triumph. He scowled into the miniature jungle of grass drowning in the shadow of his own head and wished to be unconscious again. Nothing was adding up. He shouldn't be alive and able to be unable to add things up, that was the first thing, and the second thing, the Noah shouldn't have been around because he'd seen them all leave right before the explosion, every single-

…. No. I'd counted. I remember 1, 2, 3… 4… 5… damn… damn… he's six, two girls, the big guy, and the twins, damn. Lavi let his resolve to escape die for the moment and decided to lie low and wait for more information because he was alive (at least for now) and that meant he probably had some value attached to him. But… how long will he need me?… He gulped, biting the inside of his cheek as the foot was lifted from his back.

Tyki's humor evaporated instantly as he gazed down through Lavi and time to things he did not want to face presently, facts that were seeking while he was desperately hiding. A blink refocused the yellow pupils on the lax red head he, though it pained him, was in such dire need of.

How long… his dark hand closed around his captive's collar and hauled him upright…will I have to depend on this? Two pairs of footfalls were deadened as they neared the stream making so much chatter just to hear itself babble. Lavi made no resistance this time as both his arms were bound together with the pieces of intact rope and the koi was dropped in the grass at his boot-clad feet. Tyki sighed, a short weary huff.

Lavi focused darkly on the suffocated fish as the villain before him, hands on hips, glared to the side. Green eyes shifted to the side and so yellow ones switched to the fish. Lavi glared down at the rope and Tyki looked up at the sky. By chance, both their natural hyper-curiosities got the better of them and Lavi, without raising his head, and Tyki, without lowering his, flashed a quick look at one another that got stuck when they found their nemesis watching.


"Well!" They both looked away hotly, flushing slightly at being caught while employing their stealthiest of sideways glances. "The nerve!" Tyki sat huffily, producing a pocketknife and commencing with skinning the fish. Heated silence. "By the way…" Tyki continued his violent cutting, "do you know where we are?" Lavi glared at his knees.

"No, Am I supposed to?" Tyki's knife slowed, then stopped.

"No… I was just wondering…" he looked up guiltily. "Because I have no idea."