THE LAST CHAPTER! A thousand apologies for the uber belated-ness... many of you have probably already heard that school was hell, ergo I didn't have time to write or review until summer... which is now. I add an additional sorry since I finished this and it was typed nearly two weeks ago and I never posted it (but I figure two more weeks wouldn't be noticed after a good year). Thank you, dedicated readers for your encouragement, and I hope this wrap up chapter passes muster.
Love to you all, and of course to Lucky.
The pebbles and rain backwash trenches vibrated through his skull dully as the carriage jostled over them, transferring the bumps through the wheels to his cheek on the tiny window frame. He gazed out blankly at the trees ticking past through morosely half closed eyes and the cage of his crossed arms.
"Che!" Kanda barely voiced his weariness of Lavi's moody state, brashness bowing to social clues that now was a time of delicacy. Lenalee and Allen had opened and closed their mouths numerous times with the intention of making some bright remark or offering condolences only to fold under the oppressively melancholic atmosphere. Krory sat motionless, hands neatly folded in his lap, attempting to shrink to invisibility while across from him sat the silently smoking Bookman, eyes closed grumpily and habitual terse expression in place. The pole of depression radiating angst out into the cramped and enclosed space flicked the windowpane in vexation, swearing mentally at the thickness of the glass and consequential injury to his fingernail.
"I'm bringing home a baby bumble bee… won't Earl-Samma be so proud of me?"- "Okay… oh, uh, I ate the fish though."- "You were ogling me."- "Can indirect heat burn you?"-"Mas qúe hora de alegria…"
Lavi imagined that, were he on film in a romantic comedy, tears would come to his eyes after the montage of scenes from his month-long relationship with Tyki had passed through his head, creating the quintessential forbidden love scene. He gave his tear glands a few moments to get with the picture but found the saline spectacle reluctant to make a showing. With an inaudible yet exaggerated exhale, he straightened and sat facing forward, gaze meeting a wide-eyed and tense gray one. Allen did a shaky double take before offering an uncertain smile that was too easy to reciprocate.
"Hey Sprout, how's it going?" Immediately the mien in the coach began to soften. From the moment they'd found Lavi in the clearing, alone and in a heap, they'd gotten no verbal interaction save for "no", "yes", and "fine" and those in response only to the very most Lavi-well-being-specific questions.
"I'm well, Lavi, how are you?"
"I'm glad to be back." One of the two smiles gained confidence and sincerity.
"We're glad you're back, too, Lavi," a third pair of cheeks dimpled as Lenalee joined the conversation, "and we're so glad you're okay- we've been so afraid that…" a tinge of the earlier weight returned as the remainder of the sentence, though unspoken, stretched on implied.
"I though you'd be dead," Kanda stated darkly with characteristic honesty for lack of tact. This worsened the ambiance considerably, reducing Allen to his forced and embarrassed grin and Lenalee to inspecting the grain of the benches. Lavi's mind was simply blank, not offended but finding it once more impossible to even fake cheeriness. From a historian's perspective, three weeks had to be earth shattering to merit even a sentence, and yet his most core self refused to skim over them as such. He really missed the person he loved. And that person was a man, a Noah, Tyki Mikk.
"Oh! I'd almost forgotten!" Every pair of awkward-subject-avoiding eyes flicked surreptitiously towards Allen. "I-um," he jolted into action, patting his coat feverishly until, "ah! I saved you a biscuit!"
"Oh, wow, Allen! Thanks so much," an empty grin spoke for an empty stomach as Lavi took the amazingly still fluffy morsel and, for his audience, began to eat. It tasted dryer than it looked. He fought to swallow and found himself in a coughing fit. Eight hands reached him instantly and he turned away, shooing the attention and transforming the hacks into laughter. His own hand swiped across his mouth and he offered a concerned and apologetic smirk and explained, "Actually, I haven't had a drink in a few days."
"Lavi, you're kidding-"
"I knew there was something-"
"Here-" a canteen was roughly shoved in front of his face, a familiar gnarled hand attached.
"Mmf!" Lavi leaned his head back, quickly welcoming the liquid into his esophagus to accommodate its unexpected presence in his mouth. "Ah… thanks, jiji." He replaced the container in the ancient's lap and laughed reassuringly to quench the alarmed countenances trained on him. Order was restored and the comfortable silence renewed, but by his treatment thus far, Lavi could tell his mysterious absence had merely isolated him more than usual from his fellow exorcists. He could almost see the 'handle with caution' stamp on his forehead as he cast a wistful glance out the window.
He'd gotten used to being fundamentally understood.
"Did TOO!" Tyki rounded the corner of the elegant mansion hallway with Road close in tow, suit jacket hooked lazily on a forefinger resting on his shoulder.
"I did not promise you I'd play ever in the last four hours since I've been back."
"CHILDREN! Indoor voices!" The Earl called (ironically) from somewhere deep within the labyrinth of fashionable rooms. In tandem, the brother and sister turned towards the general direction of the voice and stuck their tongues out in juvenile retaliation.
The squabble was then immediately resumed in whispers.
"But you've been gone soooooooooo-" Tyki squinted down, unimpressed as the vowel continued, "-oooooooooo-"
"-ooooooooo-" Noah's Dreams scrunched her face up intensely to terminate the word at long last, "-ooo long." The younger of the two twitched his mouth passively as his elder widened her eyes in dramatic sorrow.
"You can play," the effected grief evaporated into an imperious pout, "with any other person in the house," the duo strode past a parlor door from which the customary sounds of breaking china indicated Jasdebi's presence. Tyki hesitated here, faking an encouraging expression and spreading an arm towards the room in advertisement. "Sounds like they're shooting plate ware again, guaranteed fun!"
Road stared him down relentlessly, crossing her arms and half closing her eyes. Tyki increased the width of his winning beam and, upon producing only a darker sulk from the demanding playmate, let the façade fall and continued walking.
Road followed, a hint of smug satisfaction replacing the glower. If she stuck to him long enough, he'd have no other option but concession, a well-practiced truth she delighted in exploiting. A quiet ensued as each party contemplated his and her hand and which cards to play next. Defeat evident in tone, Tyki shrugged,
"I suppose Relo…" Road's victory grin spread into place and she shook her head,
"Relo's done playing with me."
"Haaaaaa…" a single heel pivoted the ninety degrees necessary to bring an aloft leather-clad foot and a smartly dressed body facing it's smaller companion. Tyki let the coat hand dangle between his legs as he squatted on his toes, running a hand through his hair in distressed acceptance. Feline gold frankly met feline gold. "Okay," he nodded sharply, "okay, okay." Road watched him carefully as he swayed his head from side to side methodically before standing and drawing a hand down across his face, wiping stress into slack. "Okay."
The Earl bumbled quietly out of a room shortly behind them, observing the pair intently through darkened lenses.
"Let's play hide and seek," Tyki pronounced with a gentle smile reserved for his sister. In keeping with her previous instructions, Road refrained from manic giggles, favoring exuberant celebratory prancing instead. "I'll hide," a sable thumb prodded a stiff silk dress shirt, "and you count," it's pointer brother focused daintily on the once again motionless tawny stare.
The snooping gremlin waddled stealthily into the hall in pursuit of the retreating Tyki, past the preoccupied Road and into the foyer.
"Four, five," the Pleasure rolled his shoulders forward purposefully, coaxing his smoking jacket into its proper fit. After successfully entering the marbled room unnoticed, the Millenium Earl sidled into a position out of his recently reacquired pet. His ridiculously over-sized ears drooped piteously as he watched sleeves being plucked and lapels flattened to perfection. "Ten, eleven…"
"Tyki," the fruffing halted, a backwards glance being cautiously cast.
"Tyki," the Earl flopped his head to the side with painful deliberation, the Noah eying these movements warily,
"you look as though you plan to leave." Cautiously, Tyki tugged his jacket once, letting his gloved hands fall down the suit front to his sides.
"Twenty, twenty-one-" With a few backwards glances to make certain he was safe from immediate danger, Tyki pulled a top hat out of the air and arranged it primly as a final touch.
"So soon?" pined the Earl, much closer than the Pleasure remembered. He spun around, eyes wide in affronted shock, to find the Noah's patriarch standing directly behind him, clutching his coattails morosely as tears streamed from beneath his circular specs. With a squeamish pat on the hat rim, Tyki assured,
"I'll be back by curfew, promise," before stepping backwards neatly through the grand front doors.
"Thirty! Ready or not, here I coooome!"
The door clicked shut and Lavi turned away with a long contained sigh of relief. The window casement in the local inn squeaked in protest of the burden of his arms and head as he folded himself into a contemplative position. He listened to Bookman lingering outside his doorway and then shuffling down to the patio to smoke.
The confrontational conversation he'd anticipated had never come, and for some reason, he did not suspect it would. Each bookman had his guesses, his suspicions, his facts, his stories. These would most probably never see verbal light, but undoubtedly would find their way into writings as duty demanded. What he wanted to think about right now was the gray extremities of the heather sky, the glow of freshly illuminated street lamps, the timid introductory noises of evening life, and the wooden shadows of shop fronts.
He was ready for life to be dull again. Quiet, subdued, and calm. He exhaled meditatively in turning to rest his elbow and back where his head and arms had been. With a relaxing inhale he lolled his head back, eyes shut, to regain a view of the village and night blinked.
A slightly gaping mouth obscuring the stars blossomed into a full face smile across smooth, dark skin.
"Hey, bumble bee," Tyki Mikk said quietly. Lavi sat up instantly, turning and backing away from the window, confusion and excitement combating across his features.
"What- what- you-" Tyki swung a leg over the window sill merrily, tongue protruding in concentration, "Tyki…" He beamed amorously as he dusted himself off, placing his hat on the bed and slipping his gloves into a coat pocket.
"Lavi," he answered pleasantly. Awareness caught up and the adolescent bolted into a frenzy,
"Oh my God, if jiji sees you- I can't believe you'd ever- or the others! Kanda'll kill you on the spot- and you climbed up the side of the building, what were you?- why would you?- I thought you didn't- I thought we'd never- How'd you- why'd you-"
"Ssshhh…" Tyki pressed a single finger to the spazzing lips. "Borboleta voadora, Borboleta fugidia." Lavi fell willingly silent with the repetition of their parting verse. The Noah lit up and rested his cigarette outside the window, gazing warmly at the junior bookman, who's practical curiosity finally dominated his initial emotions.
"How'd you find me?" Tyki's eyebrows rose in surprise and he removed the smoke from his mouth, waving the ash into the street as he angled his head into the room and extended a spread hand towards Lavi.
"Oli oli oxen free," a teeze erupted from the redhead's stomach and flitted innocently to the beckoning appendage before sinking fluidly into the other body. "They have homing capabilities," he continued blithely, returning his cigarette to its perch.
"And why did you come?" Lavi bravely barreled forward, secretly hoping he already knew this answer.
"I love you," Tyki replied simply, continuing his smoking as though this information was nothing remarkable. "I love you to death," he cast a familiar gilded eye back towards the frozen exorcist, "I think we're soul mates."
For the second time that day the Noah turned away from someone across the room from him only to find them upon him before he'd finished his adjustment in position. He laughed quietly, abandoning the smoke to return the embrace of the intensely delighted Lavi.
"Are you serious?"
"Really truly?" Tyki raised a hand to cup the grinning face.
"Soul mates? You're so cheesy," Lavi buried his face in the pearly shirt relentlessly, hugging the Noah tightly.
"I'm not cheesy," Tyki answered reproachfully, chin resting on the nest of vibrant red fluff, "I'm Portuguese, we believe in such things."
He held Lavi at arms length, sliding the cigarette onto the windowsill with one hand. "This is why I'm here, this is what I said to you because I would not let you go. This is why I dropped the bomb at the very first," he raised an index finger and Lavi listened attentively.
"Flying butterfly, elusive butterfly, she may only live one day," he rocked Lavi gently in time to the verse, "she may only live one hour," he leaned their foreheads together and closed his eyes, bringing his lips near to Lavi's, expressively raising his eyebrows before breathing,
"Oh! But what a happy hour!"