I have no excuse. Enjoy.

– – –


Kanda lost count after four. It wasn't that after four orgasms he just couldn't count anymore, it was that after five, they all seemed to bleed together into one tired, vague memory that revolved mostly around Lavi and the different angles they could fit together without breaking bones or bed in the process. He forgot about everything else – the Order, Akuma, dying, hating the fact that Lavi was stupid and taller – and just tried to show how he felt and what he wanted, what he liked and what might have been better with practice. In the end, well after midnight, he found himself sweaty and sore in places he couldn't remember straining, and so tired he wasn't sure if he had been having sex or fighting a war against Lavi's body. Not that it mattered. He could still wrap his arms around Lavi's shoulders and cradle the redhead against his chest, bone-weary or not.

It didn't surprise him in the slightest when the once apprentice Bookman looked up at him and offered a lazy smile – one that he returned as best he could for the moment. It was odd how Lavi's smile changed without the eye patch: less crooked, more gentle, turned so both green eyes had to squint at its widest stage. It was going to take some getting used to.


"Yeah, me too."

The redhead frowned almost so that it was like a pout, but Kanda didn't let his expression change. It was getting easier to smile, as odd as it seemed. And it was Lavi's fault.

"I was going to say…" Lavi started again, still pouting. "That you look way too happy. It's creepy. You need to frown."

Kanda would have, but that he wasn't in the mood at all. Instead, he felt his lip lift over his teeth and his arms tightened a little on Lavi's chest. "Che. Moron," his voice dropped in volume without him meaning it to, "it's your fault."

Lavi turned his head a little to the side and his eyes caught the lamp light, which reflected oddly yellow against his emerald irises. It made his hair look coppery and soft, a bit stringy with sweat and maybe other things, most likely oil. He was still very nice to look at though, even if his lips were swollen and the dark circles beneath his eyes looked like bruises. "I know. I'm just not used to it, I guess. You look…" His smile turned mischievous, "I guess you look pretty, though it's not really the word I want." His fingers trailed a slow line across Kanda's bare right hip – not a suggestion, just a very personal expression of closeness. For Lavi, touching seemed almost habitual.

"And you're a moron. Oh, but that is the word I want. Shit."


"Your jerk."

The redhead paused, wide-eyed for a moment, before he narrowed his gaze and pulled himself a little higher on Kanda's pillow. He brushed his lips on the side of the Japanese man's, then leaned away, grinning. "I like that better than Cupcake, I think."

"Che." If he hadn't have been so tired, Kanda would have smacked Lavi upside the head for that, instead, he curled an arm around the redhead's shoulders and yanked them flush. "Shut up and sleep, moron."

"Can I shut up and… share space?"

The swordsman forced himself to frown. He doubted that Lavi knew what he was thinking – not at the moment – and found himself more than half-tempted to share. It wasn't like him, but it didn't matter. The night had been sequestered for him and the redhead, so what did it matter if he said something he wouldn't say in front of someone else?

Tenderly, Kanda turned himself enough to lie beside Lavi and look him straight in the face, his expression deadly serious. "Yes. Right now." He demanded without cracking, but only just.

Lavi shook his head a little, but didn't protest. "Okay, Cupcake."

He woke to knocking – again. So loud and pounding and irritating, he thought the fist had to be on the inside of his skull, throbbing behind his eyes. It wasn't until the redhead laying on his chest fumbled out of bed and pulled most the covers off with him that Kanda realized it was the door making that awful sound – and the sun was peeking in the window.

If not for his experience with the horrors of being a vampire, he likely would have hated the light at that moment. Instead, he detested it. The emotions we similar and yet very different; hate would have meant he wanted the thing to implode if it meant setting the room in darker light, detest meant he accepted that it was going to shine in the window all fucking day and he was going to want to glare at it. He would live with it though, even if it hurt his eyes a little. He could just keep them closed.

"Oh, my goodness, Lavi what happened to your neck?" Lenalee's voice sounded a bit pinched, filtering in from the doorway. "And why are you in—Kanda-kun! Oh! I'm sorry! My eyes! I just saw your—"

Lenalee's voice?

In a blur of motion that might have made a striking cobra jealous, the Japanese man leaped from his place on the mattress and fumbled with the nearest piece of clothing – a pair of pants that were baggy and a few inches too long when he pulled them on. He stumbled to the door and nearly shut it – because they were both indecent and Lenalee had just said something about seeing a part of him that was making her blush. He met her right eye through the space between door and door frame and tried, for the life in him, to frown.

"Why aren't you in that zombie town?" He demanded, and shifted when he heard Lavi drop his blankets and mumble something about it being too early. "And in front of my room…"

Lenalee, fully dressed and quite wakeful, did not seem capable of wrenching her eyes from the fly of the pants he was wearing. "Brother wanted to know if you two knew when morning ended and afternoon began. Oh well… I'll tell him to send Crowley…"

"What time is it?"

"One thirty." She answered, still looking at his pants. Lavi's pants. The pants he had thrown on in a rush. "I'm here because Allen was ordered to bring us back so the science department can have a look at his eye, just in case. Um…" She swallowed and finally met his eyes, though her gaze flicked to his hair and then to his chest, and finally back down to his crotch. "I won't tell my brother if you won't."

He felt his face morph into a crooked, strange smile – like a smile but different than the ones he used on Lavi. "You're practically my relative. And I'm taken. He shouldn't care."

"Since when has logic stopped him?"

"Che. I won't talk."

Lenalee looked up again, her bangs resting lightly on her eyebrows, and smiled at him, genuinely. "Then I'll leave you to it!" She chimed and turned away, moving down the hall with a wave. "Lavi isn't a chew-toy, Kanda-kun! Be careful!"

He wasn't all that sure how to respond to that, so he just waved at her, wishing that the pants around his hips fit just a little better. When she disappeared around the next corner, Kanda turned back to his room with a small frown and closed the door behind him. She was nuts, that was all. And she had no idea how to respond to the great unknown thing that was sex.

"Yuu… come back…" Lavi was on the bed again, curled up lazily in a cocoon of blankets and sheets, hair messy and eyes sunken like he hadn't slept well. Instinct told Kanda that it was too late to go back to sleep, but the look on the redhead's face was too inviting and too tender; Lavi never made that expression for anyone else. And the missing eyepatch just made the whole thing more endearing. "Share space?"

With an un-amused expression, Kanda took off Lavi's pants and climbed up beside the redhead. Arms wound around his hips and draped the blankets over him while Lavi pressed his face into his side. It was a bit awkward to lie like that, if only because he couldn't see Lavi's expression. He understood it, still.

Lavi's right hand touched his chest, tracing a nonexistent pattern in the middle of his ribcage. Kanda felt himself relax.

"I've been meanin' to ask you," the redhead's fingers swept in a line before curving in a half circle. "I can't find the lotus. I remembered the hourglass and I found that, but there's nothing in it."

Kanda immediately sat up and looked to the corner of his room, to the flower he knew had to be there, and blinked at the nine-petaled flower resting in the top of the glass. It was still there, right where he could see it. It was still dying. Just seeing it was enough to quell the rush of panic that wanted to fill Kanda's gut. Because he needed that flower. If it was gone… if it was gone…if he had run out of time... even if he had Lavi...

"See? There's nothing there at all." Lavi chimed with a curious note in his voice. The redheaded boy was sitting up beside him and sliding off the bed, taking the sheet with him like a toga. Kanda watched in abject horror as the green-eyed Exorcist first walked to the table and then – before there could be even a word of protest – touched the hourglass with decidedly gentle fingers. Lavi traced down the side of it and then back to the top, back to the rusted little latch that no one saw, which he turned without pause. The redhead was crazy. The flower was right there, bobbing with the motions of Lavi's hands.

"Stop it."

Lavi didn't hear him.

The top opened, swinging back on a hinge toward the wall. "Not even a petal. It's just…" Lavi started to put his hand inside, nonchalant, completely unaware that if he touched it, if he knocked off even a petal—

Kanda didn't think about how Lavi might react to him – he thought about not wanting to die. He leaped up and caught the redhead's wrist, pushing him away from the table, away from the flower, but the sheet didn't follow so easily. The white material tangled around Lavi's naked legs and he tumbled, dragging Kanda and the three-legged table down with him.

The sound of breaking glass had never had that tone before, never rang like a funeral bell. The floor had never been as cold as it was in the moment that Kanda's left arm slammed into it, all of his weight and all of Lavi's behind it. He felt something shift and heard something snap before searing, stabbing pain shot up into his shoulder. Not that it mattered. Whatever joke Lavi was playing was a lie. Kanda was dead. It was only a matter of time before every wound, every gun shot, every broken bone came back at him with a vengeance. The spell would be broken. The lotus would die.

But for now, the only thing that hurt was his arm, and that was screaming in agony.

"Shit! You're bleeding!" Lavi's voice alerted him to the fact that, despite that he was dead, he was lying on the floor with his eyes shut. "And what the fuck are you leaping at me for? It's just an… was just an old hourglass. Shoulda told me not to touch it if…"

Kanda stopped listening. It didn't matter. He didn't want his last memory of Lavi to be him whining about something useless.

"Hey, Yuu," Lavi's hands rolled him onto his back, which jarred his left arm to the point that his head felt light from the pain. It wasn't healing. He was going to die. "Did I just… did you see a lotus in the hourglass?"

Because that was obviously not the tone Lavi used when telling a joke, and he hurt too much to be dead, Kanda opened his eyes a little, looking out of them unsure what he would see. His right eye didn't see anything and it felt sticky, but the left showed him Lavi's worried face, eyebrows pinched together in the center of his forehead.

"Why aren't I dead?" The thought was out of his mouth before he could stop it.

"Huh?" Was Lavi's eloquent reply.

"The flower. You killed the flower. I'm dead."

Lavi blinked at him, frowning. "There was no flower, Yuu-chan. There is no flower. You've got a swollen arm and a cut on your forehead and a big pile of broken glass, but there's no lotus anywhere."

That didn't make sense. But a lot of things didn't make sense. It was impossible for the flower to not change after what he had been through, right? And yet it hadn't. And now, the flower was out of the glass, the glass was broken on the floor, and Kanda was breathing. That was impossible too, right? And yet…

Kanda reached up with his right hand – which had a small cut across the back – and touched the side of Lavi's face. It didn't make any sense at all, unless there hadn't been a flower. But how could that have been? It was as real as Lavi was, wasn't it? And yet, as he traced the line of Lavi's jaw and pushed himself up to sitting, he knew that he hadn't expected to die, not with all of himself. The things that had happened were too impossible.

His dark eyes moved from his lover to the shattered remains of the only personal possession he had anymore, and locked on the lump of flower petals he still saw amid the debris. Unscathed, blooming with all of the life of a complete lotus. That didn't make any sense either.

"What the fuck is going on?" Kanda breathed, and pulled his hand away to reach for the flower in front of him. He was afraid to touch it, because if he did – and he felt it – what would happen then? It couldn't be there and not there. It couldn't be that unreal and real at once. But he couldn't be dead and breathing, could he?

"You see a flower, don't you?"


Lavi arms tightened around him, pulling him away from the lotus. "There's only glass there, you'll cut your hand if you—"

Kanda pushed his lover's hand away, and refused to move his eyes from the flower. "I don't care what you see, I need to try to touch it."


The swordsman pressed his fingers to the very place he saw those soft, delicate pink petals against the harsh stone floor. It felt like glass. He cut himself. It wasn't real. Even if the flower bent at the brush of his fingers, it wasn't real. Kanda shut his eyes and pulled back his hand, trying to work the situation through his mind again, trying to figure the exact moment when the spell had started to act strangely. If he could pinpoint the moment, he might be able to discover what had changed.

Lavi's hand ran gently across his forehead, smoothing away his bangs. He felt his lips twitch in something like a smile.

"Will you please tell me what's going on?"

Kanda sighed softly, but didn't open his eyes. "As soon as I figure it out for myself."

It was only about an hour before Kanda's arm was just as healthy as it had always been, which was something Komui deemed incomprehensible. Lavi, being how he had found himself to be, thought it a blessing. What did he care why Kanda was healing despite the state of the thing that supposedly kept him alive? It was good that he was healing. It was good that they wouldn't have to be careful of his arm for the next few days or the next few missions or the next few years.

Thus, while Komui sat behind his desk and tried to not look as lost as Kanda, Lavi doodled lines in the margins of an undoubtedly important paper, all of them swoops and curves that reminded him of a certain samurai's ponytail. It wasn't that he wasn't worried. He was very worried. It hadn't been a day since he'd given himself over to the thought of forever, and the idea of it – of being who he was, of having friends and loved ones and a home – hadn't quite sunken in yet, and Lavi truly did not want to lose it.

He didn't want to lose Kanda.

"What do you mean it might have been the mist-girl's Innocence?" Kanda was leaning on Komui's desk, glaring daggers, growling his questions. Really, it was understandable, but he could use a cold drink. Or a back massage. Lavi was up for the second one, at least. "I don't want might; I want to know what the fuck is going on here!"

The scientist in front of the swordsman sighed and shook his head, looking somewhat less than amused. "The way I understand it…" Komui held up his hands in an expression of helplessness. "There never was a flower. What it means if you say that it's gone..."

Kanda started to growl low in his throat, but didn't argue.

"This makes me think that something has been rewritten within the pattern of the spell itself. I'm not a magician," Komui let his hands fall a little, as if the movement might back the younger man leaning over him down a little. It didn't work. "How that happened… who could do something like that… I don't know. I could run a few tests if you'd like, have a look at Mugen, but I honestly don't know what I'll find."

Lavi thought he had produced a pretty good ponytail and looked up from it, frowning slightly. "Ne, Yuu-chan," he turned his pencil over, letting a thoughtful expression come over his face. "You think I'm special enough to love you into immortality?"

"No. Go… do something painful if you aren't going to help."

The redhead had to smile to himself and sigh. Of course it couldn't be that simple. Or cheesy. It had to be something complicated, Lavi was sure.

"I'll run some tests." Komui said again, trying to look cheerful. "Please try not to worry. But Lavi," he waved a quill in a way that would have been very irritating if Lavi were still part cat, "please keep an eye on him. Just in case."

Kanda drew into himself for the remainder of the day, brooding in a silent, violent sort of way, angry and frightened and terrible at conveying both at once. It was his aura of killing intent and his astoundingly hard glares that made Lavi want to pin the swordsman to a wall and make him forget everything that had happened, everything that could happen, given time. He got his chance just before lunch and missed it at sword point – a threat he hadn't missed in the last month or so of his life.

Still, while Lavi watched Kanda go through sword techniques and counted the different stances and forms and marveled at them, it all seemed rather strange and pointless. Kanda was somehow better than everyone else – he healed, he fought, he followed orders – and it went beyond what Lavi understood to be the powers of a simple spell. In fact, the more he thought about it, the less it made sense that Kanda would die from the loss of the flower. If he and it were tied together in life and death, then why not use something less likely to fall apart? Like a hunk of metal?

Strange and pointless, he knew, and watched the sunlight reflect silver from Mugen's edge.

"Oi, Yuu-chan." Lavi chimed almost playfully from beneath the shade of his pine tree, shifting so the book he wasn't reading didn't touch the ground but instead rested on his knees. When the swordsman didn't stop moving he went on, speaking in a conversational tone. "I think we shouldn't worry about it to much, you know? I mean… it's like…" He cast about for something he could compare it to, something that wasn't Yuu's clothes, at least. "Karma. It only matters if you think about it."

His lover offered him a raised eyebrow without turning his head. Perhaps it was a cue to go on.

"Seriously. We're all going to die. If you worry about it, you'll give yourself high blood pressure. Same with karma. If you think too hard about it, you fuck it up."

"Che." Kanda didn't quite shake his head, but the motion was in his thoughts. It was enough for Lavi to catch it. "That isn't how it works at all, idiot. There are two different kind of it." Mugen sliced downward at an angle that would have been perfect for cutting the head from an enemy – it only caught a leaf and destroyed it. "What you're thinking is… I forget the name. There's earthly karma and karma that has nothing to do with what you say or think or suffer though. Divine karma."

Lavi sat, silently, and listened, completely at a loss. Even if he knew Yuu, and loved Yuu, and thought he understood Yuu, he hadn't the slightest clue that the guy knew so much about Hinduism (or perhaps it was Buddhism?). At all. Religion was about the second to last thing on his mind when it came to their relationship, really.

"Sdmsdrika karma. Alma karma." Kanda went on in a soft voice. "One to tie a person to the world and the other to cut him away from it."

The redhead watched tension go all the way up his lover's spine and then down again, making his movements more mechanical.

"Sadhana. Che. What a fucking joke."


Mugen stopped mid-movement and Kanda looked at him wide-eyed, as if he had forgotten that Lavi was there. He didn't say anything. He simply lowered his sword and turned his eyes toward it, then toward the ground, before they finally came to Lavi once more. "Dying isn't anything like karma." He finished softly, but there was something behind his eyes – something that made Lavi wonder what kind of joke sadhana was.

'A means by which to accomplish something,' was the translation that came to mind. Somehow it fit better than it did in a religious context.

Lavi tried not to think about it.

"Okay." The redhead agreed softly. "It's not like dying."

Kanda did something strange then and teetered for a moment before he sheathed his sword and turned away, looking up at the pale winter sky. The light turned bluish white on his hair and cold silver on his eyes, carving his shape out of ice, lacing him with frost. It wasn't that cold now, though most of the snow hadn't melted. They were close to spring now, even if it wasn't really about to start in England for another few months.

The swordsman didn't seem to see any of it.

"I don't want to go looking anymore, I can't." Kanda whispered at the clouds, distant and soft, just like his voice. "But I don't know when that started. And I don't know why. And I don't know who or what could have changed the spell form, like Komui said. I don't want to die." He scoffed a laugh, low and thoughtful, and lifted his lips in a half-grin. "It's the first time in my life that I really give a damn about living for something good…"

Lavi pushed himself from his place beneath the tree and tromped across the dead-leaf-and-snow ground to his lover's back, a little thankful that the swordsman didn't turn to look at him. With careful thought on where Mugen was at the moment, Lavi draped an arm around Kanda's chest and pulled him back, burying his cold face in the long-haired man's neck. "You'll be fine, Yuu-chan. I just know you will. Even if I don't know why and you don't know why… I mean… it'll be okay. Right?" The words had been meant to be reassuring, and they hadn't done their job at all.

Still, when Kanda turned, there was a little light of hope burning behind his eyes. "Yeah." It was a one-word preamble to a kiss that might have been crooked if Kanda hadn't have turned to face the redhead. The kiss lead to another and another, the most contact they had had since morning, until Lavi found himself pulling his lover back to his tree and down into the snow, Mugen and the book forgotten. "It'll be fine." Kanda growled, and then his icy cold hands were sliding inside Lavi's coat and dancing across his chest.

With a shudder and a grab at Kanda's hair, Lavi prayed it was so.

Lenalee could only smirk at the two of them, at Lavi and his muddy hair, at Kanda's pine needle covered bangs, at the wet spots on their clothes, and the state of both of their boots. Really, the two of them wouldn't have been more obvious if they smelled like hay instead of dirt and sweat – and that was saying something. At least, when she raised a suggestive eyebrow at Lavi, the redhead turned his eyes at Kanda and licked his teeth a little. It was good that they were that close, somehow. And it was good that Kanda-kun had found it in him to sit down to an early dinner, because he seemed ravenous, and less worried. Still, Lenalee had never seen him eat more than one tray of soba and tempura, and this time he had two – as well as a small side of blood pudding, whatever that was. It made her smile to watch him eating across from Lavi, slathering his noodles in wasabi just so the redhead would squirm.

They were both doing better than they had been. They were both opened up, even if it was only to each other.

And even though Kanda seemed to be worrying about something, Lavi seemed more than set on making him forget. It was…cute. And Lenalee didn't mean boy-kissing-boy cute, she meant cute like a small fuzzy animal trying to warm up to an angry rhinoceros and actually managing to make a large, leathery friend. Or maybe it was cute because Lenalee knew exactly what was wrong and that it couldn't be fixed, but Lavi was hell-bent on trying.

In any case, it was painfully obvious when Kanda-kun touched Lavi's face that he didn't want to be in the cafeteria where he couldn't lean in and do dirty, horrible things to the redhead. Lenalee almost let herself do more than smile.

She would have liked to watch more, to silently stalk the two of them until she spotted them in a corner, or saw a meaningful grab of someone's ass. It wasn't meant to be, however. Reever burst into the cafeteria only just as Kanda was standing up to take his tray, an expectant, desperate look on the scientist's face, something that might have been excitement in his eyes. He didn't speak above a whisper, and she watched Kanda and Lavi leave with him at a brisk walk.

Lenalee hoped it wasn't anything having to do with a mission.

"So it's that Olga's fault!"

"Ursa, Yuu. Ursa."

Kanda might have been murderous, but he wasn't doing a very good job of radiating threat at the moment. Maybe it was the fact that his hair was still all sexy and filled with twigs, Lavi didn't know, but he was failing at his glares, too. Perhaps, under it all, he was thankful for what had happened. Or maybe he didn't know how to feel.

"Her fucking leech powers did what to me?" Yuu demanded again, clenching his katana's hilt with a harsh glare. "And you better explain it this time, Komui, or I'll cut it out of your brain so I can see it."

The scientist in question held up his hands, something like a strained smile on his lips. The Chinese man didn't seem half as stressed as he had been, though the way he waved his fingers in front of his face spoke volumes on his thoughts of the swordsman's threat. "It isn't that complicated, Kanda, all you have to do is listen to me." He gestured broadly, which moved his right hand away from his skull for a moment before it moved back again. A feeble meat-shield at the most. "What I'm telling you is that there was never a lotus flower." His eyes wandered to Lavi before they wandered back to Kanda. "The woman from your... memories..." His gaze went to Lavi again before he cleared his throat. "I believe that the flower was a self-designed timer – a thing created from your own mind that kept you looking for the woman you thought that you loved." Komui gestured at Lavi, though he did not look at the redhead again. "It seems possible to me that, now that you have found Lavi, the time has reset itself – or become irrelevant. What that means for your lifespan, I do not know, however—"

"So I'm not… dying anymore." Kanda whispered under his breath, his eyes somehow hurt and yet focused very much on the room around him. "I'm something else."


"It's something that comes from not being human any more, isn't it?"

Lavi tensed. "Yuu…"

The Japanese boy looked up at him, his face drawn into something like a smile, but it was the sort of smile that only Lavi would see. It suddenly didn't matter that they were standing in Komui's office, just the three of them, nor did it matter that Lavi didn't understand completely what was going on. He'd never heard anything about a woman that Kanda loved. It mattered that Yuu was hurting and he wasn't about to die, Lavi didn't think. That was all he needed to know.

Komui made a startled, though completely neutral sound when the redhead leaned in and laid his lips on the swordsman's parted ones. It was a brief kiss, just a little promise, but it brought a blush to the Asian man's cheeks all the same.

"Don't say stupid things, Yuu-chan." Lavi whispered just loud enough for the three of them to possibly hear. "You aren't a freak or a monster, okay?"

"Shut up, Lavi."

The redhead shook his head a little and shamelessly put his hand on top of the swordsman's, squeezing it as harshly as he could without worrying about soreness. They couldn't be too close, he didn't think, and Yuu wasn't about to make him think otherwise. "I mean… whatever happened… it's a good thing, right? Ursa made us both go a little bonkers and now Yuu-chan's indestructible?" As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Lavi felt a little like he was stupid. He could see in his lover's face – even without thinking of his right eye – that there was a lot more to it than that, a lot of unpleasantness, but he didn't need anymore detail than he already had.

Komui folded his hands on his desk – a movement that Lavi just barely caught out of the corner of his vision. "That is more or less what seems to have happened. The momentary repression of his healing abilities might have occurred due to the changes taking place within Kanda's mind, rather than the changes in his physiology. There's only one question that I can think to ask that might prove me right or wrong is…" He paused as if for dramatic effect – something that made Kanda tense as if to hit him. "Has your diet changed since you were changed by Ursa?"

"What?" Yuu blinked. "How did you know?"

Lavi felt his expression start to falter. "What does Yuu's new interest in English sausage have to do with anything?" There was a pause in which Komui bit his lower lip and Kanda narrowed his eyes at Lavi. Maybe they both thought he meant Allen rather than blood pudding. Maybe they were both completely nuts.

Yuu cleared his throat and yanked his hand out of Lavi's as if burned. "What does blood pudding have to do with any of this?"

"Everything and nothing." Komui answered smoothly. "If you stop eating it, nothing will happen – however, the fact that you are willing to eat it proves to me that something has changed. As far as I can tell… without running more psychological work… you haven't regained the life that you lost as much as you have revitalized what you had left through thought.. It's a complicated idea, but what it comes down to is simply that you, the very basic persona that you have kept up for the last nine years, who thrived on only Asian foods—"

"I get it." Kanda cut him off, breathing in a deep, slow breath and sighing it out. He had taken to rubbing the fingers that Lavi had once been holding on to, as if they might hurt just a little. Maybe they did. Lavi didn't think he had been squeezing those soft, bony fingers that hard, though. "Then... what do I do about the lotus?" Yuu's voice was calm and flat. It didn't hide his fear, however.

Komui shrugged. "The flower was never real to anyone else, Kanda. If something's wrong with it, maybe you should ask yourself why."

The swordsman didn't look up from his fingers. "How will I know if I'm going to die?"

"You won't." Lavi blurted softly, and immediately regretted it. He felt stupid and ignorant without even finishing the thought, but it was too late to stop now. "You'll just have to live like the rest of us, without knowing."

Yuu frowned, but it wasn't the kind of frown that it could have been – it was thoughtful and understanding and almost remorseful. It fit almost too well with his eyes and the light and the delicious curve of his nose. Lavi wanted to reach out and touch him again, but that he liked his fingers. The frown eased into a mirthless little smile. "Che. Whatever. I never liked knowing anyway. Komui," his head almost snapped upward when he looked at the scientist, determined as he had ever been. "The house that was eating Finders – was it the only mission today?"

Komui shook his head, brow furrowed. "I was going to send Miranda and Crowley to a villa in southern Europe. No one lives in it, but things appear to move on their own, the lights turn on and off – without explanation. Since the two of you were so painfully late this morning, I was thinking I might give you a few more days to—"

"We'll take it." Lavi and Yuu said at once, then glanced at each other sidelong before looking back at their supervisor.

"I'm not dying. I shouldn't stay here." Kanda went on.

"And if we stay here much longer we're going to get caught." Lavi added with a brisk nod.

With a sigh and a slow, easing up on his chair, Komui looked between the two of them. He was making a face like he hadn't expected things to go so well, and now that they had, he wasn't sure what to do about it. It was an accepting expression. Yet, the crinkles at the edges of his eyes were sad, somehow, and the way he tilted his face into his left hand made his glasses shine light in that irritating way that blocked his eyes from sight. "Well, all things considered, I kind of want to keep you both here until I run a few more tests, but…" His shoulders lifted in a half-shrug. "I can't hold you back. I shouldn't. I'll have packets ready for you in an hour. Until then, pack."

The two of them nodded as one, and a quick, honest smile flashed across Lavi's mouth, showing all of his teeth.

"You know, Yuu…" He said as they turned toward the door, his voice lifting in a tone that suggested more than just a smile on his face. "We can pretend you're dying, if you'd like to share with me your last request."

"Che. Right." Kanda answered, completely deadpan. "Please kiss me, before I die from a lack of retarded."

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