Hiya! Here is the final chapter! Once again almost everything here is based on theory.
Disclaimer: If I owned I would travel to my school via Lavi's hammer and save tons of gas. But I don't, so I must drive a car like all other mortals.
EDIT: Italics fixed here as well.
Chapter 3: Under the Heavens
"People disgust me, with all their wars and bloodshed and deception," Lavi had said back on the ship, his eyes still burning from the flaming sunset. Now the sky was almost entirely crimson, making the sea below it look like blood rather than water.
"Why are you telling me this?" asked Kanda, his queasy stomach demanding more attention than the redhead's rambling.
"I dunno," the emerald-eyed Exorcist answered. "I guess I just feel like ranting about the stupidity of humanity."
"You're human too, you know."
"Everyone is born human, but very few remain so."
Kanda gave him a blank stare, and the redhead laughed.
"What?" the blademaster asked crossly.
"Nothing," Lavi began, turning back to the falling day. "…Let's just say that sometimes I wish I was made of wood instead."
Lavi was unconscious, though still ensnared in the same organic tangle. The hammer bound above him gave off a constant green light, with the excess sparks of power slithering down the wooden vines and into the scarlet-haired Exorcist.
"Lavi!" Kanda called. "Wake up, idiot!"
Both the hammer and the redhead were enveloped into a bright white aura. The pallid power ate away at the wooden vines that encased the Innocence and its host, until the rough coils cracked and snapped. The Exorcist and his weapon both began to fall.
"Lavi!" Lenalee cried out, running forward to catch him.
"Wait!" shouted Bookman.
Suddenly Lavi twisted around in the air, his eye snapping open and shining a pale green. A golden halo materialized above his head.
He lunged for Lenalee, who barely avoided the strike. One of the ties for her pigtails was torn loose, letting part of her long hair flow freely.
Instead of falling to the ground, the crimson-maned scribe spun around and righted himself in mid air. He held his arms out to the side, his glowing eye glaring as scarlet symbols formed around him.
"Scatter!" Bookman commanded.
From the multiple designs erupted multiple snakes, writhing out in all directions. Pillars of magma exploded from the ground as the Exorcists spread out.
"First Illusion! Hell's Insects!" shouted Kanda, bringing forth the sinewy creatures. The silver bugs could not focus on one snake, however, and were quickly eliminated.
"Double Illusion Sword!" he yelled, as a white aura enveloped his blade. The ghostly light spiraled across his shoulder to his other arm, where a duplicate blade appeared.
One of the fiery serpents, though it hardly looked like a snake now, flew toward the dark-haired blademaster blindly.
"Eight Flower Mantis!" Kanda roared, taking a series of slices at the approaching snake. It dissolved into heat and embers.
"Lavi!" he shouted.
The shining eye of the scribe darted over to Kanda. In a moment the redhead vanished, and then reappeared in front of the samurai with his fist drawn back.
Kanda stumbled back, his cheek stinging from the unexpected blow. When did Lavi learn how to punch so well?
The dark-eyed Exorcist had little time to think about it, for soon he found himself dodging a blizzard of punches from the halo-bearing scribe. From the corner of his eye he noticed Bookman evading swings from the now-masterless mallet, while Allen and Lenalee dealt with the nearby fire snakes.
As if we don't have enough problems…now we have to deal with that blasted hammer too…
An uppercut struck Kanda's chin, causing the swordsman to stagger back. Before he could recover the shining Exorcist slammed into him with supernatural speed, sending Kanda flying into the trunk of a tree.
Never, never, this will never, stupid, pathetic, this will never-
The thoughts looped like vipers in Kanda's head, though they were not his thoughts, as foreign anger and abhorrence polluted his blood like poison.
"Damn…like before…" he hissed, his body paralyzed by the other will flowing through him. This time he wasn't able to free himself in time to avoid the emerald-eye scribe's next punch. Scarlet trickled from one side of his lip.
Blast…I can't fight him like this…
"Eight Flower Mantis!" he yelled, aiming his attack at the ground. Dust and dirt shrouded the samurai from sight, though he could still see his opponent's white aura.
Kanda deactivated his second illusion, sheathed the remaining blade, and held it before him as he rushed toward the shining figure. Before the glowing Exorcist had time to react, Kanda slammed him into the ground and pressed the sheathed blade hard against his throat.
"Do you want to die?" hissed the dark-eyed Exorcist, the redhead snarling and glaring as he twisted his head from side to side. "Well, do you? Because you will die at this rate."
The scribe gave off a flare of bright white light, and Kanda was flung into the air. Unfamiliar memories slipped across his mind, memories of Bookman reading, Bookman watching, Bookman angry and raising his hand, Bookman wide-eyed as the hammer floated out of his coat pocket and grew to an enormous size without any command from its master…
Landing roughly in the scorched grass, Kanda had only pushed himself into a sitting position when the halo-bearing Exorcist lunged at him and sunk his teeth into his arm.
Kanda felt the pain only slightly, for suddenly his mind was submerged in fragmented emotions and remembrances that weren't his. A golden field, never, a castle in flames, why, soldier bodies piled on top of each other, why, a flurry of red rose petals flying overhead, please, hundreds of trees erupting from the ground, NEVER-
"Kanda!" he heard Allen call out, his senses returning as the redhead was swatted off his arm. "Lavi, please stop!"
The stoic swordmaster looked down at his arm, where the wound was already closing. His black sleeve soaked up a few stray drops of blood.
"Are you alright?" asked Allen, while Lavi was attacked by some of Bookman's needles. The shining Exorcist easily dispelled the projectiles and soared toward the elderly scribe.
"Alright enough," Kanda replied coolly, still gazing at the spot where the wound had been. "I just didn't expect him to bite me."
A large shadow loomed over them, and saw the giant glowing hammer getting ready to smash them. They dashed in opposite directions to avoid the blow.
"Kanda, if we can stop the Innocence, then maybe we can save Lavi," shouted Allen, avoiding a fire serpent and ice spikes while dashing back over to the dark-haired warrior.
"And just how are we supposed to do that?" asked Kanda, as he activated his Double Illusion Sword.
"If we can just drain away all its excess power-"
"Do you have any idea how much power that is?!" growled the samurai. "And I'm not so sure that it's the Innocence that's driving Lavi mad. Hell, it might be the other way around, with him driving his Innocence insane. I know he'll drive us insane if he doesn't kill us first."
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"His mind is broken. There's nothing to keep his darker emotions in line," he explained. "All those passions were put into making the forest, and now the overflow is seeping into us. Haven't you been feeling strange ever since you've been in this forest?"
"Now that you mention it..."
Hell, Kanda wondered to himself. Is that it? The true power of his Innocence? Imposing his emotions on nature and the hammer?
"Would you have attacked Bookman back there, normally?" questioned Kanda.
"Would you have killed him, if you had the chance?"
Allen began to speak, but then closed his mouth.
The berserk mallet swung at them again, and the two Exorcists hastily dodged.
"But Lavi's not a hateful person," the white-haired boy argued. "Why would he force us to feel like that?"
"This isn't the Lavi you know."
Kanda turned around to face the oncoming hammer.
"That being said, maybe that idiot will come back to his senses if we divert enough of the power," the stern samurai added, getting his twin blades ready. "All I know is that idiot won't listen to a word I say, because he never has."
The dark-eyed swordmaster jumped up and slashed at the mad mallet. He got a sharp shock from the hammer's overflowing white power in return, and was knocked back. The glowing weapon hardly received a scratch.
Allen seized the enormous weapon's handle with his clawed hand, and kept a firm grip on it despite the shocks. The mallet began thrashing around, its size and handle fluctuating in size, with the gray-eyed Exorcist hanging on for all he was worth. The crazy hammer nearly crashed into Lenalee, who was in aerial combat with the shining scribe, but Bookman created a large spike ball that deflected it.
Kanda followed as best he could, but both the erratic path of the hammer and the constant attack of the elements made it an impossible task.
I'll be useless if I stay at this level of power.
Allen was thrown off the handle, his back hitting a tree trunk. He looked dazed, but Kanda suspected it was more from the hostile emotion and thoughts pouring into him than any damage from the blow.
Kanda felt his eyes burn.
That idiot better survive, because he will owe me greatly for this.
The pupils in Kanda's eyes split into three smaller orbs, and long blue marks formed around his eyes.
"Ascending Flower! Forbidden Skill, Triple Illusion!" he yelled. "Tap my life force for power!"
The resulting flash of white light eradicated all the elemental terrors near him. He noticed the glowing green eye of the redhead paid him a quick glance, before being distracted by more of Bookman's needles.
The dark-haired samurai was little more than a blur as he sped toward the mad mallet. The berserk weapon swung down to crush him, but he guarded by crossing his swords together. The aura of the twin blades blazed outward like dragon's tongues. He felt the overflowing power pour into his body, but he ignored the pain as he focused on keeping the hammer above his head.
"That's it, you glorified mole-whacker," Kanda taunted, smirking in spite of the shocks. "Focus all your energy on me."
He gritted his teeth as the shocks intensified and the hammer continued to press against the aura of the crossed twin blades. His eyes squeezed shut as the muscles in his arms began to burn.
Kanda suddenly felt the weight lessen as he heard a cry of pain beside him. He opened his eyes to see Allen next to him, holding the hammer in place with his monstrous gray arm. White power crackled down his body.
"We need to avert the power flow from Lavi as much as possible, right?" the Exorcist with colorless hair stated, his left eye tightly closed. "This is what Lavi's been going through all this time. Even if I can only take away a little bit…"
Kanda nodded, and the unearthly blaze of his blades intensified.
"Why do you give up so easily?"
"Huh? Whacha mean?" Lavi asked, back on the ship. The redness of the sky was starting to melt into pinks and purples.
"You go through all that trouble to flirt with a girl, and then you fall back and watch them from a distance," Kanda explained, wishing that the sea would settle down a little more for the sake of his stomach. "Why do you bother if you're just going to run?"
"Well, it's hard to have a girlfriend when a certain old panda's watching you all the time," Lavi answered with a sly grin that soon faded. "…But I guess I'm just scared. Scared that I'll get too close and end up being hurt by them, or that I'll hurt them somehow. It's not worth the pain."
He turned to Kanda, who was watching the ocean more than the dying sunset.
"Kinda like you, huh?" he added, smiling. "You don't anybody getting close to you, with that curse of yours and all-"
Kanda quickly stood upright, and both his pride and his stomach made him regret it.
"I…How do you know about that?" he growled, settling back down on the rail.
"Hey, I'm a Bookman. It's my business to know everybody's business," Lavi answered cheerfully. "But see? We're not so different after all."
"Lavi!" he heard Lenalee scream.
Kanda opened one eye just enough so he could look above.
The scarlet-maned scribe was rising upward, his white glow brightening. The golden halo above his head was growing larger and larger.
"God, man, curse it all," he spoke emotionlessly. "Let it all burn to the ground."
The forest around them became engulfed in flames. The glow of the forest itself turned from green to white, and a vicious gale blew from the earth itself.
No…after all we've done…all that we're doing…is it still…not enough?
Kanda heard a light tap and another grunt of pain. He looked toward the hammer handle and saw Bookman crouched on top of it, gripping the unruly weapon with both hands. His black-powdered eyes were squeezed shut and his teeth were bared as the power surged through him.
"Bookman!" Allen exclaimed.
Kanda said nothing.
"Lavi, no!" Lenalee screeched, leaping up to where the redhead floated. "Don't go! Lavi!"
She embraced him tightly, the white power shocking her and causing her to cry out. The other tie snapped, and her fully freed hair was blown straight upward by the gale.
"Don't go! Don't go!" she spoke, her body and voice trembling. "We can't lose you, Lavi!"
"Curse you!" hissed the crimson-haired young man, his glowing eye looking past the violet-eyed girl. "Curse you! Curse you! Curse it all!"
Kanda could hear Allen grunt and groan under the strain of the hammer's weight.
"We're here to save you! We're going to save you!"
"Curse it! Curse it all! It will never, it will never be worth anything!"
Kanda's arms shook as the aura of his swords became unstable.
"We're going to save you because you're important to us! Because you're important to me!"
And then she kissed him.
The shining eye widened and lost its glow, and the white light around him dimmed, as the halo looming above broke apart.
The hammer lost its light also, and dropped to the ground.
Kanda and the other two Exorcists collapsed as the rest of the forest lost its vivid glow and the fire faded. The long blue marks around the samurai's eye faded away as he picked up the now-little hammer. His eyes still burned slightly as he leered at the troublesome thing in his palm.
Kanda noted with vague amusement that Allen's hair was spiked up like a porcupine's from the leftover energy. He thought the look suited him.
"Oh thank God, thank God…" the white-haired boy gasped, as he and Kanda watched Lenalee and Lavi slowly float down to the charred ground. Both of them had tears slipping down their cheeks, Kanda noticed. Whether Lavi's tears were emotional or just an automatic reaction, though, Kanda couldn't tell.
"Never…I…never…" Lavi murmured.
The redhead, though terribly pale, was still awake. His drowsy but living eye wandered over to the two other Exorcists.
"You…" he began, before the wet emerald eye shifted over to the silent Bookman nearby. "…Old man…"
Bookman stood there for a moment, closed his eyes, and walked back into the shadows of the woods.
Lavi's eye widened slightly.
There was no answer, and Lavi's eye drooped sleepily again.
"Bookman?" Allen questioned, still looking at where the panda-marked man had vanished.
Kanda also watched the spot, silently.
Lenalee, still teary, turned back to Lavi with a smile.
"Let's go back to Headquarters, okay?"
"Headquarters…where?" Lavi asked softly. "…Miss…"
Lenalee looked down to the ground for a moment. So did Allen.
"Oh…that's right, your memory…"
Kanda clenched his sheathed sword quietly. He supposed he had been greedy enough to expect another miracle. He had already gotten one just a few moments ago.
"Well, there's no point staying here," the dark-eyed samurai spoke, turning to leave. "Let's go. I'm sick of the smell of roses."
He took a few steps, and noticed a single rose blooming just above his head. Strangely, it was not red, but white.
Kanda looked back at the two Exorcists kneeling on the ground, Lavi now asleep and Lenalee still weepy. Then he glanced over to Allen, who was still a bit wobbly and leaning against a tree.
Kanda's eye twitched.
"…I suppose I have to carry him, don't I?"
"Can you believe that they named this ship The Nightingale? I mean, whoever heard of a bird that swims instead of flies? Well, I guess there are penguins, but still…" Lavi rambled on, turning to Kanda. "Well, I guess it's time to go in, huh? Sunset's over. Just a few days left…'til the end of the cruise, I mean…Hey Yu, your face looks kinda green. You okay?"
The redhead woke up briefly, as the Exorcists made their way through the now-calm forest. It hadn't withered away like Kanda had expected it to, though several parts of it were charred black. The Black Order would have a fun time explaining this one.
There was no sign of Bookman.
"…What's your name?"
Kanda sighed, as he began to walk again. Once again he had mistaken the pronoun for the name. How many times was he going to do that?
"I am Yu Kanda of the Black Order," he stated plainly enough. "And you've managed to shave a few years off my life this evening."
"…Oh," the redhead replied sleepily. "…Nice to meet you, Yu."
Kanda stayed silent, and the redhead was soon snoring again.
"Hey, Kanda?" Allen called to the hushed swordmaster.
"…After all I tried to do…" Kanda murmured. "It still wasn't…I still wasn't…"
"Huh?" asked Allen, tilting his head slightly. "I couldn't hear you."
Kanda suddenly glared at the white-haired boy, who flinched slightly.
"I said, let's make sure this never happens again."
Thank you all for reading this far! I hope the end of the battle scene didn't seem too sappy XD. Love conquers all! (shot)
I know it seems odd that it would take Lavi so long to transform, but I am assuming that it would take a longer time than a Parasitic type b/c of the weaker connections between host and Innocence. The whole "emotion-powered Innocence" thing that Kanda wonders about is also theory.
Oh yes, bonus to anyone who figures out where the title of the story is from.
EDIT: Heh, so many things in this story are disproven/outdated now, but I still love it anyway XD.