At Least We Tried.

He waits for more than ten minutes outside of the room where Lenalee is resting, just waiting for something. There's no sobbing, no sound from inside at all, so that when he opens the door, it sounds too loud, almost, almost making him wince.

Instead he rubs the back of his neck and he tries a smile. Lenalee is sitting with her arms wrapped around her legs, looking outside through the small window.

"Hey, Lenalee," he starts, approaching her. "I just wanted to apologize for having said that..."

"But Allen is not coming back, is he?" Lenalee says, and her voice sounds so small. It's been a while since Lavi has heard her sound like this and right now... right now there's no-one who can help her. If Komui was here he'd hug her until the world stopped being a place where precious people get killed, if Kanda was here he'd tell her something sharp that would sting her just enough for Lenalee to get out of this, if the Matron was here she'd let her cry and cry until Lenalee couldn't cry no more, until the hurt inside her could disappear.

But they're not here, and the only one who really knows Lenalee and who is (supposed to be) her friend is him. He who made her cry, who screamed at her because he doesn't know how to deal with this unexpected pain, because it's not supposed to hurt, because he misses Allen and he shouldn't. Because he feels guilty and he shouldn't do that, either.

He doesn't know how to deal with this. In almost three years with the order, he never has dealt with tears. Whenever someone dies, he moves away with the quiet efficiency Bookman has taught him since he was five, the silent way he has to move away during the harshest part of the grief and then come back before anyone has noticed he wasn't there. Even if he knows the names and the stats, its' the first time (second one, but he refuses to think about Doug, because Doug should have known better than to believe someone could come back, and so he refuses to think about Doug) that someone dying is personal like this.

"... he's not coming back," Lavi agrees, hating the words, hating the ashy taste they leave in his mouth, hating the way saying those words fucking hurts. It shouldn't. The words should mean anything, he should say them from his teeth out and meanwhile just add Allen to his stats of lost exorcists, the way he has done for the past thirty-one months.

Lenalee still doesn't sob. She should. She should be sobbing because that's what Lenalee does, when she's sad. Some people work harder, some people ignore things, but Lenalee cries as if she would break down if she didn't, and when she stops crying she is still sad but more determined to keep on fighting, make sure she won't lose anyone else ever again.

She cries but she doesn't make another noise, she doesn't even try to wipe the tears spilling from her eyes and down her cheeks and Lavi feels angry again. Angry and upset and--

"We did everything we could," he tells her again, seeing if perhaps saying it twice will make it true. He thinks of Allen being taken away by the akuma, thinking he should have followed them, and how he didn't. How he couldn't, he amends to himself. "Lenalee, you know we did. If there was anything else we could have--"

And now he's thinking about the possibilities, because he's actually a good enough strategist, one has to be when you're supposed to be just a shadow. He's thinking about how if he had finished that akuma half a minute before, he could have moved faster, he could have reached for Allen, or he could have gone away sooner and Lavi knows that he shouldn't do this. The 'could have' aren't objective. The 'could have' don't get written down.

He can't stop talking.

"We tried, Lenalee! You can't blame yourself! People die! People die everyday and it sucks that it happens but it does!"

More tears spill down her cheeks. Lavi wants to grab her shoulders, shake her until she snaps out of this self-pity that won't do them any good. Allen is dead and Lenalee crying like this won't help. Nothing will make Allen come back. She should just stop with this and get over this grief. He wonders how humans can do this all the time, lose and lose and lose again and yet they still stand. He wonders why he can't just stop feeling.

"We tried," Lenalee says finally and she stands up, walking towards him. When she reaches for him, Lavi almost expects a slap, but her hand just touches his face, gently and almost not there. Lenalee's eyes are red and swollen, her face is blotchy due to her tears, and even her hair is tangled, dirt streaks still on her face. "We tried, Lavi. It wasn't enough, but we tried."

"It won't be okay, but we tried," she whispers, more tears rolling down her face before she stands on her tiptoes, a hand on his chest for balance, but the pain inside Lavi's chest is too much for him even to do more than just stare at her as Lenalee presses her lips against his. "We tried."

And then she's hugging him, wrapping her arms around him, her chin on his shoulder, and Lavi hugs her almost as an afterthought, a hand in her hair, the other one around her waist, telling himself that the salt on his lips is from hers and that's it.