Title: This Heart Is a Stone
Rating: R for sexuality and unconventional themes
Words: 4, 280
Disclaimer: DGM belongs to Hoshino Katsura et al.
A/N: The title is a song by the Acid House Kings; I seriously recommend it.
-This Heart Is a Stone-
They have to keep their mouths shut, for it might all end with a sour lick of sweat and a final shove into Lavi's ass.
He's already stopped breathing, stopped imagining the last time he will be shoved. Just 'cause Lavi plays fair with History, don't mean History plays fair with Lavi.
Not always, at least. Not this time.
"Not anymore?" Lavi asks him, lying on his back with his hands wandering over his nipples.
He should feel guilty for this, for marking a place that should go unmarked. He should feel and be holy from the feet; things should turn gold every. Time. We. Touch.
Kanda gives him an unfamiliar look, and finally Lavi can feel the mugginess across his inner thigh. Kanda doesn't bother to frown at this. "What does that mean?"
"Then I've forgotten," Kanda says coolly.
And they never play fair with each other. It's an unwritten rule somewhere; this, like the fate they have both seen to spread poison, is how it gets interesting. Things come together in fatal attraction, part with such fear.
Though it is fear that has brought Lavi this far, alone and unaided, into a convent in which Kanda waits to—just, in which he hopes to die. So if theory proves correct, he will leave with even more attraction than what he'd started out with.
Lavi stares with a hooded eye. Kanda bows his head and hands him a shirt. He takes it to wipe himself.
"That was for dinner," Kanda says tiredly.
"I couldn't possibly. It'd give me indigestion."
Kanda swats his leg out of the way so he can maybe-possibly encourage Lavi off his bed. His chest is a mottled heart of scar tissue and faded ink. They must hurt somehow, embedded like that, tearing around his neck and shoulders and down the ribs of his back. His hair has been cut anew many times, but it still seems to always fall over Kanda's back like a security blanket, to shield it from prying eyes that will always divine the truth.
Curiosity goes deeper still, deeper than confidentiality.
Lavi frowns with him and leans over to grab the chamber pot from under the cot that is too perfect to stain. It smells musty, however, both the bed and the pot, the kind of musty that screams I'm-onto-you death. He's smelt it on saviors; he's smelt it on everyone that has come close, and has stepped over the line of. . .
Lavi is not sure why he wants Kanda to keep fucking him.
"You can request dinner, but it's just polite to join them without question," Kanda says.
You look tired. You look like you haven't slept in a week. You look like you couldn't ever sleep again. I want to ask you. I want to know you. No. That can't be right. I want to tell you to live. Yes.
I am just like you.
Because. I would love to tell myself this.
"What are you staring at?" Kanda asks, holding his hand out for the shirt, completely naked, some of Lavi's cum on his hipbone.
Now he looks like a dying man.
It hadn't been the first time, but it had been a deciding factor:
A stranger had gifted Lavi a sack of bread for his troubles unmentioned here, saying it had been baked by her loving and generous husband who understands those who dare to walk.
It had occurred to him:
All I know are stones.
When asked at the end of summer why he had shown up here, Lavi could not give a justifying answer.
His lips, his usually opened lips, had been nailed shut by his own grief. The stuff he can't talk about.
Dinner is quiet; no one is allowed to speak. They give grace for their meals, courses, paths in life. They spare spices. They do not believe in what Lavi has learned and unlearned and relearned to believe in. Ever since the tragedies had befallen the chosen ones you might, after all, never learn about, Lavi has taken to holding himself responsible for any sort of happiness that springs from the cage. In this way, he is just like all others, wanting, needing, grabbing with grubby hands.
He can only continue living this lonely life by pretending to go on like nothing, nothing, will ever hurt him.
Never ever, never again, no matter the depth of loneliness.
It is all in one measure, anyway, all just a personal misunderstanding.
"There are one hundred and fff—fifty-one pocks in your ceiling. Why is that? The fifty must have been a lonely guy."
"Why are there forty-nine pocks in the west wall? Why do you wipe yourself with my shirts? No one knows."
"Why do horses kick? No one knows."
"Kanda, are you being funny," Lavi says dryly, lying on the thread-bare rug, head in arms. Even though it is a convent, rugs will come cheap but colors run amok. These people like color, to boost decorum, to make morale seem bigger than it really is.
It is a sign of hope.
He hears movement on the bed. They look at each other over the edge.
Kanda flexes his fingers provocatively. "Why do you search me out? Why do you ask so many questions? Why do you do anything in my favor. Again, I have no fucking clue."
Lavi sighs, laughing to himself. "As if I do everything for you."
"As if," Kanda says darkly, going silent for a few minutes.
He must hear the crowing of large birds outside his one glassless window. He must hear the thunder in the distance, bouncing off clay, ridiculing their ability to enjoy and destroy. He must hear the underdeveloped people from miles away, in close-knit villages, chattering on about the animals and giving birth and the goat's milk they will need for market, how they will live forever if they drink from a certain vessel from a certain stream. He must hear the ringing of his long gone success and failures, ringing right in his ears. He must be hearing the voices of the past, present, and future. He must. Ghosts and children must dance in his name. He must.
Because Lavi always hears them.
"I am going to cleanse myself tonight," Kanda says, unmoving. "I will do it till morning."
Lavi absentmindedly pretends to recount the pockmarks in the ceiling. They probably have come from—
"I will do this alone. Do not disturb me. Please."
"You may not join me."
"I'm only saying, those marks. Those marks could have been bullets, once." There is silence. "There used to be war here. There is always war here. I would know, wouldn't I? That is why this convent is here, to bar the traitors and nasty troublemakers and let's not forget the people who want that power the most. Black and white, Yin and Yang, they lose intent, they blur to gray. Frankly, gray's not such a bad color, is it?"
Kanda thinks about it. They both know: This is the stuff they are not allowed to talk about.
"I know you didn't ask, but I'm tellin' you, no one brings war. War brings itself."
Kanda's hand sways over the floor. Lavi dabs his finger into the old wound. They have identical wounds in the center of their palms. One right, one left. It used to be an accident, like an old joke for balance.
Now it is how it should be.
Little crucifixions that, too, are taboo.
"Bullets tail the words you speak, Lavi," Kanda says, his voice lowering into what sounds close to pain, or genuine worry, or both. "And if I didn't know better, I'd say you've brought your war with you, into this sacred place."
How dare I do this.
I've scarred his sanctuary.
"Then let me join you."
Remember, it is better this way.
Ceremonies are usually a quiet affair.
Just like dinner.
Just like restraint.
This ceremony is a quiet affair; the oil, the salts, the goddamned herbs all know what's going on.
Lavi is not entirely sure Kanda has his head on straight, but he must trust him.
"Stay quiet," Kanda tells him, putting a warning finger up.
You do not realize that I have lost everything and everyone except for myself. You do not realize how much I have stopped talking.
Kanda doesn't hear his thoughts. He doesn't read them. He only hangs himself by his own hair, tying it swiftly into a knot, and then letting go so it can bounce against his nape. He bows naked in the circle of candles, every candle Lavi had watched him light a moment ago, as if the process would have meant the world to them. Kanda was once tired, but now he is awake.
Nothing is ever fair in this life.
Lavi sits at the entrance to the outside, hand on the wool curtain, watching as Kanda so deliberately becomes aware of everything around him, them, and the place they curse. The oil is first, yellow, stinking, perfect for the obscure ritual that old warriors like to make up. Lavi still has research to do.
Kanda grunts at the spilling of hot oil down his front; he regains his composure and doesn't utter a sound after that. His skin writhes by itself. He must know better than to spoil the flesh.
Again, he pours the oil down his front, stream by stream, then over his shoulders, as if to drown them, good riddance, and then, over his head, eyes closing and lips splitting for breath. The jug empties.
Second is the salt. The candles give away the scrunch of Kanda's cheek as he rubs the grounded salt rocks into his old wounds, into his crucifixion, into the crack of his ass. Lavi sits here as Kanda sits there, scrubbing the salt into his thighs, and then he rises on his knees, up until there are streaks of melting salt in the lining of his lips.
Lavi's groin twitches beneath the skirt. Enough, he's seen enough.
Kanda pauses, breathing hard, glancing ahead at a blank wall. Then. Something remarkable happens.
Kanda lies down in the center of the floor, the very hot and cold center, encircled by flame, and sleeps, like a twisted fetus, just as the thunder dies away.
Lavi never takes his eyes off the body. He waits for it to come alive again.
He would hope that Kanda would do the same for him, oh god.
He is deciding everything for himself. He is deciding. Just as well, why has Kanda not gone ablaze?
Speak of the devil, and the devil shall awake.
They don't say anything when Kanda wakes, Lavi having bided about an hour of watching the candles sink to their bases. There is hardly such a thing as time in this land, so no one can really talk about it.
Kanda picks his face off the floor, elbows shaking. Lavi watches.
Kanda licks his lips, oil and all, drying out like old flesh into darlings of youth. Lavi watches.
Kanda continues, sitting on his haunches and cradling the stinking herbs in his hands. And Lavi watches.
How much can Lavi watch? Oh, you will see.
Yes to the flesh. Yes to the herbs that sear that flesh. Yes to the flesh that is blessed. Yes.
Oh homage-to-the-gods yes.
Lavi can see the pain, a pain that binds and coils and hollers like a mountain lion. He gets up. He moves toward Kanda. Kanda glances his way, finally, and accepts the bucket of boiled water despite his earlier warnings.
But first, Lavi takes it upon himself to dip his fingers into the herb bowl and cross Kanda's heart. One line down, one line across. Just like that, just like that. He knows. They both know it is heavy; it is stoic and soundless and made of stone.
And nothing can crush it.
Kanda loosens his hair from the knot.
Then Lavi pours the water, loyally, burningly. Like liquid foxfire, going out so quickly as to leave a chill in its wake.
We come from the same house, he thinks, out of the same place love and hatred are born.
They have been silent for the time being.
However, time being what it isn't, Lavi can't care for the cry in Kanda's voice.
"I asked for the knife."
Lavi had wondered what it was for. "Why should I?"
We can be so cruel. Be my guest.
"It is for the flesh."
Be my. . .
"Isn't that obvious? H-here," Lavi adds guardedly.
"Shh, it's still here."
"What, what is?"
Kanda puts his palm out and touches-massages Lavi's jawbone with his fingers. They are slippery, like the pink insides of a woman. They are come-onto-you fingers. They mean what they feel. So Lavi nods into Kanda's well-meaning fingers.
Why. Why does this man need nothing. No, that's not it.
It's why do you die when I age? You can't stay this way. I can't. It goes against All Things. We—
Kanda takes them away, those searching fingers. His own jaw is set, hair sopping wet and stringy, ebony in the half-light, scars shining for devils to see. Red. Cock hangs between his legs, thighs plump with muscle. Two of the most delicious human things Lavi has ever.
Well, Lord, Kanda is taking that knife and cutting into the meat of his arm, one, then the other, avoiding the veins. He will have more scars.
"Are you tying me to you?"
"No. I am. Freeing." And that's all he says about it, lifting his arms so the blood, mixing with the streaks of water and oil, may free his spirit. He grips each wound so the blood will create rivers. Breathes in. Blinds Lavi's left eye with such a spirit. And offers something for the other unseeing eye.
"No," Lavi says, but he doesn't mean it, setting himself down in front of Kanda, half-naked, willing. He takes off his patch and ties it around his arm.
"I won't hurt you," Kanda whispers, as if to reassure him that there has never been any sort of hurt.
This is getting to be a very long ceremony.
"Do you see from here?"
"No," Lavi breathes.
"Do you want to see from here?"
"Do you want me to bless you?"
Lavi screams inside. "Yes." He doesn't dare open his one eye, because he might.
He might choke. Or cry.
He had done both before coming to this land; he had arrived feeling like the Eighth Plague to them all.
Lavi realizes that his breathing has gone bad and that he could hyperventilate; the realization comes from somewhere unexpected. It is a good somewhere. It is where all things should come from. When you feel it, you will know.
Kanda's fingers sweep the hair away from the sunken lid, checking for cotton stuffing or a bag of incense. Lavi can smell the potency of the herbs at the fingertips; the salt is coming. There is a calculated step in the process, possibly over-calculated, and there is no doubt that he is feeling blood over the missing eye, the shape, the drippings of a cross.
He must try not to moan.
Kanda has him in a tight clutch under the chin, his other hand doing the dirty work, and when he brings the salt to the socket, Lavi's stomach jumps.
He was so not ready for that knife in his palm.
I hate you. I have always hated you. I will always hate you. Hate you.
Kanda shows him how to sleep-without-sleeping on the stone floor. Lavi tells him that he's been here for too long. That he holes himself up from the rest of the world.
As if Lavi doesn't do the same.
Mmm, it hurts.
It hurts like fuck. But the scar tissue, it tickles. Pain has literally been cut from him, attacked, left to die. Torn neatly through his hand, so Kanda can lift it up and examine it clear to the other side, like he's.
He's examining his creation.
He can also lift up that hand and study the other veins, tracing the four scabs with his four fingers.
"What are these?"
He's finally asking.
"A." Lavi swallows bile. "A mountain lion."
"That can't be."
"It attacked me."
Kanda shakes his head. Lavi shakes the fresh blood onto the floor.
"I walked through its camp. It was the only one left. It wouldn't walk away." And I attacked it back.
"Lions don't have the decency."
"You're. You're telling me," Lavi stops, opening his bloody fist. "It's too much."
"Not yet. Let it out."
"If I let it out anymore, I'm gonna bleed t'death." He begins to think how lucky he is for the health of his right hand, but can't go on because Kanda's starting to blur.
Kanda remains quiet. He presents a ball of bandaging, a compress. He could be pointing to something.
There is someone at the door. They have brought a pot of something, too.
"Are my sins so gr-great?" Lavi half-jokes.
"Are you greater than your sins?"
Lavi's breath hitches behind his teeth.
"I am asking you."
Lavi doesn't know the correct answer to such a beautiful question. He doesn't know how to word it in this world's language. In any language.
He shakes his head.
Kanda is on a self-righteous kick. This is his moment to shine, to outwit, to make a monk of himself. He is no longer modest. "Are you greater than your sins, or have your sins encompassed you?"
Oh. Oh. "You are being funny. It is a trick, we are born with sin. Thus, we are one and the same."
He can see Kanda smiling that ironic smile in the dying light. The outside air stirs the curtains. It stirs the sticky bits of Kanda's hair. Lavi knows. Mm, by the unfeeling of his limb: Eventually, pain goes away.
It becomes so easy to pass on.
"Who was that, with the pot?"
"Someone I am not allowed to speak to."
"Is she greater than you?"
"Yes. She takes everyone's sins for herself."
"Then she must be darker than you," Lavi whispers, nearing sleep.
"If you ever do see her, you will know who she is."
After many suns and many moons and many, many moments of suggestive silence, Lavi tells Kanda, with a nonchalant determination, that he will die here with him. They are neither old nor weak. They do not have to commit suicide, two wrongs don't make a right, it'll be a long while yet, etcetera.
You've heard the story about the sore feet, right?
"But this is wrong," Kanda is saying, scowling and rewrapping Lavi's hand.
"You said you wouldn't judge me for it."
"I didn't know what I was agreeing to."
They curl their lips at each other, Lavi using his free hand to grab Kanda's knee. He parts them, slipping between.
"I'm not about to bribe you. I am staying."
"You can't. Your work."
"A lonely traveler such as myself? I have hardly a destination in mind," he recites, grinning slyly.
"And this is all so convenient for you, hm?"
Lavi purses his lips, scratching them with his teeth.
Kanda goes blank at the rabbit face. "Fine. Whatever."
"But there is nothing good about it!" Kanda bursts aloud, apparently not minding the nuns or the cute scrunch of Lavi's nose.
"Oh stop your griping, you baby."
"If you touch me—there, that's it." Kanda pinches Lavi's wound.
Lavi shrugs, sliding his hand up Kanda's matching skirt.
"I'm not fooling around. I will." Kanda tugs on Lavi's fingers.
"You won't do anything. You. Can't. Touch. Me." This accusation works in Lavi's favor. In a place of stone and tamed temperament, he can relish it.
He knows the truth. How we carry them.
Before Lavi can never leave the convent ever again, they contrive something foul.
"Think of it as a contract," Kanda says, grinning darkly as if he won't let a desert animal back into the sun. His grin speaks more than his mouth.
Lavi shuffles his bag back under the cot. "I'm not gonna do your ritual, or whatever it was, for a while. Give me a year. At least."
Kanda looks at him. "Oh?"
"And a half. Seriously, Kanda, how long do ya think this is gonna take to heal? I won't be able to—I mean." Lavi has no idea what he is saying and tries to cover himself up with air.
"You can't do that anymore. You said you wanted to stay." Kanda comes closer. "You asked me all those questions and you acted like you were preparing yourself."
"I did." Because Lavi can't possibly refute it right now.
"What will you do with your tools?"
Lavi scowls. He'd already been thinking about it. He has to be ready.
"I know what to do. You will bury them. I will bury," Kanda searches, running his fingers through his hair, "this."
Lavi scowls for real this time. "Your hair. Kanda. Yuu."
"Don't. I will bury it. I don't need it anymore."
And if Lavi had a heart, a true human please-love-me-and-please-let-me-love-you heart, it would have said fuck that but I need it but I need it!
"But. I need it!" Oh god he can hear himself.
Kanda looks like he's about to raise an eyebrow, and then simply laughs like it is the funniest thing, in that ha-haha-hahaha-oh-my-fuck-you-too tone.
"Why," Lavi demands, more for the hair than his bag of tools.
Kanda doesn't give a good answer. He doesn't give anything.
Lavi fumes through his nose; fumes about the bandaging around his head, about Samson.
Kanda seems to brainstorm something in his stead and pulls out Lavi's eye patch from under the mattress, where apparently he had hidden it from him. When Lavi goes to take it, relieved, Kanda holds his offering away from him.
"We will make an agreement," he says.
Alas, time exists.
Lavi memorizes the bleached out sundial in the ground. He steps around it, and before long, he is walking circles, putting himself into a trance.
"What the hell are you doing?"
"It works, y'know. My brains are old brains. I need to confuse the shit out of 'em so I can choose the best pieces wisely."
I'll make it work. The Clan has made it work.
This is part of a process that Lavi has perfected over the years from dusk till dawn, just in case. Next he will do what Kanda wants to do: out of sight, out of mind.
In the end, Lavi has pledged to bury the things of the Bookman, (the handmade travel guide being saved for nostalgic purposes), and Kanda has pledged to bury his hair, with the knife they have not yet used to cut it.
It could be to sever his head clean off. Lavi feels this deep inside.
"Do you want me to do it?"
"No," Kanda says quietly. For this ritual he is clothed. He will be forever clothed in what these people wear, or nothing at all. They have both agreed to this.
Again, Lavi watches. He watches the dirt sift, the altitude pressuring them into doing things they wouldn't normally do in a civilized quarry. He watches some kind of fly buzz around Kanda's head, and Kanda just ignores it with a supreme humility that makes the bastard in Lavi shiver. He wants to be that free.
Even though Lavi's hair has grown as well, to below his shoulders, he will not cut it. The only things he must sever away are the things that remind him the most of what he used to be.
Who. What. It makes no difference.
Kanda practically tears out the last handful, barely there in presence. He must have been right about his spirit.
They dig the holes with their fingers, the earth sprouting up around them, mending their woes and ways and wreaths of commitments.
Isn't that the point, to lose it all?
They each have their own grave.
Lavi wonders that when we die, will we be dumped into one, will the nuns come to claim us?
No, they will be turned to ash and soot.
Kanda drops his strands into his grave, like rope unraveling to the center of the earth.
Lavi drops his pens and paper and the wretched eye patch into his grave, like he can't bear it. And he can't, hesitating, because he doesn't mean to show such weakness. He touches his hand to the bandage on his face. One day he won't need even this, this vanity.
Kanda has promised him that he will Be Without Thinking.
He can't believe that, he can't believe this. This is actually killing him, promising to forget History, promising to die without vice or any sign of humanity. He. Oh he.
But he has made this promise, make no mistake.
Lavi laughs aloud before he can stop himself, laughing from the very inside, wondering if Kanda is crying beside him because he, too, can't bear to look at him. "What do you see," he ventures, for the first time, like an old man.
They are such old men, after so many premature years of Lavi, for one, denying it, and finally, finally, he can hear Kanda answering him, It will rain tomorrow.
Heaves of happiness, pinches of falling dirt. History may just sneer, recoiling at Lavi's sobs of victory.
Then we will walk in it.