HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KANDA! Kickstarting the LaviYu Festival 2010! Everyone go check out the festival's HQ at http: /thelaviyufesthq. livejournal. com if you want to know more. It'd be great if more people could join in on the contest that opens the festival. You can win a fic, from either me or hearmelaugh (mugen_edamame on LJ)!

Warnings for this chapter: Snarky Allen, Cross, lame company name, moar lame plot, Tiedoll, emo!Kanda (no, not really, that's exaggarating it. Just hurting Kanda).

Next chapter, Lavi and Kanda will meet. Woot!

Don't Talk of Those Heavy Things

So, in the end, Lavi had decided that one of the best bets were Cross. Whoever that guy was and whatever that guy did, he was suspicious. Suspicious enough, anyway. Lavi had looked more into Cross for a couple of days, and during that time some updates had come on the murder of Jim Campbell. Kanda had been pointed out as a suspect, but it did not take long before the charges were dropped. For Lavi, however, that was just enough. It could not be just a coincidence.

And thus, he was, right now, standing outside Cross's main office building. What better place to start? He could probably find something to help him. Hopefully.

The building was plain. Brick walls, a very simple even if big front door, a sign at the very top where the company's name was ("Cross Corporation". How very imaginative), and lots and lots of windows. The building had four floors, but it looked like it was big area-wise, not height-wise. Wonder how many offices there were...

Ah, focus, Lavi. Get moving.

Cross seemed to be a smug person. When Lavi entered, he could walk straight past the secretary without being asked of his business. Maybe it was not so much Cross and smugness - thinking he had no real threats so did anything really have to be asked – as it was laziness or lack of attention from the secretary's side, but Lavi could not think of any reason that Cross would not know if one of his employees was being lazy. Did Cross not care? Or maybe he was a lazyass himself and did not keep a very close eye on his employees. But he probably would not have gotten so far if he didn't...

On a board there was information on what floor the appartments and the important people could be found on. The boss's office was on top floor. Fourth floor, obviously. That was good to know. He would rather not have Cross see him, or anything, today, to be on the safe side, so once he got to that floor he should watch out...

It was probably best to start off with that floor. Get the most... worrisome one out of the way.

So Lavi stepped into one of the elevators and went up to the fourth floor. He felt somewhat relieved about not meeting anyone on the way up, or things could turn out a bit uncomfortable. He preferred to choose who to talk to, rather than be "forced" to talk to someone. Some people had trouble keeping their nose out of other's business.

Uh... Sort of Bookmen included, yes?

As the doors opened, he walked out somewhat cautiously, glancing around. But he caught himself with it, and that just was not any way to act when you were not supposed to be someone suspicious. So, he took a deep breath, and rolled his shoulders a little, allowing himself to relax, and then slouched into the posture of the laid-back friendly Lavi. And then he took off in a confident pace down the hallway, searching for someone to talk to.

He got to a crossroad in the hallway, and something flickered in the edge of his left - his uncovered - eye.

It was the white hair that caught his eye. Actually, maybe it was not exactly white, more like very bright blond, to be exact. Bleached, most likely. He knew immediately who it was. After all, he had seen the guy on a picture while looking through Cross's employees. Allen Walker, nineteen years old, Cross's nephew, college sophomore. He worked for Cross to get money for his studying and living. Seemingly a normal boy. Lavi might as well start there.

The boy seemed quite distressed. He was flipping through some file while muttering to himself and he clearly did not see exactly where he was going.

Lavi was slightly amused. But just slightly. And a little bit curious too. What was Allen so distressed about?

Young people were generally easier to get information out of, and seeing as most had not faced much hardship in life, they were often generally not as suspicious towards other people, either. Allen seemed... safe-ish enough, at first glance, like this.

Plus, he was a relative of Cross. Interesting stuff.

"Hey, you!" Lavi called and increased his pace to catch up to the student.

Allen made a most funny jump into the air, nearly dropping the file and thus spending a few moments in trying to get back the control over it. Which he succeeded with and his shoulders slumped in relief. Something told Lavi he would have fun talking to this guy.

Allen turned around and put on a polite smile, but the slight twitch of his cheek did not escape the Apprentice Bookman's eye, obviously. The Apprentice Bookman did not miss anything.

"Uhm, yes?" he asked and clutched the file to his chest, maybe to make sure he did not lose his grip on it again.

Lavi hummed and stopped in front of him, taking a quick look on the red mark over his left eye. Lavi did not yet know what it was. He guessed it was a tattoo, it was most likely a tattoo. But it was a strange place for a tattoo and it was a strange tattoo too. So he was not sure.

"You work here right?" he asked and shoved his hands into his pockets, leaning back just slightly into a relaxed position.

He had to make sure Allen did not see him as someone threatening, after all.

Allen eyed him warily anyway. It was understandable, really. After all, he had seemingly come from nowhere. But he was not a suspicious-looking guy. At least, he was not supposed to look like one. How other people interpreted it was another question. But Bookmen knew. His personality's posture and body language - along with the personality itself too of course - was formed after how humans worked, though it was not perfect. No human was perfect, after all, so for the personality to be believable it could not be perfect either.

There was always something about a person's eyes, something about how they walked, something about how they held themselves.

Then again, everyone could learn to manipulate how suspicious they looked.

Still, he could not help but sometimes wonder if he even remembered how he was truly like. Although the personality was supposed to be somewhat natural, so the Bookmen could more easily fit into them. Meaning it was not supposed to be completely unlike their true selves.

"Yes... I do," Allen answered and frowned. "Who are you?"

"Oohhh, I'm no one suspicious," Lavi snickered and smiled widely, and contentedly. "Name's Lavi. And you are~?"

"Allen..." Allen was fingering on the file he held, the frown turning doubtful, his eyes distrusting and confused. "What do you want? You can't just storm in here-"

"Oh, but I just did."

He looked like he got caught off-guard for a moment, but then he gathered himself together and glared a little. His grey eyes were surprisingly piercing and there was something hidden in there that almost, but just almost, made Lavi want to shudder. That was interesting.

"I just wanna ask some questions," Lavi continued, his smile not changing a bit. "Ya see, I'm lookin' for this guy that apparently works 'ere. Yu Kanda? You recognise that name?"

Allen's expression darkened at that moment. Lavi was not sure why, but he sure hoped it was not anything bad. Like... something that meant he would have to give up on this way of searching. This was the best lead he had, so he would rather not have to give up on it. That crime scene had not helped out much, he and Bookman had just managed to make a connection to Cross Marian. Because that hotshot that had gotten murdered had been doing some bargains with the famous redhead; bargains that had very likely gone to hell or something like that. At least, that was what Lavi and Bookman had guessed.

Sadly, they were too vague to tell what it all was about. Cross and that guy probably did not put most things into writing. There really was not much there and everything had been removed from the computers. That was suspicious, but it did not help one bit. It did not make sense and it was so damn frustrating. He had had something there for a while! And now he had to do it the long way. If he even could find something out the long way.

But first, he had to find Kanda.

"Kanda?" Allen asked darkly, paused, then continued rapidly. "Why are you looking for him? He's no one worth caring about. He's a dumb bastard who lacks any social skill whatsoever. He's rude, stupid, anti-social and thinks he can do just anything he wants. He's got no respect at all, he's childish and violent, he never watches where he's going because he thinks others should move out of his way and never the other way around. Did I say he's stupid yet?"

Lavi blinked a few times. WELL, that sure was... interesting. So apparently Allen Walker and Yu Kanda did not get along at all. He had to wonder if Allen was just exaggarating because they obviously did not get along, or if it really was like that. Oh well, he would find out soon enough.

"Uhm... Right," he said and shook his head a little. "The reason I'm lookin' for 'im is my own business. Is he anywhere around'ere right now?"

Allen huffed and probably tried to look a little bit threatening, but the image was ruined by the slight pout on his lips. "Your own business?" he repeated and sighed heavily. "Well, whatever, I don't care about him. He's not here at the moment, he comes and goes at random times like a lot of other people. What those people do exactly I don't understand, but it's not my business."

"Well, it's for my job, if you really hav'ta know," Lavi said and tilted his head a little. "But if their work isn't your business, neither should mine be, yes?"

Allen blinked and stared at the redhead for a while. He actually seemed to be a little bit surprised and defeated there. Well, not a surprise. That had been a very valid argument that used the words that he had said himself. Any normal human would get a bit dumbfounded from that.

"I... guess," he finally admitted with a sigh, his fingers twitching just slightly (strange). "I do know one thing... Kanda is going to meet Cross at 603 West 45th Street tomorrow at ten PM. You could always try to catch him there."

His expression was suddenly dead serious. Actually, maybe it was closer to very displeased.

Ah, so he did know what kind of place that was. Lavi had almost wondered for a moment, considering the casual tone he had used. Then it had to be normal for Cross to meet people at strip clubs. Or maybe it was normal for Cross to be at strip clubs in general. Lavi thought he was quite the charmer and did not need to go to such places to spend time with women. Then again, maybe it did not hurt to enjoy your time at some club every now and then. Probably not. There were fancy strip clubs where people like Cross could spend their time, and that particular one sure was one of those clubs.

Penthouse Executive Club. Quite the Fancy - yes, with a capital f - place. It was probably perfect for Cross.

"Awesome! Man, I'd love to have a job where I talked to my boss in such a place!" Lavi laughed. "Lots of beautiful ladies~"

Allen's face turned into a deadpan. "I'm sure Kanda wouldn't mind switching with you," he said blankly. "I honestly think he doesn't care at all. Or more like he doesn't like it at all."

Lavi widened his eyes. "What kinda man is he?" he asked, pretty loudly. "Is he gay or something?"

Allen beamed widely. "I wouldn't put it past him," he said sweetly, but his face fell afterwards and he frowned slightly instead. "But stop talking so loudly, please."

The boy fingered on the documents in his arms and pursed his lips a little. Yep, he was getting slightly uncomfortable. Hm, probably not so good.

"Alright, alright," Lavi grinned and patted Allen's shoulder a little. "Since you're the one who says it 'nd all." Allen gave him a questioning raised eyebrow. "What? You are rather cute, y'know."

Allen backed off a little and blinked. "Wha-? Don't talk as if we're friends or something!" he spluttered and scowled. "And I'm not cute. I'm nineteen, how can I be cute? You just-"

He sighed frustradedly.

Lavi snickered and waved his hand at Allen's face. "I talk like that with everyone," he said simply. "Don't get hung up on it. And I'm absolutely sure that if you ask someone else you know if they think you're cute they'll say that yeah, you are. At least if they're girls. I guess not all guys say such things."

"Maybe you're gay too."

Allen's face was totally serious.

Lavi gaped. Whoa, this little guy had a bite. A very vicious one.

"Hey, I like girls, 'kay?" he protested and pouted a little, crossing his arms. "Not gay. Bi, I guess, probably, but not gay."

"Oookay," Allen said incredulously, paused for a moment, then stated with certianty. "Kanda will hate you."

"Whaaaaat? Why?"

"Because..." Allen shrugged and waved a hand around for a second or two, and then motioned at Lavi. "Because."

Lavi hung his head. "You're a harsh man, Allen," he whined and sniffed.

Allen's face burst into a beaming, sweet smile once again. "Just stating the truth," he chirped.

Lavi straightened up and sighed dramatically. "Yeah, well, okay, thanks," he said and raised his hand in a wave as he turned around partly, but Allen continued talking.

"Is your job really that secret?" he asked, his voice almost drawling.

Lavi tilted his head, and smiled. "Nah, not really, I just like to act it," he said amusingly. "It's fun."

Allen raised his eyebrows and looked at the redhead for a moment, then just shook his head. "Right... What do you do, then?"

"I write books."

Allen blinked, and Lavi just widened his smile slightly.

A door opened, rather loudly, somewhere behind a turn, and Allen seemed to tense. Huh.

"Hey, Brat!" a deep and smooth voice drifted down the hallway, and soon a tall man wearing a long coat and a hat on top of his very red and very long hair marched around said turn. "What's taking you so long, and what's with all the damn noise?"

Aha. 'And here we have the big guy himself.'

Cross Marian looked a lot more intimidating in real life than in a picture. He was almost a bit scary.

Allen slowly turned sideways and opened his mouth to speak as Cross stopped next to him, but he didn't get the time to say anything as his uncle interrupted him, his hard stare stuck right on Lavi.

"Who the hell are you?"

Lavi felt the need to shiver even more than when Allen had looked at him a little like that.

You could see they were related.

But no shivering here, no sir. "Lavi!" he grinned and extended a hand. "Pleased to meet you! You must be Cross."

Cross glanced down at the hand, and curled his lips up in disgust. He did not grab it.

"He asked me about Kanda," Allen said and glanced at Lavi, who pulled back his hand with a bit of a pout.

Cross snorted. "That's not any of his business," he grumbled and shooed at Lavi with his hand. "Scurry along now, and get out of here. Come on already, Brat."

He grabbed a hold of Allen's upper arm and tugged him with him as he turned around and walked back in the direction he had come from. Lavi could see him muttering something to Allen. It looked like "you better not have told him anything" or something like that, and Allen replied "nothing at all" with a very calm expression on his face.

Not bad, "Brat", not bad.

"Maybe I'll meet ya again sometime!" Lavi called after Allen. "And sorry for all the trouble, and the intruding, Cross!"

...not as planned.

It was not very good that Cross had seen him already.

. . .

Kanda was having another tiresome day. It was just... generally annoying. He met annoying people and got into annoying situations, and he was so very happy to be back home. Having to shop was such a pain. And he hated shopping clothes especially, even if he hated all kinds of shopping.

And how the fuck did the police manage to sniff him out as a suspect? Not. Acceptable. Goddamnit.

As if all that annoyance was not enough, there now was a very annoying person at the door (Kanda wasn't the one who opened it). So, the annoying person might be a lot of help in many ways, had been ever since Kanda and Umeko's parents died, in the way that he helped Kanda get custody of his sister and in the way that he provided financial aid if it was really necessary, which Kanda did not think it often was, but he was still annoying.

"Yu-dear!" said person exclaimed and burst into the appartment, heading towards Kanda, who had just been on his way to check who had knocked on the door, with outstretched arms.

"Fuck no," Kanda replied in a deadpan, and twitched as he was pulled into a tight hug. "Tiedoll! Get. off. me."

He growled and forcefully pushed Tiedoll away before he marched to the door and slammed it shut. Why was Umeko out now? He did not really mind Tiedoll as a person, but his stubborness at being so close and personal made Kanda's skin crawl. He did not like it one bit. Both because it made him sort of want to hurt Tiedoll, and he did not want that, and because he just did not like getting touched that much.

When Kanda turned his back towards the door, Tiedoll was busy flinging around in the kitchen to make tea.

...great. He was going to stick around for a while.

God, why could his sister not be home?

"How are you doing these days, Yu?" Tiedoll asked cheerfully as he poured up some water into a saucepan and put it on the stove. "We haven't seen each other for so long! Do you have enough money? How's Umeko? Oh, the dear, she works so hard, doesn't she?"

"Stop asking so many questions at the same time," Kanda grunted. ...then again, that was not all that bad, because that gave him a reason to not reply to them all. "She's good."

"Ah, it's time for college for her soon, isn't it?" Tiedoll asked as he put teacups down on the coffee table in front of the couch, where Kanda shortly after sat down and folded his arms. "Oh, you two are growing up so quickly. I still remember when you were kids."

Kanda huffed and frowned down at his empty teacup. College... He knew where this was going, oh, he knew. He twisted a little in his seat and frowned deeper, waiting tensily for Tiedoll to get the tea done and get to the point.

"You were so cute together," Tiedoll kept on talking as he began to pick up some things from the floor while waiting for the water to boil. "Umeko was always so happy, and you were always so grumpy! Ohhh, but it was really so adorable, and no one could seperate you. You've always been close, so of course you would want to be close now too. Oh! Sibling love~"

He sighed blissfully, and Kanda's frown had turned into an angry glare. He knew all this already. It was not making him any happier to hear it all, because it made him recall memories of his parents and he did not want that. He did not want that! He did not want to remember their smiling faces and their encouraging words and their hugs and their funerals- It made his heart twist and he hated when it did that. Hated it with so much passion. He wanted to shoot a hole through it to make it stop.

"Shut up," he said, with a blank tone to hide the fact that he was- hurting.

"Oh, don't be mad, Yu~" Tiedoll chirped and poured the finished tea into a teapot, which he brought with him as he turned off the stove and then went to sit next to Kanda.

"I'm not," Kanda grunted.

He was not. Just irritated. And- The rest was not important.

Tiedoll filled their cups with tea and Kanda gladly accepted the distraction, grabbing his cup and taking a sip. So, the tea was boiling hot, but whatever (he burned his tongue a little bit, but who cared).

Tiedoll was apparently going to wait for it to cool down.

"Has she been thinking of where to apply?" Tiedoll asked with a wide smile. "She's unsure of what she wants, isn't she?"

Kanda just nodded, stubbornly keeping from meeting Tiedoll's gaze. The old man sighed and leaned forward, placing his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands together. He turned towards Kanda and eyed him with a light frown.

"She's thinking too much about how you will be able to afford it, isn't she?" he asked calmly. "She should be thinking about what to do with her life. She shouldn't have to worry about that."

Kanda scowled and turned his head away. He knew that. Damn it, he... knew that.

"My offer still stands, Yu," Tiedoll continued and Kanda felt a hand clasp his shoulder. "I can pay for it. And you should get an education too. I can pay for you as well. It won't be a problem. Let me help you."

"I can't," Kanda grumbled and shook the hand off him, scooting away from Tiedoll. "I have nothing to give in return, and I... I don't have the time to study."

"You don't have to give anything in return."

"I can't accept anything without doing that."

Tiedoll sighed and Kanda saw him take his teacup in the corner of his vision. "Think about Umeko, Yu," he said. "This is about her. She deserves to get an education. You know that. If you really must give me something in return, then do that when you can." He paused for a moment. "Is it really only that?"

Kanda clenched his cup and prolonged having to answer by drinking more of his tea. No, it was not only that. If it was only that, then yes, he would accept Tiedoll's help, he would accept it for more than just the education, but... He could not... He did not want Tiedoll to get any more involved with him than that. He feared the old man might be in danger if he did, and... That could not happen. No.

He had to... find some other way. He had to. Just not this. For Tiedoll's sake.

He swallowed.

He found nothing to reply with, so he just stayed silent.

They both stayed silent, drinking their tea, Kanda stubbornly staying turned away from Tiedoll and Tiedoll occasionally glancing at Kanda. He seemed to be thinking that if he just waited, Kanda would reply, but no, that would not happen. He could not reply, because he did not want to say it was only that, because it was not solid, but he could not say the truth, because then he would have to elaborate and he could not do that. He could not let Tiedoll know about... About Cross, and... everything. Because he would be in danger then too. But if he did not say a thing, then Tiedoll would know something was very wrong...

Whatever he did, it was all going to hell.

Damn it. This was why he did not want to talk about this. This was why...

It was his business, so just... It was his business and he could not in any way share it with anyone. Not in any way. It was not possible.

Kanda put the cup away once it was empty, and he was about to stand up when Tiedoll once again grabbed his shoulder, stopping him.

"Yu," he said, strangely firmly this time. "Why can't you tell me? I can see that it's eating you up. I don't like seeing that. Please, tell me, child. Let me help-"

"No," Kanda replied, somewhat strainedly, and stood up anyway, so that Tiedoll was forced to let go. "It's not something that you can just- It's not that easy. If I could, then- But I- No. Just... leave it. I have to deal with it on my own."

He grabbed his cup and walked off to put it in the sink.

"No matter how strongly you think that, I can assure you that that will never work out in the end," Tiedoll said seriously. "I know that you know that there are things in this world that you can't do on your own. You can do very few things completely on your own. Isn't it better to just get help now, and not wait until there is nothing else to be done?"

Kanda furiously shook his head, putting his hands on the kitchen counter and leaning heavily against it. "No. It's not," he insisted and closed his eyes, lowering his head.

He heard Tiedoll stand up and walk towards him, and the sound of the other cup being put in the sink as well, and he clenched his fists as Tiedoll stroked his back in what was supposed to be soothing motions, but that in reality just strung him up.

It took way too long to get Tiedoll out of the appartment. He kept trying to make Kanda talk, but he had no success. Kanda would not bunch, and that was final. And to over and over say no and over and over being forced to think about the situation, and why he had to say no, was so damn emotionally exhausting, that when Tiedoll finally left he just wanted to curl up on a bed and forget about reality. But he would not do that, because Kanda Yu did not do that.

Instead, he grabbed his jacket and left the appartment to visit a shooting range, so that he could imagine that he blew the face off Cross and all those other people that pissed him off.