Title: The Auction
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Allen/Lavi, side pairings Kanda/Lenalee and Marie/Miranda
Genre: Humour/Romance
Rating: T
Summary: On a warm, late July day, Lenalee receives some startling news about a certain redhead in the Order. In a fit of inspiration, she decides to carry out a Bachelor Auction in an attempt to match-make Allen Walker and Lavi – with dubious results and plenty of mixed feelings along the way.
Notes: For the basic idea, credit goes to Hidden Records who suggested the bachelor auction! Written for the DGM Big Bang.


Entry I: The Twenty One Year Old Virgin

.

It all started one fine day when Lenalee sat down beside me and started chatting about everything under the weather and we actually, somehow, got onto the topic of sex. Which in hindsight was a rather normal topic of conversation for teenagers our age…

.

Five years into the Black Order, reaching his twenty first birthday, and growing into a very fine, handsome, suave young man, if he might say so himself, Lavi came to the rather belated realization that he was still a virgin.

Lenalee nearly spat out her mouthful of tea. Heedful of the extremely unladylike action, she instead hastily swallowed and thumped her chest as the liquid went down the wrong pipe. Lavi looked at her in mild concern, carefully sipping his own cup of tea.

"You're," she gasped out, "you're a vir-"

"Shh, Lena!" Lavi shushed urgently, clapping a hand to her mouth. "It's not exactly something I want everyone to know."

Lenalee shook off his hand in annoyance then stared, disconcerting him.

She never – she thought – Lavi always talked of the ladies in the places he'd been to before he joined the Order, and even Kanda, ever stoic Kanda thought that he had…and, well, everyone knew the Vatican was probably made up of a bunch of secret hedonists, so Lavi surely couldn't have been following their commandments, and Brother always talked of hormones (attaching words like 'insidious' and 'dangerous' to them) and, and, and…

This was too mind-boggling.

And far too hilarious not to take advantage of.

"What?" Lavi asked, somewhat defensive, having been scrutinized for the past couple of seconds. "It's not unusual, right? I mean, I can't imagine Komui letting anyone even near your room, let alone into your bed."

She blushed and jerked herself away from her thoughts. "Well, that's me, but we're talking about you here, Lavi!"

"And what makes me so different?" Lavi asked with a grin. Lenalee couldn't help but get the feeling that he was trying to make her squirm when he already knew the answer. His grin was far too…too…infuriating. She settled for a weak glare.

"You know what I mean. You, you flirt with anyone pretty, and the 'strike' thing when Bookman isn't looking and sometimes even when he is – stop laughing, Lavi!" She cried when Lavi smothered his chuckles with a hand. Lenalee glared, to no effect.

"And, well, you're a guy! Brother said guys have a greater…well," she huffed and looked away, cupping her hands around her mug. Lavi shook his head in amusement and looked at her, shoulders still shaking with laughter. "Well, you know, I'm just…" – she paused and searched for the right word. Amazed? Amused? Sympathetic? – "…surprised."

Lavi sighed, a rueful grin pulling at his lips, eye half-lidded in amusement. "Now you know. And I'll thank you to keep my reputation in tact."

Lenalee had to resist the urge to roll her eyes.

"...So what's the deal?" She asked after a while of Lavi not looking at her and drinking his cup of tea. She was trying to go for nonchalance, but it was pretty obvious that she failed when Lavi looked at her with – again – that infuriating grin. "You're not interested, or you're waiting for the right person?"

Lavi blinked at her.

Paused.

And laughed.

He sounded nothing but tickled, his eye crinkled shut. But there was something in it that made Lenalee pause and shelve it in a part of her mind to analyze later. She drummed her fingers on the table.

Lavi grinned at her again. "Are you suggesting that I'm being all romantic and waiting for a special someone, Lena?" He asked, looking at her still with that relaxed, lazy grin. But his eye was a little sharper this time, almost as if he were focusing on her, trying to root out something. Lenalee decided that it would break her mind trying to decipher everything about a Bookman's veiled looks and just shrugged, mentally noting the tone again.

"It seemed that way – "

It was her turn to pause as her brain whirred. Then, gasping loudly and making Lavi jump, she gripped his hand with sudden strength. Lavi winced.

"Are you saying you have a crush, Lavi?" Lenalee's face was lighted up with a sort of manic joy Lavi had never seen before.

"No-ope!" He tried to shake off her grip. She looked unconvinced. "There's you, and Komui will kill me if I try to make a move on you, kinda kills off any romance, eh? Miranda is totally besotted with Marie, and if you're talking 'bout Emilia – Timothy, brat though he is, is ultra possessive of her. Lena, uh, would you" – he shook his hand again – "kindly let go of me?"

Lenalee looked down and let go with an apologetic look. Lavi immediately cradled the red limb to his chest and pouted.

Undeterred, she plowed on. "What does that have to do with anything?"

Lavi stared. When Lenalee did nothing but stare back for the stretch of silence, he scratched at his cheek. "Uh, well, pretty much everyone has been kinda ruled out, right? Unless you're suggesting I go after General Nine, who…no. Just, no." He shuddered at the thought of Lau Jimin ripping him to pieces.

"Well…we do have plenty of female Finders, but I guess it's true we work mostly within our own circle, so if there's anyone you like it has to be one of us," Lenalee reasoned out. She rested her chin on her palm and thought for a while, completely ignoring the fact that Lavi had denied having a crush on anyone, and that he was currently sulking and trying to get her to drop it. "What about the guys?"

"Lenalee, I told you, I don't have a crush – " he said with utmost patience.

And then again, there was that something she couldn't decipher in his eye. Lenalee filed it in the 'Lavi' folder in her mind.

" – and guys? Sleeping with Kanda is equivalent to inviting him to slice you with Mugen, darling."

"Well…well…" Lenalee grasped at a namelist in her mind and paused, sitting up with a sudden epiphany of sorts. "What about Allen?"

"What about me?" A curious voice broke into their discussion. Both Lavi and Lenalee jumped.

Standing behind Lavi with a huge tray of food, Allen looked from one guilty face to the other before shrugging and sliding onto the bench next to Lavi, beginning to unpack his tower of food. At around eighteen he was eating more than ever, the parasitic Crowned Clown and his growing body demanding more food by the day, to the point where Lavi couldn't even bring himself to be awed or disgusted by the food anymore. Allen looked expectantly at them when he had settled down. "Well, what about me?"

Lenalee, unusually bold, said even with a blush still on her face. "We were just wondering–"

"Why you are still on probation to becoming a General," Lavi cut in, practiced nonchalance on his face.

Lenalee stared.

Allen stared.

Lavi shrugged. "You've been on probation for, what, forever?"

"…Huh." Allen's brow furrowed, he looked at him a moment too long before turning back to face his food, his face neutral again.

Lenalee frowned. Before she could even begin to wonder what had happened –

"Komui's been trying to convince them. I suppose Central doesn't want me out and free and actually doing something." Eyes fixed on his food, he twirled his fork and stabbed it into a chunk of steak, his other hand expertly handling the knife.

To the casual observer, there was nothing but neutrality in the boy's tone. Lavi pushed down the resentment that he felt every time Central was alluded to and cast a glance at the entrance to the cafeteria. Howard Link stood there, studying his book. It was perhaps already a concession that Link didn't intrude on their conversation, but it still grated on Lavi's nerves. And Allen's too, if the well-hidden bitterness in his words was anything to go by.

Plastering a cheerful smile on his face, Lavi turned to Allen as the boy started to eat his food, seeing Lenalee looking unhappy at Central's actions, feeling the air around the three of them suddenly tense, a sudden and complete contrast to when Lenalee was interrogating him over a crush she was certain he had.

Well, someone needed to break that. There wasn't much he could do, save a change of topic, so…

Leaning to the side and with a good aim Lavi poked Allen in his side. "You sure you won't grow fat, beansprout?"

Lame, LAME he told himself, but the response was still gratifying.

"Mmrff!" Allen swatted his hand away and swallowed a huge chunk of meat, glaring. "Don't poke me! And I don't see you doing any exercise," he said, pretending to scrutinize Lavi's thighs. "Sure you don't need a new uniform any time soon?"

Lavi gasped, hands flying to his chest and gripping at the material there. "Oh, that cuts deep, Allen m'boy. Right here." He grasped at his heart and sniffled. "To insult the wonderful me. You are a cruel, cruel being. I demand compensation. Now."

"Aww," Allen – miracle of miracles – paused in eating and cooed, patting Lavi's cheek, his eyes dancing with amusement. "You poor, poor boy. You'll be wanting a kiss, then?"

Lavi's eye gleamed. He shifted closer, grin lazy and self-assured. "Why, yes, monsieur. Much delighted to."

"Well," Allen studied Lavi carefully then turned and smiled at Lenalee. "Lenalee's prettier. Thanks but no thanks," he said, smiling at Lavi's imitation of a drowning fish.

"Al-len, that's mean," Lavi whined. "Are you deriding this fine piece of art – Allen, don't you laugh!"

Allen deigned to answer, turning away and snorting instead, ignoring Lavi's persistent attempts to make him recognize the redhead's undeniable beauty.

Having already registered that she was being ignored since, oh, well, since Allen arrived, Lenalee instead smiled at the little spectacle, took in everything carefully and could actually feel her eye twitching. She was…feeling something at the edge that she couldn't grasp. She frowned and gripped her cup tighter, the ceramic threatening to crack.

It actually had been for a while where something was not quite settled in her family. It had always been a peaceful lull inside her, the puzzle pieces all in place and, well, if some of them fell away because of the war, she grasped at the holes and tried to patch them together, and usually the air was serene – like a winter day with nothing much really moving except for the calm snowflakes.

For a while now though, there had been a slight shift she couldn't quite grasp at and it was frankly frustrating her. Like a stupid crack that appeared in the lake in the middle of the snowy scene – undetectable and unthreatening, but still an irritating buzz at the side of her head. She took advantage of the boys' ignorance of her to see if she could fit the new knowledge of Lavi having a crush into this tension she'd been feeling recently. Since the boys were arguing about something inconsequential, it was quite safe to ignore them for now…

"Beansprout! That's my tea you're drinking!"

But there was just something, something about this that she should be taking note of…

"Like you don't steal my food all the time. Lavi! My dango – "

Brother had always said the science gene ran in the Lee family. Lenalee was doubtful of it, seeing as it was her brother who went on to become a scientist and not her, but now she was heartily wishing that she had that mystical gene. Lavi. A virgin.

Well, alright, perhaps that wasn't the biggest news, the biggest news was that he had a crush on somebody, somebody Lenalee should know about, even as she systematically struck off everyone from her list. He was denying it but she just knew.

There was the sound of plates toppling and panicked sounds.

She frowned and stared into the depths of her tea, the liquid gazing calmly and innocently back.

Lavi had always been a cheerful, older brother to her. Somewhat brittle when he first came in. Not weak, not really, just…brittle, his smile wide but always stretched. Yet somehow something seemed to have settled in him a while ago, and he was truly affectionate now, she could feel. God, the pieces were all jumbled inside her. A sunny winter day and a chilly dawn in a bamboo forest, a white, white, crumbling world and tears and broken windows…

Running through three years in one's head wasn't easy, but she felt she was getting onto something, ever since that horrid day years ago where they found a splatter of blood on leaf-strewn ground –

"Oooh, Jeryy will kill you if you broke those plates, favourite or not, Allen. You owe me."

"Oh fine, fine. You're such a kid, Lavi."

"Love you too, sprout."

With a gasp, Lenalee felt something in her parody of a wholesome jigsaw fall into place and the crack fully giving way. She slammed her cup on the table and instantly got their attention.

"Um…" It was then that she registered the sudden silence and the wide-eyed gaze of her two boys. Then she blushed as she realized she was standing, the bench having left scrape marks on the floor. She settled down slowly, the boys tilting their heads back down accordingly.

"Carry on?" She said, a sweet smile on her face.

There was a brief span of about two seconds where the boys just stared at her then went back to arguing about dessert. Bookman or not, Lenalee thought fondly, Lavi had just as short an attention span as Allen.

Except, maybe, when it came to Allen himself. Then Lavi seemed all rapt attention. Lenalee finally smiled widely.

It was this, ladies and gentlemen, that Lenalee had finally figured out, and she was sure she was right. Lavi had a crush – no, scratch that. Lavi was possibly very much in love and in denial over a certain Exorcist who had the appetite of a black hole.

She could almost smack Lavi with how obvious he was being (and herself with how blind she had been). Her exasperation mingled with a twinge in her heart as she finally managed to pick up a certain mixture of fondness, amusement and – was it longing? – in Lavi's eye. So, he was only more readable when he was with someone he liked, wasn't he? And he had tried to hide it so expertly from her.

It was all so obvious now, after she finally thought about it. All the warm teasing and the trust and them just finding time to spend with each other in silly roughhousing and Link sometimes shooting suspicious but discreet glances.

Lenalee settled back on her bench and turned her cup in her palms, mind turning, the Lee gene of analysis kicking in. So, she thought, if she wasn't wrong, Lavi was being an old-fashioned romantic and waiting for the someone special. And of course he would deny it, the closet romantic. If it were a lady, he wouldn't have hesitated. But if it was someone like Allen…

Lenalee bit her lip in sympathy. The boys were now arguing about something stupid, probably the latest provincial cricket match. She allowed herself to zone out again.

Allen was so…guarded, she thought, trying to find the right word for it. Or stupid, she amended. For trying to distance himself from everyone so that Central will not trouble them, or so that they will have less trouble killing him should the 14th revolt on them. Then it was no wonder Lavi would have a hard time confessing if he did like Allen, considering that the idiot boy would likely reject him to in some perverse way protect him, even if he did like Lavi back.

Not to mention, of course, the fact that they were living in such a conservative age. She knew she had no problem with it, she doubted her brother would (or perhaps it would be more along the lines that there'd be two less men he had to be wary about), but there were the people all around the Order, the Vatican controlling their every move, the fact that, like it or not, people are always concerned about their fellow beings' opinions of them no matter how much they try to deny being so. Lavi wasn't exactly the type to seek popularity and complete acceptance, she reckoned; but he would always be mindful of it given that he had his position as a Bookman's Apprentice to consider as well…

But all these were giving her a headache, and anticipating the problems wouldn't really solve it as of yet – Brother had always said to try to take things one step at a time to keep the situation simple. She shook her head.

Lenalee observed Allen again, trying to see if there was anything in him that indicated he had something of a crush on Lavi, what with the outright flirting that went on before her. She wasn't entirely sure, and maybe her view of him had been affected since she was very – almost, perhaps, probably – certain that Lavi likes Allen, but maybe, just maybe, she felt something like affection even in his teasing towards Lavi, and he never teased anyone like that. Really, offering to kiss him better, even as a joke? Maybe she was concentrating too much on Lavi, so she couldn't really read Allen as of yet, but maybe –

Lenalee pushed down a giggle, noting how Allen finally allowed Lavi to steal a cookie off his dessert platter.

Something about the way to a man's heart being through his stomach struck her, and Lenalee couldn't help but giggle out loud this time. Oh, they haven't had any excitement in a long while that didn't involve fighting the Earl and his forces. Lenalee felt herself getting more and more thrilled as her thoughts ran.

When she was young and would try to learn cooking Komui would lift her onto a low stool, saying in a low, warm voice, "now, you have to be careful, patient, coax out the flavour with your little hands. With the hot water first, and no, I will do the pouring until you're older. You need to steep the leaves for the right time, and add just the right amount of sugar and milk. If you move too fast it'll all taste bad…so how long do you steep this for? That's right, each tea leaf is different from the next, you must be careful with each…"

Both boys turned to look at her, seemingly only noticing her presence just now. She smiled.

Lavi stopped munching on his cookie. He inched a little closer to Allen. "Le, Lena, you're kinda…"

Allen nodded, wary. "Are you alright, Lenalee?"

Lenalee smiled wider. "Oh, just fine, boys. Just fine."

She was feeling very, very fine indeed. Sipping her now-cold tea, she ignored the bewildered, almost scared looks shared between the boys.