TITLE. The Runaways.
SUMMARY. Lavi pines. Desperately. He's more manly about it than you'd think, though.
NOTES. I love this pairing to massive bits. You don't. Even. Know. Also, I haven't read past Chapter 60, so let me have my fanon.
There used to be a church near Headquarters, a tiny little chapel with two priests and a group of girls dressed in black and white who smiled gently whenever she shuffled in with her eyes down and her wrists wrapped. She was too young to understand the sin of suicide, they'd say, but she had to stop, had to keep living. She was chosen to do God's work, and wasn't that a blessing?
Leverrier would leave her there for hours, hoping she'd stop reaching for knives when no one was looking, and picking the scabs away when they started to heal. The insides of her wrists were ripped, torn-edged messes that criss-crossed and ran straight over the veins. They taught her about different religions, why they were wrong, about belief and omniscient powers. The sin of sex, the sin of love before marriage.
Lenalee hoped she'd never have to get married. Hoped she wouldn't live long enough to.
When Komui came, she stopped going, and it was alright. It was quiet but there were always eyes on her. The chapel burned during an Akuma attack, and the people inside were charred, black skin flaking off, eyes wide, mouths burnt and bleeding. Leverrier made her help move them to the morgue; Komui made him take a mission in a quiet backwater town that lasted two years. She never had nightmares, but her scabs healed into scars and it was a start.
This is the story the girl with dead-bright eyes (lenalee lee thirteen black-black hair doesn't smile scars up her arm those scars what-) tells him the third time he meets her and sneers at the cross on her uniform. She doesn't believe, she says, because what kind of God killed his own followers. What was his excuse?
The cafeteria is quiet for a Saturday. They sit next to each other – she picks at her mashed potatoes, he steals bits of her chicken. The space between them is closer than it'd been a week ago, but they are still miles apart. He is a Bookman and he doesn't feel. She is... she's... he can't explain it. An exorcist tragedy. A little girl. Empty.
"I don't know," he tells her honestly. "I just refuse to believe someone else is telling me what to do."
"Ah." The corners of her mouth tilt gently. He glares at her. "You're one of those."
"One of what."
"Nothing," she mumbles, bangs hiding her eyes as she turns her head down and stares at her bare knees. He reaches for her plate. She slaps his hand. "And stop eating my chicken!"
Lavi thinks there is a person inside her waiting to come out, someone soft and full of life who raises her voice and has a smile so bright the sun disappears behind it. Someone who won't take orders from anyone. Someone who'll fight him when he deserves it.
His fingers slip over the table. She snaps up, levels him with a glare and hits him. He smirks.
lenalee lee thirteen black-black hair big-big eyes doesn't like to smile hits hard scars up her arms fierce there is something behind it there is something— "Make me," he drawls and takes her entire plate just to hear her growl.
Lavi hits the ground mid-twist, hammer whirling above him. Kanda lands at his side, sword covered in blood, lip split open and dripping red. Lenalee's scream came from above – he looks up, sees her boots light as she flips over another Akuma. One of her hair ribbons lands in his hair. The other one is lost to the forest floor. He pockets it, rolls to the right as a blast of air rips through the clearing. Kanda is hissing orders at him that he can't hear over the rush of wind around them.
He jerks his head in something that might be a nod and watches Kanda slice smoothly through a wave of jesters, the Earl's latest toys. Lenalee falls next to him gracefully, landing on tiptoe, her cheeks flushed a pretty pink. Fighting with Lenalee and Kanda is normal, natural, so easy it shouldn't be. He knows their moves, can predict which leg Lenalee will arch just by how her fingers twitch, knows the angle Kanda will parry with by the way his jaw clenches. He swings back, slams into the ground, watches the earth tear apart, fall and rise.
Lenalee pants next to him. One off her sleeves is missing, and he can see her hipbone where the side-seam on her shorts has torn. Allen, Krory and Miranda are farther back, fighting whatever gets past them. Lenalee is already moving when Kanda appears, holding his side, grunting and swearing under his breath. Lavi bites the inside of his cheek as she fusses over him. She smells like spring and sweat.
"You idiot." She prods at his ribs, his kidneys, his stomach. "You're just looking to die early, aren't you?" Kanda mumbles something he doesn't catch and Lenalee punches him in the shoulder hard enough to send him reeling back. "Would you shut up about that stupid curse! I already told you we were going to save you, so stop being reckless and let us!"
She doesn't get mad often. Lavi cocks his head at her narrowed eyes, pursed lips, tilted hip. He bites the inside of his cheek again, hard enough to taste iron, and turns away. Kanda stands slowly and looks somewhere between murderous and thankful. She stiffens. He sighs.
"Stupid fucking girl," is all he says, and gestures for them to follow him. "The midget's waiting for us."
Lenalee beams. Lavi spits out mouthfuls of blood on the walk back and knows it's doing nothing to make him any more impartial, but sinks his teeth into his tongue anyway and keeps his gaze way from the gentle sway of her step, the curve of her legs.
Miranda is watching him curiously when they meet up and he's still spitting red. Lenalee looks concerned, but he brushes her off when she asks him to open his mouth. He lets her feel across his chest. Regrets it immediately.
Everyone is huddled around the fire, wrapped in blankets and recapping the mission. Lenalee pouts a bit, widens her eyes and tries to get him to let her help. "Please, Lavi?"
He can't say no to her, ever, but he does this time, somehow. It needs to stop. It has to, before the war ends. Before he leaves. Or dies. She scowls, turns on her heel. Her hair is down and he touches the ribbon in his pocket before reaching out. Stray strands slide between his fingers, soft and dark. He sighs quietly, and when he looks towards the camp, Miranda is staring right at him with this look, like he's a stranger.
He grits his teeth and sits as far away from her and Lenalee as he can.
She burnt her hair, but it's growing back slowly, to her jaw, and she's all angles these days. The sharpness of her chin, the way her elbows stick out a bit more, the slightly crooked line of her shoulders. When she lowers her head, he can see the first few vertebrae of her spine. It scares him, a little, how frail she's starting to look. It scares him more that he still wants her enough to think about how her wrist bones would slide and grate together if he held them tight, marrow to marrow.
Allen is always near her, and he's taller, sharper than her. He makes her look small, like something worth protecting. He looks at her the same way, and Lavi has to walk away, because he knows better. He knows there is more than a meek little girl under her skin, more than a sidelong wink and a high-pitched laugh. Allen brings out the worst in her and doesn't even realize it. It makes him cold.
He waits until Allen leaves, limping slightly, cursed arm dangling, and walks over to her. It's windy, and her hair tangles in all the right ways.
"Lavi," she starts, quiet, and he reaches to push a knot behind her ear. The pads of his fingers trace her cheekbone. "Do you think... we can win?"
"Of course," he says, means it, surprises himself. She blinks at him, and sags a bit. He smirks. "Why, don't you?"
"O – of course!" She straightens. "I just wanted to make sure you weren't –"
"Thinking of switching sides?" He raises his eyebrows. She splutters, frantically smoothing down her skirt. "That hurts, babe. It really does."
"Don't call me babe," she snaps, automatic, and hits him. "You know that's not what I meant."
He hums, nods. "Yeah, I know. I just like getting you fired up."
She huffs, meets his eye. "Why?"
His hand brushes her bangs back gently, the same way she does some nights when she thinks he's asleep, all quiet sighs and please don't go's. She bites her lower lip and leans forward. He laughs. He knows better. Girls like her weren't made for – "You're hot when you're pissed off."
She reels back, slaps her palm against his arm. "Pervert!"
If he counts all the times they've had moments like this, he wouldn't have enough fingers or toes or limbs. And if he counts all the times he's pushed her away to make it hurt less, the number would be the same.
Sometimes, it was enough to tell her to leave and pull her back a little closer. Most of the time, it wasn't anywhere close. "You love me."
She gets that look, the one he hates, because it's gentle and kind and so utterly Lenalee and it doesn't mean a thing to her the way it does to him, but she touches his hand and goes, "Yeah, I do," like she always has, and he backs up. Push and pull, you know. "Lavi?"
"You... idiot," he grumbles, not unkindly, and rubs his face hard. "Let's go get some lunch."
She tilts her head, laces her fingers behind her back and falls into step beside him. The doors slam shut and lock behind them.
When the Earl drops, Allen grabs her, spins her in perfect circles with his arms tight around her waist and kisses her hard enough that he can see her knees shaking from across the battlefield. Kanda is next to him, bloody and leaning heavily on his shoulder, but his eyes are just as open as his and the hand on his shoulder tightens. Miranda shoots him a look, and all he can think is Goddamn, did everyone on his team know except for her?
Lavi shrugs it off – the hand, the look, the kiss, the hero and his girl in the middle of the bloodbath they'd just won. Kanda is cursing under his breath about brats and bean sprouts and stupid little girls with breakable hearts, and Lavi wants to hit him because it's not Lenalee's fault. It never was.
He might blame Allen just a bit though.
The stumble back to the village is a hard one, with Allen's arm around her hips and him whispering in her ear. She giggles, and it sounds so hollow to him he almost looks back. Then Miranda catches his eye, frowns, and points in front of him. The corner of his mouth kicks up – she's looking out for him, in her own way. Kanda just swears some more and kicks a couple of rocks extra hard down the road.
The reach the Inn, and Allen offers to help Kanda up to his room. Lavi thinks it'll end in a war. Miranda seems to agree and asks Lenalee to help her with him instead. Allen frowns and follows them up the stairs, so it's just him and Krory in the lobby. He glares at a wall sullenly. Krory is staring at him. "Yeah?"
"... It's not going to last," he declares, glancing up the stairs. Lavi gapes. "She's more confused than you know."
"So confused she let him grope her in the middle of a war zone." It sounds a lot angrier than he'd intended. "Er, I mean."
Krory shrugs. "Don't worry about it too much, Lavi. You'll get it soon enough."
Lavi doesn't know what to say. They stand in silence until Lenalee comes down and tells them Kanda won't stop yelling and she needs them to hold him down while she stitches up his wound and the whole time, she won't meet his eyes.
Maybe she knew, too.
Here's what happens: he goes to Egypt, to France, to the farthest corners of the world and back, from Australia to Alaska, and the whole time, he's Lavi. There isn't another alias, just him and the Bookman, and him getting hit for not being impartial and him not really giving a shit because he knows what he's holding onto and it's worth it. Black-black hair and legs that go on forever and a laugh that fills every empty space he's ever had.
He doesn't leave a note. They're gone by midnight, on a carriage to the port and then on a boat to America. He has to ditch the scarf and headband for jeans and a dress shirt and when they go back to Europe he thinks he likes the style too much to change back. Bookman smacks him because, "Brat, can't you even be impartial to fashion?"
The Eiffel Tower is boring the twentieth time around, so they skip it and go straight to the Berlin Wall. Stalingrad. Germany is still being rebuilt because of the war – they stay for a few days, then take the ferry to Tunisia. Across the African plains. He's tanner by the time they reach Israel, and Bookman sets up a small shop there selling antiques. They aren't settling down, he knows – they're just taking a break, one that'll probably last maybe a year, because there's plenty of history to be recorded in the Middle East and only the two of them to cover it.
Around their third month in the village, he sees a flash of blue-black hair in the crowd and panics. Bookman calls him an idiot, says his heart is weak and vulnerable. Lavi knows he doesn't even mean it anymore – he can still tell a story without any bias. He just likes having a reason to slap him around.
He stays in the shop for a week, dusting and ringing customers through. It's slow and hot, but better than seeing anyone. Especially anyone in thigh high boots and itty bitty shorts holding hands with –
"Fuck," he says into the cloth he's been cleaning with and doesn't turn around. They don't know he hasn't switched aliases; there'd been a hesitance in her voice, fear almost, like she doesn't think it's him. Doesn't know it's him.
Oh God. There's that tremor in her voice and he has to turn around then because he will never make her cry, not on purpose or by accident. He's barely facing her when she launches herself at him, fists clenched against his back, bunching up his shirt. Her eyelashes brush his chin. She still smells like spring; wet grass and flowers and a sweetness that's only her. He looks around for Allen, arms loose at his sides.
He wants to crush her against the bookcase and kiss every inch of her until she realizes she's it for him. Allen isn't anywhere in sight. His hands slide over her lower back. One twists in her hair – it reaches her shoulder blades now, makes her all soft curves. All harsh angles. Everything.
"Hey," his voice cracks. He winces. "What're you... doing here?"
"Kanda said you'd be here," she breathes into his neck. He tightens his grip on her. "Said he'd seen you in the Bazaar while on a mission last week." She looks up at him with tear-streaks and glowers. "I've spent months looking for you, stupid!"
"I'm sure Allen appreciated that," he deadpans, and considers stepping away. She doesn't give him the chance. Her foot slips behind his and sends them both crashing into the bookshelf, her leaning on his chest, his elbows digging hard into the spines of encyclopaedias. "What are you-"
"Allen," she drawls slowly, and her voice drops a bit, "didn't have a say in the matter considering he left for England after we both decided we were better off as friends." She blows her bangs out of her face. They fall back the same way, so he tucks them behind her ear like he used to and she arches into him this time, without question, eyelids fluttering. He freezes. "You'd know that if you'd stuck around."
"You knew that wasn't going to happen." He's staring at her mouth. "Whether you and Allen were... whatever, or not."
"I would've made you choose," she says, staring back. Her thigh slides between his and his fingers graze her bare hip on purpose. "I'm a selfish person, Lavi. I would've made you pick between me and this."
He exhales, hard. "You know what – or who, I guess I should say – I would've picked."
She stops. Looks at him thoughtfully and parts her lips. "... How long?"
Her hands slide over his shoulders, across his neck. Little fingers tug at his hair, his shirt, and his thumbs have been rubbing circles over her bare stomach the whole time they've been talking. He moves forward and she leans up and he sighs, "For-goddamn-ever," before kissing her. He swallows her giggle and gasp when he pulls her to him tighter, hikes her higher up on his leg. It's all tongues and teeth and her fingernails scraping over his collarbones and up his spine until he can't breathe. His head falls back against the shelf when he pulls away.
She touches her lips. "Ah."
"Yeah," he growls, before flipping them and pinning her to the shelves with his legs and mouth. "Ah."
She hooks her knee over his hip, pushes up against him. "You've got six months to make up for, you know that?"
"Yeah, well, you've got six years," he snarks, and slips his fingers up her shirt, across her ribcage. They skim over her breasts, squeeze. She whines. "You're off to a good start, though."
Her fingers trace his abs and then she runs her tongue over the shell of his ear and slips her hands into his shorts and this is happening, this is real, this is Lenalee. He pinches a little, gentle pressure, and feels his way down her stomach and up her thigh while she says his name like she never has before.
"Hate you," she pants, tightening her grip when he touches her right there and he grins, opens his mouth against her shoulder and bites down. "Oh!"
"Love you, too," he goes, and hopes he put up the closed sign.