"Allen? It's me, Lavi. I wanna come in and talk with you again." Lavi waited patiently and was soon rewarded with the clicking sound of the door unlocking and the slow creak as it was opened ever so slightly. As how he had been doing it for the past week and a half, the redhead quickly slipped inside and shut the door. The light then turned on as he locked the door shut, and as per usual, Allen sat in the far corner of the room with his back facing towards Lavi.
"Group therapy today was rather interesting. Miranda got to talking today, and though she mumbles quite a lot, she's actually a really interesting person. It's a shame she was treated so cruelly before coming here. Oh, but after Miranda talked, Tiedoll showed us pictures of Lenalee from when she was a model, then he had her talk about each shoot and what was happening at the time. A model's career is really scary. I don't think I could ever do it."
"I don't know about that. I think you have a kinda handsome face," Allen offered. Lavi paused, still a little unused to it. Allen had started saying small things back to him every once in a while, and though it still wasn't a full conversation, the fact that the boy even spoke to him at all instilled the redhead with a bit of pride and happiness.
"Oh, gosh, I wouldn't go that far. I mean I would hope I'm not ugly, but I'm definitely not model material, especially with this eye patch. But-"
"I think it's nice."
"Is that so..?" Lavi smiled and invited himself to sit on Allen's bed once more since it looked like he didn't really ever use it. That thought mustered a chuckle from the redhead which caused Allen to turn ever so slightly in wonder. "Sorry, I just thought it was funny how used to this we've become. It's been just a week and half yet here we are acting as if this is just a normal way of life. Though, I guess in a way it kinda is."
"So you think this is normal? Like it's just fact that you'll come by every day? Isn't that a bit naive?" Allen asked as he turned to face the wall. Lavi frowned.
"Are you expecting me to stop coming by suddenly? Isn't that a bit too pessimistic?"
"It's not pessimistic. It's fact. If you don't stop coming by choice, then you're going to become unable to come somehow. Whether it's because you get better and leave this place because you seem much more 'normal' than me, or you could die. It happens all of the time, so why couldn't I expect the same to happen to you?" By this point, Allen had huddled together, his arms holding onto his legs tightly. Lavi could see slight tremors moving his shoulders and stood from the bed.
"Allen?" Lavi called, taking small steps towards the boy. It wasn't long before he was squatting beside him, a hand hovering in the air. "Don't worry. Nothing would happen to make me go anywhere. I'm definitely not anywhere near being 'healed' anyways, and we're so safe here, how could I possibly die?"
"You don't know that for sure. Anything could happen to anyone, anywhere, no matter how safe they think they are. Neither you nor I can say for sure that you won't-" Allen stopped with a gasp as Lavi's hand came down on his shoulder. With lightning-fast reflexes, he slapped the offending hand away and stood up, taking a step away from Lavi. "Don't touch me!" The long-haired boy gasped wildly for air, feeling his lungs failing on him.
"Allen? Are you okay? I- I didn't mean to-"
"Stop it!" Allen shouted almost desperately as Lavi tried to stand. The redhead cautiously backed away which allowed Allen to calm down and catch his breath. Lavi didn't dare say anything until he was sure there wouldn't be another out lash. They stood in silence for minutes until Allen had finally begun breathing normally and relaxed from his tensed state.
"Allen? I'm sorry. I didn't mean anything by that."
"I think you should leave for today. . .And don't come back for a while. Right now, I can't handle having you here. We're getting too familiar too quickly, and I'm not ready for the barriers you're trying to break to come down yet." Allen avoided looking in Lavi's direction which the redhead found all the more painful.
"Allen? But why? Is it because I touched you? I'm sorry, I didn't know how else to comfort you, I-"
"Just get out already. You'll know when you can come talk to me again." Allen's voice was barely a murmur, his voice weak and timid. Lavi hesitated, staring at the floor before nodding to himself.
"Alright. . .I'll go then. Sorry to bother you today," Lavi whispered, forcing himself towards the door. With a click, he unlocked the door and left the room. Almost immediately, the door shut behind him and locked once more. Instead of walking away, Lavi stared at the door, wanting to see inside only to be blocked by the black cloth covering the window pane. Low mumbles and murmurs could be heard from inside once more. It only made Lavi feel as though he were even less welcome than when he first came to this rehabilitation center.
"Do you ever wonder what we're doing here?" Lavi stared at the bits of macaroni and cheese stuck to his fork as he could feel the gazes of everyone nearby fixating on him. Before anyone could speak however, he quickly picked up where he left off and set his fork down on his plate.
"I mean, I know what we're supposed to be doing here—getting 'cured' or becoming 'normal' or whatever you wanna call it—but don't you ever just stop and think 'what am I really doing here?' Like, what are we here for? For ourselves? To find happiness? To be 'normal?' Why?"
"Is everything okay, Lavi?" Lenalee asked. He looked over to her to see her quirking a thin brow at him, though really even if he wanted to explain further, the redhead wasn't sure he would be able to. "Do you need to go see Miss Nyne?"
"Yeah, 'cause she's done so much for me so far," Lavi rolled his eye to lay the sarcasm on as thick as he could.
"So now you're just whining?" The new voice to the conversation startled Lavi. Really, Kanda was the last person he would have expected to respond. "If you're just feeling sorry for yourself over something, then get over it. If you're having some kinda meltdown or crisis, go get the fucking help you need, but if you're not even taking this place seriously enough, then get lost. You have no need for this place, and it definitely has no need for you."
"Kanda! You can't just keep saying things like that," Lenalee chided. She hit his head though it really didn't seem as if she put much force behind it.
"No, he's right Lenalee. There's something. . .something wrong or missing. . .but I can't figure out what. Yuu's been here so long, he's probably already found it, but me. . .I don't know," Lavi sighed and rested his chin in his palm. There was a growl from Kanda at the use of his first name, but Lenalee soothed the beast over with a gentle touch on his arm.
"Then maybe you should go see Miss Nyne. I don't think she's seeing anyone right now, so it would be okay for you to go. It is her job to listen to you after all," she suggested, taking a rather peppy bite of her salad.
"Maybe. . ." Lavi stood from his seat and gathered his dishes, putting them up in the back of the room. With a small wave good-bye, he left the lounge and wandered aimlessly through the halls. Of course, seeing Klaud Nyne would have been the smartest or even best option, yet for some unknown and compelling reason, Lavi walked right past her door.
Lavi wandered the halls until he came across a very familiar door with a black window pane. He found himself sitting beside it, listening to the ramblings coming from inside the room. At first, it sounded indistinct, like Allen wasn't even saying words, but after a while, the redhead could make out some words.
"He's coming for me."
"He'll kill everyone."
"I'll lose everyone again."
"Please let him be safe."
Listening like that, Lavi sat silently for minutes, hours even. There was something disconcerting yet also comforting about the mumblings that felt so welcoming to the redhead. It wasn't until a boot came into contact with his foot that he realized he had closed his eye. Kanda stood before him, a rather displeased expression on his face.
"Hey, get up. I'm gonna show you something." Lavi nodded and stood which prompted Kanda to walk away unceremoniously. At first, Lavi had a hard time keeping up, but it wasn't long before he could successfully match paces with him.
"So? Where are we going? It's rare for you to want to show me something," Lavi said in a sing-song voice. Despite his mockery, he really was curious as to where they were going.
"Just shut up. And keep in mind that I'm not doing this for you," Kanda barked back.
It wasn't long before Kanda stopped and opened a door. Lavi slowly walked in, soaking in the essence of the room. The two stood in Kanda's bedroom, a room that despite being the same size as Lavi's seemed so much larger. The bed was pushed all the way into the corner with the bed stand beside it. The room was void of any other furniture though the closet seemed packed. A lone tatami mat sat in the middle of the room, and that was where Kanda had chosen to sit.
"Go ahead. Sit down," the raven ordered. Nodding, Lavi sat off to the side of the mat and stared at Kanda curiously. "What are you looking at?"
"Nothing! Nothing, really. . .I just. . .never imagined that this is what your room would look like. It looks. . . so spacious," Lavi struggled for the right words, hoping to not make the other angry. By now, he had learned just how frightening Kanda could be when angered.
"Che, whatever. Look, you know why I brought you here, right?" Kanda asked impatiently. Lavi paused to think for a while before shaking his head in reply. "You're here for me to talk some sense into you before you really do start going crazy. You're really annoying, but at least you aren't really insane like those godforsaken twins."
"Are you actually trying to be nice? You can be nice, Yuu?" Lavi asked while chuckling to himself. It was really endearing, but just trying to picture the brutish swordsman being nice was too hilarious to ignore.
"Don't ruin this," Kanda barked back sharply. Huffing out a sigh, he took a deep breath before starting. "Why do you think I've been able to be here so long without losing my marbles like some people here?"
Lavi paused to think. Just why was that? Kanda had been a part of this place for more than five years, yet he seemed so at peace with the idea of being here. "Is it because you have someone like Tiedoll here who seems to really love you?"
Kanda's brow twitched at the mention of their group therapist, but instead of reacting, he just huffed out hotly. "Let's not talk about that man right now. I'm indebted to him, and I will admit he is a help, but that's not it. You're so goddamn focused on other people that you aren't even thinking about yourself. That's what your problem is. You haven't found your 'center' yet."
"Yes, your center. It's the core of who you are, the parts of you that make you you that you can't and won't ever change. Everything else is a cluttered mess, the parts that are holding you back," Kanda explained. Lavi just sat there, mystified by the other's words. At the dumbfounded expression on the redhead's face, Kanda curiously raised a brow at him. "You don't even know what you are, do you? I guess that's what you get for being so fake all of the time, but if you're that lost, then I can't help you."
"Hold on. What's that supposed to mean?"
"You have some self-evaluating to do, and I'm not gonna let you leave until you've figured something out," Kanda's voice mellowed out as he closed his eyes, appearing to be deep in thought. Lavi stared at him for a little while before starting to wonder what he should be doing. "Don't think too hard about what to do, and don't try to copy me. You're figuring out who you are after all."
"Right…" Lavi trailed off as he let out a sigh. What was there to figure out? Lavi knew exactly who he was. He. . .how could he not even know where to start? Everything he tried to think about never came to him. Instead, it was as if they weren't a part of him, but rather someone else.
So just what was it that made him Lavi?
What did he enjoy doing? What were his favorite foods or even his favorite color? What kind of TV shows or movies did he enjoy watching? Did he like playing sports? What about reading or playing video games? How on Earth did he pass the time at home after school?
It was then that Lavi realized that those answers became different depending on who he was talking to. If it were Daisya, then of course he loved volleyball and soccer, loved watching comedy shows and movies, disliked reading but loved video games and did a variety of things after school. However, if it were a teacher, then nearly everything would be different, and the same with a different set of friends Lavi had made.
Just who was the real Lavi?
That question stuck Lavi's core with cold, creeping fear that seeped through his veins and bones. Instinctively, he shivered, but that didn't remedy the odd sensation enveloping him. His hands and shoulders began to tremble and his breath quickened. His chest squeezed painfully, as if it had collapsed or someone had crushed it in their hands, making it hard to breathe. Lavi's eye widened as he found it increasingly difficult to calm down and control himself, his heart beating rapidly and painfully against his contracted chest.
"Shit, are you alright?" The words registered in Lavi's mind, yet he couldn't seem to do anything to respond. His mind stayed blank all except for that one question.
Who is the real me?
"Fuck, Lavi?! Get a hold of yourself!" The panic in Kanda's voice only seemed to worsen Lavi's pain, making it even harder to breathe. By this point, he was gasping for air, trying desperately to fill his lungs with something with very little results. "Dammit! Wait here! I'll be right back."
Before he knew it, Lavi was left all alone. The coldness crawling around him seemed to only get stronger and colder, freezing the tips of his fingers and toes. His vision darkened and blurred though he could still somewhat see. It wasn't until a pair of hands rested on his shoulder and back that Lavi had realized that someone had entered the room again.
A soft blanket was placed around him which ailed the cold. Lavi felt himself being pulled up and steadily walked away. As they walked, he tried to take deep, calming breaths and was rewarded when his chest stopped hurting as much. It wasn't until he was lying down that his vision returned to him, revealing that he was lying in the infirmary yet again. Kanda and Link stood by his bed, both wearing troubled expressions.
"Lavi? Are you alright? Are you breathing fine? You had a panic attack just now," Link started slowly, hoping not to trigger another one. Lavi let out a deep breath and closed his eye.
"Man. . .How lame. . .Sorry, Yuu. You even tried so hard to help me," Lavi chuckled bitterly at himself.
"You…" Kanda growled and roughly grabbed Lavi's shirt, pulling him upwards a bit. Link exclaimed and reached out to stop what could potentially become a fight, but the raven shouted back to him. "Don't touch me!" Kanda turned his attention back to Lavi and glared at him. "What the fuck is your problem, you bastard? You're apologizing and laughing at a time like this? Don't fuck around with me!"
Lavi stared in awe at Kanda as he saw both rage and fear in the other's coal black eyes. "Do you know how much you worried me just now? And you wanna laugh about it? You always do this! You either keep your mouth shut when it's obvious you have something you wanna say, or you lie and cover it up with that stupid fucking smile on your face! I'm sick of it! Just what is it that you're so scared about? If you don't get over it then you're going to be stuck here forever, or even worse! You could never show up anymore just like him, and then you surely aren't gonna change. Is that what you want?"
"Alright, Kanda. I think that's enough. I'll talk to him from here." All eyes in the room turned towards the doorway where Klaud Nyne stood looking rather unpleased. With a signature "Che", Kanda released Lavi and left the room. "Link, I think you should leave too."
"Understood." With a nod, the blond left the room, shooting Lavi one last dubious glance before closing the door behind him. The room was thrown into silence for a moment before Klaud started walking, her heels clicking again the tiled floor. She sat in the chair next to Lavi's bed and crossed her legs.
"How are you feeling? Panic attacks can be a very scary thing, especially if you've never had one before," she started, her eyes focusing only him. If they were in her office, Lavi would have felt subject to her gaze, feeling almost as if he were being scrutinized over everything, yet this time her gaze was different, warmer, more compassionate even.
"I'm fine. . .For some reason. . .I don't think that was the first one I've ever had," Lavi said truthfully, perhaps the first truth he revealed about himself to her.
"Well that's good." Klaud paused to lean back in the chair. Lavi could tell she was taking this moment of silence to think about how to start next.
"Lavi, do you know why I never pressure you to talk during our sessions? Why I nor anyone here really pressures anyone into talking before they're ready?" The question through Lavi for a loop. Why ask something like that now? To answer simply, he shook his head, and Klaud took that as her clue to continue on.
"Because forcing things to happen prematurely does nothing. It doesn't make our patients any happier any faster, and could have the opposite result actually. I had thought that eventually you would warm up to me and share things on your own. Maybe when you finally understood more about yourself and why you're here. I may be a therapist, but I can't help someone who doesn't want the help to change. Though I'm glad Kanda got the ball rolling with you, it was really dangerous. Whatever it was that he said to you, I want you to think about that for a while before coming to see me again. We'll take a break from meeting for now, and we can meet again starting next week. Does that sound okay?"
Lavi sat in silence for a moment, absorbing everything he was told. Would the really be okay? "Um. . .Miss, Nyne? If it's okay with you. . .can we keep meeting this week? I. . .I don't think I'm ready to talk about my condition that's brought me here yet, but I want to find out more about myself. I realize now that I really don't know anything, and I want to learn."
Klaud Nyne smiled after hearing that, her eyes crinkling in the slightest. That gesture seemed to fill Lavi with a sort of comforting warmth that he hadn't really felt in a long time.
"Of course, Lavi. We can do that if that's what you want. I'll take my leave now then to let you get some rest and to start thinking. Once we move forward, I won't be hitting the breaks for a long time after all," she said standing from her seat. Giving one last smile, she left the room, leaving Lavi to lie by himself.
Though all was said and done, there was one person he had to see, to talk to about all of this. There were many people he had to apologize to, but only one person had his first priority. His feet carried him there almost instinctively by that point, each step making his heart feel lighter and lighter. Once Lavi reached his destination, he ran a hand over the smooth wooden surface, hoping once again to be able to see through the small blacked out window.
"Allen? I know you said you didn't want me to come by here for a while, so I'll make this quick, alright? Today, I broke a rule, and though I wasn't doing well, that's no excuse. I don't know what it is that's holding me back, but I'm going to try my hardest to fix it. I hope to find myself in the process, and I hope to be of some hope to you. I'm sorry if you took everything I said about myself seriously, since not even I know who exactly I am. . .But that's my problem, not yours. I'll solve it and come back to you, I promise. . .See you later I guess." Lavi turned to start walking away.
"So that's it?"
The voice startled him. Lavi wasn't really expecting a reply, and this one had been the most forceful he's heard yet from the boy inside.
"If you're a little lost. . .I can help. The Lavi I know is a kind person, really strong and forgiving, and really patient too. I'm sure that if it's you, you can figure this out really quickly, so try your hardest," Allen's voice cracked a little, but Lavi could tell just how honest he was being in that moment. Allen was really trying his hardest to comfort him, and though he couldn't be held or hold Allen, or even see what kind of expression the boy was making, those words alone had comforted Lavi and gave him the extra bit of confidence he needed to continue on.
"Allen…" Lavi tightly shut his eye to prevent himself from crying and leaned against the door. Pressing his palm against the smooth surface, he felt—or at the very least hoped—Allen's warmth emanating from the other side as if they were both reaching out together. "I don't know if that's true, but we'll see. Only time and effort will give us the answer we're looking for."
"Then, go make history and I'll be here to hear it when it's done."
A wry smile fell upon the redhead's face, and a green eye opened, shining with a determination and passion never expressed before. "Now that, I can do. History is my strong point after all. I'll see you after I've made some progress, so I'll see you later, Allen."
"Talk to you later, Lavi." Gingerly, the redhead pressed his forehead against the smooth cold surface of the door before confidently striding down the hallway. He entered the brightly colored cafeteria, ordered food, and sat down at a table happily with his meal without any hesitation. Smiling, Lavi started eating his food, not looking twice at the curious stares he was getting.
"Lavi? Are you. . .Did something good happen?" Lenalee was the first to speak up. This brought Lavi's attention away from his food, a noodle hanging out of his mouth though he quickly slurped it up. He smiled as he chewed and held up a finger to silently ask her to wait until he swallowed.
"Yeah, starting tomorrow, I get to research my favorite subject, history," he answered in a sing-song voice.
"Oh? What kind of history are you going to be researching?" Lenalee asked. At the question posed, Lavi's smile widened which caught Kanda's eye. A dark brow on the raven's face also quirked in curiosity, wondering just what could be so great to have completely changed Lavi's mood from a couple hours ago.
So sorry for disappearing on you guys for... more than two years? I promise you this story never left me, as you can see, but time definitely got away from me. I'm now in college, so hopefully the writing in this chapter should be a bit better? I still won't have as much free time, but I have more planned out for this now than the last time I stopped, plus I'm really excited for the next chapter, so I definitely won't stop here. I just wanna say though, thanks for all of the reviews, follows, and favorites I got over the past two years for this. It's really touching, and really that's what made me come back to this, so thank you guys. I hope you guys enjoy the next chapter~! It's another special chapter, so any ideas on who it's gonna be about?