I do not own DGM. I'm just an addict.
Any time a work is translated, there are sacrifices. I don't know why the decision was made to not translate the word "akuma", but in doing so, a lot of potential wordplay was lost. In order to regain that, I chose to translate "akuma" as Demon, capitalizing it to distinguish it from the kind of demon not made by the Earl. In doing so, I undoubtedly lost whatever was gained in not translating that word, but that's how translation goes. You win some; you lose some.
Author's Note: This is one of the outtakes from The Book of Vices and Virtues, written before I decided to narrow that story down to Allen and Kanda. It takes place in the immediate aftermath of the destruction of Headquarters by the Level 4.
Warmth He Can Touch
Lavi dresses as quietly as he can, glad to be released from the infirmary but reluctant to leave nonetheless. He has this weird idea that if he can't hear the heart monitor, it will mean that Allen is dead, and if he leaves, he won't hear the monitor.
He's being stupid and he knows it. Allen is out of danger. Still, he lingers, checking the displays on the machines. No change, none expected. Resting quietly.
Lavi and Kanda didn't even bother to exchange a glance, they just ran, both of them knowing without doubt that if Allen fell, they all fell. Kanda took the top of Crown Clown's hilt and pushed while Lavi took the bottom and pulled, using Allen's grip as a fulcrum to force the great sword down and forward. The stump of Allen's left shoulder braced against Lavi's chest with a shock like thunder, reminding Lavi that all of their hopes were pinned on a slight boy with only one arm.
At the same time, Lavi got a taste of what it's like to wield an Innocence that was synchronized to Transcendence, and it occurred to him immediately afterward that the reason there are so few Generals is because very few people are brave or crazy enough to deliberately take that on.
The youngest to ever do it lies sedated, an oxygen mask over his face and an IV in his arm, the quiet, steady beat of his heart measured in green lines and electronic chirps. Really, he should be in a casket. When even the Generals had fallen back, Allen pressed forward with the ferocity of a mother defending her newborn. He never hesitated, but he never hesitates, he just throws himself at whatever's in his path, oblivious to risk or reward, to victory or defeat, even to who is friend and or foe, courage on a scale that makes Lavi feel small and uncertain, even a little sick.
When he can't stand it any longer, he goes looking for Lenalee.
He finds her in her room, packing, and he knocks on her open door. "Hey!"
"Hi Lavi! Come in! Did Nurse let you out or did you escape?"
She's wearing a blue Chinese dress covered in white flowers, and the silk looks far too soft. "She let me out, but I'm not supposed to do any heavy lifting for a while," he says. "How are you feeling?"
"A little dizzy," she admits with a laugh. "I didn't know I'd lost that much blood."
Lavi had meant to stay with her through that, but he knew it wasn't his place. "Are they uncomfortable, those rings?"
"No." She sounds surprised. "It's like wearing bangles on my ankles, and I can wear normal shoes."
He looks down at her slippers, which look like something she borrowed from her brother, several sizes too big and faded from wear. "That's good, yeah? Those look pretty comfortable. And warm."
Her voice is ragged, and when he looks at her face again, he realizes that she's trying not to cry. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to upset you."
"No. I'm happy. I don't know if I could have stood my old Dark Boots much longer."
Lavi's Innocence has never been a burden to him, just a really good weapon, and he had not realized how much it weighed the other Exorcists down until he saw Lenalee sobbing over a pair of warm shoes. She broke his heart when she took them off and padded down the cold stone hallway to the elevator. The only reason he hadn't tried harder to dissuade her was the knowledge that she would rather go down fighting than cowering in the infirmary, and that any argument he could make to stop her would involve saying things that were forbidden to a Bookman.
All he says now is, "I'm so glad, Lenalee."
"Thanks. I'm all right, Lavi, really." She's trying to force herself to be cheerful and this, too, breaks his heart. "How's Bookman?"
Lavi rolls his eyes. "He'll be fine, but he whines so much when he's laid up. I can't stand it, so I came here. Hope you don't mind."
"Of course not! I'm glad he's okay."
"Yeah, me, too. I've gotten used to the old panda being around. How's your brother?"
"He's great, thanks to you. And Kanda." She faces him and bows formally. "You guys saved his life. Thank you."
Lavi knows he's blushing, which only embarrasses him further. "Hey, no need for that! I just did what had to be done."
"You didn't even have your Innocence!"
"Wouldn't have made much difference, not against that thing, yeah? But you, your new Dark Boots are amazing. They saved us."
"No. Allen saved us. "I only helped towards the end."
Goosebumps rise on Lavi's arm. He doesn't want to talk about Allen, but there is nothing left to talk about.
"How is he?" Lenalee asks. Her voice is barely over a whisper and she's no longer smiling.
"He's going to be all right," Lavi says, putting as much conviction into it as he can.
Her lower lip is trembling and her hands are curled into tight fists. "He was…he wasn't moving, and they won't let me in to see him yet!"
"It's because he needs rest, that's all." Lavi reaches out with his voice instead of his hands. "He's going to be fine, Lenalee! He's going to be just fine!"
It doesn't help. Her voice takes on a frantic edge as tears brighten her eyes. "Crown Clown was making him fight! He couldn't move by himself, and it was making him fight!"
Even worse was the look of bleak determination in Allen's eyes. "It protected him, too," Lavi says, "and he wanted to fight. Crown Clown did exactly what he told it to."
She bursts into tears and sags against him, and he wraps his arms around her, flooded with warmth as her body melts into his. He lets his cheek rest on the top of her head, stroking her back, ignoring the open door. So what if Komui walks by and sees them? No punishment her brother can dish out will compare to the satisfaction of knowing that she trusts him to ease the fear and pain.
"Why, Lavi!" she sobs. "Why?"
"I don't know." He chokes back a premature endearment and blinks back tears. He's supposed to be the strong one here, but in truth he's probably more frightened than she is. Innocence isn't just protecting its Accommodators. It's using them, almost as if the roles were reversed, the Accommodator as a weapon with the Innocence as wielder. It's unnerving. He doesn't want it happening to Lenalee, but it's too late. Her Innocence has invaded her bloodstream, and can take whatever it wants.
"It's not fair! It's not fair!" Her small fist strikes his chest over and over, the impact reverberating down to his cracked ribs.
"Hey! Hey, shhhh! Easy, Lenalee. It's okay. It's okay now." It's not, though. Traveling with Bookman taught him that life is never fair, not even in peacetime. War makes it worse, and this war is just getting started.
After a few minutes, her fist stops, if not her sobs, and he breathes, slow and controlled, before he breaks down, too. Physical pain he can handle. Watching Lenalee suffer is unbearable, and there's nothing he can do. As Bookman, he was the observer, superior as well as impartial. Now that he's involved, effort seems both necessary and futile.
Lenalee quiets after a while, or maybe she just runs out of tears, but she stays in his arms, her hand now flat on his chest, and he breathes in the scent of her hair. It's as if she's made of steel and glass, indestructible unless you hit her in just the right place, and then she shatters. He loves her vulnerability because she leans on him and he likes that, but it scares him, too, because he never wants to see her broken.
She pulls back, looking up at him anxiously. "I'm so sorry, Lavi! I didn't mean to hit you. I wasn't thinking. Did I hurt you?"
"No." He grins at her. "I think you found the one spot the Demon missed."
She smothers her giggle with her hand. "Lavi, that shouldn't be funny so don't make me laugh about it! Stay here, I'll be right back."
He lets her go, reluctantly, and she leaves him alone in a room surrounded with mementos of Komui. It's irritating. Why can't the man get it through his head that he's not the only one who wants to take care of her?
Then again, who could blame an overprotective brother for being wary of Bookman?
When she comes back, her face is clean, although her eyes are still red and puffy. "Thanks Lavi. For everything. I mean it."
"It's what I'm here for." What he'll always be here for. "Want some help packing?"
She smiles, like daisies after the rain. "I thought you weren't supposed to do any heavy lifting."
He grins. "Why would I need to with a big, strong girl like you around?"
"Lavi!" she laughs, and he relishes the sound of his name in her voice. Then she hands him a box of tissue paper, for wrapping the little glass bits she keeps on her windowsill. "Thank you."
"It's what I'm here for," he says again, hoping she'll believe him.
He can't sleep that night. Part of it is the fact that there is still no comfortable way to lie down. His arm hurts on one side and his ribs on the other, which leaves his back and that hurts, too. He hates sleeping on his stomach, but he tries anyway and finds to his annoyance that it makes the pain in his back even worse. There really isn't any part of him that the Demon missed.
Pain isn't his only problem. He's also worried. Most of Headquarters was reduced to rubble, and the only person he encountered all day who wasn't walking around with bandages or stitches or something was Kanda, who doesn't count. The place is frightened, subdued, as if they finally understand that they're fighting a war they can't win.
Lenalee is a soldier in that war. He could lose her to it at any time.
He looks up at slats supporting the upper bunk, dark, even shadows in the moonlight and listens to Bookman snore. He know it's too soon to say something to Lenalee, but he doesn't want either of them to die before he does. He's never been in this situation, and he doesn't know what to do, but God, he'd kill to be with her, just to hold her. He misses the smell of her hair, the soft heat of her body under the silk, and the rise and fall of her breathing that told him she was still in this world.
No, that isn't all he wants. He's aching for connection and release, but this ache is in his chest, not something he can take care of himself. If Lenalee was with him, yeah, that would be good. He would make damned sure of it.
He knows she loves Allen, but he does, too. It's one of the things they have in common. He also knows that loving Allen Walker is like loving the sun. The sun can touch you, it can cheer you up after a storm or warm you after a cold night, but if you try to touch it back, you'll burn to a cinder.
Lavi closes his eyes, dreaming of warmth he can touch, and hoping that when Lenalee wants it, too, she'll turn to him.