Hey, I know its been awhile, but since its Christmas, you all get a treat. CHRISTMAS SPECIAL! I've really missed writing about Tyki and Evelyn, so here. Merry Christmas!
The ways of the Ark are strange.
From the topmost pinnacle to the white room of music at its heart, there are a thousand new sights around every corner, pure marble cobbles to grey stone, gateways and doors to a million dimensions, each accessed by simply turning the doorknob a different direction, by whispering certain words, by tapping unknown rhythms on the cobbles with dancing feet, or by such a simple action as a laugh.
Tyki had explored all its intricacies and its secrets far before the other Noah were incarcerated forever in its dark centre. And for all this knowledge, he can only conclude this: that the Ark is ever unpredictable. A single different note or dynamic on the white piano could change the very weave of the fibres that make up the white city. So, one must not distract whoever controls it, or catastrophe could ensue.
But the ex-Noah of Pleasure makes mistakes every now and then.
And given Allen's musical connection to the Ark, perhaps it is not a good idea to give him a frightfully hard Rachmaninov piece and expect him to sight-read it to perfection first try. The Noah, trapped in the confines of the Ark, had been tearing their ears out in pain from the music Allen had been playing.
Two grand pianos, one of ebony, one of a wood so pale it is almost white, facing so that their curved shapes just fit together, wait expectantly in the chamber, the white-mantled woods surrounding Headquarters visible outside the window. So Tyki's gloriously smooth voice flows out over Allen's hunched form in front of the white instrument. "This is Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2, adapted for a duet of two pianos. I shall play the orchestral parts and you shall play the piano part. And yes," – he flashes a rakish grin at Allen – "your part is more intricate."
"Because you asked me to teach you more piano. And to put it simply, your piano-playing abilities don't go beyond poking out Für Elise one note at a time. It breaks up the mood completely. You have absolutely no notion of fingering. And I shudder to even mention your articulation, boy."
"But do I have to start with this? Shouldn't I start with something simpler? Or are you simply a bad teacher?"
A sigh. Long fingers run through curly hair. "I talked it over with Evelyn. It's either me teaching you or her."
"And why would it be bad if she taught me?" Allen growls, white hair dancing around him crazily, framing his head in irregular feathers of snow.
Tyki raises his hands in surrender. "Fine, they're your fingers." He leaves the score on the sable surface of the piano, and turns, calling resignedly to a certain person outside the chamber, "He wants you, apparently." The very picture of adorable, ruffled-hair dejection, Tyki leans back against his piano and opens his arms to what he is sure must be a comforting hug from his fiancé.
As usual, he doesn't get one.
Evelyn's cut-off gloved fist slams into the top of Tyki's unruly head, and as Tyki's clear golden eyes begin to water with unbidden tears, she smiles, violet eyes twinkling, and says sweetly, "Tyki, dear, do yourself a favour and don't be your usual moronic self. It isn't what a handsome gentleman should do when he greets his lady."
Tyki, who had felt a sort of tired resignation when she had called him by his usual title, Moron, perks up at the handsome and reaches up for her hand with a laugh saying, "We've been over this too many times. So am I not a gentleman today?"
Evelyn's glacial stare stops him in his tracks. "There's no need to flirt anymore, moron. We're engaged. Now get off this piano bench so I can teach Allen some music." But a small smile tugs at her lips, one that is invisible to Allen, but all too obvious to Tyki.
While a visible raincloud descends over Allen's curled form, Tyki finally catches Evelyn's hand, straightens, bends in an elegant bow from the waist to kiss it, and then strides to the side, idiotic grin adorning his face. The grin is replaced with a wince, though, when Evelyn tears off her gloves and throws them with a crystalline laugh at the back of his head.
As Evelyn begins to instruct Allen in a voice sparkling with humour, Tyki glances down at the gloves in his hands. Evelyn's anti-Akuma weapon is Acumen, crystal-typed weapon of playing cards that now deactivated, take the form of gloves. Acumen is just that – understanding. Evelyn had always had a way of understanding others, but when she had met Tyki over an unfair game of poker in which they both cheated until they drew, Tyki's ability to hear the music of the world, both his and everyone else's, had given her power unimaginable. It had been Evelyn, after all, who had listened to his music of the Noah and separated white and dark, freeing him from Joido's chains; Evelyn, who had heard the melodies of Akuma and freed them, binding the dark matter of the other Noah until Allen sealed them in combined Black and White Arks, throwing the Fourteenth's power in after them to be sentinel forever.
And it had been Evelyn who had read between the dancing harmonies of Tyki's heart and seen his true identity, understood the web of guilt around his mind and accepted him for who he truly was. And he had loved – and still does – her way with words, turning their duet into a song with her piano, his violin, and the hidden choirs of the world around them.
Now, Evelyn stands silhouetted by the soft winter light of the window, laughing animatedly as she points out the intricacies in the flowing variations of black notes playing hide and seek on the five-lined score. A flash of deep velvet purple sparkles across Tyki's vision as the clear sunlight catches the amethyst ring on her finger and wreaths her fingers in violet flame. It is as if she is poised in the midst of battle, playing with unfathomable power cupped in a delicate hand. Her ring. Her engagement ring.
Worry worms its way down from Tyki's brain into his stomach, forming a roiling ball of heat that presses against his heart and makes each breath a battle. Tonight would be Christmas Eve, and they are to be married on the first day of the new year. The logical part of his music declares that all will be well in a proud blast of brass. But stealthily, strings sweep into a diminished chord that springs out of nowhere, sowing dissonant, broken woodwind notes in their wake.
Tyki groans imperceptibly. He may have become conductor for his inner orchestra a long while ago, but sometimes, his music seems to have a mind of his own, influencing his emotions. What if her parents don't arrive in time? And what about Lavi and Lenalee? Did our message reach them? And I know Tiedoll said Kanda has a knack of sensing these things, and he would return, but should he miss the wedding in just over a week's time… Evelyn would be so disappointed. He wants her to be happy, more than anything. The barrage of doubts threatens to overwhelm him, sweeping through his music like the percussion gone awry, timpani missing that crucial half-moment of motion that should have set each hit directly on the beat, but missing. He curses. Keep the music under control. Keep yourself–
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME, WOMAN?!"
The terrified scream lances through Tyki's consciousness and sends him reeling. As the seat of his pants makes painful contact with the teak floorboards, Allen's next scream, even higher pitched than before, snaps Tyki's gaze up to the scene before him.
Evelyn' sardonic grin is in full, glorious being as she raises a hand, Acumen darting from Tyki's grasp and flaring in amethyst-flamed cards that hover in her power over Allen's left hand, caught in her vice-like grip. "Oh, keep still, Allen," she chides softly. "I'm just going to trim your nails somewhat."
"YOU CAN'T DO THAT!" Allen positively screeches, trying desperately to withdraw his hand. "THAT INNOCENCE IS A PART OF ME!"
"Tyki, dear," Evelyn calls over to him. "Didn't you instruct him on articulation?"
"Of course. He just wouldn't listen." Tyki's golden gaze is unreadable – well, to anyone else except the formidable girl who raises an eyebrow at his expression.
A pause. "I see," the wind-chimed voice tinkles. Tyki feels his breath whoosh out of him as Evelyn's penetrating gaze turns back to her victim. "Allen, you can't possibly play anything with those inch-long nails. Even tunes with extreme rubato would be ruined by your articulation."
As Acumen makes its exquisitely slow descent towards his long black fingernails, Allen arches his back and throws a glance full of suffering towards the ex-Noah of Pleasure. "Tyki-san." – Tyki grins slightly at this – "Help me," Allen half-begs, stretching his other hand towards him in despair. "Stop her." All trace of his usual self-assured demeanour has vanished in an expression of pure fear.
Tyki appears to contemplate the situation with mild interest, while Evelyn halts and tips her head at him questioningly. Allen trembles. His fate is yet to be decided. At last, Tyki seems to come to a conclusion. "I'm sorry, my friend," he replies, his voice a velvet masterpiece of regret and sorrow. "I'm afraid, as I told you before, they're your fingers." He shrugs, a casual motion that sends his shadowy fringe playing with the golden light of his irises. "And it's your loss." He turns and smiles gently at Evelyn. "Please continue, my dear."
"Thank you, Tyki," Evelyn flashes him one of her warm, yet slightly dangerous, smiles, and sets to work.
"What? NO! WHY–" the rest of Allen's words are swallowed up by his ensuing shriek. He grabs a nearby bottle of sake to stave off the pain.
I declined to mention, Allen, Tyki thinks grimly as he averts his eyes politely, that my decision also stemmed from the fact I'd rather weather your wrath than hers. Some small part of him slaps himself mentally for his wounded pride. But then, he reflects, better wounded pride than suffering worse than death.
Allen's screams reverberate down to the entrance hall below as Tyki winces sympathetically. Lavi and the others would do well to hasten their pace. Evelyn Merle strikes again.
But a sudden warping in the music around them sets his fingertips tingling.
Evelyn freezes. "What..."
"That melody…" Tyki breathes. "Could it be…"
Amethyst eyes meet gold. "Lavi," they murmur in unison.
Even as Allen's muted wails echo about the stone walls, a certain flame-coloured head tilts to one side as a single emerald green eye winks at the gatekeeper. "Oi! Old man gatekeeper!" Lavi calls to the stone face above. "Wake up. We want to go through and greet our friends. We didn't travel throughout the night for nothing."
With a snore that trembles the ground beneath three pairs of booted feet, the gatekeeper promptly ignores him and slumbers on.
From a dimly lit room somewhere above in the Science Department, Reever stifles a yawn and twiddles with the volume control on his headphones, blinking to clear his vision. For a moment, he stares at the three colourful specks against the blinding white of snow. Then he spits out a mouthful of lemon soda and grabs the intercom.
"Lavi! Lenalee! Bookman!" Reever's voice rings out clear and true from speakers hidden in the cliff face. "Is that really you?"
"Yo, Reever!" Lavi drawls, raising a casual hand to his eyes to shield them against the morning light. "How've you been doing? Finally get a girlfriend yet?"
Reever's reply cancels out in a frenzy of crackling.
"Lavi!" Bookman's voice is as sharp as ever, albeit issuing from the height of Lavi's elbow. "Perhaps you should be more aware of your manners."
"But Panda Jiji…" Lavi's whine is cut off by a howl of pain as the old man explodes into panda form and whacks his grandson about the head.
"WHO'RE YOU CALLING A PANDA?!"
As the full-fledged brawl between grandfather and grandson erupts with all the force fuelled by their complete memories of every single fight they have ever had, a light voice sighs, "You guys…" Lenalee straightens her travelling coat, removes her hat, and strides purposefully to the face in rock, her red anklets tinkling above leather ankle boots. "Gatekeeper," she says sweetly, reaching forward to scratch him on the chin, "Could you please open the door? For me?"
One lazy stone eyelid slides open with a crunch. "Lenaaaalleeeee!" The gatekeeper's smile spreads like a crack meandering on the cliff face. The next moment, Lenalee smartly leaps backwards to avoid the rush of air as the gatekeeper chokes back a sob. "I was terrified you were Akuma!" he half-wails, the sheer volume of his voice wrenching Bookman and Lavi from respective headlock and wristlock.
"What did you think, idiot?!" Lavi yells back at him. "Do you know how few Akuma there are in the world now?" The gatekeeper quails from the force of Lavi's green glare, and would have continued to wail, were it not for Lavi unsheathing his hammer. The bright crimson of polished metal reflects his grin as he whirls it around his head, spinning what should have been a crushing weight as if it is no heavier than a birch switch. "Or would you like to find out what a combined fire, wood, and wind seal could do to rock?" he asks coldly. "My abilities have grown these past few months."
From just within the entrance hall, Reever slides to an unruly halt, lab coat flying out after him, and frowns. There is no trace of the grinning Lavi he always knew in that hardened voice.
With a deep earthen rumble, the gate slides open.
"Thought so," Lavi says quietly, all seriousness. He doesn't meet Reever's eyes, instead training his dagger-like gaze on the ground between his feet. Then, as he is just about to pass the periphery of the gatekeeper's vision, he explodes with laughter. "You should have seen your faces," Lavi snorts in a very ungentlemanly way. "Did you really think I'd have changed very much?" he shouts between gasps of air. "I may have seen a few more wars, but I still love a good laugh. Get over here, Reever, sa?"
Reever finds himself so confused over the sudden change that he can only numbly return Lavi's enthusiastic handshake and Bookman's polite one. He does perk up when Lenalee gives him a hug, though. "So there aren't many Akuma left?" he asks. Lavi nods. "Pretty soon we'll be sending Exorcists out on mission to erase all traces of the Noah, or any dark remnants. Then our job is done," Reever muses. "Hey, I should tell the others!" he starts. "You've been greatly missed by Allen and Ev–"
Lavi is only dimly aware of an incoming burst of scarlet and amethyst, his own melody suddenly reverberating in his head as his Innocence shivers with recognition at the person who brought his music to life, before Evelyn hits him with the hardest tackle-hug of his life. His only tackle-hug, actually, apart from the one time Lenalee practically ran into his arms after a particular mission. But Evelyn's embrace is made all the more powerful by the fact she has wound Acumen around them like a tightening rope with a thousand times the tensile strength of carbon nanotubes.
As quickly as she had entrapped him, Lavi finds himself released as Evelyn darts over to Lenalee. As Lavi blinks away crimson and opens his mouth to suck in a breath past his bruised ribs, a long-fingernailed hand reaches forward and grasps his free left hand, pumping his arm up and down ecstatically. "LAVI! WECOME BACK!" an annoying (incidentally, why does Lavi think it is so?) voice shouts.
"Allen…" Lavi manages something akin to a smile even as his spiky hair wilts slightly at the barrage of hyperactive joy. "Good to see you." He winces as Allen's fingernails dig into his skin. "No gloves?"
Allen giggles, much to Lavi's horror, and scratches the back of his head in an embarrassed manner. Lavi notices his sleeves are rolled up to his elbows. "Tyki's been teaching me piano…" Allen mumbles, turning steadily redder by the minute. He calls wildly over Lavi's shoulder, "Lenaleeeeeeee!"
Lavi flings an arm around Allen's shoulders, ruffling his white hair with his other hand. "Have you been drinking?" Lavi mutters under his breath.
"How much?" Lavi asks warily as Allen mumbles some more and then flops pathetically onto his shoulder. "Naa…Allen? Allen-san?"
Velvet voice on silk. "Enough, apparently, to get him inebriated," Tyki chuckles as he proffers a hand from behind Lavi. "Welcome back."
With some difficulty, Lavi shifts Allen's weight on his shoulder and shakes Tyki's hand firmly. "Thanks."
With a laugh, Tyki turns with an agile motion from Lavi to Lenalee, catching her hand with a cocky smile. He half-bows, but seems to reconsider at the last moment. "Permission?" he calls quietly over his shoulder.
"Perfectly fine with me," Lavi replies, shifting Allen again. Man, he's gotten heavy.
Tyki kisses the air above Lenalee's hand and murmurs, "It's a pleasure to have you back, Lady Lena."
"Thank you, Tyki-kun," Lenalee smiles. "But maybe you should have thought about your fiancé before you–"
A gentle laugh of wind chimes dipped in ice. "MORON!"
Should he think back to this moment in time, Tyki would have registered a gloved hand, with a chain of poker chip and cards around the wrist. And it got bigger. Fast.
And then darkness.
Tyki shifts in his slumber, far too warm and comfortable to throw off the covers of unconsciousness. Gentle music plays with his hair, stroking the curls and singing softly in his ear. Slowly, following the variations like comforting strings, Tyki is led into the blurred area between sleep and wakening, as variable a boundary as wind and calm, eddies of warm and cold. Yet the music lulls him ever closer, both a lullaby and a call for him to wake, paradoxical in its whispering touch and its fierceness, dancing like a river breaking free of winter ice, flurries of snow that drift through layers of pine needles, only to be caught in an increasing gale that drifts nearly out of control.
As he rises out of layers of dream, chasing after this shining, unknown music that is both gentle and terrible in its alternating laughter and fury, sorrow and joy, Tyki opens his eyes, and understands. Evelyn paints poetry with her fingers, weaving an iridescent melody out of black and white keys. I've chased my music just as I've chased her, he muses. Evelyn is as glorious, powerful, beautiful and unimaginably perfect, just as this music is. She may have even surpassed it. As the ballade, Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Tyki realises, builds to its climax, he smiles and catches his breath as Evelyn brings down her fingers in a frighteningly fast sequence of notes, variation after variation that tugs at his heart and leaves him wondering when it should end, until the final chord sets his bones trembling with acknowledgement.
Evelyn halts over the keys, eyes narrowed in concentration, unimaginably tense, still wrapped up in music. But she straightens, surprised, when the sound of Tyki's claps reaches her from the sofa.
Tyki rises and strides over to her, glad they are alone. But when he slides next to her and hugs her tightly, it is with a different sense of emotion than before. And the first words that come from his lips are not what Evelyn expected. "Thank you."
"For what?" Evelyn chuckles into his shoulder.
"For being far more beautiful than my music could ever be," he whispers back.
Evelyn lets out a long, slow breath. "Wow," she mutters, shifting in his embrace. "I didn't expect that sort of depth right at that moment."
He laughs lightly. "Did it surprise you?"
"Not really. You're quite something, Tyki." A kiss on his cheek.
"You're awesome," he murmurs truthfully.
Laughter like silver bells. "And just like that, lost your touch."
A few moments later: "I love you, Tyki."
By the time dinner is over, Allen decides he's had enough. The Christmas-decorated cafeteria appears to be full of couples. Tyki and Evelyn are decorous as ever, laughing as they fight over eggnog. Miranda and Marie are trying to be discreet, but failing epically, as Marie's booming laugh at whatever Miranda says attracts far more attention than he would wont. Lenalee attempts to remain unobtrusive. But given that her boyfriend is Lavi, perhaps she cannot be faulted for being unsuccessful. Cross throws back glass after glass of wine with his new girlfriend beside him. And mistletoe hangs everywhere about the room.
Allen's yell jolts the majority of the room, who turn to survey the white haired boy sceptically. Komui wipes a chunk of cake off his face and raises an eyebrow. As Timcanpy settles in his hair, Allen flashes a wide grin, opens his arms as if hugging them all en masse, and shouts, "Charades!"
The roar of assent reaches him a moment later. Allen darts up onto a table, ignoring the protesting squeak of table legs, and begins to frolic about, saying in a ridiculous accent, "Guess who I am." He tips an imaginary hat at his audience, before suddenly dropping down, looking at his hands and squealing, "Oh no! We've been duped! This boy's far more skilled at poker than I would have thought!"
"It's Tyki!" Lavi yells, well aware of the golden glare burrowing into the back of his head.
Allen continues to pirouette and prance about, exclaiming, "Why, I hear music!" He comes to a theatrical stop, whereupon he turns to Evelyn and sobs, "What a beautiful lady! I cannot stop your irresistible feminine qualities from touching my heart!" He trips forward and kneels on the table in front of Evelyn, proffering an imaginary ring. "If it were possible for you to lower yourself, marry me, for I am such an unworthy moron of gentlemanly descent!"
Evelyn shouts with laughter and reaches for Allen's hand. Allen grins, until one of Tyki's silver daggers embeds itself by his foot. At this, Allen wisely chooses to stop his act, much to the disappointment of the room in general.
The night goes on.
And then Reever is up next. He flings off his lab coat and slides about on the cake-covered table, straightening his waistcoat. For a moment, he grins carelessly at the expectant crowd, and then he sweeps down, grabs a spare mug from Johnny's hands, and waves it about, splashing coffee everywhere. "Nasty, nasty, NASTY!" he whines pathetically, stamping his boot on the table with an echoing boom. "I don't want this coffee!" With amazing dexterity, he leaps into the air and performs a mid-air split. "I want Lenalee's coffee!" Chaos ensues as he kicks dishes everywhere in his perfect landing.
"HARHAR! Supervisor Komui!" the cries begin to grow.
But Reever is not done yet. "Kooooommmuurin five!" he positively squeals, batting his eyelashes. "So beautiful! I'm going to protect it forever…"
Komui's bellow shocks him out of it. "SCIENCE DEPARTMENT HEAD REEVER WENHAM!"
Reever freezes as if struck. On reflection, perhaps he shouldn't have had so much to drink before this. "Ah, supervisor," he murmurs sheepishly.
Komui smiles a crocodile smile, his voice dropping an octave. "What say you come down, or I give you overtime for the rest of your life?"
Reever acquiesces reluctantly.
"Give us something abstract!" Tiedoll yells impatiently. He's quite enjoying this.
"I'll do it, Master Teddy!" Evelyn calls. There is a collective whoop as Tyki hands her up onto the table. With a smile, Evelyn pretends to write.
"Words!" someone shouts.
"Good guess, but not quite," she says. Her hands move over unseen keys.
"Music?" Reever queries. The overlapping exclamations of others drown him out.
Over the tumult, Tyki grins slowly, and says quietly, "Poetry."
Evelyn laughs into the quiet. "Right you are, Moron."
"What?" Allen frowns.
Tyki takes a breath, and then begins to speak. "Poetry is music of the pen, where poet and reader are composer and listener, speaker is conductor and words the orchestra. It shocks and it soothes in alternate waves, and never fully fades away – instead, poetry echoes in the mind as the last, lingering chords of music do, dancing in their song."
"You've spent far too much time around her, mate," Lavi mutters, nudging Tyki. "You're even more eloquent than before."
When Evelyn leaps down lightly to join Tyki, Tiedoll raises his glass to them in the general laughter and wolf-whistling. "Given that you two have proven your love for each other time and again, why not give us some of your fabled music?"
Tyki shakes his head, but Evelyn shrugs and whispers in his ear. A moment later, Acumen has opened a portal to another room, and the two pianos, white and black, quickly pushed into position in the space at the front of the cafeteria. Tyki takes his place at the sable piano, while Evelyn sits opposite. "Shall we give them some Mozart?" Evelyn whispers, raising and eyebrow.
Even as the crowd laughs, Tyki and Evelyn begin without needing to look at each other, at precisely the same moment. Mozart's Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major.
The music flows down the aisle between the tables, out the doorway and through the stone hallways of Headquarters, giving warmth to the flagstones. They give light to the snow falling gently outside. And they mask the soft sound of boots on grey stone, coming to a stop just outside the cafeteria.
Candlelight plays over straight blue hair, and the handle of a katana strapped to the shadow's back. Cut-off gloves half-frozen to the straps of a rucksack, lips spreading in a little-seen smile. The music draws to a close, and far off, a clock strikes twelve.
The two words lance through Evelyn's thoughts. As one, the entire room turn to the doorway.
"Congratulations," Kanda Yuu mutters, folding his arms and frowning.
Tyki, for once, isn't all that bothered by Evelyn's mad sprint over to Kanda and the ensuing tearful embrace.
"What are you doing here?" Tyki gets in a word between Allen and Lavi jostling to get at Kanda.
Kanda smirks, then says in a manner completely different than his usual sour tone, "Well, I'm best man. I had to be here in time for your wedding, didn't I?"
Evelyn laughs as Tyki smiles down at her.
Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope I've painted this in a well-enough light. And since I'm leaving Tyki and Evelyn here, I'm sure they'll live happily ever after. Reviews please? Watch out for any new fics of mine!
And to Jenna, the guest reviewer: This is the only way I can reply to your reviews if you don't have an account, so please accept my apologies. Thank you for your heartfelt reviews. Road lives for trickery, after all, so she wanted to observe what would happen to Tyki if his relationship with Evelyn continued to progress in secret from the rest of the Noah. I'm humbled by the fact you like my writing so much even though it's sort of juvenile here, so I can't be grateful enough.
See ya! - E.E.