Delightful Note: fading ink, you gave me courage to post this scrap of a chapter. Guest-person, you are kind to leave a message to me. I love that you are both so encouraging!

Slightly sad Author's Note: Unless enough people convince me, I will not be spending another 20 hours on a climatic, confrontational scene. ^^ so, this will be all you get.

as it is, with only a handful of reader's, I don't think it's worth the trouble... If you really want to see a good ending, please let me know. Otherwise you can imagine the climax! the action! and cool lines, and I'll just do the soft and fluffy bits in an epilogue. 'cause that's what I want to write.

[Random Book rec to ease your curiosity: read "The White Cat" by Holly Black for action. For insane-and-lovely narrators, read "The Drowning Girl," though the lead is female, and decidedly not Allen...]

Chapter Nine: Falling.

"Sorry to intrude. It's Lavi." He waves at himself.

Lavi smiles thinly. To me, he looks like a washed out ghost, and I say as much. No one pays that any mind, though, as Kanda is busy gritting his teeth, his mouth like a slash against his pretty face.

Lavi touches his forehead, and transforms the gesture to a light-hearted wave. He smiles a little more freely. "I heard you had a bit of a…episode, Kanda." He hides his expression by closing the one eye, and continues acting as though the whole of it just a joke.

My ghost—or god as he might be preferred to be thought of—is strangely quiet. The haunting caused by the dead man is what brought him back. After I had almost forgotten, since all those years passed.

Kanda tiptoes over to the corner, all nerves and hard edges. He looks ready to attack if you so much as sneeze.

"The patrol is looking for you, and then not, they say." He waggles his fiery eyebrows. "Both of you." With a look at Allen, he offers one hand. "Pleased to meet you, by the way."

I'm not so inclined to agree with the sentiment, but I return his smile with a polite one. It feels broken on my lips. "Yes, we make a great pair that way, don't we?" Both wanted men.

Kanda shrugs. "I told you to leave."

"Then why do you stay where we can find you?" Lavi retorts. "Stay down for another while. Maybe let Allen take you to his place. In a few weeks, one will remember what this was about." His voice isn't soothing so much as it's practical.

Kanda's almost got a reign on his emotions. He almost looks normal again.

"Begging your pardon." I smile through the words. "But I think you said you had news."

Lavi nods. "Yes." He agrees. "But I don't know if Kanda here is ready to listen. Anyways, Allen, could you tell me a little about what Lenalee and Komui said when they hired you?"

It's an interesting approach. I cock my head, considering. "Well, I think Lenalee, everyone in the area, really, knew more about the guy than they were letting on."

I drift into silence, drudging up the memories. There was Lenalee making a thin excuse about wanting to talk to Kanda, but then offering to hire me to look into things. "She was acting very cautious."

Lavi nods impatiently. "And how did she treat the details of the case?"

I shake my head. "I remember she said, 'people like him' and 'people were surprised he died.' That means people knew about him- he had some sort of reputation. I just can't figure out what, and people aren't talking. And for some reason she didn't want to use their regular contacts." I turn to look at Kanda, still standing very still in the corner. "Don't you know anything about that? What are the rumors in the Order? Why not use the regular contacts?"

Kanda scowls, but says nothing. Unexpectedly, the "old" case hasn't budged him from his obsessive behavior.

Lavi gives Kanda a long look, but ultimately doesn't challenge him. He bites his lip and furrows his eyebrows. "Wait a minute, wait a minute, Atkins was killed last week. There was another thing people were talking about- the week before. Someone was killed- er, taken care of, by the Black Order. A," Lavi waves his hand, trying to come up with the word. "lackey? Anyways, an underling was taken out by an assassin for passing on the wrong information to their boss. By a guy known for strangling people... But that assassin didn't show up for a later job." Lavi snaps, as though he just figured something important out.

Lavi's eye is bright, excited. Just like any proud student about to give the answer to a particularly difficult question.

He thinks he's got it…

I try and brush the noise away, try not to listen to the melodic comments in my head.

"How do you know he didn't show up for a job?" Kanda looks annoyed. Grumpy. He doesn't like that Lavi knows more about what's going on than he does.Neah suggests.

Assuming that Kanda just doesn't know, rather than isn't telling.

"Assassination jobs are hardly common knowledge." He continues.

"I have my ways," Lavi offers a crooked grin. "And the other guys, the ones whose underling was assassinated by the Black Order, have started something. Leaving hints at all the best territories...offering money to try and bring down the Black Order- that'd be your lack of papers mess, I bet, Yu. I think I know who Atkins was." Lavi nods, completely convinced of his investigative prowess.

He looks to us, inviting the "Who did it?" questions that both Kanda and I don't bother to ask. Lavi will go on regardless.

"Atkins was the assassin. But the other guys had him assassinated. The Black Order knew who Atkins was, of course, but wanted you to get the information so that no one could connect them." He finishes slowly, confidently.

That has a sort of messy logic to it, don't you think? Messy and confused enough to be true...or a bad lie.

"You following me?" When neither of us congratulate him on his reasoning,Lavi's happy smile melts into concern, like he just now realizes that Kanda is acting out of sorts.

"Alma won't get out of my head." Kanda's voice is quiet, almost a whisper. I'm surprised he said anything at all.

Lavi is expressionless. He's not surprised, but he's not overly upset, either. His stillness might even suggest he's started thinking of this new problem.

I decide to break the heavy silence. "Well Neah won't get out of mine, so I suppose we're even. I'll tell you one thing, though." Tim nestles in my hair.

Kanda looks at me, his expression softening. "Hm."

"Yes, well," stealing a look at his face, I shift awkwardly. "That is, if you listen to that person," I fidget. "You should only pay mind if they have something useful to say. Otherwise, focus on something else. Anything you're doing…?"

Lavi looks at me sideways. "Acceptance and commitment." He observes. "So your zen meditation would probably help too." That must be directed at Kanda.

It's very strange to be talking about this to someone else. I remember Mana always told me to behave politely, and to not. tell. Anyone.

"…so. You focus on what you're doing? Like looking for information." I continue.

Lavi nods slowly, and waves a hand at Kanda. "Yeah. So focus on the conversation." He suggests, and I suspect he rarely gets complimented for his reasoning, but hopes against the odds.

I continue nodding a little. Trying to dredge up anything that might help him. A light, so to speak, turns on.

I should draw on those times. From before, when the hauntings near drove me mad.

"And it doesn't help to yell at them. Just be…polite…and maybe listen to music. With headphones." I add quickly. But that's as much as I can say. After all, it only sometimes works.

Lavi decides not to say much about that, and continues, "I figured out who he was." He looks at Kanda. "…er. Kanda. You get me?"

"I'm not sick." He says stubbornly.

I feel my face flush. "Yes, Kanda." I agree. But he might think I am.

"But it wouldn't be bad if you were…just…something else to manage." Lavi says soothingly, glancing at me again.

Great. But he doesn't seem to be making a big deal. That, I guess…is nice.

"Anyways. You listening? It was probably them that did it. Them as in the guys who employed the underling that Atkins killed."

Lavi is altogether uninterested in the case after he's unlocked the main mystery. I can tell by the way he starts to look elsewhere, for lues about Kanda's state, or perhaps even about me.

He gestures slowly with his hands. "Case solved. Yu?"

When still no one says anything, Lavi waves a hand in front of Kanda's face.

Kanda slaps the hand aside, grumbling. "So what? Moyashi tells Lenalee. And? The police won't care. They'd just as soon arrest us for hiring a murder or something."

He makes a good point.

I bite my lip, and nod. "Probably." All hope of clearing my name flickers away. I can't risk telling the police, not without implementing the Black Order, and thus Kanda.

Invite him over. Neah suggests with a smile. The police can't make arrests without any evidence…so make the most of the situation.

So that's what I do.


...only the epilogue remains.