Title: death is only a door
Character/Pairing(s): Lavi/Kanda of course did you really expect anything else
Warnings: angst maybe? Not that much.
Summary: Oneshot. AUs. "By the law of averages there has to be one universe where we don't end up together. Here and now just happens to be it. So maybe in another universe you love me. And maybe, I let you." LaviYuu.
"I believe there is another world waiting for us. A better world. And I'll be waiting for you there."
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
"Ever heard of the theory of the multiverse, Yuu?" Lavi says, tone flat.
Kanda stands on the other side of their debris littered flat, sharp shards of glass and plastic scattered all around. He's not in the mood to hear another one of the rabbit's stupid stories—not when his knuckles hurt and he's irritated beyond fuck. But of course Lavi doesn't care, ploughing on.
"There's this philosopher from the 1890s named William James, and he suggested a hypothetical set of multiple universes comprising everything that can possibly exist occurring simultaneously. You get it? Everything is happening at once at different timelines; parallel universes," the redhead continues, clenching his fists. "So okay, let's say the multiverse is real."
This is exactly it. Sometimes Lavi goes on in tangents that Kanda doesn't quite understand. It's a wonder how they even got to this point—sharing a flat in their second year of college, or maybe "dating" for more than a year after that fresher incident involving alcohol and bad choices—because all it ever seems to end up is in complaints and grumbles, yelling and shouting, screaming and cursing. It doesn't help when Lavi is persistent in what he wants and Kanda doesn't give a fuck to most things. And people.
"So fucking what?"
"So," Lavi breathes tightly. "So maybe somewhere in those infinite universes, you have me. Maybe we don't fight all the fucking time over stupid shit. Maybe in one universe, you don't second guess everything and aren't afraid of commitment and of the future and of love. Maybe there's a universe where I'm the right person for you, where I adore your hot and cold treatment when you need me and when you don't. A universe where I don't want to monopolize you all the time or one that you'll want me to," he says, controlling his exhale. "Or just one where I didn't have to stand outside the fucking door for days begging for you to believe me that I love you.
"Maybe there's a universe where you can be happy with me and I don't want more; we just want each other," he says, tone starting to crack. "But you know, if the multiverse theory holds, well, by the law of averages, there has to be one universe—just one—where we don't end up together. Here and now just happens to be it."
Kanda notices a droplet of blood from the other's closed fist splattering on the ground. It's not the first time they've resorted to throwing things at each other, but the aftermath always feels sickly cold. "…What the fuck are you saying?"
"In just this universe," the redhead swallows. "Maybe, you don't love me."
When there is no answer, Lavi casts his gaze to the floor and pads towards the front door, avoiding the bloodied smear on the ground.
"And maybe," he whispers as he turns the knob to leave. "I let you."
[Rome. 51 BC]
Despite being a roman, Lavi is not fond of gladiator fights. Truth be told, he finds them too brutal and horrific for his tastes, especially when blood splatter and innards get thrown about. He isn't particularly fond of the abusive slave treatment either, but he has to admit that his extravagant lifestyle and privileges from being in a wealthy family has to be aided in some way. But again, that money and power has to come from somewhere, and it's because his family has political dealings that he is expected to show his face once in a while in the amphitheatre.
He sits with his uncle at a private booth; Bookman, staring ahead with a blank expression. He knows that his uncle is just acceding to this to keep up appearances, but in truth, the old man is most comfortable in the old library with stone scribes or parchment and ink.
They watch two rounds of fights, with Lavi slumped in his seat and looking at the sky most of the time. He daydreams about an adventure he'd have if he could leave Rome for a couple of weeks—the people he'd meet, the girls he'd meet—and is startled out of it when the crowd roars so thunderously that he nearly falls out of his seat.
He squints at the arena where a lone figure stands amidst the blood splattered ground—Lavi winces at the poor previous warrior who lost to a lion unleashed—face masked with a cloth wrapped around his head, only leaving his eyes uncovered. A long lock of midnight black hair falls gracefully to his waist at the back, hands wielding a sleek long sword. The swordsman is barebodied—smooth toned and defined abs—displaying a brand distinguishing him as a slave seared on his left chest.
Even his uncle sits up straighter in curiosity.
The gladiator walks a slow circle around, ignoring the hoots and calls. His gaze is reserved solely for his to be opponent, who enters the arena soon after. It is not another wild beast but a man, shorter but much bulkier with broader blade and shield—one that Lavi had recognised before with a winning streak record from other fights. It is something to take into account, especially when all fights were to the death.
The crowd chants for a minute more, and when the bell sounds, both fighters take their stance. The long haired swordsman flexes his fingers on his rather unique weapon, and in the next moment, Lavi stares at the same figure moved at least fifteen meters forward. Blood drips from the edge of the sword—and from behind him, the opponent crumbles to the ground, throat split.
It is silent for a few seconds, the crowd hushed in awe at the incredible skill displayed. Then it goes wild as expected, so loud that Lavi cannot even hear his own thundering heartbeat.
He had never seen anyone move so fluidly—so gracefully, so deadly.
"Who is he?" He asks, breathless.
Bookman shrugs. "No one knows his name but it seems like he's built a reputation for himself from his first fight."
Lavi waits in curiosity for an elaboration.
"He slaughtered five gladiators yesterday. Including Antonio."
"Y-yesterday?" Lavi echoes, stare switching back to the swordsman. "And Antonio? But…but—…how? What kind of training does he have?"
Because that brand on other's skin labels him as a slave, and no slave could be this good, even if they were sold to gladiator schools at childhood. It just wasn't possible.
"He isn't from around here," Bookman says simply.
Lavi nods. He sees the swordsman reach up to tug the cloth covering his face down, probably due to the sweltering heat. The person's complexion is smooth, fair skinned, features…Lavi swallows when the figure turns to look exactly at where they are sitting, expression stern but curious.
He's never seen anyone so beautiful in his life.
I want him, he can't help but think.
For the first time he's never been so glad that it was possible to own people as property—because with enough money and power he certainly could, no matter how high the price this swordsman would fetch—and it's also first time he's ever felt so disgusted with the same thought.
But it doesn't change the fact that he's already working the details out in his head to make it happen.
He isn't a Bookman just in name, after all.
Kanda sighs, cursing Tiedoll to the depths of hell. Granted it is not Tiedoll's fault that he took this undercover case, but it is ultimately the reason why he is even in the fucking French army. He still gets wary sidelooks and judgemental stares when he strolls the hallways of the camp back at home thanks to his ethnicity despite his rank, but right now he would rather glare the balls off some poor private than to sit this in smoke-filled dingy bar with Nazis celebrating god knows what just a table away.
His hand itches to the gun strapped at his ankle under his boots, but he's got to play it cool and pretend that he's not ready to murder every German in this place. As he knocks back another mouthful of beer, he waits impatiently for the British soldier he's supposed to be meeting at like—he squints at his watch—eight, but it's already eight thirteen.
For a second he tenses up at the thought that whoever it is has been caught and he's next on the list, but he dismisses the paranoia almost immediately. It's not like he had walked into the plan not knowing that his life was on the line every second that he was in Berlin.
Swallowing another mouthful of beer, he checks the rest of the bar out discreetly. At the table behind him there are a group of German soldiers playing Indian Poker, their voices escalating loud with playful banter. At a corner are a couple of other Germans conversing quietly; another corner, a couple taking hits from their cigarettes.
There's only one other person sitting at the bar table on his left about six seats away, a redhead who's been sitting there with his head slumped down and hand curled around a shot glass even before he had arrived at seven fifty.
Kanda doesn't know why but he takes another long look at the man again. The redhead says something to the bartender who pats him on the shoulder with a sympathetic smile and places another shot on the table. Kanda wrenches his gaze away, not knowing why he was staring in the first place, but a split second later he does a double take.
The redhead's right eye is sewn shut—he's the fucking British soldier that he's supposed to be meeting.
As if by chance the redhead turns just enough that his other green eye can be seen, and Kanda swears that the asshole is smirking as he downs the shot. Kanda growls under his breath and finishes the mug of beer with a lot of annoyance—he can't believe that it took him more than thirty minutes to notice; fuck, he was losing his touch in this stupid German city.
Ten minutes later he plops himself on the stool next to the redhead, signalling for another round. The movement is abrupt but no one in the bar pays it any heed, and Kanda doesn't care—forcing a fake acquaintance would've been much more unnatural and awkward.
"Shitty day?" he starts, nodding at the bartender when another mug is placed in front of him.
The redhead turns and eyes him with an air of intoxication but Kanda can tell it's all staged from the gleam in his eye.
"You haven't heard the worst of it, Fräulein," the other says, laughter underlying his words.
When Lavi wakes up, someone is kissing him on the mouth.
All he really registers is wet heat and damp lips, but the feeling is nothing like he's ever felt before. He groans, and suddenly the mouth is gone, replaced by a really hard pressure on his chest. He chokes suddenly, stomach turning and gag reflex on full when he launches into a sitting position and throws up chlorinated water at his side.
He coughs, voice wrecked as memories start filtering in. He's been travelling Southeast Asia and he's currently in this tiny island that is also a city at the equator with the hottest temperature ever, and it's just awesome that the hotel they were staying at had an infinity pool atop the fifty five stories of rooms.
"—avi! Lavi! Are you okay? God, are you—"
"Give him some fucking space, beansprout," an unfamiliar voice cuts through his memory recall.
"The name is Allen!" Allen—his holidaying partner, along with Lenalee, who is currently patting his back soothingly—retorts. "He just drowned—I'm entitled to be worried!"
"He didn't fucking drown," the one he's arguing with snorts. "He's not dead, is he?"
"Thank you, err…" Lenalee cuts in, dispelling what seemed to be a childish bicker. "What's your name?"
"Thank you, Kanda," she repeats genuinely.
"Whatever," Kanda narrows his eyes. "Just don't let this fucking idiot in the water again," is what he says as he stalks off.
Allen gapes at the rudeness of it all but sighs eventually, kneeling down next to the redhead. "Hey, you alright?"
Lavi nods mutely, but his gaze is stuck on the really hot guy in a legskin who had a liplock with him a minute ago.
"Uh—yes, yes, I'm alright. I think," he furrows his eyebrows. "What happened?"
"You thought it was a great idea to cannonball into the pool," Lenalee begins with a pinched expression in her features. "Which is at max one point two meters deep."
"When you didn't come up to the surface after a minute, the lifeguard jumped in," Allen finishes, scowling at some memory. "I'm thankful he jumped in, but really, can he be any—"
"—hotter? Yeah I know right?" Lavi murmurs, dazed.
"—more of a prick—wait, what?" Allen splutters, eyes wide.
"…That wasn't what you were going to say?" the redhead blinks, confused.
Allen stares at him, and it seems like there is some form of horror in his expression while Lenalee chuckles at the side. "That was definitely not what I was going to say."
"Fuck—fuck—fuck!" Lavi curses, hurriedly grabbing his scarf off the rack, haphazardly wrapping it around his neck as he scrambles to stuff his feet into his shoes. "Four minutes, I can make it," he mutters to himself, hopping out of his apartment with his bag. "Four—well, now three—"
It's four—three—minutes to seven fifteen, which means he has three minutes to run to the little café at just at the corner of the street. He knows he can't make it in time but he tries anyway, ignoring the odd friction of his oddly pulled on socks against the soles of his shoes. It's cold and he feels like his ears are going to freeze from the wind that blows past unforgivingly as he hurries the best he can.
Seven fifteen, seven fifteen.
Seven fifteen because every morning without fail, this certain customer would walk into the café and order take away coffee. The first time Lavi had seen him was a complete fluke—he is never one for early mornings but it just so happened that he was rushing a deadline at ten, and he needed caffeine to help him through three more hours of squeezing out words for his novel.
Ever since then he had been punctual to the café, sitting at the corner just to get a glimpse of the same person—so much that even the café waitress knows him by now.
He makes up all sorts of background stories about his person of interest—delicate oriental looks—definitely not from around here—well dressed—well to do family—likes his coffee with caramel and cinnamon—someone who enjoys a bit of spice in his life.
It's seven twenty on his watch when he reaches the doors of the café, and prompts runs smack into a customer exiting the doors.
Lavi winces at the hot burn seeping through his shirt—hot hot coffee.
"What the fuck is your problem?" the other person demands, picking himself up from the floor.
Lavi opens his mouth to retort, but he stares silently, open mouthed when he sees the person he had been stalking for two months.
The other sighs, not waiting for a reply. "Whatever," he mutters, snatching the empty cup rolling a few meters away and tossing it in the nearby trash can.
"S-sorry!" Lavi stutters, furiously trying to make his mouth move. "That was completely my fault—I'll buy you another one. Black with caramel and cinnamon right? Just, just wait a moment, I'll—"
The other just looks bewildered now, and Lavi realises that he probably shouldn't have said anything about that highly specific way the coffee was made.
"I heard you ordering it couple of times before," he offers lamely. "Because I come here quite often too. I swear it isn't because I was stalking you or anything!"
He just gets an annoyed look in return. "Are you going to buy me that coffee or not?"
"Yes. Yes, absolutely."
Lavi eyes his newly met soulmate—he knows it's true, don't laugh—as coffee is being made. "Hey," he starts nervously. "What's your name?"
A stare is what he gets, and he swallows at the intensity of it.
"Kanda," the other says reluctantly. "Yuu Kanda."
"Be careful. Remember what happened to Walker-dono."
"I know," Lavi states under his breath to Link who whispers the parting words before the other bows formally and leaves the private room.
He keeps on his amicable smile as he turns to his conversing partner, Tokusa, a lean man with tattoo markings stretching right up his neck to his left cheek, lips kept steeled in a dangerous quirk.
"Sorry for the disruption."
"Not at all," Tokusa responds, sipping his cup of tea. "I am sure you are a busy man. It is still quite a curiosity of how a foreigner such as yourself came to hold such a high position in the shogunate."
"There is not much to tell, to be honest. The details would bore you," Lavi replies evasively. "I'm more interested to hear about what news you have uncovered about the ishin-shishi. The shinshengumi should not be allowed to suffer more than they already have."
"Of course," Tokusa allows. "But let's mix in a little pleasure with business," he smirks, waving his hand.
Immediately the geisha beside him bows curtly and slides the door open, revealing a figure wrapped up in a formal kimono. The moment Lavi meets the eyes of the person of interest is when he freezes, both in fear and joy. Navy blue eyes seem just as shocked to see him—it's Kanda, face devoid of makeup like the rest of the geisha, but still poised and dressed like one.
"I hope he is to your taste," Tokusa continues. "There were rumours," he began delicately. "About your preferences. I hope you do not mind the audacity."
"Not at all," Lavi murmurs, keeping his voice firm even as Kanda kneels beside him, pretending that they do not know each other.
The political discussion flows for about two hours before Tokusa excuses himself. But just before the leaves, he nods towards Lavi.
"He is paid for his services tonight. Think of it as thank you gift," he adds after. "We are glad for your cooperation, Bookman-dono."
Lavi just dips his head in response, facial muscles tight. When the room is finally empty with just him and Kanda, he almost yelps when Kanda grabs the front of his haori, pulling them face to face.
"I told you not to find me!" Kanda hisses under his breath, voice frantic. "What the fuck are you doing here?"
"I couldn't help it," Lavi winces at the glare he receives in return, but it does not stop him from crushing their mouths together urgently.
He invades Kanda's mouth hungrily, ignoring how the other tries to break away and fails.
"Someone will come in, idiot," Kanda mutters against his mouth, biting on his lower lip without much sympathy.
"Then Tokusa-san's money won't go to waste," he murmurs, kissing the other again, but Kanda freezes stone cold. "…Yuu?"
"He sent me to kill you," Kanda says very quietly. "And you knew."
"Of course," Lavi says, thumbing the other's cheek. "I had to see you again, even if it is for the last time."
"In real life, you compete," the tall Asian man with glasses says, hands interlocked behind his back. "In real life, you also work as a team. Now I know there is only one of you that will be named Junior Chef of the Year, but there is no harm making friends along the way. So," he clapped his hands together. "Pair up—we're going to do some bonding time."
Kanda grumbles under his breath as he stays put at his station—he's never one to seek out other kids—he doesn't know how—and that's probably why he can count the number of friends he has on one hand.
It's stupid but he's prepared to be the odd one out—or maybe the one stuck with the loser that everyone hates, but a boy with a crop of the reddest hair he's ever seen trots up next to him with a wide smile.
"Hi! Can I partner with you?"
The Australian accent is thick, but Kanda somehow can't find it in himself to mindlessly hate it, even if he struggles to decipher the words. He shrugs with his scowl still in place and the boy beams brighter.
"Alright!" the man in front claps his hands again for attention. "Today's mission is simple. Cook something for your new friend. Talk to them or try and guess what he or she might like. The score you give each other will determine who gets to choose the ingredients first in the next round. You can use anything in this room," he gestures with a grin to the wide kitchen area. "You have two hours. Ready, begin!"
Most of the groups start with casual excited conversation, but Kanda doesn't know how to do that. Instead, he leaves his table and goes to take flour and eggs. The redheaded boy stares at him sadly when he realises he's being ignored, but he quickly perks up and disappears to find his own ingredients.
Kanda makes pasta because that's something he's good at—and also he hasn't heard of anyone not liking pasta. He makes the tomato meat sauce rich and thick and red as the other boy's hair.
Two hours later the boy carries a sieve like bamboo tray with the weirdest colour of noodles he's ever seen, and sets it down with a triumphant grin. Then he runs to take a small bowl of some kind of dark sauce over. Kanda pushes the pasta he's made in the other's direction, and wordlessly, they settle down to consume their food.
Kanda stares at the odd dish, and looks at the boy again. The boy is absorbed into stuffing his face with pasta and he feels the relish of a known victory. He looks at his own noodles, and gingerly picks one with chopsticks to put it into his mouth.
He grimaces as he chews it down, and nearly gets a heart attack when the chopsticks are snatched out of his hand.
"No, you eat it like this," the redhead insists, taking some noodles and dipping it into the sauce.
Kanda stares at the red smear of sauce on the boy's face and tries not to laugh, so he scowls and snatches the chopsticks of noodles back. He puts it into his mouth because the boy is still looking at him expectantly.
He bites down on the cold noodles, not expecting the bland flavour he first tasted to disappear, but when he does, his eyes go wide in surprise.
He doesn't know how to describe it but it leaves a light tang on his tongue. It's refreshing and subtle and nothing like he's ever eaten before.
It's the most amazing thing ever.
Kanda blinks, looking up with his mouth full of half chewed noodles, meeting the other boy's smile. He flickers his gaze back to his food quickly and tries not to stuff his face like he had seen the other do.
The boy laughs.
[Pompeii. 79 AD]
"We're not going to make it," Lavi says grimly, staring into the smoke covered sky, gripping the hand of his lover.
Kanda stands next to him, posture tensed, but he doesn't flinch from the pryocystic flow heading fast in their direction. There is no way to escape a volcano eruption, he and Lavi knows. It's stupid, it's unfair, it's just, no one saw this coming. All they have are minutes—maybe even seconds left.
"Why?" Lavi starts, voice cracking. "When I finally have you—why…."
Kanda shuts his eyes tightly and tries to make his own voice steady. "In…In another lifetime, I'll find you."
"You better," Lavi swallows, abruptly seizing him into an embrace. "I'll be waiting for you, Yuu. I'll always wait for you. Because I love—"
"What are you doing here?"
Kanda is not amused. He is definitely way beyond not amused to see a redhead lounging on the captain's chair of the USS Enterprise with his legs spread wide open.
"…You remember me," the guilty blinks, surprised.
How could Kanda forget; that should've been the question. First officer Kanda, if you wanted to address him properly like this fucking idiot—Lavi—never did. Two years ago they met under a particular situation that lasted a couple of minutes but it was enough to seal his impression of the incompetent arrogant son of a bitch.
"No really, what the fuck are you doing here?" Kanda growls, crossing his arms. "This is a designated spacecraft—you don't have the required access to be on board."
Before the redhead can answer, an older man steps into the control room, and Kanda stiffens up. Lavi scrambles out of the chair with a salute.
"Admiral Tiedoll," he greets coolly, as if he hadn't just slumped on the captain's seat a second ago.
"Don't stand on ceremony, Captain," Tiedoll smiles warmly. "It's a big day for you."
"Captain?" Kanda blurts abruptly, unable to hide his incredulity.
Tideoll faces him with that same smile. "Ah yes, Yuu, you skipped the ceremony yesterday, didn't you? Well, now's a good time as any to get to know your captain," he clasps the man on the shoulder. "I'm sure you two will get along fine."
Kanda is still gaping as Tiedoll whistles his way out of the control room.
Lavi is grinning smugly at him, and there's no other face he'd really like to punch now than this one.
"There's no fucking way—"
"—that you're my fucking captain—"
"—ooh, I really like the sound of that—"
"—or that I'm going to be stuck on this fucking ship—"
"—hey, it's a great ship—"
"—for the next ten fucking years," Kanda breathes heavily from his rant, "With you."
Lavi only smirks wider. "Orders from Starfleet, Officer Yuu. Pleased to make your acquaintance."
It's been three days and Lavi thinks it's been the worst three days of his life. He hasn't bothered to take his things from their apartment—there's no way he'll take any chance of bumping into the half-Japanese, not after what he's said.
Essentially it's the first time he's ever broken up with somebody. More importantly, it's the first time he's broken up with Yuu.
It's not that he's afraid of Kanda yelling at him again if they meet, no, he's afraid that Kanda won't react even if they do, doesn't care. He's been putting up at Allen's dorm—a junior—and he doesn't know when he's ever able to look at Kanda again without his heart hurting.
There's a knock on the door and Lavi struggles to get himself out of his self pity party, trying to straighten his face so that it doesn't look like he's ten seconds away from crying his heart out. The knock on the door sounds again impatiently, and then it starts to continue in a long annoying rhythm.
Lavi huffs and yanks it open, ready to tell whoever that was looking for Allen so urgently—maybe that Portuguese dude—that the boy isn't in, but gets the shock of his life when he gets shoved back and corned against the wall in three seconds flat.
"FUCK—" Lavi breathes heavily, eye wide before it take him a while to realise who it is. "Oh. It's just Yuu."
Then he freezes up again.
Kanda looks angry—but the man always looks angry—and there is a distinctly tired pull in his glare. For at least a minute they stare at each other, and Kanda backs away when he sees that Lavi isn't going to push him out. Very quietly he closes the door he's left wide open, and stands back towards Lavi.
"What do you want?" Lavi says when the silence stretches, voice wavering.
There are a lot of things that Kanda wants. He wants Lavi to not give up on him, even though he's screwed up and broken and fucked up and a million miles away from the person that Lavi deserves ten times over.
He knows he's been taking Lavi for granted because when he looks at it back now, there's no reason why the redhead stayed, but he did anyway. Lavi's incredibly smart despite the impression he gives off most of the time. He shouldn't be here with him in London, not when he's easily accepted into schools like Oxford or Cambridge or Harvard with scholarships. Lavi should be somewhere out there winning the Nobel Prize in Literature or the Man Booker Prize or the Pulitzer Prize or some fucking award instead of spending his days trying to placate his irrational moods.
He wants to be able to be as brave as Lavi wants him to be.
"Bullshit," Kanda states, turning to face the other and huffs his elaboration when Lavi gives him a distinctly confused look. "Your manyverse thing—"
"Mulitverse," Lavi corrects with a lopsided smile, because that's Kanda for you—never getting anything right.
"—whatever. Complete bullshit," the other insists. "There is only one universe and it's this one."
Lavi blinks when Kanda steps forward, and even if Lavi is technically taller, he still retreats from the intimidating posture that the other exudes as he gets cornered against the wall again. Lavi panics—just for a second—because he doesn't know what Kanda is going to do, and looking at that face just makes him fall in love again, no matter how much it hurts.
"And maybe in this one," Kanda says, voice softer than anything he's ever heard. "I do."
A/N: Please excuse me on any historic inaccuracies – I am but a neuroscientist, not a historian. I would encourage everyone to read Maybe in another universe, I deserve you by Gaby Dunn from the thought catalogue.
Basically a self-indulgent fic to try a lot of AUs at one shot, and also the idea of parallel/multi-universes and/or reincarnation. \o/