Snow is the last thing Kanda wants to see out of the train car window, especially when there are still four stops between him and his destination and the flakes are only falling harder, faster, bigger. With Kanda’s luck, the tracks will freeze, stalling the train for hours or days, and he’ll be stuck waiting out the thaw in the cramped compartment with the useless old Bookman who barely says a word but stares at everything with heavy, knowing eyes, and his annoying apprentice, Lavi, who never shuts up, as if his constant stream of idiot babble will trick Kanda into thinking that in his single eye he doesn’t hold the same weight in it that the old man carries between both of his. Kanda isn’t fooled by his act and doesn’t think for a second that Bookman wasn’t ever not in the know for anything, so Kanda’s not sure why he’s bothering to maintain the act. Maybe it’s habit. Maybe it’s not. But if there are three people in the train car and both Kanda and Bookman can both be ruled out as targets for Lavi’s act, that leaves only one option: that the fool is trying to fool himself.
The train whistles and it chugs to a slow stop. The conductor speaks over the intercom, offering optimism and platitudes such as, “The snow should start letting up soon,” and “We’ll be up and moving in no time.”
Kanda glances out the window again and scoffs. The conductor’s full of shit.
“Looks like we’ll be here for a while,” Lavi comments lightly, looking at Kanda sitting across from him. “Lucky us, huh? We can get to know each other better!”
Bookman rolls his eyes audibly and stands. “I’ll be back,” he says.
“Where are you going?” Lavi asks.
“Somewhere away from you brats,” Bookman harrumphs, then tucks his hands into his sleeves and leaves, snapping the door shut behind him.
Kanda grits his teeth and watches the tip of the old man’s hair disappear from the door’s small, round window. Kanda doesn’t trust either of the weirdos he’s been lumped with for this mission, and he doubts he would work well with them even if he did. Screw the Black Order and screw Chief Komui – Kanda works better alone and no amount of force socialization is going to change that. In fact, it will more than likely do the opposite: usually, in Kanda’s experience, the longer he knows people the more detestable they become.
Lavi takes the seat beside Kanda and clasps Kanda’s shoulder companionably. “So,” he says, grinning, “are there any babes in the Order that I haven’t met yet?”
Kanda stares at the foreign hand touching him. Fuck it, he decides. He’ll walk to the next station.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Lavi asks when Kanda reaches up and removes his small travel pack from the overhead shelf.
“Leaving,” Kanda says shortly. He proceeds to open the window and climb out of it.
“You just jumped out the window,” Lavi says, double-edged with disbelief and hysteria.
Kanda doesn’t reply. His boots crunch into the snow; it’s deep already, he realizes as he sinks down in stuttering bursts until he’s engulfed to his knees. The wind is sharp and twisting, making Kanda pop his collar and blink snowflakes out of his eyes as he squints in the direction he plans to go. None of this particularly bothers Kanda – at least, not as much as the thought of breathing the same air as Lavi for an extended period of time. He’d slog through snow up to his armpits if it would get him some peace and quiet away from Lavi, at that moment and probably many more to come.
He breathes in, feels the air like tiny shards of glass in his lungs, and breathes out. He has yet to take even a step, but already the tension that had rooted itself in his neck at the beginning of the mission and continued to grow throughout the train ride is starting to release.
Of course, because God or the Millennium Earl or whoever the fuck is out there needs some form of fucked up entertainment (especially, it seems, at the expense of exorcists), that is the moment Lavi drops down beside Kanda and says, “I’m coming with you.”
“No,” Kanda says immediately.
“Come on,” whines Lavi. “I don’t wanna be stuck with Gramps for the rest of the mission.”
And I don’t want to be stuck with you , Kanda thinks.
“Besides,” Lavi continues, “you’re going to where the action is, right? You might need some back-up.”
“Fuck off,” Kanda snaps. “You’ll just get in my way.”
Kanda starts walking, labouring through the snow, and when he doesn’t hear Lavi following he thinks, for a moment he will look back on for the rest of his acquaintance with with Lavi and think unfortunately naive, that that’s the end of it.
Then a snowball impacts the back of his head.
“Don’t be such a grump, Yuu,” Lavi calls tauntingly. When Kanda turns back he’s not surprised to see the bright, false grin and even less so that, even as Lavi readies another snowball, his eye is dull and bored.
Kanda narrows his eyes and growls warningly, “Don’t you dare throw that snowba—goddammit!”
The second snowball flies harmlessly over Kanda’s shoulder, Kanda dodging by a hairsbreadth at the last second, but Lavi still laughs with fabricated amusement.
Kanda is not one to play into delusions, whether they be his own or those of others, but with the feeling of chilled water running down his scalp from melting snow and the barely-there, echoing throb on the back of his head where the first snowball hit its mark, he decides to make an exception.
Kanda releases a warcry of “ Don’t call me Yuu! ” and tackles Lavi into the snow.
They grapple on the ground, very nearly submerged in white, and both try to gain the upper hand. Kanda pushes Lavi’s face into the snow, muffling his shrieks, and shoves handful after handful of snow down the back of Lavi’s jacket. Lavi writhes in Kanda’s grip and somehow manages to get a firm hold on Kanda’s hair. He pulls and continues pulling until, cursing, Kanda is forced to release him or have his hair ripped from his head.
“You shit ,” Kanda spits as Lavi scrambles to his feet.
“You’re just mad ‘cause I caught you off guard and nailed you in the back of the head,” Lavi taunts, face red from the cold and panting for breath.
Kanda picks up a chunk of snow and hurls it at Lavi’s face in answer.
Lavi yelps, jumping back. Then he lets out a breath and says, “Heh. Gonna have to do better than that.”
Kanda throws another chunk of snow, and another, and another, until his hands are numb with cold. Lavi hops out of the way each time, missing every unformed snowball that comes his way. Through it all, he laughs like a madman. It even begins to sound real.
“Stay still, you dumb rabbit!”
“Rabbit?” Lavi repeats, giggles bubbling out of him helplessly and taking physical form in the air as clouds of steam. “Is that your pet name for me? A term of endearment?”
Kanda tackles him again.
Sometime later, Bookman re-enters the train compartment with a warm cup of tea in hand. He notices the window gaping open immediately; when he looks outside and sees the two idiots wrestling in the snow in below freezing temperatures, he shuts the window, sits down and, in between sips of tea he grumbles, “Brats.”