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The door has the numbers 349 on it. That’s supposed to be Kanda’s address, but whoever was putting these numbers up was clearly drunk or didn’t care enough, because Kanda’s door says 350. As a result of this, and a couple other fuck-ups, he’s holding a stack of mail that doesn’t belong to him and he has to introduce himself  a day after moving in when he’d have preferred no interaction at all.

Knock, knock. He hears the distinct and muffled sound of someone running to the door, tripping over something, knocking over something else, and finally fumbling with the lock.

“Oh, hey!” Suddenly in his face is a grin, an eyepatch, and a shock of red hair. “How can I help ya?”

“I have your mail. I live next door.” Kanda shoves the letters at his neighbor, hoping to be done with this as soon as possible.

“Ohh, right! Nice to meet you, new neighbour! Hang on a sec, I’ve got yours too.” He disappears for a moment and returns with an equal handful of mail. “Sorry I didn’t come by earlier, I’ve been busy unpacking -- Yuu Kanda, right?”

Kanda grimaces. “Yeah.” They exchange their respective stacks.

“I’m Lavi,” the guy says absentmindedly as he shuffles through his own. “Wait, wait.” He turns back into his apartment again, and this time the door is open wide enough for Kanda to watch him go. He drops his mail straight into the garbage can next to his kitchen counter and comes back with a basket.

Tiedoll and his homemade goods. Goddamn. And Kanda can bet that these letters are all from him, too, or at least him and his other adopted sons.

“These look real good, Yuu, I’m gonna admit I was tempted to just keep ‘em.”

“You can.” Kanda’s more than glad to hand them off. “Keep them. I don’t like sweet things.”

Lavi beams in response. “Shit, really? Thanks, Yuu!”

Kanda’s caught off balance. He just nods, and retreats back to the safety of his apartment. It’s only there that he remembers he let the guy use his first name twice without reproach.

This slowly becomes routine: about every three days, Kanda would knock, they’d trade mail, and Lavi would get to keep all the pastries and candy and whatever else Tiedoll sends weekly. One afternoon in the second week, Lavi knocks on Kanda’s door instead.

“Hey, Yuu.” He’s got one arm behind his head, and with the other hand he waves the letters at Kanda. “Library sent me home early, so I thought I’d come to you today, yeah?”

“Right.” Kanda hasn’t gone down to check the mail yet, himself, and he has a brief internal debate. His manners win over his reluctance to let people into his home. “You can sit down, I’ll be right back.”

The problem is that Lavi does sit down, and makes himself quite comfortable actually, and the rest of Kanda’s politeness kicks in too and before he realizes he’s making tea.

“So where do you work?”

The conversation goes from there.

 

Later that night, Kanda spots Lavi’s mail in his own trash can. He frowns. He’s not one to invade others’ privacy, not even a little, but he nudges the envelopes a little.

They’re not junk mail, and Lavi didn’t open them.

Kanda doesn’t open them either, but something like curiosity stirs.

The routine changes, now that it’s not wholly up to Kanda to initiate the interactions. Lavi starts inviting himself over, and invites Kanda in at one point, too. Every three days becomes every two days, and then every day. Lavi’s apartment looks as chaotic and disorganized as Kanda had been secretly expecting, and there are books and papers everywhere.

Kanda tries to bring up the letters, once, when they’re both on Lavi’s couch (enjoying some tea, and if anyone asked, Kanda would say his neighbour’s taste in tea is his only redeeming factor).

Lavi slides the letters into his wastebasket, in a practiced casual motion.

“You’re not going to read them?” Kanda asks, pretending not to be interested in the answer.

“Nah.” Lavi dismisses it and plunges into a new line of conversation, but the edges of his smile turn a little nervous, like he’s afraid Kanda will pursue the topic anyway.

 

By the end of the third week, Lavi starts bringing Kanda little gifts. Tea, a keychain in the shape of a sword, a little potted cactus. Kanda’s not sure when he mentioned liking gardening, but he does note mentally that Lavi is deceptively observant.

“They’re ‘cause I keep eating your sweets, Yuu!”

“I don’t want the sweets anyway,” Kanda grumbles, but he accepts Lavi’s offerings.

The same weekend, Lavi invites him in as usual, and then he hands Kanda a game controller.

“Relax a little, yeah? Don’t work so hard.”

Kanda chalks it up to the stress of the recent move that he gives in, just this once. (He lets Lavi talk him into watching a movie the next day, this time at Kanda’s place. Just this twice?)

 

Like a frog in slowly boiling water, Kanda doesn’t piece it together until it’s too late. He’s always pegged Lavi as a straightforward, brash personality, despite what he might be hiding and despite how much he notices and remembers.

They start spending more time together, and Lavi keeps bringing him presents, and it all starts feeling normal almost without Kanda noticing. It’s only when Lavi gives him flowers on Valentine’s, without mentioning the day at all, that it clicks.

Lavi’s not straightforward. Lavi’s stupidly cautious, if this is what passes for flirting with him.

Kanda waits an hour for Lavi to bring up the flowers again, or the date, or anything beyond the new acquisitions at the local library that he’s currently chattering about. No dice.

“Yuu? Hey, don’t go spacing out on me here.”

Kanda gives up and kisses him.

 

It’s spring by the time Kanda thinks to ask again.

“Why do you always throw out your mail?” They’re sitting outside, Kanda drafting a response to Tiedoll and Lavi reading a book.

Lavi blinks his single eye. He tries to laugh it off. “So direct, Yuu.”

“You didn’t answer me last time.” Kanda sets down his pen, giving up the pretense of distraction.

Lavi looks like he’s seriously considering telling Kanda that it’s none of his business. To be fair, Kanda would back off if he did. They both know, though, that Lavi’s well aware how slow Kanda is to trust. It’s a miracle they’ve gotten this far this easily.

Enough moments pass in silence that Kanda nearly turns back to his writing.

“I just... I’ve got a bad habit, Yuu.” He’s never heard Lavi sound this serious. “I go somewhere, I make friends, and then...” He runs a hand over his face and into his hair, propping his elbows on his knees. “I leave, and I don’t tell them where I go, and don’t keep in touch.”

“What the fuck, why?”

Lavi laughs, a little lighter this time. “I guess I -- I get scared?”

Kanda frowns. “How often has this happened?”

“A lot.” Lavi bites his lip. “The letters are all from one guy, though, he’s pretty persistent in trying to make sure I didn’t die or something. Everyone else probably gave up after they couldn’t track down my address.”

“That’s pretty unhealthy.” And then, to cut to the chase, “I’m waiting for you to tell me you’re done doing that.”

“I -- Oh, fuck.” He turns to look at Kanda properly. “I wouldn’t do that to you, Yuu. I wouldn’t.”

Kanda thinks he’s done a pretty good job of not getting angry, considering that’s his default state. He folds the letter and stands up. “Prove it.”

 

Lavi tries to go back to pretending nothing changed, that the conversation didn’t happen, but Kanda catches him shooting nervous glances at him like he’s afraid Kanda will bring it back up again. It’s like the man’s allergic to honest conversation, which is ridiculous considering how much he likes to talk.

They’re in his room. Lavi stayed the night, and he’s trying to convince Kanda to get up and make breakfast for the both of them. Kanda’s seriously considering it, if only to save himself from being stuck with Lavi’s idea of breakfast food. (Too much chocolate syrup. Kanda doesn’t even own chocolate syrup.)

Someone knocks on the door.

“Ughh. Yuu, you have to get up now. It’s your house. Make breakfast on the way back.”

“Too many demands,” Kanda scolds, and flicks Lavi in the head. He shuffles out of bed anyway and pulls on a shirt.

Allen Walker’s at the door.

“What the fuck?” Kanda asks, at the same time that Allen says:

“Kanda? What are you doing here?”

“I fucking live here, beansprout. The fuck do you want?” Kanda is not particularly sociable in the morning. Or any other time, unless he’s making tea because he made the mistake of inviting his new neighbour into his new apartment.

“Not looking for you, believe it or not,” Allen grumbles. “I thought I’d seen the last of you in high school.”

“No such luck,” Kanda snarls. “Get on with it or fuck off.”

“You live here?” Allen asks, with some doubt. He tries to lean around Kanda to peer inside.

Yes ,” Kanda snaps. “Is that all you wanted?”

“Alone?” Allen looks down at a scrap of paper he’s holding.

Kanda suddenly has a suspicion. “Yeah. What’s the address you’re looking for?”

“Apartment 350.”

Kanda snorts. That would explain it. “That’s the next door over. Numbers got switched during construction, it’s a pain in the ass.”

“Oh! Well, thank you. That was actually helpful.” Allen could stand to sound less surprised.

“Great. Bye.” Kanda closes the door.

 

“Holy shit,” Lavi whispers, as soon as Kanda gets back. “That’s letter guy!”

“Your letter guy is my asshole high school... acquaintance.” Kanda stands in the doorway to the bedroom, arms crossed. “And your problems are interfering with my life.”

“Holy shit,” Lavi says again.

“Here’s your chance to prove it.”

It speaks to Lavi’s uncanny memory that he doesn’t ask what Kanda’s talking about. “He’s pissed at me, though.”

“And I’m about to be if you don’t sort this out.” He turns, steps out of the bedroom. “I covered for you today, and I’m about to make breakfast. Your job is to figure out how you’re dealing with Allen before he comes back tomorrow.”

 

He does come back the next day. He knocks on the right door, this time, and the right person answers.

“Lavi.”

“Allen. And -- oh fuck.”

Lenalee drags Kanda over, nearly tearing off his arm. Kanda glares daggers at Lavi.

“You know, I told Lenalee here how I happened to run into Kanda looking for you, and you know what she said?”

“Tiedoll mentions constantly how you’ve made a new friend, Kanda.” Lenalee has never been more terrifying, except that time she and Kanda were six and he was trying to lie to her about what happened to her dress. “Now you’re going to explain to me why you were helping Lavi hide.”

“You crossed Lenalee?” Kanda hisses at Lavi. “What kind of idiot are you?” And then, to her, “I swear didn’t know any of this was happening.”

“Until like a week ago,” Lavi puts in, unhelpfully.

“All right.” Lenalee marches back to Kanda’s apartment (having glimpsed Lavi’s, and the lack of available seating surfaces therein). “We’re all going to sit down and reconcile and learn how our actions have consequences.”

Lavi squeaks out a “yes ma’am.”