Orange flames danced merrily within one of the several fireplaces within the expansive library of the order, which was being fed ever so often so that the library's read headed occupant could stay warm while he was working. While what was spread out in front of him upon the couch that he had settled upon wasn't anything too important, it was something that he wanted to finish before midnight. He had been working most of the day, and if he did finish enough of it he could free up some time to relax and unwind a bit. Ending the last sentence of what he had written he placed the quill down and fought back a yawn. Being only nine in the evening, he had plenty of time to finish the rest of this, so he let his mind wander some.
With a big yawn he sat up straight and stretched, groaning softly as his neck popped, as well as several places along his back. He must've been working in another weird position again if he could hear that many places moving back into their correct alignment. Sighing he moved a stack of papers off of his lap and on to the open book in front of him and tore his attention from the fire to the open window to his right. The sky was still the faintest pink, which had faded quickly to a deep, inky blue black colour that just made him want to go to the observation deck and stargaze for a while, physically pointing out the constellations that he could see. What had stopped him was the reminder that there was this dampness in the air, one that told of a good rain that was coming. He could also hear the sound of the wind whipping around the heights of their base, making the windows creak ever so slightly.
That wind's definitely cold. Good thing I'm inside instead of out there for once.
While he did like the colder weather, he was in no mood to be out in what would turn out to be a late fall cold rain. Lavi could feel it in his bones, the long healed fractures that he had received during different missions would ache when the weather got too cold or when it rained. While that was one of the bad things about the cold weather, it just made heat more of a drug to him this time of the year.
He really liked when Yu was too tired to totally push him out of his bed in the middle of the night, because it was then that he could simply bask in his presence, in the fact that they both were alive and he was deliciously warm, all snuggled up with him. He had done this several times, the first few being when he had awoke from one of his few frightening nightmares, the rest when he simply wanted someone to talk to, to be reminded that someone did indeed care, and that he could care in return.
If there was anything that was to be adored about this particular season, it would have to be the fading warmth in the air, the cold that would just seep into your bones and settle there, reminding you that you were alive. That cold would make anyone get up and move, to curl up with a book under a thick blanket in front of a roaring fire. Yet on the other side of things, the cold could dredge up unwanted memories and feelings, those that should have stayed well beneath the surface of one's psyche.
For Lavi, he was one of the more torn people when it came to late autumn. He loved how everything would change around him; the leaves would turn a myriad of colours ranging from yellow to the deepest of crimson, the sharp scent of flowers on the breeze would fade away and bring something sharp and crisp, like the scent of a freshly cut apple or the sweet yet spicy tang of cinnamon in the air, the heat of summer would gradually fade to make way for the cooler days and even colder nights. He especially loved the fact that this time of the year let him wear any of his scarves practically everywhere.
Yet what never failed to come to his attention was when it got rather cold, he could find Yu tucked away in a remote part of the library, just curled up upon one of the many couches and staring out into space. Sometimes he would find him reading something from Japanese Literature, which always seemed to fascinate him. He knew all to well what he was reading, yet when Bookman would leave him to his own devices, he would toughen up and risk Yu's temper to sit by him and strike up a conversation.
It was their pattern, one that let them relax and at the same time get to spend time with each other. There were no prying eyes when they were alone like this, and there were even times where Kanda could loosen up enough to show some of his rather warped sense of humour.
It was their way of dealing with their own darkness, the unspoken parts of their pasts that they didn't feel they were ready to share. Something that they might not ever be able to share, no matter how much they wanted to. There were things that were just too damaging, too traumatic to bring back up, even with people like them.
Today was rather similar to one of those times, yet as he noticed a shadow darken his vision as someone stood over him, his lips quirked upwards into a true smile as he greeted his visitor. He knew exactly whom it was, just by how they were acting. That and the fact that there was a thick tome about to be thrown at his head if he didn't acknowledge their presence.
Hearing the scoff of annoyance at the partially depressing mood surrounding him he couldn't help but to thank the elder man for coming at the perfect time. He knew that if he had been left to his own thoughts any longer, he would have been surrounded by so many unwanted thoughts and memories. Ones that tended to take a lot out of him. Shaking off whatever darkness that wanted to cling to him, to make him remember things that he would not want to deal with at the moment he looked up into dark sapphire blue eyes.
“Yo Yu-chan.” His grin grew at the sound of teeth grinding together and he wasn't surprised to find that he had landed quite harshly against the back of the couch when a boot covered foot landed solidly against his stomach.
“You know I hate it when you do that.” Kanda growled out.
To him, it was obvious that he wanted to do more than this, hell he would have if this had happened years ago, but he had actually mellowed out enough to be just a bit less violent when everyone wasn't around. It wasn't like they had to hide anything when they weren't under the scrutinizing gaze of the higher ups either.
Thankfully, it was a good thing that they both were trusted members of the order. Ones that hadn't fucked up enough to warrant any surveillance. Which made relaxing a hell of a lot easier when they had some downtime.
Of course the higher ups were paranoid about everything, but when it came to them, they weren't nearly as watched as Lenalee, or even Allen was. Both had shown tremendous mental instability in the past, and it was obvious that seeing people turned into Akuma had taken a toll on them. It had taken a toll on all of them, yet with how young and idealistic they both were, it was harder on them.
It almost had him feeling sorry for them. Yet he couldn't be, not with how he felt that they should face reality. This war was harsh, it was cruel and it wouldn't be for the faint of heart.
The beginnings of a snarl of anger, one that was never good when it came from Yu was what shook him from his thoughts. Moving his hands to the now sore spot where the samurai's boot was pressing against his stomach he winced. “Hate when I do what? Call you Yu-chan? You know that's never going to stop, you know how I am after all.” Pushing against the boot he took in a short breath before breaking into a fit of soft laughter at the glare he could almost feel directed at him.
Looking up into annoyed sapphire eyes, Lavi grinned at Kanda mischievously. “Yes?” Really, he should stop annoying Kanda, especially because he got rather creative when it came to his punishments for ticking him off, but it was way too much fun!
Seeing that his companion was barely restraining his growing irritation he moved over his books and papers with a light chuckle. “Don't be that way, sit down already! I know you hate it when I leave you hanging for work, but I really had to at least get this halfway finished before Panda had my head. I've been pushing it back for too long.” At least what he said was the truth. He knew that Yu had been present for Bookman's latest rant, which ended up with more than a few kicks to his head and a good bit of ranting on why it was better off that he finished his duties on time.
Kanda loved to add in a few points that could get him in trouble with his master as well. It was one of his ways that he would get back at him, especially because Bookman wasn't against teaching him a thing or two when it came to martial arts, which were made more deadly with his extensive knowledge of medicine and pressure points. He wouldn't even get started on the chi points. It made him shiver just thinking about it. He really wasn't in the mood to get Bookman pissed and Yu pissed on top of that. No, if that happened they'd easily conspire against him to give him the most painful retribution possible.
“Tch, you're an idiot for even putting something like that off for so long.” It took a while, but Kanda finally did sit down, casting an amused glance his way before letting his eyes rest briefly on the mess that was on the far end of the couch and partially on the floor as well.
“Don't worry, It'll be done. That way I won't make you even more annoyed the next time this happens, alright?” He knew well enough that they alternated with who would seek out whom, and next time would be his turn. If he did make it to where it was Yu that had to do the searching, it wouldn't end pretty.
“It better be.” Kanda was incredibly irritated at the moment, that was something that he didn't even have to ask about. It was in his whole countenance, the stiff way he carried himself, the barest clenching of his jaw and the twitchy way his hands would move as if they wanted to reach for Mugen and press its dangerously sharp blade against the vulnerable, thin flesh of the neck of his current source of annoyance.
He hoped that he wasn't the one that pissed him off enough to make him like this. He had only made Yu come to him, he actually hadn't gone out of his way to piss him off today.
“Relax, Yu. Its not like anyone comes to this part of the library. Bookman's orders and all that.” Keeping a small, relaxed grin upon his face he made a show of practically melting against the plush cushions of the couch, tilting his body enough so that his knees would just barely brush the swordsman’s thigh.
He had been almost afraid that he'd be hit upside the head with the thickest tome at the end of the couch, but he knew that even Yu wouldn't destroy something that old. Not when he knew just how scary Bookman could be when it came to books that were destroyed. Not that he was scared of the old man, not usually anyways...but he had a healthy respect for someone that could keep up with him in hand to hand combat. Especially at that age. He was amongst the few that he wouldn't want to anger, and that was saying something coming from him.
“I know that rabbit brat. Its not what had pissed me off in the first place.” Still not elaborating on that specific detail he let himself relax a bit. Which wasn't much, actually. The only real visible signs that he was working on relaxing were that his jaw had relaxed and his hands weren't nearly as twitchy as they were when he had first entered the room. His eyes still contradicted his efforts, the normal glowering look that flashed within them was just aching to come to the surface. If Lavi didn't know any better, Kanda was holding back the brunt of his anger and was trying to actually take his advice.
“Enough already Yu. You need to loosen up more before you even try to start rantin'. Don't want you to get pissed off enough to try and destroy things.”
“You're just splitting hairs again usagi. You know at least half of the reason why I'm so pissed in the first place. I know that you know, with how people can easily tell you things you shouldn't know.” While he was incredibly annoyed and tense he wanted Lavi to stop playing around and to finally realize that he wasn't in the mood for their usual games. He had come simply in search of the strange comfort that he felt when he was so close to Lavi, what he could feel while he was in his presence without anyone really bothering them.
“Yeah...” Finally dropping the whole game and all of its facets he scooted over, pressing his right hip against Kanda's left. This made the swordsman visibly relax, knowing that he only would trust his blind side to himself and Bookman.
It was a small reaffirmation of the fact that he could relax as well.
Pressing their shoulders together as well Lavi sat there, calming his already racing mind enough so that he could time his breaths with his companions. Once he finally did he felt his leg jerk a few times, almost as if it was trying to shake out the last bits of tenseness that plagued his body. It didn't work all that much, because his back still felt like it was in a bunch of knots, but it was enough to make him mumble incomprehensibly as he leaned more of his weight against Yu. “Yu, you going to tell me why you're so mad?” he asked softly, not in the normal tone that he would if he was trying to tease him into it. “It might help. If you're this stiff, even when you're trying to relax, I don't want to know how bad that back of yours is.”
It took a few minutes, but then the sword wielding exorcist finally began to speak.
“Its...strange. I couldn't care less about the finders, yet when one did something completely stupid on my last mission, it was like I lost it.” This had caught Lavi's attention immediately, because he knew that was incredibly true. Kanda wasn't one to lose his cool when it came to completing his mission, especially when it came to his views on the finders, but if it was something that caused him to be this angered, this ruffled and troubled, something big had to of happened.
“The damned weakling almost got Marie killed.” Kanda hissed, his whole body tensing as he relived that rush of anger, that incredibly palpable rage that he felt during that battle. While it was just a level two, it was one that could camouflage itself, as well as its scent of blood and death. The fucking thing was a pain in the ass too! Marie was his, just as much as Daisya was. They were his to yell at, his to train with, his to reluctantly spend time with under that annoying general of his...he was...family, so to speak. What really mattered was that he almost had lost someone important. Again.
For a moment, his paranoid and annoyingly pessimistic at times mind had replaced Marie with Lavi, which had made his heart feel like it lodged in his throat. He thought it was bad that it felt like it hurt to breathe thinking that someone that he saw as an elder brother, or someone that he could actually count on to listen to him without making a huge fuss was bad; but to think of Lavi in the same predicament, or both at the same time—it had shaken him. More than he was ready for in fact.
Ah. That explained it. Even though Lavi knew that Yu wouldn't have admitted it outright, he did think of Marie as an older brother. He was one that he never got too pissed at, and when he did it tended to blow over similarly to when he got pissed at something Lenalee did. He was one of the few people that the swordsman deemed important to him, and to even think that someone could do something so stupid as to get one of those few people killed was enough to get his blood boiling with rage.
“Yu-chan...” He wasn't sure what he should say. He wasn't good with actually comforting people and meaning it, but a good part of him, the part that he always kept hidden, wanted him to mean it. To comfort Yu and mean it. That twisted sneer that was on his companion's face was something that he did not want to see as he turned his body, his hands reaching out and planting firmly upon the bluenette's shoulders. “Yu, look at me.” He murmured finally, wanting all of his attention. He was going to do this on the fly, it seemed.
Grumbling in a mixture of annoyance and amusement at the tone that Yu had answered him in he clenched his hands tighter on his shoulders, smiling lightly when he finally did look at him instead of through him. It would have been a hell of a lot harder to do this if the swordsman was lost in his thoughts after all.
“The finders can do really stupid things. Hell, even over half of the time I think they're stupid, whether it be with their actions or their accusations towards any of the exorcists—but you have to remember that they're human. You might get to actually tolerate a few of 'em, but we can always obtain new finders. So its okay to get mad Yuu-chan...even to the point where you just want to tear someone limb from limb. Marie is alright because of you and General Tiedoll so that's something to be glad about, isn't it?” Trying to smile, he failed in looking actually happy, but what he could manage to show was that he was glad that he had Kanda's full attention.
Getting a grunt and an even more frustrating scowl he sighed. “You should just give him a good beating and get it over with. I know you want to do it, I can just tell with how you're acting now. I bet that Marie and even General Tiedoll are expecting it.” Letting go of the samurai's shoulders he couldn't help but to have a little laugh at his expense when it came to just how stiff they were. Poking at both he almost giggled as they drooped some. Was it because of the strain on his muscles? Pushing back that thought he tried his best in alleviating his companion's current mood by closing his hands around stiff shoulders and digging his palms into tense flesh.
“Sheesh Yu, you really do need to relax! This can't be healthy.”
“You try to go on a mission with Tiedoll and see how the hell you come back!” the swordsman retorted harshly, hissing in pain when Lavi's hands found particularly tender spots along his shoulders. The impromptu massage he was getting at the moment hurt, and as he turned even more on the couch to sit sideways, he felt himself leaning into the touch. Seeing the almost blinding smile that he received at his movements he felt Lavi move with him. Huffing in annoyance he let himself relax a bit more, and as the minutes went by he could feel some of the tension in his body slowly start to melt away with the red head's hands.
“Its not just the fact that you had to go on a mission with him, its the stress of what happened and the added stress that you haven't let yourself get rid of Yu-chan.” Lavi murmured in a soft chastising tone. He was still worried about just how bad almost seeing Marie die had screwed him up, and if he would just try to bury it deep within the back of his mind like he did with most of the things that were hard to talk about. He knew that he was incredibly lucky that Yu trusted him enough to even talk about it, and he wouldn't shatter that trust for anything.
He was glad that he could see this side of the swordsman after all.
It was obvious that Kanda did need a good massage, at least to a certain redhead. He wouldn't be melting like putty under his hands if he didn't. Lavi was trying not to laugh at the adorable picture the other made; partially relaxing into his massage but still aware enough and pissed off enough at that particular finder to have his eyes stay that dark, almost back colour. That was the easy physical sign that Yu was still pissed to him, because when he was more calm, his eyes appeared to be the colour of the darkest of sapphires with just a hint of black.
“Yu...Marie's still here. Tiedoll is here too, even if he annoys you to hell and back. We're here and we watch each other's backs, alright?” Getting a pleased grunt from Kanda when he began working out another kink at the base of his neck he couldn't hold back the light chuckle that escaped him any longer. “Its not like we'd willingly allow ourselves to be put in danger enough to get us killed. Not if we can help it at least. We're not omnipotent, but it helps that we can all work together in battle and at home.” Clicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth he smiled as he quickly realized that the samurai was staring at him with interest.
“I don't get why I feel like I can tell you things like this when I'm as pissed as I am.”
Now that sounded like something that could be along the lines of a confession. Not in the romantic sense, though it could be seen as such, but in the more personal sense. He would never have even thought of telling him this if he didn't think that he could trust him with this information. Stilling his hands he debated on whether he should simply kiss him or hug him, he decided to do things on the fly. What he wanted to get through to him was the fact that he was so grateful that he trusted him that much, that things weren't one-sided in that regard. He trusted Yu with a lot of things that he could never tell anyone else besides Bookman, and it made something in his chest flutter at the thought of it.
Leaning forwards he threw his arms around Kanda in a tight hug. “Isn't it obvious Yu? You trust me with things like this. Enough that you can tell me. You're letting yourself open up more to me.” He couldn't keep the happiness from seeping into his tone, hell he was almost deliriously happy. It made him feel like he was special, like this whole thing, which had started from a shared dislike of their nightmares, had more of a silver lining than they ever thought. He knew that this little tidbit of information would have made Yu kill anyone else if they had got their hands on it, which was what really made him smile.
Normally he would be fighting back his instinctual jerk away from someone touching him this intimately, but with the look on the red head's face, as well as how he reminded himself that no one was here and he could at least try to relax a bit more, he didn't jerk away from Lavi's hug. He was still a bit tense, which was more of a conditioned response than anything else. “You're not as annoying as everyone else when you finally do drop that damned mask of yours.” Kanda muttered in irritation. To Lavi, he could tell that he was trying to hide whatever he was feeling with one of his default emotions. Irritation. It would work on everyone but him though. He was adept in reading Yu's moods, it had been a hobby of his to map them out when he first met him and was still new to him as a person, which was something that helped immensely. It also helped that he was a bookman in training, which had upped his observational skills to the highest degree.
“I know how much you hate it, but its something I have to do. Its not like I could go into the mess hall and start acting like you, y'know? Lenalee might figure out what happened the fastest, but the rest would look at me like I switched bodies with you or something.” Pausing, he thought that wouldn't be all too bad. Just for a day at least. He wouldn't want to have to put them in danger by having to go on a mission with swapped bodies after all.
Kanda was used to Lavi trying to get him to calm down when he was highly pissed, it was something that tended to fall upon the red head's shoulders when Lenalee couldn't help, and with what Lavi had said, he couldn't help but to frown. He didn't have much of an opinion on it either way because he knew how to shut up just about everyone, yet there was one thing that did stand out to him.
That annoying brat would make a good situation into something bad. “Tch, ship off that damned brat and we'll see. It could be your prank for one of the fucking annoying parties Komui will hold for Halloween.” It wasn't that he couldn't trust Allen to destroy Akuma in battle, it was that he couldn't trust him out of it. The brat had always seemed off to him, even with his whole mindset on the war. Another big clue was that Lavi acted overly fake in front of the kid, which was something he always did to watch someone.
Seeing that Lavi didn't trust him as well had cemented his view on the pint sized exorcist.
Shaken free from his thoughts when Lavi began to rub at his upper back he felt himself almost melting against the redhead. Good riddance. Here was another example of something that Lavi could do rather well, distract him from his thoughts of wanting to kill that damned brat for something. Maybe it had been a good idea for him to be the one to come to him...this time. He would easily admit to himself that he was more relaxed than he had been when he had first come into the library.
Humming pleasantly Lavi continued to rub at Kanda's back, taking pleasure in the fact that he had been allowed to hug the samurai for this long. His hands had found a rather tense spot at the base of his skull, leading down to the middle of his neck. When it was touched, both of them hissed out in pain. Kanda, because the spot was touched, and Lavi because Kanda had slammed the back of a closed fist against the base of his skull. “Fuck! Don't touch right there usagi!”
“Holy hell Yu, did you have to do that?” Releasing Kanda enough to rub at the base of his skull with his left hand he steadied himself against Kanda by using him as an anchor, his right hand coming across the samurai's upper back. He wasn't pissed or anything, it was that the blow had really hurt, especially because his he could feel the pain travel all the way down his back, which just made his back felt akin to how Yu's did when he first started to give him an impromptu massage.
“You're the one that fucking touched the back of my neck!” He growled out, trying his hardest not to just send Lavi flying to the ground. While his neck hurt the worst, the brief massage he had on his shoulders had felt good enough that he could just barely feel the tension in his neck start to recede.
“You didn't tell me that it hurt that bad!” Leaning back enough so that he could let the samurai see his frown he let his eyes rake up and down the expanse of skin that he could see. It was a good thing that the swordsman was still wearing that sleeveless turtle neck, because it made it easier for him to see any straining muscles along his upper shoulders, which led to his neck. Sighing he reached around and felt for the top of his companion's shoulder blades, then pressed lightly. Moving his fingertips in a slow sweeping motion he continued upwards until he found the most tender parts of the trapezius muscle and pressed down. “Don't hit me Yu, I'm just trying to help. Relax.” He murmured in the bluenette's ear, moving his other hand up to help him.
Getting another flinch, though this time it wasn't nearly as bad as the first he began to hum a tune that he had learned while he was travelling in India. He didn't know the name of it, but it was something soft and wordless, which was what was needed right now. He got more than a few curses and a good few hisses of pain as his fingers worked to relieve the samurai of the pain he was in, and a few times he felt a hand clenching his arm as Kanda tried to relax. Twenty minutes passed before he was even ready to try to press harder into the slowly relaxing muscle, and when he did he got a few more hisses and a hand clenching into his unkempt hair, but that was a lot better than what he got when he first tried this.
“Idiot. Even now you act without thinking.”
Chuckling at the relaxed tone of Kanda he continued to massage the tenseness right out of his neck. “You know me, its easy to do when its you, Yu-chan.” Getting a wordless grunt in return he slowed his hands in favour of simply stroking them down his back.
It took Kanda a while to answer, but when he did, he received an actual response. “Maybe it was a good thing I came here.” he finally said, letting that reoccurring thought be said for once. Lavi knew that he was still annoyed at the fact that he had to go find him this time, but he felt good knowing that he was able to help Yu, even if it took a while.
“You know, I'm here too. Its not like I'd up and leave any time soon.”
“I know. You better not.”
“Like I'd want to leave my poor Yu-chan all alone! I'd miss you.”
Kanda rolled his eyes. “Quit trying to flatter me and get back to that massage.”
A happy laugh escaped the redhead. “So I do have magic fingers when it comes to giving you a massage!”
Shrugging out of Lavi's hug he found that he missed the warmth that he gave off. The room was still chilly, and half of him wanted to let the over excitable rabbit to hug him again while the other half of him wanted to move closer to the fire and get a better massage. Getting a massage from Lavi was almost as good as meditating as soon as he got out of a hot bath, both left him incredibly relaxed and almost boneless for quite a while. It was a good thing that the rabbit knew just what muscles to press when he was giving one as well.
“Shut up and move, usagi. If you don't, I'll leave.”
“You don't have to be like that. You know I'll give ya a good massage Yu-chan. You've needed one, haven't you?” Lavi muttered to himself, knowing that the samurai heard him. Grabbing a thick blanket from its place at the top of the couch he grabbed gestured to a spot closer to the fire. “It'll be a lot warmer if we get closer.”
Kanda followed Lavi as he stood, not minding the slight crunch of a quill as he stepped on it as he passed. The firelight illuminated the red head's hair to the point that it looked like it could be a part of the fire itself, giving it both copper red tones and deep crimson ones. Taking one good look at the fire, then at Lavi he could hear the bookman apprentice's earlier words echoing in his head.
“I know you're here usagi...for once, its a good thing.”
Getting a brilliant smile in return for his words, he allowed himself to be led to the fire and placed just like Lavi had wanted him to be.
Lavi was one of the only ones that truly understood him after all. He didn't even have to tell him every little detail and he understood. That was something that he was ever grateful for, something that he would continue to be silently appreciative of.
In his own way, the redhead had become his own brand of comfort to him.