It hurt. It really, really did. He would rather be tortured by the Noah or even the Millennium Earl himself than go through what he was feeling now.
Kanda had left. Kanda had left without so much as a goodbye, without even thinking of leaving a message, however short it could’ve been.
Perhaps he was being extremely, unbelievably naïve to expect that of Kanda, but after he’d stopped denying to himself that he actually had a heart that cared for his comrades-in-arms… He had come to think that perhaps Kanda too, given their closer-than-normal relationship, would give him a second thought when it mattered.
Practically all the people whom Kanda could be considered remotely close to knew about “that person”. At the very least, they all knew that “that person” was the driving force behind Kanda living on despite his oftentimes reckless behavior when he charged into battle. Nobody knew for sure what relationship Kanda had with this mysterious person for Kanda was close-lipped about any details, but it was easily deduced that they had been close. Very, very close.
So perhaps Lavi had unintentionally jinxed himself when he’d come to his own private conclusion that “that person” whom Kanda was looking for was a past love of his.
How he had ever come to this conclusion, Lavi still did not know, for he had thought that even before he’d been told about the Second Exorcist project and that Kanda was the only survivor.
Lavi knew that the relationship he had with Kanda would eventually cause problems with his aspirations to becoming a Bookman. It was problematic enough that he had a heart that cared, that he did not think of his fellow Exorcists as mere ink on paper… But to come to the realization that he had somehow found the capacity to fall in love with Kanda, despite his hardest to keep everything between them purely physical, when Kanda was literally no longer within his reach…
It was crippling. And it was taking every single ounce of his willpower and training to keep it from showing on his face and in his mannerisms.
He had heard the full story of Kanda’s past and what had happened in the Asian Headquarters from Allen himself. Horrible as Kanda’s past was, Lavi wished that he’d been in Allen’s place to see it personally and memorize every single bit of detail.
Because, goddamn it, he was supposed to be the person closest to Kanda, wasn’t he?
Then perhaps he would have some closure if he had been present when Kanda and Alma had reunited.
Perhaps he wouldn’t be left wondering if he was the only one who was reading too much into what were, possibly, mutual budding feelings of love between him and Kanda.
Perhaps he wouldn’t feel as if pure, concentrated acid was eating away at his chest at being left behind.
He was ill-equipped to deal with such emotions. The only thing he could do was to lock them away behind the cheerful mask that was the typical side seen of his 49th persona even if he had shown his more serious sides in that persona before… and it was also the persona that was feeling increasingly like his real self. So would it be uncharacteristic for him to be seriously affected by Kanda’s departure?
But even if it wouldn’t be strange for him to be saddened because of his persona, it was a dangerous trek for him to take. Lavi knew that if he let himself feel too much in front of other people, he would definitely expose himself to Bookman – and that was something he could not afford right now. Right ever.
His long-standing aspirations to become a Bookman was probably the only thing keeping him from staying curled up in his bed all day, trying – and probably failing – to come to terms with his first (and with luck, only) broken heart.
So he could not, absolutely could not risk Bookman discarding him as an apprentice. If that happened, even if he somehow managed to not commit suicide, he knew that he would never be able to live out the rest of his life with a semblance of purpose. He would just exist and be nothing more than that.
He had considered asking Allen to reveal where he’d sent Kanda and Alma to. But that would mean revealing his feelings towards Kanda to Allen, because Lavi could clearly tell from Allen’s tone that there was no way the white-haired boy would reveal that location unless there were really, really extenuating circumstances. He was relatively sure that confessing that he’d fallen in love with Kanda would count as “really, really extenuating circumstances”. So perhaps it was just him trying to preserve the last shred of his pathetic dignity and pride that had stilled his tongue.
But he knew. He knew that if he didn’t do something – and soon – everything would be revealed, with all the grace of a herd of charging elephants. There was only so much that he was able to lock away, and that locker of feelings and memories was threatening to overflow any moment.
So Lavi thought to do the only thing he knew that had successfully calmed him down before. He would write.
One night, when he knew that he wouldn’t be disturbed by Bookman, he surrounded himself with piles of books and papers and bottles of inks, so that all he could smell was the comforting, familiar scent of musty old parchment and their ink. And then he took out blank, untouched papers and started to write and write and write…
I doubt that you’d get to read this. I doubt that anyone would, since I think I’ll burn it all away soon enough.
I wonder, is it okay now for me to call you by your given name? You’ve always protested and threatened me with death and dismemberment whenever I did it, especially in public. But from what I’ve learned from Allen, it’s like you’re a whole new person now, in that last few moments that he’d seen you. Like you’re a lot lighter, a weight’s been lifted off your shoulders… so you seem like you’re much less likely to snap at anyone. Yet now that I know (inferred really, but I’m right, aren’t I?) why you disliked being called by your given name before, I can’t quite bring myself to refer to you by that, like how I used to.
Because nothing is how it used to be. Isn’t it?
Maybe I’m being stupid, being that idiotic rabbit that was your nickname for me, but I enjoyed being the only one (well, besides General Tiedoll, but he doesn’t really count, does he?) who could call you by your given name and still live to tell the tale – daily. But I’m no longer that special someone, am I? Honestly, I never was, was I?
I understood that for our relationship to last after the war would be practically impossible – we both knew that. We had started out as “friends with benefits”, or “fuck buddies” if you prefer. Just someone to get close to physically, to experience the most primal form of pleasure in the midst of the war against the Earl, because everyone needs a break to escape from the cruel reality that is our lives as Exorcists at the epicenter of this war. No strings attached.
I also knew that even if love blossomed from our closer-than-normal association with each other, nothing more could come out of it. You would never ask me to give up being a Bookman; I would never ask you to give up searching for “that person”. You’ve never told me, but I’ve always suspected that “that person” was a past lover of yours.
Guess I was right, huh?
Jealousy is a strange and foreign feeling to me, you know. Since the day I renounced my real name to become Bookman’s heir, I have never regretted not being able to make friends and to eventually have blood-related family. Even when Road made me discover brutally that I had a heart despite the fact that I shouldn’t have one, I did not feel jealous of the other Exorcists who could wear their hearts on their sleeves and be free to show true emotions. Becoming a Bookman was what I’d aspired to become since I could remember, it was a choice that I had made. It wasn’t always easy to live with it after the incident with Road, but I managed to get by.
However, the moment that I learnt of Alma’s relationship to you, I felt the green-eyed monster for the first time.
I am jealous of Alma. I am jealous that Alma was the first person to call you by your given name. Jealous that Alma is the reason why you refused to let other people call you by that name. Jealous that Alma was so special and precious to you even before you knew of Alma’s true identity. Jealous that you left so readily with Alma without so much as goodbye to me, without so much as telling Allen to pass along a message.
Am I being irrational? I really don’t know. I don’t know me anymore.
I am not the boy who at age six, gave up his name and the chance to have bonds with the rest of the human race. I am none of my 48 other aliases. I am not “Lavi” anymore. My 49th alias was only supposed to be “friendly and frivolous”. “Lavi” was not meant to fall in love, just like any of my 48 other aliases.
Who am I then? The best I can surmise is that I am just a foolish man for being unable to stop myself from falling in love with you, when any such relationship had been doomed from the beginning.
It’s not that I’m not happy for you. I’m glad that you’ve found “that person”, in a corner of my heart that can still feel positive emotions. You deserve to find Alma and be together with no more interference from the Order or the Earl and his Noah. The two of you deserve all the peace that you can get for all that you’ve both been put through. I understand that. I know that. I really, really do.
But it hurts so badly to see you with someone else. No, I didn’t even see you, did I? The last time we saw each other was in the Asian HQ, before Timothy was added to our ranks, before we were deployed to different parts of the world, before it all went to hell with the Earl’s attack…
Would it have been better for me if I had seen you leave with Alma to wherever Allen sent the both of you? Perhaps I would’ve really understood that you’re gone, that you’ve left forever and I won’t feel as though I’ve been left hanging. If I had been there, would I have gotten a goodbye from you?
I don’t want your thanks, like how you thanked Allen. All I needed, all I need is just a goodbye from you. But it seems that I don’t even deserve that tiny bit of consideration on your part…
There’s this saying that it’s better to have love and lost than to have never loved at all. But I suppose that doesn’t truly apply to something purely one-sided, does it? Because I’m sure I wouldn’t be in this state if I’d “never loved at all”.
We didn’t start out with the intention to become lovers in the true, complete sense of that word. But somehow, I fell. Maybe it was easier for you, because you knew what love was, as vague as the concept probably still was to you. You knew, probably, how to avoid that slippery slope. Or perhaps it was because you’ve never stopped loving “that person”, that’s why you could allow me close enough for sex and companionship but never into your heart, while I’m now left floundering.
I’ll recover. I think. I have to. Because I know that if Bookman ever finds out about this, about me being in love with you, I will definitely lose the second most important thing in my life.
I know that I’ve lost you for good. So I cannot afford to not become a Bookman. What would I have renounced my name for then? Who would I be then? I am none of my 48 previous aliases, and as for my 49th… as for “Lavi”…
You’ve stolen his heart.
You’ve stolen the heart that belonged to “me”, from my real self to all of my aliases.
So technically, it should make it easier for me to become a Bookman, shouldn’t it? Perhaps that will be true, once the gaping hole in my metaphorical chest heals.
I suppose that you’d tell me to forget all about you. I too know that that’s the logical thing to do. But as I’ve just learnt firsthand, the heart isn’t the most logical of things. Do you know that I see you in the little things around me? My room is now especially hellish to be in.
In every nook and cranny, there’s a memory lurking somewhere, and now I curse my Bookman training because every memory with you is still crystal clear in my mind. Not even sleep helps me to escape you, if anything, sleep makes everything worse. I never really used to dream much, but when I do, they become extremely vivid and often incorporate details from my memories.
Who do you think invades my dreams now?
It’s like you’ve never left whenever I’m dreaming. You’re still your usual grouchy self whenever we are in front of others (well, you’re still much like that even when we’re alone). You still react, beautiful as always, to me… to all of me. It’s just like our real moments together in private, when we’re both cocooned in our own little world… no one else to disturb us, to judge us or to demand anything of us. It’s our own piece of heaven.
But whenever I wake up, still thinking that you’re still here next to me on the bed, and I’m reaching out to touch you… and reality hits. Reality hits me so hard; it’s almost a physical blow and it almost leaves a physical ache. You’re not there anymore, and you won’t be there forever more.
I can’t stop dreaming about you, nor can I stop thinking about you. I wanted to know everything about you; I still do. I want to understand why… Why did you just leave like that?
I thought I had you figured out. I really thought I did. But here I yet again learn a lesson Bookman had drilled into me since young. To be able to see someone clearly, one needs to be objective and have no biased feelings clouding one’s judgment. From the moment I fell in love with you (and even with my Bookman training, I can’t even tell you when that moment was), my sight has been clouded to such an extent that I probably don’t know you as much as I thought I did, am I right?
Because “love” is the most biased feeling of all.
You know, I wonder why you chose to go along with me, that night when I approached you. Maybe because you understood the need for some form of stress relief, and you’re not the sort to approach others. So perhaps you just took your chance when I came on to you? But now I wonder if it was because “Lavi” reminded you, in some way, of Alma…
In a way, I’m pleased that you’ve found Alma – despite the manner of it and would you believe me if I said that I was about to cry for you when I heard how you almost killed Alma again? – before I could lose my pride and dignity any further. It’s something I shouldn’t even consider, but I’ve found myself doing it pretty often before it all became like this. You know that I’ve renounced my true name to become Bookman’s apprentice, but I did not forget it.
Yes, I’d been considering telling you what my true name was. Other than Bookman and myself, nobody else knows what it is… You could’ve been the third person to know. Perhaps it’s petty on my part to feel this way about you not knowing my true name, but that would’ve been as close to a direct confession to you on my part, wouldn’t it?
So I am glad that this last shred of my pride and dignity is still intact. That I haven’t completely bared myself to you, only to receive an unequivocal rejection…
Even so, I almost wanted to ask Allen, wanted to beg him to tell me where he’d sent you. The mere thought of it is so pathetic that I almost gag thinking about it right now. But I had wanted to do that… sometimes, when the hurt gets too bad, too hard for me to take it, I consider going to ask Allen again. But I always manage to stop myself at the last minute. Lucky me, huh.
I’m happy that I met you; please don’t ever think otherwise. But maybe you won’t care, will you? Regardless, I probably need to thank you. You’ve taken away the “heart” that a Bookman does not need. There will be no more “love” to cloud my sight and judgment. “Lavi” will eventually return to being just “friendly and frivolous”. Period. Exactly like how he was supposed to be. Everything will return to normal in due time, I’m sure it will.
I hope, for your sake, that you and Alma do not need to part so soon. And I hope, for my own sake…
That we never meet again.