symbolism_egg: (mystified Jas (by me))
[personal profile] symbolism_egg
Summary: It’s almost Christmas, and Doug and Lavi have an evening together. This time, Lavi will look at him… Pure fluff.
Notes: Written for [personal profile] leafyaki for [profile] dgray_exchange.
Disclaimer: The D. Gray-man series and characters do not belong to me.

Doug dashed through the city streets, through the throng of shoppers who passed beneath strings of red and green lights hung between lampposts. He felt light without his usual heavy backpack—or maybe it was the excitement of a night so close to Christmas. Instead of his usual white uniform, he wore a shabby gray coat and gloves with the fingers frayed down to the second knuckle. They’d been washed more times than he could count, and he wasn’t going to think of what had been washed out. He wasn’t going to wear his uniform tonight, or stand out in the crowd.

“Excuse me! Ah—excuse me!” he said, almost colliding with a shawled woman carrying a pyramid of boxes. “I’m sorry!” He dodged around her, and, intent on his progress, continued forging through the crowd. The bricks of the street were wet with slush that slowed him and spotted the hems of his pants.

At last he reached the edge of the shopping square and broke free from the crowd. Where an alley lined with dilapidated shops joined the larger square, his friend was waiting. Lavi, the Bookman and Exorcist.

Doug set a look of determination on his face. He knew he’d started to reflect in Lavi’s eyes—a Bookman would never have bothered to save a mere Finder, otherwise. And tonight, for an hour or two Lavi was going to be seeing him. He wouldn’t have to write it down or remember it for the sake of posterity or anything.

Doug trailed up, panting. You’d think running without a backpack would be easy, but he’d been in such a rush. He hung his head, black hair falling around his face, and braced his hands on his knees. “I’m—sorry…I’m…late…” He got the feeling his look of determination wasn’t doing so well.

“Hey, no problem. Take your time.”

Doug looked up. Lavi was looking at him in amusement, but warmly, not with the gemstone-cold eye with which he’d once regarded everyone around him. He was wearing a long black coat, not his Exorcist’s coat, over casual clothes. Good. The only reason he’d stand out now would be his eyepatch and maybe the unkempt red hair sticking out from underneath his knit hat.

“Ready to get going? You hungry?”

Having caught his breath, Doug straightened. “Let’s look at the shops first.” He glanced behind him at the bustling square of shops and lights. “But not here. Somewhere a little…calmer?”

Doug didn’t like crowds. It was too easy to be ambushed by the Akuma hidden among the true people. Even if he and Lavi weren’t dressed like targets, he’d rather spend time somewhere quieter.

They strolled away from the noise of exclaiming shoppers and laughing children, away from the dull shine of red and green. Pools of lamplight lit mounds of snow at the roadside. But here, too, were small shops displaying scarves or confections or wood-carved trains. Doug gazed happily at everything. He didn’t want anything he saw in the windows—although a scarf would be nice, he thought, exhaling steaming air onto his hands, or new gloves. He wished he’d had enough of his salary remaining to buy Lavi a gift, but he’d miscalculated the cost of the small things he’d bought for the other Finders in his current team.

Lavi placed his hands behind his head as they walked. “Wishing for something in the window? Sorry I didn’t get you anything…”

Doug smiled. “No, that’s not it. Having a few hours like this is enough.” It was true. Few of the other Finders were his age, and hours of leisure were fewer still.

Lavi gave a sigh and an exaggerated roll of his eye. “Guess that means you didn’t get me anything either.”

“I’m sorry! I wanted too, but…” He looked down. After all, Lavi had saved his life, and you’d think that deserved some token of appreciation. But it wasn’t as if a book of fairy tales or a box of sweetmeats would make up for a life saved. Besides, those working for the Order watched out for each other every day, or they’d all be in their graves by now, or, more likely, crumbled into poison ash.

Even Lavi watched out for the others. Now he did.

“Don’t worry about it.” Lavi patted the top of Doug’s head, an annoyingly easy gesture, since Doug was at least five inches shorter than him.

Doug huffed and was about to frown, but just then thick flakes of white drifted in front of him. He smoothed his hair down, feeling the wetness of snowflakes, and said, “We’re sure to have a white Christmas, at least.”

“Then let’s hope we’re indoors by a fire that morning…”

They continued to walk without a particular aim, at times exchanging a few words and at others watching the passers-by. Doug’s fingers were freezing, and his face, but the rest of him was warm.

And then they came upon a small plaza with a frozen fountain and snow. The snow fell heavier now, and had smoothed the footprints away. There was only a solitary lamppost here, and above them was an endless white sky of snow. Doug could make out a row of evergreens, though, dusted with tinsel. His smile growing wider, he started towards them.

And tripped face-first into a snowdrift.

Doug lifted himself to his hands and knees and shook snow from his hair. “Wh-what was that for, Lavi!?” He wiped the freezing snow from his face with numb hands.

Lavi grinned down at him. “You looked like you’d die of happiness, so I took a preventative measure.” He began to edge backwards through the snow.

Doug sprang to his feet and kicked snow at Lavi. It fell short in a rain of powder, so he scooped up a handful of snow. Lavi fled cackling to the other side of the fountain. Doug packed the snow into snowball and hurled it with all his might. It hit Lavi in the chest.

Lavi sent a flurry of snowballs his way in a counter-attack, and Doug grimly dodged them, running towards him as he prepared another missile and caught Lavi in the arm. “Ouch! Fine, I give in to you and your depth perception.”

“It’s what you deserve for tripping me,” said Doug. Wait, was it all right to pelt an Exorcist with snowballs? He had acted without considering that. “Er, are you all right, Lavi?”

Lavi looked at him in puzzlement. “You think I’m deathly allergic to snow or something?”

“N-never mind…” Now that he’d stopped moving, Doug felt chilled. He shivered.

“Speaking of which, it’s a miracle your fingers haven’t frozen off.” Lavi frowned down at Doug’s hands and adjusted his hat. “Okay, that settles it. We’re going to go have hot chocolate.”

“But I don’t have any money…”

“My treat. Obviously.”

And now Lavi was doing more for him, when Doug hadn’t even found some token gift.

Seeing Doug’s downcast expression, Lavi continued, “I want to, idiot. I’ve never bought anyone hot chocolate before, so it’s like a present for me too, right?”

“That doesn’t make any sense!” said Doug, but Lavi was grabbing his arm and dragging him back the way they’d come, towards the warm little shops and cafes.

Soon Doug was seated across from Lavi in a small pub crowded with wood tables. The fireplace was enough to heat the interior, even by the window where they sat. Doug tried to curl his fingers around the mug of hot cocoa and imagined the old Lavi buying drinks for some figure in a pub or café, chatting them up for information in that friendly way, with that hollow look in his eye. He looked to the side, not out the window but at their reflections. Lavi, chin in palm, was smiling out at the snow.

Doug lifted his mug awkwardly took a sip of his almost-scalding hot chocolate. Warmth filled him. He could almost feel his fingers. “Thanks for this gift, Lavi,” he said, and Lavi looked at him. Doug smiled, said with confidence, “And Merry Christmas. I’ll give you something in return, later.”

If I haven’t already.

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February 2011

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