Lavi gasped and staggered back, releasing his grip on the handle of his hammer and flexing his fingers, blinking as he glanced down at them. They were stained with blood, and for once his mind was too unfocused to work out whether it was his, the Akumas' or the blood of the unfortunate people who had died before they'd got there, or a mixture of the three. He blinked and glanced around, not really seeing the horror and devastation that they'd walked into, or the destruction that their fight had caused, white noise flooding his ears as he fought to catch his breath. It was a losing battle. His heart was pounding in his chest, breath coming in short, sharp pants that caught on his sore throat, which ached as though he had been shouting or screaming for a long time, and maybe he had. The fight seemed to have lasted forever, much too long…and it had been closer than he wanted to admit, even as the aches and pains began to break through the haze of fading adrenaline.
That seemed to describe most of their missions these days, he thought bitterly, losses and near misses a constant weight in his thoughts at the moment. He wished that he could forget it, but right now it was almost welcome, the heaviness of it grounding him back in reality as he took a deep breath, feeling it burn, even as some of the white noise cleared. I'm alive. We won. Really, that was all that mattered right now, even if it meant little in the grand scale of things and he took another deep breath and then another, before stepping forward to retrieve his hammer, letting it shrink back to its normal size.
"Allen, we should…" He called turning around, only to come up short when he realised there was no sign of his partner, his relief at their victory and his survival shattering like glass as he stepped forward, eyes darting everywhere. "ALLEN!" His partner had been there only seconds ago, or had it been longer? It was hard to keep track during a fight, but he remembered the familiar flash of white and red out of the corner of his eye, and the rush of motion as Allen had charged in, blade too close for comfort as he cut down one of the smaller Akuma that had been sneaking up on him.
He was fine.
It wasn't as comforting as he wanted it to be, because a lot could happen in the space of a few seconds, and Allen had a target painted on his back that seemed to draw everyone and everything to him. "ALLEN!" He was moving now with that last thought running through his mind. The narrow street that had been so small while they fighting, now feeling huge as he broke into a job, head twisting from side to side as he searched for some sign of Allen. "ALLEN! Answer me!" He ordered, wishing that Kanda was here, because as grumpy as he was, he would remain calm in a situation like this, while Lavi could feel panic clawing at him, bookman training be damned. Plus, Kanda had the unique ability to always draw a response from Allen no matter how far he was gone, to the point that Lavi had once joked to Lenalee that it would probably rouse him from the dead.
That had been before they'd lost him. Before Lavi had lost him. And now he just felt sick to his stomach as he scanned the rubble, the walls that had crumbled beneath their efforts to contain and destroy the pack of Akuma that had been terrorising the small town. Please. He wasn't sure who he was pleading with at this point. Any faith he'd had in a higher being had long since been lost, and yet right now he was praying, frantic and desperate, as he passed the still form of one of the townspeople that had been torn asunder before they'd arrived. Please, let him be alive. He wanted to ask for more, but he wouldn't because that would be enough. Please.
He was working his way back up the street. Panic beginning to give way to terror when movement caught his eye, a flash of yellow against red and brick, a swirled tail waving in the air. "Timcanpy," he breathed, already moving towards him before his eyes fell on familiar black. His heart in his mouth, Lavi closed the distance between them at a sprint, hammer falling from suddenly numb fingers as he realised that the loyal little golem that had caught his attention in the first place was frantically trying to dig Allen free of the pile of rubble he was lying partially buried in. A quick glance up showed a deep crater in the side of the wall, and it didn't take much imagination to visualise Allen – still much to small and slight, being slammed into it, and the glint of red amongst the damage had Lavi's stomach rolling.
Please, just let him be alive.
"Allen!" He called again, not expecting an answer this time because there was no missing Timcanpy's distress, and Allen had never been one to ignore the little creature, even when he sometimes to push the rest of the world away. "Allen!" Still, he tried, the silence unnerving him. It wasn't that Allen didn't have periods of silence, although Kanda would disagree with that, it was that this silence was wrong, and accompanied by a stillness that had dread pooling in his stomach.
First, he carefully cleared the debris away from Allen's head, trying to ignore the way his hands trembled. And he was relieved that the Panda wasn't there to see how far his training was failing today, not that he would have cared, because this was Allen. His Allen. His Allen, who was much to pale as he brushed the last of the dirt away, letting his fingers rest against Allen's cheek, mindful of the bruise that was already beginning to colour the skin, curling up and around, towards a nasty looking gash on his temple. The silvery hair was filthy with dirt and streaked with blood from the wound, and he hissed in sympathy as he brushed it away so he could examine the cut. It wasn't too deep, but it was still bleeding, and it was filthy. However, there was nothing he could do about that now, and there was no sign of Allen stirring even at his touch, and with difficulty he pulled away, turning his attention to the rest of the debris covering his partner.
There was some comfort to be found in the fact that none of the rubble was particularly big or heavy, not least because it made it easier for him and Timcanpy to move it aside, but because it reduced the likelihood of severe, hidden damage. But it didn't remove it entirely, especially when Allen had likely hit the wall at speed, and the dread and panic had curled together into a painful knot somewhere in his chest by the time they moved the last brick aside. Made worse by the fact that Allen hadn't stirred once, although the rise and fall of his chest – too unsteady to be completely reassuring – was at least proof that he was still alive. For now, Lavi thought before he could stop himself, grimly pushing the thought aside as Timcanpy moved, nudging at Allen's hand where it lay lax on the ground, looking the very picture of dejection when fingers didn't immediately twitch to return the touch.
"Allen?" Lavi tried again, moving back to his head, careful not to dislodge the golem. "Allen?!" He repeated more loudly this time, reaching out to pat Allen's cheek, trying to avoid the damage as best he could, even as a voice that sounded halfway between Kanda and the Panda pointed out that the pain might help rouse him.
"L…?" There had been no shift in the pale features, but as Lavi watched, Allen's lips twitched as he forced out the sound. However, that seemed to be as much as he was capable of right now, but the question it had been clear.
"I'm here." It didn't mean much, he realised. He had been here during the fight, too, but it hadn't been enough to stop Allen from getting hurt. It never is. He wasn't sure whether he'd said that aloud, or made some kind of noise, but Allen reacted, tilting his head ever so slightly into the fingers still resting against his cheek, lashes fluttering against his cheek. It took a few moments, but finally, Lavi was rewarded with a fleeting glimpse of silver, before Allen's eyes fluttered shut once more, only to creep back open to slits a few seconds later.
Allen's gaze was hazy and unfocused, unable to do more than track the vague area of his face, and Lavi's gaze was drawn back to the head wound, frowning in concern. He knew full well how dangerous they could be, and he was no medic for all the information that he had stored in his head, and when Allen tried to move, only to instantly realise that was a bad idea, a pained noise bubbling up, he reached out to lay a hand on his partner's chest. "It's going to be okay." He felt the flinch that greeted his touch and knew that he needed to look and assess the damage before he could even think about moving them off the street. However, he was more concerned with soothing Allen, who was shifting uneasily now, the pain apparently beginning to push through the haze. "You're okay," he soothed, for once glad that the Bookman had taught him to be a convincing liar, as none of his doubts bled through at that moment. "I just need you to stay with me, okay?"
Allen was frowning at him, confusion written across the pale features, and it was clear that he was struggling to decipher even those simple words. However, something of the meaning, or maybe his worry which he knew was colouring his voice had reached him, because he nodded, settling a little, even as his gaze wandered.
"Just stay with me," he repeated, not liking the lack of recognition as Allen took in the street around them, or the flicker of fear as his gaze drifted back to him. Keen to get them both out of here, and to find a doctor of some kind, Lavi began his examination, running gentle hands over Allen's body, a sharp ear attuned to every hitched breath and soft whimper. The worst came as he passed across Allen's chest, and holding his breath, he gently eased the other's coat open and pulled his shirt aside, ignoring Allen's fruitless attempts to bat his hands aside. A deep, purple bruise was forming steadily across his partner's chest, and he hissed as he saw it, wishing that there was a less painful way of this but needing to know if worse was hidden beneath, he ran trembling fingers over the expanse of the mark.
Allen whined and bucked beneath his touch, but his voice lacked the sharpness that would come with real pain, and after a moment, Lavi sat back with a relieved sigh. "You're badly bruised, but I don't think anything's broken."
He looked to Allen, hoping to see an echo of the same relief, but instead, he found himself jolting forward in alarm as he realised that Allen's eyes were slipping shut. "No, don't do that. Allen! ALLEN!" He raised his voice, feeling awful for doing it as Allen jerked and then hissed in pain, but he needed him to stay awake, at least until they reached help. For a moment it seemed to work, Allen blinking heavily and trying to keep his eyes open, gazing up at him but not really seeing him. But it wasn't too be. His eyes fluttering for a minute as he tried to do what Lavi had asked, but his injuries were too much, the pain that had returned with consciousness siphoning away what little strength he had, and with a sigh that could have been an apology or a plea, his eyes closed again. "Allen? No, Allen…Allen," Lavi called, trying desperately to rouse him, but it wasn't enough this time, and he gritted his teeth as he stared into the other's face.
Allen. There was no way they could stay here. He was wary of moving Allen but staying put could be a death sentence for the other Exorcist, and as much as he hated the thought of causing more damage, it was preferable to watching Allen slip through his fingers. "We need to find help," he barked at Timcanpy, hoping the golem would listen to him and after a moment it seemed to nod before taking to the air and shooting off. Praying that would save them some time, Lavi gritted his teeth and forced himself up, retrieving his hammer and shrinking it down until it would hang comfortably from his belt, before moving back to Allen's side. Forgive me, he thought, as he lifted Allen as slowly and carefully as he could, half expecting the other to stir in pain, but Allen was painfully still, head falling to rest against his chest and the knot in Lavi's chest tightened as he dropped his head to press a kiss to the top of Allen's head.
Please, stay with me.