Pairing: Allen Walker and Lavi
Length: 8,000 words or thereabouts
Spoilers: Up to Chapter 184 (manga).
Credits: pliashfor conversing with me for a mad long time on Allen and Lavi, metisketfor kindly helping to analyze Allen, everyone who participated in these two posts, the authors and artists recommended here, OneManga for scans, and the mods for bearing with me for deadline extensions and HTML problems.
Notes: I hope you all enjoy this essay. Allen/Lavi shippers, this is for you (:
The World And Premise Of D.Gray-man
Taking place in a fictional 19th Century, Allen Walker carries the weight of defeating the Millennium Earl, who creates machines called Akuma and, like all good villains, is attempting to take over the world. The way he creates these machines is a disturbingly interesting story too. First, he finds people who lost their loved one, and cajoles them into reviving that person via the highly dubious means of calling out the name of whoever they lost, and convinces them that the soul will find their way into a creepy skeleton. Following that, the creepy skeleton with the soul in it will usually curse a storm at the one who brought them back, and proceed (by orders of the Earl) to kill that person, and literally force itself into the mangled body through the mouth, complete with bone-shattering creaks and gore.
Of course, Allen, only ten years or so at that time, would not know that. Having been abandoned by his parents because of his deformed left arm, he was picked up and unofficially adopted by Mana Walker. Allen loved Mana very much, they travelled a lot together until he was ten, and was highly distraught when Mana died by means unknown to readers as of yet. The Earl paid a visit and Allen believed the dead could be brought back. But Mana did not kill him. He cursed Allen to be able to see the souls in Akuma for…reasons as of yet unknown. Faced with an Akuma, the Innocence in Allen’s left arm activated and killed Mana, thereby setting the soul free. For reasons unknown in the deranged villain’s mind, the Earl left Allen alive.
Innocence is the term for the anti-Akuma weapons in this world, and Allen is stuck with a parasitic Innocence that lived dormant in his left arm for the first ten, relatively peaceful years of his life. Basically, it kills Akuma and sets the souls free, and with this Innocence Allen has the potential to become an Exorcist, a job with a record-breaking low life expectancy.
Fortunately for us (and unfortunately for him), a sadistic General by the name of Marian Cross picked him up and trained him for about four years to become an Exorcist. No one knows how Allen survived under him. This, dear readers, is where our story begins.
Allen Walker, The Character
This is what Allen seems like. He seems kind, maybe exceedingly so. His use of polite language, his dressing and his mannerisms (I haven’t seen it, but he probably belongs to the extinct species of men that open doors for ladies) make him out to be a young and devastatingly cute gentleman.
He is a martyr. He literally throws himself into every battle if he believes it helps the cause, to the point of getting in the way of Akuma shooting deadly bullets. Why, you ask, is that so?
Allen takes to heart what Mana told him, to "keep on walking". When Allen saw Mana die by his own hands, it must have broken him, seeing someone he loves die because of him. For Mana, however, he will "keep on walking". And for himself, he will also fight for the Akuma, to free their souls, as a justification for why he killed Mana, as a justification for why his left eye was cursed. Remember his advice to Krory when Krory was unable to move on? Allen had a startled, and determined expression in his eyes, because he had been there before and like Krory, he had to find a reason to continue moving on, at least until he finds another better reason to live for. Freeing Akuma souls is his way of moving forward, and he would throw himself into every battle if he believes it helps his cause.
However, it probably doesn’t always remain this pessimistic. Allen learns to love the people that he is with, the people who love him. Remember that he cried over a dog who licked his cursed arm, and who was beaten to death the next day? Allen is a compassionate kid, but because of Mana being torn from him, he might be trying to protect himself from loving too much again. However, he has seen how these people want to help him and protect him, and if he could, he wouldn't want to see them die, just like how he saw Mana die. Result? Throwing himself into battle, again.
If this isn’t enough to show how he is a seriously screwed up kid, consider this. He was abandoned by his birth parents, saw his adopted father die twice (once by his own hands), trained under a tough General, and, in India, was sent to find the Black Order in far away England all alone and disoriented, having been knocked out by Cross with a hammer to his head.
So, how does this reconcile with him being sweet and polite and kind and gentle? It doesn’t. Not entirely anyway.
Yes, he probably is kind. Yes, he probably treats ladies with respect. And yes, it’s probably at least partly a mask. Johnny once even wondered if his gentlemanly ways were honed for the purpose of information gathering. Oh, he doesn’t know how right he is.
Oh, that sweet smile? Look at those mad card skills. That is Black Allen showing himself, as Lavi dubs it. Masking everything under a sweet smile, Allen happily cheats and lo and behold, it apparently was a staple in his life with Cross, to pay off the debts his sweet and kind Master acquired from drinking, womanizing, destroying property and borrowing money from dubious creditors (which finances all the aforementioned activities). He used that smile to seduce a robot. He is fully aware of the devastating effect his beautiful smile has.
And the kid has spunk. He constantly picks a fight with Kanda and holds his own against him, all while using that deceptively polite language. He head bangs Timcanpy at Cross and does not hesitate to argue with Cross. Probably two of the most intimidating characters in this series, and Allen dares to go head to head with them. So there you have it, he is every bit as screwed up as every other teenager on earth, just that he has an accompanying martyr side.
However, to round this all up, I would also say that Allen is also an honest-to-god young and scared boy. Despite all the bravado of throwing himself in the way of Akuma and his fiery spunk when dealing with Cross and Kanda, Allen cried when he faced death and came out of it alive. He has compassion for Suman, a person he barely knew, and a dog who licked his deformed left arm. He is a teenager who is thrown for more loops than anybody else on earth, and he comes out of it still walking.
So, Allen. It’s nearly impossible to sum him up. Whatever I just said might only cover ten percent of him, and I would say that none of us readers or fans can understand him as well as we wish we can.
Allen - Past, Present, Future
Lavi, His Story
Now, Lavi is an interesting character. Like Allen, we know only the bare bones of his past. Actually, scratch that, we know even less.
True facts. Lavi has been on the road to becoming a Bookman since he was six. He is the Bookman’s successor, a group of people masked in more secrecy than the Holy Grail. Bookmen seem to have impeccable memory skills, and have seen more battles than any human alive can claim to have seen.
Second, we do not know his actual name. Lavi is his 49th alias, and Deak/Dick was his 48th. I doubt Hoshino will ever give us his first 47 aliases, and we can only cross our fingers and hope that she will give us his original.
Third, nobody knows the deal behind his right eyepatch except Bookman. Ask and Lavi will probably give you that creepy smile of his.
And from there, we learn that Lavi has an arsenal of creepy smiles that we can attempt to categorize. There is his “I want to know what you’re up to” smile he uses on the scientists. Scientists, being what they are, are suitably wary of him and can read that smile from a mile off. Then there is his “I’m hiding something but I won’t tell you, sucker” smile which he with alarming frequency uses on his fellow exorcists. Then there is his “let’s get along since you probably won’t live long enough anyway” smile which, unfortunately, is extremely appropriate in their world. The problem with him is that his smiles, too, are more obviously masks than Allen’s are, and they are more in sheer quantity. And you think Allen is bad.
In fact, it comes as a relief when Lavi is serious, only it’s still creepy. Lavi has a tendency to suspect human nature, which he claims is natural with all exorcists because unlike Allen, all of them cannot see which is an Akuma, and which a human being. Don’t be surprised if he attacks somebody just for approaching him. And, to take it beyond suspecting human nature, Lavi comes out right and says that he thinks humans are stupid, because they only launch battles, battles, and more battles than he cares to write about. Jaded, much?
Yet, is there a reason for his cynicism that we can begin to guess at? To start off, I don’t believe that Lavi is completely jaded to begin with. In a lovely conversation pliashand I had, we came to the conclusion that Lavi starts out as a rather hopeful child, seeing only the positive side of being a Bookman – being able to see things only a Bookman can. It’s like joining an exclusive club, almost every child is excited at that. However, the reason why he says all humans are stupid later on is likely due to the wars he saw – it completely dashed his hopes that being a Bookman is a possibly fun yet meaningful occupation, and his faith in humankind has been diminished. Is it completely lost? Perhaps not, because in his internal battle during Road’s dream attack, when he talks to a child-like him, something in him still seems to hold hope for humankind, a hope that has been revived after he joins the Exorcists and sees how those people are fighting for some kind of hope, some kind of future, and he can’t help but feel for them and perhaps even want to fight for them too.
Lavi may be jaded, but he is serious when it comes to analyzing his friends, and more often than not when analyzing Allen. He openly admits to Komui that he feels the world that Allen is living in is a hell. When he witnesses Allen’s strength after the revival of his Innocence, he thinks Allen is like a shining beacon, a light that can disappear from them anytime soon. I know, I know, sappiness and corniness aside…ah heck, sappiness and corniness included, Lavi admires his friends. I would say that despite the pretences he puts on, this is one of Lavi’s admirable qualities, that he can admire the strengths in others.
The crux is here though – as Bookmen, they aren’t supposed to interfere in the affairs of history, to only stand aside and observe, observe, and write until their hands are bloody with ink. Lavi knows this, is forcibly reminded by Bookman in Edo because of his angst over Allen, and is thus thrown into a journey to find his True Self. This includes angsting, angsting, getting his mind raped by Road, more angst, and wondering to himself whether his actions are propelled because of his Bookman Apprentice job, or because he is concerned for his friends. It really doesn’t help that he actually does like books and history and the nerdy side of becoming a Bookman.
So what happens in the end? In the end, Lavi is still unsure as to whether he treasures being a Bookman more than he treasures having friends, psychotic and unhinged though they all are. He seems to have been greatly swayed in the battle with Road, and is thus on a journey to figure out what he really wants to do with his life.
So ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Bookman Junior, who wears more masks than Allen has in his wardrobe, and whose weapon is not his giant hammer and his ginormous brain but his veiled smiles.
Lavi - Choosing a Path
Canon or Subtext Evidence
Pot of tea ready? Awesome.
1. Their Meeting and the Foundations of their Relationship
Allen and Lavi - Dubious First Impressions?
Recall how Allen interacted with Lenalee and Kanda when they first met? Well, he didn’t exactly have the best first meeting with Kanda ever. Still, even after that, he offered a hand to shake and Kanda, well, Kanda snubbed him. With Lenalee, they had a pretty normal meeting with proper introductions and smiles and all. Now, Lavi can be said to have been friendly, and if Allen faced Kanda with a hesitant smile and a hand to shake, why doesn’t he do the same for Lavi, who is at first glance probably tons nicer than Kanda? Because I believe Allen is wary of Lavi. Kanda, despite how unpleasant he is, makes no qualms in establishing that he doesn’t like Allen. Lavi, on the other hand, always seems to be hiding something underneath his smile, and Allen catches onto that because he has been there, done that. So Allen has met a worthy opponent in the Art of Smiles. Here, I find it really interesting that Allen and Lavi immediately begin sizing each other up from their first meeting – they probably see something of themselves in each other.
Moving on, they meet in the courtyard, adorableness ensues as they build snowmen together, Allen stalks off over existentialist angst, and being the concerned friend that he is, Lavi stalks Allen and comes to his rescue when the Akuma attack in force. Here, Lavi explains that everyone he sees could be an Akuma, including someone he knew yesterday as a human, and so he has no choice but to attack first and ask questions later and hope that he is doing the right thing. Allen is jolted awake, and realizes what the other exorcists have to go through, just as he does at that moment with the lack of his left eye. It is important to note here that it is Lavi’s words that jolt Allen awake and he matures, at least a little bit more. Allen becomes less wary of Lavi after that, likely because he sees the solemnity that Lavi hides beneath his smile, and he accepts that. So maybe, just maybe, Lavi can fit the lecturing big brother type after all.
That is all revoked when romance ensues after this as they enjoy a fast-paced hammer-induced ride back to the hospital together.
But all jokes aside, these few chapters are extremely important in establishing the foundations of this ship – they establish a friendly, perhaps even brotherly relationship within a short amount of time, despite the initial wariness they had about each other. Let us see if we can take this one step further.
2. Learning to Get Along – A Hint of Something More
After this, they are sent on their proper long term mission to find Cross, Allen’s worst nightmare come true. On the way, Allen is forcibly kidnapped by people in a town, who beg him to save them from a vampire, because they recognize the rosary cross on his chest and decide that he’s their saviour. Lavi is sent to save him and is captured as well. So much for prince charming. They fight Krory, Lavi gets seduced by an Akuma in a beautiful body, Allen gets jealous, they get horribly injured, Allen’s eye recovers, they are nearly eaten by carnivorous flowers, Lavi realizes (with the power of Allen’s recent eye upgrade v2.5) that the world Allen sees is hell, Krory finally awakens and defeats the Akuma himself, and all’s well that ends well. Most important point of this interaction – Allen gets jealous when Lavi swoons over femininity.
*Avoids bullets* Right, I kid, I kid. Most important point – Lavi gets some light shed as Allen convinces Krory to fight and, failing that, to find a reason to fight, and Lavi realizes that is eerily reminiscent to something that people would say to convince themselves, and not others. Observe, please, his shrewd eye as he looks at Allen. And later, Lavi gives the soul-shattering admission to Komui that Allen lives in hell. Lavi here is highly disturbed by the things Allen must have been seeing for five years already, and he might be feeling pity, admiration, sorrow, or a combination of all three for the boy. We don’t know, but we know that he is being serious here when he talks about Allen. This is the first clue we get that perhaps, just perhaps, there is some subtext we can read into this about a possible relationship between Lavi and Allen.
On the way to meet Lenalee and Bookman, the important poker scene occurs. Lavi learns of the existence of Allen’s Black side (and as far as I know is the only one who knows full well of it), and they see a Noah get stripped to his underwear. This is more crackish than anything, but it does show how Lavi knows about Allen’s other, darker side.
With this sweet, happy development, Hoshino introduces Suman, perhaps the most tragic figure in this whole series. He has Fallen and causes horrible destruction. Allen, separated from the rest, tries to save him but doesn’t manage to. Tyki wanders along and destroys Allen’s left arm. In a dramatic flourish, a deck of poker cards is scattered all over Allen’s body. Fou, bless her guardian heart, rescues him and leaves the Ace of Spades behind, like a clue, a la Cinderella’s shoe. And Lavi happens to pick it up with a disturbingly emotionless face and voice.
Now, people react to distress in all sorts of different ways. Lenalee cries. Bookman remains emotionless, believing Allen won’t die just yet. Lavi? Lavi gets mad.
He shouts at Lenalee to get the hell over it. And it might be a trick of the light, but there seems to be a hint of tears in his eye. Bookman is alarmed and has to remind Lavi that they are here as Bookmen, and not as God’s Apostles. See how Bookman has to forcibly remind Lavi of this, just because Allen’s violent encounter triggers Lavi?
Then, just as we think Lavi might be getting back to normal, he looks at the card and emos over it on the ship, angsting over the need for a Bookman to remain emotionless (because he obviously feels something over Allen’s “death”). He starts to be shaken from his Bookman path here, as he seriously wonders if it is worth it to give up his humanity in exchange for a lifetime of knowledge.
That is really some friendship, and I’m really not being sarcastic this time. Lavi is not quite the Bookman material, isn’t he, if he gets attached to someone this strongly within two weeks of acquainting themselves. This progression of events is very important here in establishing subtext for this pairing – within about two weeks, Lavi starts to seriously consider his Bookman path – the feelings might have built up over two years, and he might have been able to ignore it, but he can no longer do so with Allen’s disappearance. And he ignores all common sense just to seek revenge for Allen’s “death”, something he shouldn’t have done as a cool-headed Bookman. As far as I see, Allen is the first to have affected him so much, even Bookman seems shocked by it and has to make him regain his senses.
3. The Ark – A Stressful, Turbulent, and Revealing Arc
Let’s keep that in mind and move on for now. After a touching reunion which consists of Allen and Kanda barking at each other like mad dogs, they fall into the Ark. Notice how the first thing Lavi shouts as Allen falls in after Lenalee is “Allen!” Right, so it could be because Allen is the one next to him and hence most immediate name he calls, but it could also very well mean a panic not to lose him just so quickly after they met again. He dives in after Allen. In the Ark, notice Lavi’s position just as Allen opens the door. Right.behind.him. To catch Allen as he falls. There is absolutely no need to do that (Kanda stands quite a distance away, and Lenalee and Chaoji aren’t in that panel in the first place), so yeah, quite an amount of concern shown there, isn’t it?
But of course, the evidence does not stop there. Fighting Jasdevi is an interesting development. Remember how barely after meeting, when going to Krory’s castle, they instinctively stand back to back when they feel a sudden chill? To me, that shows that they trust each other implicitly as fighters. Fighting is a strange thing, it requires a balance of independence and support and trust. At that time, even after separating to fight their own battles in the castle, they trust each other enough to take care of things. Here, fighting Jasdevi, Allen trusts Lavi to find the key in the quickest time possible, and they even try to ease the atmosphere by joking about it. Definitely, shipping argument aside, there is a trust between fighters shown here, and a familiarity deep enough that they can joke in a tense situation.
Making their way to the top after they leave Krory to defeat the evil twins, the all-important you-are-my-light scene occurs, as Allen states his determination and even Lero, sentient little umbrella thing, is stunned. Lavi muses on the light that Allen is and literally, a light envelops Allen and blinds both Lavi and the readers. Here, I’d say that Lavi has a natural attraction to this light he sees in Allen, someone so strong and determined it seems as though nothing would break him, perhaps even a natural inclination to want to be bathed in that light, possibly because his cynicism as a Bookman Apprentice doesn’t allow himself to be that optimistic.
After that romantic scene, Allen’s (first, maybe?) kiss is abruptly stolen. Thankfully, Allen appears as devastated as Lavi is, maybe even more so. And note, too, how we don’t see Lenalee’s and Chaoji’s immediate reactions, only Lavi’s (possibly jealous) one. Past that, Tyki invites them to a beautiful candlelit dinner for five, talks and talks, pisses Allen off, and the epic battle between Tyki and Allen, Road and Lavi begins.
Here, I will concentrate on Lavi’s battle and bring you step by step through it, because this battle is important. Road chooses to launch a mental battle. Lavi, in his mind, is brought through a symbolic boat ride and encounters “Bookman Junior”, who we can assume to be either his base personality or a representation of the teachings Bookman is trying to instill in Lavi. Junior taunts him about not being able to remain objective, and sends Lenalee in a coffin bed along to Lavi to prove his point. Lavi is alarmed and very soon, he is surrounded by coffins and dead comrades. At this moment, Allen hasn’t yet appeared in Lavi’s battle. As Lavi attempts to fight his way out of this illusion, he is reminded painfully of his Bookman duties, and how he is straying away from objectivity, such that he no longer knew which of his smiles were faked. The crunch arrives in the form of Allen. Dropping the Ace of Spades which Lavi has “held all this time”, the illusion Allen walks towards him and picks it up, looking appreciative that Lavi has held it all this time and even deliberately hid it from Bookman. Junior appears and bashes Allen’s head in. Lavi shouts in alarm, is restrained by more of his illusion comrades, watches as the ink on the card slowly drips away, until it is completely clean, and he loses his mind.
For me, it is significant that Lavi loses his mind immediately after the ink drips away. Not only is it significant symbolically, as it shows his state of mind being wiped clean, or history’s ink being cleaned away, or what have you, it also shows him losing his mind from the slow disintegration of a physical item of Allen’s that he held. Being confronted with Lenalee’s, Kanda’s, Krory’s, everyone’s corpses drives him slowly to the brink, but Allen’s “death” breaks him, he cannot stand seeing the broken form of Allen painfully whispering his name, the evidence of Allen’s existence disappearing before his eye. By now, I think we can safely establish that Allen is rather obviously a very important person to him.
However, the mental battle does not end there. With a cold Bookman Junior taking control, he fights Allen and the INFAMOUS hug scene occurs.
(From Right to Left) Physical affection...at the most inconvenient time possible. But it's intense and intimate all the same.
However, for his sweet words, he gets beaten back and forth. Allen tries, he really, really does, and even out of breath and in pain he whispers Lavi’s name painfully, almost in a prayer, and then he gets swallowed up by a fiery snake. But he is not hurt at all. From the reader’s omniscient view, we can witness Lavi, now in control of his body, berating and fully unleashing his fiery attack on himself. Allen swears really loudly and jumps into the flames, injuries be damned, to save Lavi, all the while calling Lavi’s name as loudly as he can.
Note too, here, how Allen might have lost the will and strength to fight Lavi just before he got swallowed up in Lavi’s fire snake, but instantly recovers in order to save someone he cares for.
In the fascinatingly messed up place of Lavi’s mind, Bookman Junior takes the form of a child and starts crying, wondering why “Lavi” is so different from the other 48 aliases, causing him so much pain, and wondering why “Lavi” hates being a Bookman so much. “Lavi” gently tells Bookman Junior that the one who’s started to change isn’t him, but Bookman Junior, himself, the true him. Confusing, isn’t it? They are all one person, so essentially, Bookman Junior, whom we affectionately know as Lavi, is confronting his own sway from objectivity and slowly accepting the fact that he might not be all that sure about being a Bookman and a humanity-embracing Exorcist all at the same time, but goddamn, he needs to stay alive to find out, doesn’t he? And the trigger comes, again, in the form of Allen. Bookman Junior jerks his head up when he hears Allen calling “LAVI!”, sees the empty Ace of Spades card next to him, smiles (and I think it’s a true, if weak and uncertain smile), and vanishes through the watery depths of Road’s psychotic world.
And finally, finally, Lavi and Allen emerge from the ashes cursing each other and laughing, glad to be alive. That’s adorableness right there.
Cutting out all the jokes, Lavi just went through probably one of the most crucial battles of his life. He confronted his own indecisiveness and, while he does not have any conclusions as of yet, he is going to face it this time, instead of going for denial or escapism. Crucially, both times (losing his mind and winning the battle), Allen is the important trigger for them. This battle is where all the subtext and hints fall into place – Lavi very obviously cares for Allen, enough such that he is deeply affected by Allen’s false death, and enough such that he is willing to question his Bookman path because of this friendship (and perhaps even potential relationship).
And, it isn’t just one way. For now, first keep in mind the way that Allen tries to get Lavi back to his senses.
Now, Allen has defeated Tyki already and expects him to remain defeated. Transforming into martyr mode, Allen decides to save Tyki because his Noah side has supposedly disappeared. Tyki chooses that moment to revive, and Allen disappears into a whirlwind of tentacles. Allen, weakened, collapses for a while and Lavi is there, supporting him. Remember the balance in fighters? This time, they go into support mode beautifully. They are both knocked out unfortunately, but they also both revive at the exact same moment, panting and resolved to fight. This part shows fighter’s spirit and how they affect one another – presumably, one fighter’s spirit and strength to recover can affect the other’s, no matter how weakened they are.
Fighting the revived and newly insane Tyki, the top part of the floor is nearly completely destroyed when Cross arrives, looking like a grand saviour and a top grade bastard. He protects the kids (well, he does do his job), and fights Tyki, as well as the Earl who appears just at the right moment, too. Unfortunately, while fighting, more of the floor disappears. Lavi and Chaoji fall. Using his hammer, Lavi tries to get both of them up. However, his hammer is in a fragile state from the fight with insane Tyki and it breaks before Allen could pull them up.
Allen’s expression says it all.
Amazing, isn’t it, that they care about each other enough to be each other’s breaking points? I think it is very important to note here that while it is perhaps not as obvious as Lavi’s care for Allen, Allen himself is highly affected by the loss of his comrades. Like a martyr, he cares not a whit about himself to save Lavi from the flames. More importantly, he knows how to appeal to Lavi’s emotions to try and get him back to his senses.
4. Getting to Know Each Other (And A Simple Roundup)
But of course, we can’t stop there, let’s see what else we can find after this crucial episode. Past the rage, Allen is put in control of the Ark and everyone is revived. Guess what Lavi does to find Allen? Food, glorious food! He sure knows the boy well. All types of monstrosities are screamed from the top of his lungs and Allen reacts angrily, then in relief, and finally, finally, they head home.
…hah, didn’t think that would last, did you?
The Vatican decide that Allen is wholly suspicious, so they send an Inspector Howard Link who has to supervise Allen 24/7. Nobody is happy about this (except maybe Link and Lveille) and when Allen is bogged down with work, Lavi eagerly offers his company. Even in the morning, before breakfast, Lavi and Allen stick together and run around Headquarters. I find it utterly sweet that these boys are so…boyish with each other, they want to hang out and eat together and all. Of course, it can certainly be argued that they want to spend time with each other because of a maybe more than platonic relationship.
What I find lovely about all this is that Lavi is nearly the only one to witness the life-changing revelations that Allen receives. He is one of the two who knows what the world through Allen’s left eye is truly like, he is the only one who we can see analyzing Allen so closely and intently, and here, he is the only one who knows the full details of what Cross told Allen, and to see his crumpled expression, rather than the stoic one that he wears before all the other exorcists when Komui breaks the news. I don’t think there is anyone else in the manga who would know Allen better than what Allen would like others to see. With all this then, will the foundation of their friendship, their care for each other, and at least on Lavi’s part, his understanding of Allen bring them to a romantic relationship? I am rather sure that it is possible.
Throughout this journey, we can see that the boys have established a firm friendship within the short span of about two months, and this is significant, because how many people do we see that can be so close within such a short time, and be so comfortable with each other as these two are? I believe this might be the first time that Lavi seriously confronts his emotions, instead of hiding it. Allen matures after Lavi’s little pep talk, and would risk his own life to save Lavi like a really silly martyr does. They do learn from each other. They have sized each other up and they have recognized in each other an equal they can be comfortable with. With these canon interactions, romantic or not, serious or not, I do believe that there is plenty of canon evidence to suggest that Allen/Lavi is really not impossible to ship (:
Interpretation Time and Reasons to Ship Them
In the end, it comes down to personality match and dynamics that made me absolutely fall in love with this ship.
I think that I first got into this pairing at the hug scene. Mostly, I think it’s the intimacy of the scene, of Allen’s overwhelming care, and the extremely gripping battle that Lavi was fighting in his mind. It sort of registered in my mind “ahhh that’s sweet” and then I was simply trying to follow the plot. Then I had plenty of time to leisurely read through, allow my brain to process all the canonical evidence bits, and go “wait a minute there’s something there” and voila, a new OTP is born.
Following that and further analysis, Lavi and Allen are two extremely interesting characters. Not only are their pasts mostly shrouded, they are also constantly developing in the series. Allen, from what I see, is not just the gentleman that almost everyone in the Black Order views him as. He has spunk, he has character, he is feisty, he is almost annoying at times. Lavi grabbed me by his varied smiles, and by the cold glassy reflection of his eye when he first appears. His mysterious eyepatch is a major plus. Despite being Bookman’s successor, we see an obvious struggle occurring, and that struggle develops too. The exorcists grow in skill and maturity and sometimes, that’s the point isn’t it? Not the bloody battlegrounds that surround them, but them, their personalities.
So we have two wonderfully complex characters, and a fantastic foundation to build on. As mentioned, within about five weeks, they have already developed a working relationship, enough that they can support and trust each other in battle. Lavi takes on the role of the teasing big brother, constantly calling Allen a “beansprout” and Allen retaliates. They are boys, they interact in the way of teasing and laughter and getting through the battles together. They have a brotherly affection, and they have a comradely affection.
Can we bring that one step further? Definitely.
As mentioned in the canon evidence section, Allen affects Lavi in ways that Allen himself might not know about, and Lavi knows Allen maybe even more than what Allen might be comfortable with. I think they would be good for each other, even if the good might involve more struggle than what people would be accustomed to.
Most importantly, even if they look unrealistically hot, their characters are realistically imperfect, and I think that’s what their relationship would be like too.
Being highly solitary characters their whole life, having been left to fend for themselves, without much of a normal childhood, they would have to learn how to adapt to thinking of someone else, and caring for that someone else. I’m definitely not saying that they don’t care, but there’s a difference between passive care and active care. Allen and Lavi are people who react as the temporal situation commands, and cannot be said to have received all-encompassing and permanent love, and from there learn to really actively care for someone else.
Allen, for the first ten years of his life, lost his birth parents who are supposed to care for him, and lost Mana who really cared for him, and whom he cared for. The next five are not an easy piece of cake because even if I don’t doubt that Cross trained him well, I don’t think he gave him much paternal love. As such, I don’t believe that Allen completely understands love in its various forms – for one thing, he hasn’t seen that love can be permanent. For another, he does love the Akuma and wishes to free their souls, and he fought for them for so long. Yet, as metisketwisely pointed out, he loves the Akuma and loves to help them partly because they can’t hurt him, and he can safely love them from behind an emotional wall. Only recently, through the battles, he has come to love the humans that surround him and now he wishes to protect them. However, while he might love others Allen might subconsciously try to protect himself from receiving love and getting hurt, because for most of his life he did not receive love, and when he did he had it torn away from him brutally. He is truly messed up, in other words, and this scheming and manipulative, yet at the same time honestly young, scared character in need of care, would go through an interesting romantic relationship to say the least.
Lavi, interestingly, in essence shares almost the same past. Having been raised by Bookman most of his life, he probably shares some sort of affection with his mentor, going by the nicknames he gives to the dear old panda, and how they immediately seek each other out to see if they are alright in a battle. However, he has also been raised to stay on the objective side of life, to interfere as little as possible and to not let his heart get in the way of things, as Bookman brutally reminded him on the ship. Yet, despite the objectivity that is supposed to be instilled in him, Lavi can and wants to love, and he might even be more capable of loving than Allen is. For one thing, he is honestly confronting his Bookman side since the last few volumes, and that is something very personal, since he has to see whether he treasures his friends more or his Bookman obligations. We can compare this to how Allen has been thrown with more loops than he can handle. Losing his Innocence, entering the Ark, finding out about the 14th, being tailed by a Vatican dog, fighting a Level 4, and having the Noah gradually awakening in him? That is almost enough to drive anyone insane, let alone have him thinking about his friends, and his feelings for them. Hence, I would say that in my view, Lavi is slowly shedding the solitary life that he has been leading in his heart and mind, and growing to love and care for the people he has met.
This makes for interesting dynamics. A boy with more issues than he can handle, and a boy with an identity crisis. Don’t know which is which? That is because these are two boys who are more similar than you might think at first glance. I think that is how they can understand each other and take a step towards a romantic relationship, because they can understand, they have been through it, they might not have a solution but they can support each other and confront their fears together. Will the relationship be screwed up? Maybe. Will it be romantic and sweet? Possibly. Will it be realistic? I sure hope so. Will it be interesting? Holy hell, yeah.
Perhaps you can even see it as a one-sided romance at the beginning, and that is certainly a very viable point, what with us seeing mostly Lavi’s feelings and thoughts about Allen than the other way round. I think that is another way to view this ship – it’s highly realistic, and there’s so much that can be developed from there. There’s no saying that Allen cannot return his feelings, but how this will be done will be up to the minds of the shippers.
So, to end this on a proper note, I am joking when I say that you must follow them. Because they are such interesting characters, and they make for a very dynamic, possible messed up, and complex relationship, I personally can’t help but ship them. However, if you don’t, I do hope you see that they have a strong bond between each other, platonic or otherwise, sibling-like or otherwise.
And I hope that if nothing else, you are interested in the various personality defects and complexities of Allen and Lavi by the end of this.
A Guide to A Wonderful Ship
1. LJ Community: allen_rabi
Allen/Lavi Fanclub on D.Gray-Divinity Forums
2. Official Art
I kid you not, there is lovely official art that put them together :D Do read romantic undertones to it if you’d like.
Trading Card Game: A treasure trove for Allen/Lavi art. How about a childhood picture? Or maybe one with both of them world-weary, in their third uniforms? Making mochi and becoming detectives are also fun stuff. Just click on the link and have fun looking through the cards, the art is beautiful even if you don’t ship them (:
3. Fanfiction Recommendations:
We are really lucky to have fantastic writers in this ship. If you are a shipper, or you’re intending to find out more about this pairing (a hearty welcome on board if you do :D), in alphabetical order;
Apapazukamori: Porn with plot and deeper, darker issues? You’ve got it here :D I love her no title Lavi/Allen multipart story, very sweet.
CherrySpringer: As happens in every fandom, there are always different interpretations of the pairing, and suffice it to say this author has her own quirky and fun interpretation of Allen/Lavi. Do check out Fate, her longest ongoing work.
Demented Inu: Resolution made my heart wrench. WRENCH. Her works are a little darker but absolutely gorgeous. Must.check.out.
Dhampir72: Most Allen/Lavi shippers would have heard of this lady in one form or another. My favourite work of hers is The Lake House. 100 is an ongoing collection of one-shots with varying interpretations of the pairing according to the theme, definitely a fun read.
Kalanikamori: I really adore Over A Cup Of Tea. It’s subtle, but breathtaking, and paints a tragic picture of Lavi post-war.
Lala to the power of 2: There are definite hints of Allen/Lavi, especially towards the end. The October Affair is a hilarious account of what happens if the Black Order puts up a play. And fear not, it is not Romeo & Juliet. Starring almost every major character in the Order, this is absolutely hilarious and takes an interesting, viable interpretation of the characters’ personalities and their interactions, no less Allen’s and Lavi’s. And just for fun, The Fox, The Bird and The Frog and After A Hard Day’s Work.
Kali Cephirot (or intentationem): My goodness, I love all of her Allen/Lavi works. There’s usually an underlying dark current, but they’re still breathtakingly beautiful. Find them all here.
Kay Willow (or figment_tree): What happens if Lavi leaves the Black Order in the midst of the war? Something that people had been puzzling over, and something to which this lady gives an answer to that is filled with Allen/Lavi goodness - Phoenix. And if the 14th were to awaken…start with His Borrowed Toys for this intriguing arc.
Metisket: Just to clear this up, she is NOT an Allen/Lavi writer, but I’m putting her here because I learnt a lot from her writings, no less about Allen and Lavi. I highly recommend her fic about Cross and Allen’s travels, from which I gained a lot of insight about possible interpretations of Allen’s character. Pretty much anything written by her is worth a read. For Allen and Lavi interaction, please read her circus fic.
P.A.Lovas: Alas, wonderful writers sometimes go on unfortunate hiatuses. But Campaigning for Heretics is a mind-blowing read despite it being only two chapters for now. Deals very realistically with how Allen copes with Link following him everywhere, and Lavi attempting to help him out of it despite personal issues plaguing him.
Ritachi: It is a must to check out her Kiss! Kiss! Love You, Baby! which promises to be Allen/Lavi in the future chapters. As it is, it has wonderful characterization, a fun storyline and mysterious pasts. Kanda fans won’t be disappointed either.
Sirbartonslady (orblueshimmer): According to her, a simple idea sprouted off a chain of fics that revolve around the development of Allen’s and Lavi’s relationship. Astoundingly realistic, she doesn’t shy away from the more painful aspects of a relationship. Start with Lost Reason and work your way to Canta Libre.
4. Fanart Recommendations:
Another thing that’s wonderful about this ship, we have excellent artists. On the Japanese fanart side (many many thanks and love topao_8d andpliash for these links!);
If you feel I have missed out on absolutely wonderful works, please point them out to me so I can check them out, and so others can too!
A great thank you for reading till here, have a happy discovery!