summary: Komui regrets, but Hevlaska wants him to rest.
notes: spoilers for recent manga chapters (i forget which, exactly, but the current arc, maybe 140-149)
He was careful as he inserted the needle to tuck his stitch in properly. It was hard to tell, since the wound could not bleed, and the flesh would never mend... the scar being left behind was as glaring as if he'd seared the flesh rather than cut it, but he continued to work, using attention to detail as a method for staving off exhaustion.
"What you are doing is not necessary... that is correct, is it not, Komui?"
He smiled softly at the sound of the disembodied voice in his head. That had taken some getting used to when he first assumed the position as Supervisor, but, by now, he was only comforted by the presence of the Order's oldest exorcist.
"I can't imagine what you mean," he spoke under his breath, keeping his tone playfully measured. "It's the proper thing to do, is it not?"
He started to tie off the final stitch. The incision went from under the boy's chin down his chest, where it branched off into two cuts down to his hips. It was a sickening thing to look at, especially on one so young. He put his surgical tools aside, and went to wash his hands. He would need to wrap the body to prepare it for cremation.
"What have you learned?"
Komui's shoulders slumped. "Nothing... that I didn't already know." He dried his hands carefully, and then he turned back to the body. He had carefully constructed the myth of his laboratory to ensure his occasional privacy. Granted, he was often required to perform treatments on exorcists that were... stressful for the exorcists, and any chance he had to experiment on akuma parts, he was more than happy to jump on, however for the most part, his work was not taken from the pages of the torture logs from the Dark Ages.
That was not obviously the case tonight.
Sighing, he carefully picked up the boy's body, putting his hands under his neck and under his legs. He carried him from the autopsy table to the counter, which was, at the very least, clean.
"It is not necessary for you to perform this task alone," she said, sounding mournful.
"Who else, then?" he asked cheerfully. "Who else should have to take the responsibility? Isn't that what being Supervisor means? Captains go down with their ships... and I toil alone over unpleasant jobs." He grimaced slightly.
Of course, Captains didn't normally steer their vessels straight into the cliffs...
"You are not alone, Komui," she said steadily.
He opened his mouth to protest, but then he just smiled. "No, Hevlaska. I am not.
"But I should be." He sighed, and bent down to reach under the cupboard to get the dressings. He started to unravel the white linen. "You should be angry with me."
"You were following orders."
"Orders I knew were wrong... Orders I knew would come to naught," he countered quickly. He positioned the feet together, and lifted the legs, wrapping them together.
"Orders you had no choice but to follow."
"True," he sighed. He folded the boy's arms over his chest. He looked into the boy's dead face... his eyes had been removed already as part of his examination of the body. He caressed the child's hand. "But the scientist in me wanted to do it. I wanted to try it, because even though I knew it would fail, I wanted to see... to see how far we could push it." He turned the boy carefully, wrapping his torso.
"You are trying to build a better life for all exorcists and all people."
"Exorcists are people," he muttered under his breath. "And I wish I could believe that was my reason. I actually don't know what to believe right now. But this boy... he didn't deserve..." His voice cracked. He forced himself to laugh, almost viciously. "Lenalee will hate me," he said conversationally.
There was nothing left to do. He wrapped the boy's head...
"You know that is not true."
"She should," he replied immediately. "I should teach her to hate men who use children as tools." He scrubbed his face roughly, nearly dislodging his glasses. "On the days that I can believe in God, I think... the only better life I can offer these poor souls is the one I've given to this boy. But I can't believe even in that every day... Is it oblivion that I've sent him to, Hevlaska? Or has he finally gone to a place beyond pain?"
"He is where all must one day journey, no matter where the destination may be."
"That wasn't helpful," he teased her. He picked up the loosely mummified boy, and started off for the incinerator.
It was nearly four in the morning, so while the Black Order was never fully at rest, there was a quiet and a darkness in the hallways that lent the air of solitude to his procession. There should have been a service, he thought idly, but those were forbidden.
After dinner, some of the Finders and Exorcists had a small party to commemorate their loss. Lenalee had been there. Komui had been dissecting her friend, searching for clues of the Innocence's effect on his organs.
He put the body down on the conveyor belt to the incinerator, and he went over to stoke the fire. He made it as hot as he could bear to before turning his face away, his eyes still blinded by the brilliant, angry red of the coals.
"You should allow yourself to grieve," she said, and it might have been his imagination, but she sounded vaguely piqued.
"That would be selfish," he countered good-naturedly. "I am the one that caused the grief. It would be like a child mourning a toy that he broke willfully."
He pushed the small body... not too much bigger than Lenalee, was he? He pushed the body into the incinerator, and waited until the flames started to roar. He took a step, back, but he waited. He waited until the body was ash.
They lost approximately twenty-four Finders per quarter. They lost at least three exorcists per year. They had lost as many as fifteen scientists and support staff since Komui had taken charge. Every body had to be disposed of in the same manner, with the same lack of circumstance. To prevent the Earl from working his way into the Headquarters by such a nefarious perversion of the human desire to regret, they had to be as cold as the stone that surrounded them.
Komui, then, had no idea why his hands were shaking.
When the body was completely destroyed, he blinked, he kept blinking until he cleared all the dust from his eyes...
For some reason, he had a lot of dust in his eyes.
"Please go rest."
"Thank you. Thank you for standing by me... when I clearly didn't deserve it. However. You don't need to waste your energy on me. I'm fine. I have a pot of coffee and a pile of paperwork and a report to finalize at my desk, so my night card is full. Thank you. Sincerely," he sighed inwardly.
On that night, even his jacket felt like it was heavy, so heavy that it was hard to carry around.
He wasn't being flippant with Hevlaska. There really was too much to do, even though there was always too much to do, so it wasn't like a twenty minute nap was out of the question.
He didn't want to dream.
He filled his favorite mug, and grabbed his favorite quill. He always started in this way, with the best of intentions.
He started with his report on the Innocence Synchronization Experiments, since the Generals would expect that first thing.
Summary: Obviously, God didn't give us these tools just so we could ignore His rules and throw life away.
That was probably coming off too strong.
Summary: This was a complete, but totally expected, failure.
No, that wasn't honest. He hated it, but it wasn't honest.
The experiments were conducted under Hevlaska's disapproving but watchful eye to ensure the safety of the Innocence. The subject, a white male child, was selected because he was in good health, had strong character, and was young enough that he might still be malleable. Insertion of the Innocence was conducted under the most controlled settings possible, but there was no success at all.
We must conclude that, as Hevlaska warned us, the Innocence itself possesses enough of a consciousness about its power that it can choose its own host. While this has yet to be scientifically verified, the lack of disputing evidence is deemed, at this time, to be sufficient that further investigation in this area is not warranted, and would rather be wasteful of our resources.
A thorough autopsy was performed postmortem to determine the precise cause of death, and the extent of the Innocence's effect on the body. Unfortunately, systemic damage was widespread to a degree which made any specific determination impossible. Therefore, it was determined that the rejection of the host by the Innocence, a potential defense mechanism of the Innocence, was a total experience throughout the body, perpetuated, most likely, by either electrical currents, or another form of energy which could travel instantly throughout the body.
He rubbed the back of his neck. Writing this out... He preferred his first version. He hated being the person who could choose to throw away a life and be clinical about it. And yet...
He couldn't help feeling that if they had at least gotten some new information from the experiment, he could have considered it valuable. It wasn't that the child died, it was that he died uselessly that plagued Komui so much.
He put his quill down, and covered his face with his hands. He hated it... he hated himself like this. What if it had been Lenalee? Years ago, before he had gotten to her, if the Supervisor at the time had performed an experiment like this on her... He could have. He probably thought about it, since she wasn't functional as an exorcist.
Komui was going to be sick.
He heard her voice... she was singing. He blinked, because he hadn't been aware of it at first... but it slowly crept over him. He tried to focus on her words, because he didn't recognize the language at first, but his eyes were getting heavier and heavier...
"Hevlaska!" he protested weakly, trying to fight off the urge to yawn. Fight off the urge to put his head down on the table...
"Rest, Komui. Please rest."
"No... no time..." he protested, but...
"Darling? Komui?" He squeezed his eyes shut, but she just laughed, and tugged on his ear. "You fell asleep at your workstation again! I'll die of pneumonia in our cold, cold bed someday..." she sighed dramatically.
That wasn't the right voice. He didn't understand.
"Supervisor! You fell asleep at your desk again!"
Komui blinked. Reever's face was right in front of his. He started, pushing back... Looking around, he couldn't place himself for a moment...
Of course, it was only one moment. Akuma, the Earl, the Black Order... of course. He couldn't forget for very long. He gave Reever an annoyed look. "Well? Why did you wake me?"
"I thought you might prefer to see the Generals while you were awake," Reever returned dryly.
Komui straightened up, and ran a hand through his hair... he fixed his beret. "Get me fresh coffee."
"Yes, yes," Reever sighed. He pushed Komui's bunny mug closer to him. "I already did."
Komui picked it up, sniffing. Well. It was hot. He sighed, acting annoyed, and stood up. He grabbed his clipboard, and the report, some paper, a quill... "I'm going down, then. Take care of things until my return."
"Supervisor?" Reever questioned, confused. "It's not time..."
"I have something to do first," Komui snapped. He grabbed his mug, and then he was on the move. He walked by the commissary first. Lenalee was there, laughing with some of the Finders. Kanda was eating with her... if by with one meant that he was sitting at one end of the table, by himself, and Lenalee was at the other end.
Komui didn't mind that about him at all.
He went down on the elevator to the lowest level of Headquarters, to where Hevlaska was with the Innocence. At first, it was completely dark, but after a few moments, he could sense, rather than see, that she was awakening. As she rose up, though, the soft glow her body gave off made it possible for him to see again.
He smiled softly, touching his lips... as if he could feel something that only happened in a dream.
"Komui. Is there something I can do for you?"
"No," he replied simply. Certainly not anything more that she could do for him. "But, if you don't mind, I thought I'd have my morning coffee here while I finished this report."
For a moment, there was chill silence as she hovered above him. It was hard to gauge her moods, since her voice always sounded otherworldly, and her eyes were masked, but her lips did curl into a smile. "I would be delighted."
He grinned, and sat down on the ground, his back to the guardrail. He flipped the pages around, finding the right spot. "Do you often dream?" he asked her idly.
"Dreams are naught but visions uninhibited by reality," she replied in her usual cryptic fashion.
"But... do you often... dream," he pressed on, putting his quill to the page.
"...I do not... often."
He nodded once, feeling... irrationally pleased.
It was just as well to feel that way, however, since as soon as he went to see the Generals, he wouldn't feel anything like that at all. She remained hovering over him as he finished his work and his coffee, as if she was watching over him.
He reread his report three times, to be sure, and to stall. As he perfected the crossing of a t, a thought occurred to him. In the dream, there had been people around Lenalee... he tried to remember... Lenalee, too, had been older than she was now. Her hair had looked so cute in long pigtails.
"Are you ready, Komui?" she asked, and he could have sworn she felt nervous.
He smiled brightly at her. "You can feel the future, right? Destiny... You tell me. Will I be all right?"
"I have faith in you," she assured him.
He had to laugh a little bit, though. That was more than he had for himself. "Well, thank you. To battle, then, I suppose." He didn't move, though. Damn. He really didn't want to do this. "You know... I only want to protect them. Our... our exorcists. Even now, I can think... I did what I did because if there was a way to use more of our Innocence and gain more exorcists... Please, Hevlaska. If I ever start to make a mistake like that again, stop me. I'm putting my faith in you."
She was quiet for a moment. "I will care for it well. Komui."
He smiled at her... he wished that he could touch her hand, at least. Or look into her eyes. Even though he thought he knew her as well or better than anyone else in the Order, he still didn't know her at all.
He furrowed his brow. In the dream... who was after Lenalee?!
"And... you'll tell me if I need to worry about anyone chasing my Lenalee, right?" he asked, probably a bit petulantly.
"You have nothing to be afraid of," she said, but he was sure he was humoring him.
He should remember that dream better! It was definitely a portent!
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