title: In Thanks for Heka
fandom: D.Gray-man
characters/pairings: Komui/Cross, pretty much everyone in the Black Order
rating: G/Teen
warnings: none
summary: Komui, in the center of the celebrations in the Black Order, great and small.
notes: written for the komui_love Celebration! Raffle. the title is cryptic... heka refers to both magic and a god of magic in Egyptian mythology, so since science in DGM is based on magic... 13 parts for the 13 days to celebrate komui. ^_~




Inception




He tugged on her pigtail, huffing. "C'mon, pick one," he gruffly ordered her.

She looked up at him with watery eyes. "More..."

He squeezed his eyes shut. "There are no more, Lenalee, you have to pick from these."

She shook her little head, sending her pigtails flying all around. "No... don't like. More!"

He should be at home, reading Metallurgical Principles Involved in Divination, and maybe tinkering with his new project, a small automated device which would scream like something unholy if it detected motion. He should be doing productive things, but Lenalee needed new shoes and his mother and father were both too busy...

He looked down at Lenalee who was tugging on his sleeve desperately. "More, please, more!"

If only she weren't quite so cute! Sighing, he reached down and picked her up. Of course, she giggled and reached her little arms around to grab his ponytail.

"We'll go to one more store, but promise me you'll find something you like, ok?" She beamed and nodded, giggling. Since when did four year olds get a say in shoe shopping, anyway? He was far too kind. He should get an award for being a good big brother. He'd mention it to his parents tonight, right before asking for materials and some reference books to build the self-propelled errand manager he'd been planning...

"There, there!" she declared, squirming out of his arms. She dashed across the street, without looking, of course...

"Lenalee!" He cried after her, frantically running. But, damn, for being so small, she could be fast... he dodged carts and pedestrian traffic, trying to keep Lenalee's hair in sight, if nothing else...

Gasping, he finally did catch up... Lenalee was clapping her hands and bouncing from foot to foot, looking at a pair of slightly dingy looking boots. There was an old man and woman, and they had placed what seemed to be their worldly possessions on a blanket to sell, like so many of the poor in the city.

"Lenalee!" he sternly tried to reprimand her. She looked up at him and giggled, though. He was definitely making his parents take him to the Hidden Library! "Don't ever run off like that again! Do you know what might have happened to you? You've aged your poor brother by at least ten years!"

She laughed, and pointed to the boots. "Like 'em!"

He went to his knees, sighing. "Lenalee... we're going to a store, remember. Ah, not that they don't seem to be very nice..." he smiled kindly at the old woman. "But..."

"Like 'em, like 'em!" Lenalee insisted.

The old woman laughed. "I'm so sorry for the trouble, sir. Go ahead and take them! No charge! She seems to have taken to them so..."

"Oh, no, we couldn't," he bowed, a bit annoyed at having to deal with her and show her such courtesy when she was obviously thinking that he and his sister were spoiled. "I apologize for my sister. She has a tendency to be headstrong..."

"LIKE 'EM!" Lenalee insisted, proving his point.

The old lady just laughed. "Truth be told, young master, my husband found those boots up a tree just last week. Oh, the wind was terrible the higher he went up, but my husband is part monkey, I'm afraid. He was so sure the boots would earn us some pretty copper, but as you can plainly see, they're just boots." She gave her husband a look, and shook her fist at him, but she was smiling, and he smiled as he shrugged sheepishly. "Your sister is so drawn to 'em, maybe it's destiny?"

Komui didn't think destiny was this jaded. Lenalee tugged on his sleeve hard enough to make him worried about his seams. "Like 'em like 'em like 'em like..."

"All right, all right, fine, fine, we'll get the boots, but here..." He reached into his satchel and gave the old woman half the money his mother had given him to buy Lenalee shoes. "Please take this. I wouldn't feel right otherwise. Please."

"Ohho, young master is so kind," the old woman chortled, quickly pocketing the money. She gave him a faded blue mug with a bunny on the side. "Here, here, take this as well. Thank you so much, young master." She and her husband bowed to him.

He looked at his mug dubiously, but he just wanted to get away from there.

Lenalee was sitting on the ground, taking off her cute, if a little too small, slippers and putting on those ugly boots. At least they seemed to fit well.

"Like 'em!" Lenalee cooed happily when she had them on, though, so Komui figured... at least her feet were shod.

She wouldn't let him carry her back home, too excited to be jumping around in her new boots. After a few blocks, he couldn't help it... she was so happy...

He bought her a shaved ice on the way home, to 'celebrate' her new boots. And really, the mug wasn't that bad, either... perhaps these had been excellent purchases, after all.





Adversity




"I don't know why you have to make things difficult," he grumbled, looking over his shoulder, making sure no one was coming... "You know, I can check up on Lenalee-chan. I have contacts over at Headquarters, and I am being groomed to be the leader of the Asia branch..."

"Because of your lineage, yes," Komui said distractedly.

Bak scowled. "Yes, well, whatever, the point is... you could just take the job here under me, and trust the people in the Order to take care of Lenalee-chan for you."

Komui gave Bak a look that would freeze Hell. "I can take of her myself."

Bak rolled his eyes, and since Komui had turned back to the books, he stuck his tongue out at him. "You say that, but... you needed my help to get access to this library, right? So... I could just let one of the guards know..."

"I corrected four of the five mistakes you made in that report for HQ," Komui said quietly. "I'll tell you the fifth mistake when I'm ready to leave."

"Eh!?" Bak jumped to his feet and picked up the scroll he was working on. When did Komui have time to...?! "I didn't make any..." He looked over the alteration in the calculation Komui had written in... in red ink... Oh, shit... "You little bastard."

He didn't even need to be looking at Komui to see the smug bastard grinning. If there had to be one person in the world smarter than him...

It just had to be someone like Komui.

Bak jumped down and brushed his pants off. It seemed he had some work to do, too. "Well, I'm going to run to the kitchen and get some good wine and even better food."

"Eh?" Komui turned, surprised. "Have you become self-indulgent since you got this new post?" he asked, incredulous.

Bak tried his best to ignore him, really. "I plan on celebrating. This insane plan of yours to join the Order straight at the top means you'll be leaving China, right? Good enough reason to celebrate for me," he grumbled.

As he was leaving, he could hear the bastard sneak in, "Don't worry, Bak~a, when I'm in charge, I'll be sure to take good care of you, too."

Bak ground his teeth. If Komui was going to be in charge of the Science Department... maybe he should consider siding with the damned Earl.





Beauty




His hands fumbled a bit as he sorted through the tools on his counter. He seemed a bit stiff, a bit uptight, really, but he looked like a cute kid.

Since when did she think of guys in their early twenties as kids?

"I take it this is your first time with a General?" she asked coyly, just trying to loosen the kid up before he came at her with a drill. She didn't expect him to jump and turn to look at her guiltily.

"Eh? Ah... well... I've, er, worked on General Cross, but..." He wrinkled his nose cutely. "Obviously, it didn't matter if I hurt him." She barked out laughing. Actually, that might actually be fairly fun... "Now, when it comes to working on a beautiful lady..." He winked at her...

And then picked up the biggest gas-powered needle in all the world.

She swallowed hard. "Sweet talking me before using that thing isn't going to endear you to me, you know."

He looked sheepishly down at his implement. "I'm sorry, General. This... might hurt. I hope..."

She lifted her chin, turning her face to show off her burn marks. "More than this, young man? Don't hold back. I can handle it. Just get me back to top form. At least you don't have to worry about damaging my cute face or anything like that," she teased

He paused for a moment. He smiled at her gently, and he looked... more than his years, and so handsome, she actually started a little when his gloved fingers touched her face. He positioned her, putting on an electrode. "Now, don't say something like that, General Cloud Nine. This is... an ugly world. When something... or someone... beautiful enters it. Nothing that can happen to that person can destroy the beauty. It's a thing to be cherished and celebrated. This is going to hurt, so just bear it for a moment."

The pain was electrifying. She was seeing him and not the Chief because Komui had developed this new process... it was painful, they had told her, but faster and more effective. It was damned painful, so it damned well better be...

"There, done," Komui took a step back. "It'll be numb for a little bit, and you should take it easy for possibly half a day, but that should be it."

She reached up to feel... Well, that was brutal, but better a quick and painful cure than a long, drawn out and painless one. She hopped off the exam table, and kissed his cheek.

His eyes widened, his ears pinked, and he froze.

She smirked, and sashayed off. "I'll have to remember to always request your... services, then, Komui."

It had been a long time since she'd left a young man gaping after her. That definitely helped to dull the pain.





Wisdom




He watched the young man for a few moments, because it was his custom to watch and not interfere. However.

"If you keep your nose in a book like that," he warned with a touch of humor, "the books will eat you."

The young man smiled, but he did not raise his head or stop reading. "If that were true, old man, you'd be dust inside these books, wouldn't you?"

"How do you know I'm not?" Bookman returned with good humor, but he was a little bit impressed. This child was so young, but he was being given a lofty post in the Black Order... Bookman had checked, and this Komui lad wasn't the youngest, but he was close, and the last time had been over a hundred years ago.

Times were different, then.

"Well, it's true... it's hard to discern the true nature of things with just human senses," Komui reasoned, good-humoredly. "You do seem rather dusty. Maybe your skin is paper, and your blood is ink. I can't know that without testing."

"The response of a scientist," Bookman chuckled.

"And I suppose your response would be to sit and watch, and wait and see what you could determine that way?" Komui looked up, smiling slightly.

"You make that sound like a bad thing," Bookman chuckled, a little surprised, actually, with what a sharply astute comment that was.

Komui leaned back, setting the book aside. Methodology of Akuma Dissection Utilizing Ordinary Materials - Special Attention to Safety. "Your mission... is not ours. If I forget that, then it might become a bad thing to my perspective."

"Perspective can change morality?" Bookman asked, dodging the issue slightly.

"Perspective is morality," Komui grinned, aware of Bookman's action.

"Oho," Bookman chortled. "An immature position, especially from someone who serves God. Are you saying that you don't believe in absolutes?"

"I believe in them," Komui replied calmly, grinning when Bookman raised his eyebrow in disbelief. "I believe in right and wrong. And I believe that I am a limited creature, and my experience with right and wrong are limited by my perspective, and my experiences... Ultimately, we believe what we choose to believe, which is also a matter of perspective. Our enemies... do not see themselves as evil. If they did, they would be... comical, wouldn't they? As it is, they are just like us, and therefore... dangerous."

Bookman watched Komui for a moment, this time, not out of habit, but from genuine interest. Well. This lad might well be worth paying attention to. Bookman would take note. "Chief. Would you care to join me for some wine? I have a bottle I gathered in China a few years back, might suit your tastes quite well."

Komui raised his eyebrow and grinned. "Have I done something particularly good, then?"

"You've joined the record of the fight. That's worth something, right?" Bookman chortled. "I mean, of course, that you've become Chief. I realize it happened six months and four days ago, but this is the first chance I've had to celebrate with you."

Komui started to laugh dryly. "I see... Well. Toasting to ink for blood, then, mm?" He got up slowly, like an old man...

Too much time in a library did that to a young body. Bookman led Komui to the sitting room.

Yes, this would be an interesting study.





Age




It was pitch black all around him, but it felt comforting, like he was in a place of deep security, so he needed no sight. He waited... it was late at night, or early in the morning... in that nebulous time between times and days. He could tell she was coming, because the darkness was losing its depth.

"Lee Komui. This is an unusual time for us to meet."

She sounded vaguely disapproving. Or perhaps... He lifted the box he just received via courier. "We... this just came in. An exorcist has sent us her anti-akuma weapon." He swallowed hard, and took the scissors out of the box. They seemed... ordinary.

Hevlaska floated up, her body seeming to follow her gaze. Her face came close to the box Komui was holding on the railing, but her body was all around them... emitting a soft blue glow that was rather comforting.

"The exorcist... sent this home ahead of her?"

Komui stared down at the scissors sadly for a moment before nodding tightly. He swallowed, clearing his throat. "Her body is being cremated outside of Prague."

"I see." One of Hevlaska's hands came to float over the box... the scissors vibrated, and then changed form... a piece of innocence floated up to Hevlaska. "Poor innocence, losing the one you were bound to. Rest in my embrace for now."

Komui leaned over the railing to watch the innocence shoot up and into Hevlaska's mouth, and then down... into a slot it was designated for. It was, as always, an interesting thing to watch... He counted the innocence, knowing how much there was before he counted...

They had so far to go...

"Lee Komui. You are in need of sleep."

"Thank you, Hevlaska, but..." He scratched the back of his head. "I've got more reports to get through... oh, need to approve the new design for portable telephone systems. Need to rotate Finder assignments..."

"Too many nights sleeping at your desk will not do the Order any good," she reminded him.

He smiled bitterly. The Order, of course... "She... she had only been an exorcist for... a little under eight months. She wasn't found by a General, so she was trained here. She was so eager to go out into the field, maybe meet up with other exorcists, a general... We're not sure what happened. She gave her weapon to a golem to hide. A finder found the golem three days later, but the data was hard to read. I need to work on encoding golems for data protection... I think I know what protocols to use, just need to do some testing..."

"Lee Komui. You know what the burden of age is?"

His shoulders slumped. "Watching... those that go before you..."

"In this job, you will participate in the funeral of everyone you send out." He flinched. He knew that, but... hearing it... "You will be lucky if you see a single wedding." He closed his eyes. This life... "It will do those you serve no good at all if they see your funeral before you can see theirs."

What a strange way to think of it, but... "A funeral... is about celebrating life, right? So, I wonder what will be said at my funeral... Tried to save the world, got a lot of people killed in the effort... drank too much coffee..."

Hevlaska didn't laugh, but then, Komui wasn't sure she was capable of laughing. "Does it make you think of your sister?" she asked, and her voice didn't sound kind, or comforting, but it didn't sound cold, and maybe that was what she intended, whatever it sounded like.

"I'm always thinking of my sister. The Dark Boots... chose her. They chose her for this. To die for this cause. But then, my parents died for this cause, too. I wonder if I'll get to die for the cause, or if I'll have to die of old age. It really is a burden, isn't it?" She said nothing, moved neither closer nor further away, her light didn't flicker. She looked.

Motionless.

He smiled. "I'm sorry. I'm being self-indulgent. Thank you, Hevlaska." He stepped back, toward the platform control. She shrank back.

Just as he put his hand on the lever, she softly added, "Grow old, Lee Komui. I do not look forward to the day where I meet your replacement."





Friendship




He snuck into the kitchen, knowing full well that he would get caught, and that the party was out there in the cafeteria. He used unnecessary stealth to snag a bowl, and he went to the pot for the rice first.

"I already made you a box," Jerry said dryly, holding said box under Komui's nose.

Komui looked at it for a second, and then put his finger to his lips. "Shhhhhh! I don't want anyone to know I'm here!" He took the box, though. Jerry made it? He sniffed. It probably had some shrimp in it. Jerry was always good to him...

Jerry clucked his tongue. "Disgraceful, running around like a thief, just to avoid..."

Well, almost always good to him... "Ehhhhh? Who's doing that? Disgraceful? That's mean!" Komui pouted. "I'm not a thief. I was playing spy!"

Jerry chuckled and shook his head. "And why aren't you playing host? There's a retirement party going on out there, you know. One of your people..."

"Has cancer," Komui cut him off. "The only reason he's retiring is because there's nothing we can do for him. Nothing I... He's going home to die. That's not really retiring. He's fifty-two. He's got three children... the youngest is only sixteen..."

"And his friends here are giving him one last party because he's not dead yet," Jerry said pointedly, crossing his arms over his chest. "Your sister is out there doing a dance on the table. People are playing music and laughing and..."

"No one notices I'm not there," Komui shrugged.

"It's not your fault he has cancer," Jerry returned.

"No one can say that," Komui sighed. "Those experiments... it killed all the lab rats, too."

"You were trying to develop a weapon to fight Akuma. That's what we do here. We serve and we slave and we work and every so often, we make things marginally better for people who don't know we exist and who think demons are stories to tell children to keep them well-behaved," he sternly lectured.

Komui stared at him for a moment... and then burst out laughing.

Jerry sighed heavily, and then... he started to laugh, too. "Go on, Chief. Have a good time that doesn't involve blowing things up in your lab."

Komui peeked inside his box. "You don't really think I'm going out there, do you?" he grinned, seeing six shrimp waiting for him.

"I'm afraid I know you too well," Jerry sighed, like Komui was a huge burden.

Komui chuckled, and as he passed Jerry, he pinched the man's ass. "Then you know that I want to get some real work done while everyone is too distracted to try to get me to sign things. Don't worry, Jerry. He knows I'm... I'm glad he can die with his family. If that's what retirement means."

"It means at least one of us is going because God asked him back, not because the damned Earl sent him back," Jerry counted.

Komui stuck his tongue out at Jerry, laughing. "I should start calling you Chief, all these lectures I'm getting!"

"You should!" Jerry shouted at him as he left.

Out of respect for Jerry... he would at least take a break and concentrate on enjoying the shrimp. And then, it was back to work... for a while, at least...

He was almost done with the robot's frame. It was going to be so beautiful and useful...





Mirth




"Chief! Did you miss me!?"

Komui didn't even look up from what he was welding. There weren't many who would brave his labs and stick their heads in like that, so he should give the boy credit, however.

The kid had a habit of drooling over Lenalee. If an accident were to happen that might perhaps castrate the boy, well, it would be sad, but...

"Is there something I can do for you, Lavi-kun?" Komui asked charitably, keeping his blowtorch running.

"No~thing really, Chief, but I picked up a little something unofficial for you when I was in Germany. You'll love it!" Lavi crept closer and closer to Komui's bench, his grin getting wider and wider...

Komui had great doubts, but he liked the idea of his exorcists and Finders bringing him gifts... "Oh? Are you sure?"

"Heheheheh, yeah, I'm sure... look!" He proudly held out a rather familiar brown-black oblong device with a red button on one end and a blue button on the other end. "Look, you push this red button, and it makes the phone nearest it ring, and when you push the blue button, it makes chatter on the other end, so it sounds like you're on the phone! Perfect for busy Chiefs in need of a few minutes to themselves, right?"

The brat looked so eager, too. It was almost cute. "Yes, it is a rather clever thing, Lavi . I invented it and sold it to a German toy manufacturer." After all, if he left the specs around the lab, someone was bound to find it and catch onto him... but it was too clever a thing not to show off!

"Eh?!" Lavi reared back. "You... well that figures!"

Komui burst out laughing, unable to restrain himself. Just... the look on Lavi's face... a sort of mix of admiration, regret, and disgust. However, that expression changed to a soft, knowing expression.

"There! That's good. You haven't laughed since you sent Lenalee out on that mission. She's checked in, right?" Lavi looked...

Like he actually cared.

Komui exhaled, and shut his blowtorch off. "Last night. It's going well."

"See? You don't need to worry so much, Chief. She'll be back and bonking us all with her clipboard soon. Gotta stay loose! Here... I brought this back from Germany, too... I'm sure you didn't invent this..." From the inside pockets of his jacket, Lavi produced two tall, dark bottles of beer.

Komui shook his head. This kid... "No, I'm about twenty-five hundred years too young for that. However, I did invent quick-freezing glass to better enjoy it." Lavi perked up, beaming... Komui reached out and took both bottles. "So, thank you, Lavi. Now, I've got work, so..."

Lavi deflated, pouting. "Ye~s, Chief, all right, Chief. Sheesh." He shuffled his feet as he left, but Komui saw him looking over his shoulder and smirking.

What a brat. At least he was on their side... most likely...





Innovation




It was usually around the third pot of coffee that he started to have his really good ideas. The ideas that just made all his other ideas look like crap. However, he had to get them drafted out before he finished his fifth pot of coffee, because after that, his handwriting became illegible, even to him, moments after he wrote it and his ability to stay focused on what he was doing for more than ten seconds evaporated.

That post-third pot, pre-fifth pot time was golden, precious time for absolutely, complete genius that would change the world and make their lives easier and keep Lenalee safe from perverts and bad hair days...

He reached out for the coffee pot, breeching treacherously into the fourth pot. The fourth pot was really the most critical time. He was on the cusp of something... something outstanding. They'd be celebrating his brilliance for millennia. His name would be revered for generations as the greatest inventor to ever breathe, at least, if he could just pace himself through the next pot, the all-important fourth pot, the pot that would either help him coalesce this into an awesome... awesome... weapon or communication device or medical thingamabob or... well, whatever it was, it was either going to coalesce into magnificence with this pot of coffee, or he was screwed.

He just started to pour, being careful not to spill because his hands were doing that unfortunate shaking thing they did sometimes around this pot, and...

He jumped and jerked around, laughing and screaming out... something was... tickling him and... inside his clothes...! A giant bug flew up his pants?!

It came up his back and burst out from behind his neck. It fluttered around primly, its golden wings sparkling right before his eyes.

"Timcampy! What are you doing!? Look..." The coffee pot in Komui's hand was now empty, and all his blueprints and prototype parts were soggy with life-sustaining caffeine... "The coffee..." Komui bemoaned.

Oh, and all his work...

The golem did a few spins impertinently, and then opened its giant mouth. A fuzzy picture of Cross appeared before him.

Komui. Do you miss me? Heh. Thought I'd send you a quick message. A while back, I took on a kid. Get your mind out of the gutter, you pervert. He's an apprentice. I'm training him and everything. Comes in handy sometimes. So don't worry about being behind on nagging me. I'm doing my duty and all that crap.

The bastard even winked at him.

Timcampy spun around a few times and then nipped at Komui's earlobe. Komui sighed, catching him to pet the golem's head. Or bottom. It was really the same...

"Give that man this message from me, all right, Timcampy? I haven't given you a thought since last I saw you, but now that you mention it, are you honestly telling me that you've found one exorcist in all this time? What about Innocence? Are you doing anything in the search for Innocence? And stop wasting poor Timcampy's resources on frivolous things!"

He shook his head... his plans were ruined, and he completely forgot what he was working on. He needed more coffee, desperately. "Come on, Timcampy. I've got some good gun oil in the back for you to feast on before going back." And he should get some breakfast himself. The rest of the team would be waking up soon, and he'd have to mainline the coffee to get through all the paperwork.

He called for a cleaning bot to clean up the lab, sadly looking back at all the wasted coffee...





Survival




He put down the drill, taking a deep breath. He wiped his brow, and turned to look back at his patient. Who was trying to undo his bandages...

"Stop that before I have to restrain you," Komui said amicably, but really. Some people just never could learn... "You do realize I'm not sending you on any more missions for a while, right?"

Kanda narrowed his eyes and set his jaw. "I still need to train," he stubbornly insisted.

Komui sighed. It was pointless.

He pulled Kanda's hands away from his bandages, and reapplied them. "If it hadn't been for that, you'd be dead, you know. Try to take a little bit of care with your body. It's not indestructible, no matter what you think."

Kanda just stared at him blankly.

Komui sighed, and put an extra layer of tape on the bandages. "Fine, you're done... You're supposed to meet Lenalee, right?"

He almost laughed at how Kanda's back stiffened. He was fairly sure Kanda didn't have enough room in his pea-sized brain for much more than his mission, so he wasn't that concerned about Lenalee's chastity with him. Although that didn't mean he'd disengage his monitors... "Why would I be meeting your sister?" Kanda replied, avoiding eye contact.

Komui rolled his eyes. "It's your first anniversary. I doubt it's a huge mystery, but act surprised anyway."

He was getting a bit annoyed with Kanda's act... until he realized that it wasn't an act. Kanda actually didn't...

"You've been in the Order as an exorcist for a year now. There's going to be a party!" Komui explained, exasperated. There was being dense and then there was being...

Kanda snorted, and jumped off the exam table stiffly, pulling on his uniform jacket. "So what? Why would I bother remembering a date like that?" he asked scornfully, striding away as he buttoned up.

"Because, you idiot," Komui muttered after him. The exam room... was spotted with blood and gore... even with Kanda's advantage, it was hit or miss there for a bit... Really, a miracle he'd gotten back at all...

"You survived for a year. How many do you think..."

He bit his lip. He was now lecturing Kanda's discarded blood. This was not a good sign. He picked up the remote for the Clean UP Biohazard Edition Number 6, or CUPEN6. The cheerful pink robot started to spray the room down with bleach, so Komui left it to its work.

Lenalee wouldn't let Kanda escape. And maybe... maybe he'd figure it out, a little bit, at least. He didn't have enough days ahead of him that he could be so careless about celebrating them.





Support




"Chief..." Reever sighed, shaking his head slightly. "Chief... what are you doing?"

Komui glared up at Reever. "It should be obvious!" he hissed. "Now, keep your voice down! Do you want to draw everyone's attention?"

Reever rolled his eyes, and knelt down so he could look Komui in the eye. Under his lab desk. "Chief, no one comes into your labs willingly, anyway. You don't need to hide under the desk!"

Komui pouted. "But people can see that I'm in here from the window. What are you doing here, anyway? Did you bring me more work? Because I am working!" Komui waved the papers in his hand in Reever's face.

"Chief... those are designs for clothes for Lenalee," he deadpanned.

"New uniform designs!" Komui corrected him. "I'm developing a way to turn Akuma armor into thread which can be woven into cloth! Very versatile and strong!"

"This is a wedding dress. And I'm not going to comment on the lab coat and beret you have for the groom," Reever pinched the bridge of his nose. "I wouldn't mind if you took some time off, but you always do it when there's so much work to..."

"There's always work," Komui interrupted, frowning at his drawing, which seemed to require some correction. "And no matter what we do, there always will be. And everyday, it gets a little bit worse..."

"I don't believe you," Reever cut him off flatly.

"It's true!" Komui scowled. "You should know..."

"I know about the work. That's not what I mean. I meant I don't believe you're this depressed. If you were depressed, you'd be torturing Finders, or building robots. You're hiding. That means..." Komui just glared at him, daring him, perhaps, to know the truth. "Were you feeling lonely, Chief? I came and found you, so could you please help me with this experiment? I can't get the titers right..."

Komui made a face at Reever. "That's because you're too impatient. As always. I'm always telling you, right? And I wasn't lonely! Like I'd hide so you could come find me... Ridiculous! You have ridiculous ideas, Reever." Komui sighed heavily, very much put upon, but then... he held out his hand for Reever to help him up. "This time, when I show you, pay attention, all right! You're supposed to be a scientist, you know."

"Yes, Chief," Reever said, repressing his grin.





Future




Destroyer of time. Since he heard that phrase, he'd been worried. Hevlaska's predictions were... cryptic. They always meant more work for him. But even more than that...

What do you think of him? Bookman had asked. Komui had just said something banal, because he never liked the feeling of being interviewed for posterity. What do you suppose it means? For the war? Is Allen the one to kill the Earl, do you think? How was Komui supposed to know? He'd order Allen to go fight the Earl, though, whether he was or not.

Cross gave us someone interesting, mm? General Cloud Nine said. He didn't know if Allen was interesting or not. He was one of their precious Exorcists. Weren't they all interesting, in their own ways? For that matter, the Akuma were interesting, too. Like the rest of the world was black and white, and only the Exorcists and Akuma were in color. Komui knew that. Hevlaska didn't offer predictions for Finders or scientists, after all.

Will Allen be all right? He tries to take on so much on his own, like he's fighting this alone... Are you sure he's ready for missions? Maybe he should learn more about the Order first. He's just been with General Cross, after all, so he knows nothing. Anyone who worried Lenalee was suspicious to Komui. Of course, as members of the Order, they should all have to worry for each other... but there were times when Komui thought that Kanda wasn't that far off. Allen was an exorcist, after all, so he had to do his job. Worrying about him... Well, he'd already survived Cross. Maybe now, he just needed to learn about his own value. Lenalee had no reason to teach him, though.

Perhaps we should... I don't know... shield him, Chief? He might be our hope... What do you think? Reever meant well, like he almost always did, save for when he was plotting against Komui's machines. He meant well, but how was he supposed to shield an exorcist? It worked the other way around. If Allen was their hope... well, he'd survive. That was all there was to it. It was more than obvious by now.

Hope came from survival.

Allen stirred on the bed, groaning. Komui's heart stopped, and he leaned forward. He checked Allen's vitals, strong and steady, all good, looking good...

Komui wiped Allen's brow gently with a cool cloth. "Keep sleeping, Allen-kun. Dream of happier days. You did well... you did well."

Allen's face calmed, and then he slipped back asleep. Komui retook his chair, and watched over him...

Happy that he was still alive.





Charity




She reminded him of a mouse, all nerves and eyes and ears. Every sudden noise caused her to start, but she kept smiling brightly at everyone. A brave little mouse...

He still needed to look over her clock. He didn't mind her being there, not so much, but the way she clung to it, and wailed... like she could carry a huge clock around!

He sighed, and went and got himself some coffee. That would be better. And.

He went and sat down on the floor next to where Miranda was sniffling. "Have you tried on your uniform yet?"

She looked at him with watery eyes, but behind her tears, he could see that her face was actually quite beautiful. She was the type to wail and moan, but she'd stuck it out... Komui could respect that. "M-my u-uniform? W-would s-someone like me need s-such a thing?"

"All my exorcists wear uniforms, Miranda!" Komui smiled kindly. "The uniform is a shield of sorts... but more importantly than that, it's a target. Those of you chosen by the Innocence to fight the Akuma must always be ready to declare your intent to the world, since our enemy is in disguise."

"Chosen..." Miranda said, wonderingly, looking up at her clock. She wiped her nose on her sleeve delicately. "I always felt like the two of us... had been abandoned... and just ended up together..."

Komui grinned. "A perfect fit. You can't think that's just an accident, right?" She stared at him blankly. He chuckled. "The Innocence is a gift from God above. It's the only weapon we have. Naturally, then, it's very selective about its matches. It's not an exaggeration to say you've been chosen by God Himself, really."

Her eyes widened, and her mouth formed a tiny 'o,' making her look much younger... much cuter...

He laughed quietly, and patted her back. "Are you ready for that? Your skills... we need them now, badly. But if you're not ready..."

"I'm ready!" Miranda said quickly. She smiled shyly at him. "I-I'm ready, sir, Chief sir, I am. I'm going to master my Innocence quickly, and be of help. I... I'm so grateful. To my Innocence, to God, to you, to Allen-kun and Lenalee-chan... to everyone. Because I can be of help... I-I want to do my best!"

"That's the spirit, Miranda! This is really a blessing, you know. You should go now, and try on your uniform, and go down to the cafeteria! Jerry will make you a celebratory dessert! Because from now on, our numbers are one stronger. And every one makes a difference in this war, Miranda," he said, beaming.

She looked like she might burst into tears again, which would definitely be counter-productive, but instead, she leaned forward and... kissed his cheek! "Yessir, Chief Komui-san, sir! I'll do just what you say! Thank you, sir!" She blushed, making her look even younger and cuter, and then she got up and dashed off.

He rubbed his cheek, bemused. Looked like he really lifted her spirits... but more importantly...

He licked his lips and looked over that clock. Finally, he'd get a good look at her Innocence...





Passion




He stumbled into the room, not bothering with the light. The room consisted solely of a bed that was turned so it was out in the middle and a dresser tucked in the corner. It didn't take his great genius, therefore, to fall into bed.

Something felt a bit odd, but he was half asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. Except then the pillow moved. He tried to hold it down, but it was much firmer than he expected, and it also had an arm, which turned Komui over and pinned him down. He still tried to sleep, but hair started to tickle his nose...

Red hair.

He glared up at Cross. "What are you doing in my room? Let go of me."

"Are you going to go to sleep in your uniform? Wherever is your pride as a Chief? Let me help you," Cross purred, and his fingers felt like tentacles, invading and separating him from his clothes.

Komui was just so damned tired... He obediently let Cross strip him, trying valiantly to connect his face to the pillow so he could fall asleep. When Cross was busy with his pants, Komui nearly succeeded, but then Cross' hand...

Yelping, Komui nearly leapt out of bed, which was bad enough, but then Cross started to laugh.

Glaring, Komui leaned up and grabbed a handful of obnoxiously red hair. "What are you doing here, anyway? Aren't there whores for you to be using and then passing the bill on to me?" Did that sentence make sense? If he could only get fifteen minutes of sleep, at least...

"Jealous, lover?" Cross chuckled.

If Komui had one ounce of strength in his body, he would clock Cross... he'd have to make sure to do that first thing when he woke up.... "Get out of my room, degenerate!"

"I hate to break this to you, beautiful," Cross whispered in a hush. "But... this is my room."

"No, it's..." Komui looked around. The bed was in the middle of the room, but there was a bedside table, the dresser was in the wrong place, and there was a desk.

Well... fuck...

"Why do you even have a room?" Komui complained. "It's not like you're ever here. Why are you here? Were you planning on sneaking out again without checking in? What have you been doing?!"

Cross' laughter had to be the most annoying sound on the planet. "I'm here for your birthday. Looks like I get the present, though..." He ran his stubbled chin down Komui's chest.

Komui tried hard, but there was no resisting the shiver that sent shocking through his body. Fucking bastard. "My birthday was three days ago. You're late."

"I'll make up for it," Cross dismissed, nudging Komui's legs apart.

Komui quickly turned and curled up. "No. I just want to sleep. Be quiet." He closed his eyes resolutely, and willed himself to slip away into unconsciousness.

"Do you spend so little time in your bed that you don't even recognize it?" Cross purred right into Komui's ear, his lips and tongue enticing, tantalizing Komui's sensitive skin.

Komui kept his eyes tightly shut. "I usually sleep at my desk, or in the couch in my office... until Reever or someone disturbs me... Just need a few hours... They won't look for me here..."

He expected Cross to say something snide or do something. Tentatively, Komui opened one eye, just to see what Cross was up to, but the man was just... looking at Komui... it was hard to read his expression in the dark, and his eyes really didn't want to stay open...

"Go to sleep, Komui. I'll keep you safe from anyone who wants you to work. Just sleep."

Komui wanted to be sarcastic, or rude, but... Cross' voice was so soothing and gentle... He curled up to Cross' side, taking advantage of his body heat...

He woke up on his own, jerking awake on reflex. The room was palely lit, the sun fully out but the window shade pulled down. Next to him on the bed was a box with a note on top. What you really want for your birthday. Well, partially... can't find the soldiers to use these just yet, but I'm keeping my eye out. And there was a crudely drawn heart, with what might be a drop or blood or teardrop falling from the bottom. Komui shook his head, and opened the box... Three sparkling spheres of Innocence twinkled back at him.

He dressed himself quickly, and checked the clock on the wall. He'd actually gotten six hours of sleep. Good, solid sleep, the kind he pined for with all his heart and soul...

He might have enjoyed Cross' present almost as much as Lenalee's. Almost.








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