title: When we were gone astray
fandom: D.Gray-man
characters/pairings: Komui, Lenalee, Reever, Cross, others
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: Komui and the concept of salvation...
notes: some spoilers, in spirit, anyway, for recent manga chapters. apologies for depressing; wanted to explore some of the ideas of faith that have recently been shown in the manga. section titles are from carols... the advent ones are from corresponding verses of O Come O Come Emmanuel, Christmas is from Joy to the World, and the Epiphany one is from We Three Kings.

First Sunday of Advent

ransom captive

The bells of a missionary were ringing incessantly, his shrill voice calling out in rough and imperfect Chinese, supplicating for the reform of the hearts of all who listened. Komui might have been amused by the absurdity of the man, or his shabby coat, and ill-cared for hygiene, or even for the subtle mistakes he made in his address, but instead, all he could think about was that infernal bell, and its refusal to either hit the note it had been designed to ring or stop clanging away like it was.

He tried to just ignore it, but there was no way he could continue his reading at that tea shop if that damned missionary was going to be ringing his bell constantly like that. It was useless.

He gathered his books, paid his tab, and started back for home. Lenalee would be happy to see him, anyway, and he could relieve Mrs. Wong from watching over her. Lenalee was understandably restless, staying at home constantly, but until Komui understood what was going on better, he had no choice...

It was beneath his dignity to cross the street simply to avoid the missionary, although crossing right before that horrible bell was just as bad, perhaps. However, just as Komui was right before the man, the bell finally stopped.

"Are you prepared to make ready the way of the Lord?"

Komui stopped dead, and gave the missionary a sidelong look. "Why would I? If He is the Lord, he can prepare his own way better than I can, right?"

"The Lord calls to us all in our hearts, young man," the missionary smiled, a bit patronizingly. "Are we ready to hear the call? That is the question that plagues us all. We do not know the day nor the hour. When you are called, what will your answer be?"

"My answer?" Komui replied acerbically. "Will the poor get richer while we sit around and ponder that? Will the sick be cured by our hopes if we concentrate hard enough? Aren't we living our answer now? You're wasting my time!"

He started to move away, but the missionary made a move as if to cut him off. Komui gave the man another look over. Something wasn't entirely right... why was he talking to Komui, anyway? Because Komui appeared intelligent? Or.

"Time... time is essential, isn't it? If we had the luxury of waiting for our strength to materialize... but we're racing against time. Isn't that the definitive condition of a mortal creature?" The missionary reached out and grabbed Komui's elbow. There was just... a bit too much desperation to him...

"Racing against time, is it? A... millennia comes and goes so fast, eh? Fighting against sin and death... it's a losing battle, mm? But... that really doesn't have anything to do with me, does it?" Komui said snidely, pulling his arm away.

"Your parents would be disappointed to hear you speak like that, young man," the missionary sighed.

Komui snarled, "And what would you know of my parents?"

"Any mother would be disappointed in such a heartless son," the missionary shot back quickly, but Komui wasn't buying it. He also wasn't taking any chances. He only had one thing left in life to live for, and he wasn't about to let some church take that away, too.

His sister was not about to become anyone's weapon, no matter who the enemy was.

"Mothers sometimes neglect their children. Some mothers put the greater good before the good of their family. Even righteous wars have orphans, and motherless sons are motherless sons, regardless. Holy wars will lead its soldiers down the same road paved in good intentions, will they not?" Komui sneered at the missionary, and tugged at his vestment. "You've got your shield on under this disguise, right? A cross that's supposed to unite you to a cause? What a joke. There it is..." He picked at the silver cross on the man's chest, the cross that marked him as part of the Order that failed to defend his parents who were working so hard for them... "Believe me, the silver they used to make this will comprise the most expense they'll waste on you... and they'll collect it back again when they're done with you.

"I've got no business with you, and neither does anyone else in my family. So you can save your sermons for someone more susceptible to your lies."

"I have no need to preach to you," the man from the Black Order said, sounding a bit sad... almost sheepish. "I really only needed... a bit of your time..."

Time... time for...

Komui's blood froze, and after just a split second to consider those words, their implication... he bolted, running as fast as he could. But of course... unlike his sister... since she had found those boots, or those boots had found her...

He cried out for Lenalee as soon as he was in sight of their house, but it was already too late. He spotted the Finders before he heard her... crying out for him...

"LENALEE!" He ran faster than he ever had before, reaching out for her, but they were too far ahead, much too far ahead, and then a Finder grabbed him by the waist... "NO! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT! LENALEE! LENALEE!!"

But all he heard in return was her screams.

He'd failed her.

Second Sunday of Advent

the path of knowledge show

He tapped his pen idly against his clipboard, watching them. It was harmless, of course, just a simple game of checkers, but that boy worried Komui. Partially because he seemed to have a bad temper, and he was losing badly to Lenalee. Partially because...

That poor child...

"Excuse me... ah. Are you Komui Lee?"

Komui wasn't going to correct him, because he was nearly as used to hearing his name that way as the correct way by now, but he wasn't about to look up at the man, either. "Mm. What do you want?" Komui asked bluntly.

"I'm just starting... they told me to find you and help you with whatever you were doing." Komui scowled. He did not need an assistant, so this person... he looked up at him. Tall, fair, probably good-looking... Komui hugged. "Er. Are you. Is this... um. Some kind of exp-"

"That's my sister," Komui cut him off sharply. Experimenting on exorcists... Komui leaned forward, clasping his hands together tightly. "Do you approve of experimenting on exorcists... whatever your name is?"

"It's Reever. Reever Wenhamm. And. Well. Approve..." He had enough decency to look nervous as he looked again at Lenalee and that poor Japanese boy. "I guess I can't really approve of it, no. But at the same time... there's so much we don't know, and... if we're going to win..."

"If we're going to," Komui repeated darkly. They weren't going to, he knew. They all knew, right? Lenalee loudly smacked her pieces on the board as she finished Kanda off. She laughed brightly, which diminished, somewhat, Kanda's dark look, but the tiny boy still pulled his katana into his grip.

"I didn't realize that exorcists came so... young," Reever said under his breath.

Komui spared the man a withering look which, when he caught it, caused him to blush deeply. "God chooses his soldiers... indiscriminately," Komui sighed bitterly.

Reever was giving him an odd look, he could tell. Well. Most people... kept their feelings about God to themselves around the Order, for good reasons. "We... have to trust in... his wisdom. Have faith, right, sir?"

Komui rolled his eyes in an exaggerated fashion. "We're scientists, whatever your name is," he derided. "If you're going to be any use to me, you should put your faith in the scientific method, and let God have faith in himself."

"Yessir," Reever said quickly, but he sounded uneasy.

Komui was being difficult again, wasn't he? But then, Reever didn't see that boy when they brought him in... it made Komui think of what it must have been like for Lenalee when she came in...

Sometimes, he hated himself for working for the organization he hated so much. But for the sake of Lenalee, and this Kanda, and the others like them...

"If you'd like to do something other than gawk at my little sister," Komui said dryly, "why don't you get me some coffee? Unlike some, I've been up all night working." Lenalee cheerfully set up the next game, and though Kanda looked slightly ill, he stuffed down his reservations, and let his grip on his katana slacken slightly.

"Y-yessir!" Reever said with too sharp, too military precision, before turning quickly to rush off.

If they were giving him someone to train... well, that had to mean that he really was working his way up in the organization. That was fine, actually.

The higher up he went, the more he'd be able to do, for Lenalee, and for the exorcists as a whole.

The ones that weren't part of the work he had to do, at any rate...

Third Sunday of Advent

dark shadows put to flight

He was going to die. He knew it... the certainty was frightening, actually, but it made it possible to cope. He'd never see Lenalee again... and that hurt like crazy, but he was almost glad, too. This way... this way...

This way, he'd never have to look into a coffin with his beautiful sister in it.

The third level akuma was laughing its crazy head off, its huge axe-arms swinging above its head. Would it cut him up with those arms? Or shoot him with the guns in its stomach? Was he going to be vivisectioned, or infected? It was only a matter of a few minutes. He wanted it to be over with as soon as possible... but no matter what...

He'd remember his mother and father. He'd cursed them so much when they died, for leaving his sister and him behind, for fighting instead of protecting them all, but... ironically, he'd made the same choice, hadn't he? So maybe he understood a bit better, what they felt, why they felt that way... Maybe he could honor their memory a bit better.

He wouldn't scream or beg. Or pray. There was no God to answer any of his prayers, anyway. So he wouldn't bother wasting his last breaths or thoughts. He'd just think about Lenalee.. their parents... the world they might have lived in if there really had been a God...

"Stupid puny human. Such tasty flesh. Won't Master be so happy to find that Innocence you're protecting? Innocence is tasty, too, isn't it, human? Hee hee hee, you're going to lose your Innocence!"

The machine at his feet crackled and sparked, as if responding to the akuma's words by trying to come back to life, but it was useless now. Komui might actually regret that. His shield technology actually did work... at least for a little while. And he'd been right about the location of the Innocence. The mirror effect of the lake was masking its location. Being right and doing well, though, would do no good since no one had listened to him and no one knew he had left headquarters, much less gone south of the lake while all the Finders and exorcists were searching the villages north of the lake... By the time he was found, his shield would be dust, and the Order wouldn't know how useful it could be. If the Innocence in his hand was the heart, whatever that was that Hevlaska talked about, if it was that... then it would all be over soon, because he'd failed.

He regretted that, a bit.

"Maybe you'll be back soon. We might become friends, after the Master puts your soul into one of his dolls. Which one of your loved ones will give up his or her life to bring you back? Mm? Think about that! You've only got a few seconds now!"

He closed his eyes tightly, and held his breath. He... he didn't want to die. He didn't want to! He wanted to live, to see Lenalee, to watch her grow old and be happy... wanted to grow old himself... he wanted this stupid war to be over with and all these accursed akuma to be gone and the Noah and the damned Earl...

He wanted someone to save him!

He could hear the arm of the akuma slice through the air, and he knew his time was up, but instead of feeling the pain of the blade cutting him, he heard the bright, sparking sound of metal against metal. He opened his eyes...

Between him and the akuma stood General Cross, looking ten feet tall and gloriously dark and wicked. He held his ornate gun above his head, obviously blocking the akuma with that. His coat fanned out around him, and his hair spread out like fire around him... The akuma laughed loudly.

"Exorcist! Tasty!"

"Maria," Cross said smoothly. "Show this pitiful beast judgment."

Komui covered his ears, because the whole building shook with the sound of Maria's song. He'd heard of Cross' unorthodox second anti-akuma weapon...

Shaking, Komui tried to watch. Tried to watch it all, carefully, because he was a scientist, and he... he was going to live, because Cross... damn his dark and arrogant soul, Cross was going to save him...

Damn him...

Komui wanted to see it. An akuma dying. To be sure it really could. And because... he most likely would never get another chance, but.

He was terrified. Was he only just realizing it? But he couldn't help it. He cowered, covering his head until it was over.

"Are you under the impression that you can serve the Order well from beyond the grave? I would have thought that you would have paid more attention to what the cute little sister of yours needed. More family funerals will only make her skin sallow."

Komui got to his feet, ready to spit nails, anything at all, just to shut that prick up, but he had enough good grace to know when to hold back. After all, the bastard just saved Komui's life. He held out the Innocence. "Here, General. I think this is better in your care..."

Cross looked the Innocence over, but he didn't take it. Instead, he picked up the broken shield box, looking it over curiously. "I didn't find that. You'd best take that to Hevlaska. And thank your little sister by buying her a new dress. After all, I only answer to the call of a beautiful maiden in distress." He tossed the shield box over his shoulder, grinning rakishly, and he winked at Komui before turning to leave.

Komui stood there, unable to comprehend... he could hear the sounds of more battle, but he knew the second level was in charge...

That filthy bastard. Lenalee shouldn't be talking to such irresponsible and immoral men!

Fourth Sunday of Advent

sad divisions cease

He held her in his arms again.

He didn't think about how long it had been, or how he hadn't really slept at all in the past several days, knowing that the danger was seemingly insurmountable... he didn't think about how there were so many wounded and so many dead and how a victory against the Earl was a scary thing, unless they were really sure it was a victory. He didn't think about the new and amazing discovery or what it meant or about how they had managed to win after all.

He held her in his arms again.

Her hair was short. So short... it made her look... so grown up, like she didn't even need a big brother anymore. It was like a reminder. God had returned her this time, but he'd taken something of her, and one day... He brushed his fingers through her too short hair, and ignored that she was battered and beat up and barely clothed, and still standing, and grown up, and... everything. He ignored everything.

He held her in his arms again.

People rushed around them. She pulled away from him a bit, calling him brother in that affectionate but scolding tone. Allen was there and Lavi and Kanda and that idiot Cross... The other scientists and Finders were there, and everyone was there. There was work to be done. This was no time to be taking a break, even if... even if those returning deserved a chance to be welcomed. Still. Work. Always work.

He held her in his arms again.

"Komui," Cross put his hands on Komui's shoulders, and leaned in close, whispering into his ear. Komui's back stiffened, and his arms tightened around her. "She needs medical care. They all do. And you, I expect, plan to tie me down and do wicked things until I tell you everything... that's the plan, right, boss?" Komui made a face. Sure, that was the plan, but in the meantime...

He held her in his arms again.

If he knew the name of a God to thank, in that moment, he would have, he would have with all of his heart.

Christmas

prepare him room

There was a chapel in the Black Order headquarters. It was the first part of the headquarters that had been built, and it contained the cornerstone of the entire structure. Since Komui had been at headquarters, there had never once been a priest, chaplain, or even a deacon there to say mass. Even the cleaning staff, even Komui's robots, forgot the chapel existed. The wood of the pews was unidentifiable under the dust, the stones were cold and prone to crumbling at the corners, the altar was barren, and blended into the stones all around it, and the cross behind the altar was askew.

Komui found it so entirely fitting that he normally followed the trend, and pretended that it didn't exist. Finding himself occupying a pew, letting his pristinely white jacket be stained by the dust and neglect...

He stared at the dilapidated cross, and rubbed his hands on his knees. He didn't have a problem crying. When it was called for, he just let it out. Oh, he was careful about who he shared his real feelings with, but that was natural as a leader. Or as a cog in the wheel of a major multinational war effort run by a covert religious autocracy.

There was no such thing as being too careful.

Into the crooked cross, someone had once painted the figure of the sacrifice, but the paint had long since peeled off, and there was only a faint remembrance of it left behind. From an archeological point of view, Komui knew that there probably was a person behind that story. And anyway, it wasn't unheard of at the time for the Romans to put a man to death that way. Komui stared at the figure, feeling excessively empathetic.

It must have been hell.

It was snowing outside. In the Great Hall... another mass funeral was being prepared. Komui wasn't sure where Lenalee was. So many... were unaccounted for...

If the man on the cross had foreseen this... no wonder he was willing to die, rather than stick it out.

The door behind him creaked open, and he didn't need to turn around to look to see who it was, because he didn't care, but he knew. Whoever it was, was looking for him, because no one came here looking for anything.

Had he?

"Chief."

It was Reever. Komui's posture remained unchanged, motionless. Good news, bad news, nagging, whatever it was...

Komui was tired. He could understand how that cross felt. There was so much tragedy already inside of him... he could just break apart. Reever... Reever was one of the few that Komui expected might understand that, but at the same time, he wasn't about to burden anyone with his pain.

It was his own.

"Chief... We've gotten word. Gotten word from Lenalee... The Eastern unit is most intact, and holding strong. They're going to restock, and then intercept with Allen's group." Reever sat down next to him. He sat down so carefully, worried perhaps that if he disturbed the dust too much, the pew would fall apart.

"Chief. We've gotten word from Lenalee."

His voice was gentle, caring... understanding. That was the last thing Komui wanted. He put his face in his hands, roughly shoving his glasses aside. His shoulders shook but there were no sobs, no tears... Reever put his hand on Komui's shoulder, a warm, solid presence and nothing more, just a feeling that he was connected...

Just that, but it was too much, because Komui had, once again, given in to hope. He put his head down in Reever's lap, and let Reever touch his hair and his skin, until he was done weeping for joy.

Epiphany

King and God and Sacrifice

He leaned back against the counter, and looked down at his gloved hands. Allen was going to be all right. Probably. That kid... he didn't give up easily, did he?

Komui's hands were shaking.

He'd made Bak-chan leave an hour ago. It was the right thing to do, because... as good a scientist as he was, he was also deeply rooted in Chinese mysticism. There was a place for magic and a place for science and there was a place for being entirely heartless and thinking only of the job you had to do, not what it would mean for the person being surgically sewed back together.

He... he would be fine... probably... Allen was strong. He'd be fine.

"You know... there's a reason why I don't take on an apprentice that often. Even an idiot one like this," Cross said gruffly.

Cross was... far too large to be sneaky, but Komui... his attention was scattered. Cross pressed a glass of dark amber liquid into his hands, wrapping Komui's fingers around the glass... With Cross' help, Komui raised the glass to his lips. The smell at once was enough to make him gag a bit. He wasn't a drinker. He had his doubt about Cross' intentions. The man was inherently untrustworthy.

Komui drank it all down.

"You saved his life."

Komui choked a bit, shaking his head. Ah... Lenalee would be worried about Allen. He should go and... and wash up, so Lenalee wouldn't need to see Allen's blood all over her brother's hands... "I had a realization about salvation while I was working. Realization... you know... that kind of... a moment of clarity... like that?" Cross just raised his eyebrow and looked amused. Komui ignored him. "I had a realization. About being saved and the war and the Earl and all of it. I realized.

"It doesn't matter. None of it does. Everything dies, anyway. Maybe... maybe this is why everything dies. So that... so that our failures... our failures will die as well. Nothing lasts. Happiness... will fade away in time. But so will sorrow. Nothing... nothing that happens in this life matters.

"Isn't that liberating?" he asked Cross, smiling. One drink was not enough to make him drunk.

It was apparently enough to make him lean against Cross, but.

He wasn't drunk.

"Komui..." Cross began. Komui nearly started to laugh. He wasn't sane at that moment, was he? Temporary insanity, brought on by one too many bad experiences... Cross would scold him for letting the stress get to him. Something. Being scolded by Cross... Allen would get a shiver, wouldn't he? "Komui, don't tell me you're only just figuring that out?" Cross touched Komui's chin, and Komui looked up into Cross' eye. Cross grinned, and he looked just like the devil. No wonder he got all those women to fall for him. "And here I thought you were smart..."

"See? Even when you say that... it doesn't matter," Komui said matter-of-factly. He looked at his glass.

He'd need a lot more than this... but...

It was going to be all right. And if it wasn't, well, it wouldn't matter.








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