Black Ink Breaking
Written By intoxicatedasphyxiation
Original: DGM by Hoshino Katsura. Standard disclaimers apply.
Summary: A collection of one-shots revolving around Lavi and Lenalee.
Any Pairings: Lavi and Lenalee, with a hint of other relationships (not necessary of the same type) embedded within these folds of digital ink.
Dedication: For Joyce, largely, since I know that this pairing is to die for in your soul.
The Origin of the Title: This was a phrase that someone once used for their introduction in passing, and it's always been boiling at the back of my subconscious, surfacing only today when I realized that I needed an apt title for this meager collection of fictional pieces. (The credit belongs to you for those marvelous three words, always.) It has that modest, awakening sort of epiphany feeling to it, and for Lavi, I think it's quite suitable, since the whole idea of ink and people have been used in the manga in accordance to him and his past. I've always viewed the notion of ink as part of his mantra; the 'Way of the Bookman', so to speak, and the idea of ink breaking has a sort of forbidden, liberating, and romantic feel to it.
Notes: The following pieces are not directly linked to each other; though some of them could be. Neither are they in a specific order, chronological or whatnot. Reviews would be greatly appreciated, always.
"I've warned you before about attachments," spoke the older Bookman, revelation on his tongue, heeded warning on his lips, "To both the Innocence and these people." His gaze remained fixated firmly on the younger man on the edge of his teenage existence; dark laced rings of sleepless nights and decades of experience embedded into his narrowing eyes as he perceived his apprentice – both knowingly and questioningly.
The one named Lavi turned, perceiving the old man who stood upright beside him with a meek curl of a smile that neither betrayed himself nor the Bookman's statement. There were few things he could hide from his senior, and he wondered there and then if the older man was staring right through him and unveiling his thoughts, piece by piece, before the slightest sliver of a word even had a chance to escape his own lips.
"Ink," the old man spoke, with a sigh. He was far from young, though he knew that he was far from death's bed; the combined sense of history and duty to his cause kept him alive like sweet liquor to an alcoholic, like a bookkeeper to his library. He noticed the way the younger man's eye widened attentively to the single word, like a moth drawn to burning light, and he wondered if the boy had already embraced this breath of knowledge, understanding the consequences before they were assigned, while choosing to stick to this path anyway.
"They are ink," the Bookman repeated, in a manner befitting the wise sage that all impressions envisioned him to be, "Figures to become a part of history. You must not lose your impartiality to such attachments, or even consign yourself to any obligations." Lavi turned away, his eyes fixating on the view before him; lands untouched by the presence of Noahs or even the measly akuma who tormented and tarnished the lands. All the man said were things he had heard a thousand times before; mantras hammered into his head from the day he chose to become the apprentice of the Bookman who now stood beside him.
"Especially her," he continued, and Lavi turned, his lips parted in surprise as he held down his scarf that trailed in the breeze; and he wondered if even the weather was betraying him. He draped the long, mahogany scarf tightly around his neck as he breathed into his cold hands, a shiver ripping down his essence as he struggled not to give himself away, though he knew that silence spoke more than words could ever defend him.
"I was once young too, even though time may seem to have stopped for me a long time ago," his eyes closed, his face remained stoic; the kind of look a strict lecturer adorned while purposefully giving an education to those far younger, to those with much to learn. "You must not forget that she is but a fragment of ink that will go down in history as well." With this, the Bookman gazed warningly, perhaps – with a touch of pity marked with empathy in the undertones of his speech, but such things he hid well; and the younger man saw only untainted professionalism, accentuated by the cool weather of the evening.
"–re than ink." Lavi's words were soft, a murmur, perhaps to himself, but enough to catch the old man's attention, for nothing escaped him.
"Come again?" he questioned the red head.
"What if she was more than ink?" Lavi repeated, the constant smile that he wore on his lips was no longer there, replaced by something far more contemplative, and for a moment, the Bookman saw the smallest fraction of someone he used to be within the boy's gaze, "Sometimes it feels like she's the quill that drives me on to write, to be – something more than this." A pause followed, hesitant yet understanding of the consequences of such a revelation. "Does this mean we'll have to leave?"
He was steadfast in his words; and the Bookman regarded his honesty with a pause of mild surprise, followed by a solemn sigh. Perhaps the boy had matured, a little, after all. "Don't be silly, boy. Due to the recent turn of events, we don't have the liberty to abandon our duty. Not during these critical times." Shaking his head, he turned away, continuing ahead in the direction in which they were supposed to go, his expression unyielding, giving nothing away as per norm. "And since when did you get so poetic, kid?"
Lavi paused; traces of a chuckle that hinted at relief and a hidden word of thanks returning to his expression as he followed the senior Bookman towards the next trace of history that would imprint in their minds, and remain eternal in their memories for years to come.
The wailing was deep, echoing like words streaming across walls, embedding themselves into the brick that served as the temporal structure of the facility. Murmurs filled the empty spaces, chasing silence out of their corners, for sorrow demanded attention, and the grieving sought only impossible dreams for bitter peace in the world, war torn and unforgiving. Perhaps revenge was induced as well; it was evident in the eyes of some, and the clenched fists of others behind tears that never previously existed. The room had a tall ceiling, and the visitors stood on the upper level of the chamber, watching all that unfolded below. Like a chasm of sympathy, the wooden caskets lay open in rows that extended into the dozens, each one painted uniformly obsidian, reflective of the tears that hung like precipitation in the air, distinguished from regular designs through the roseate cross engraved into their upper halves.
With the science division leader as their guide, the Bookman and his apprentice watched from beyond the balcony, staring down at the aftermath of the latest catastrophe to hit the Black Order. A lost battle, it was, and a strong whisper of antiseptic flourished in the air, accentuating the injuries of those involved, some bandaged, others broken. Like all aftermaths of the various battles they had seen to date, memories hung in the air like spider webs that threatened to linger, and all notions and ideals vanished upon the presence of permanent epitaphs. History spilled tragedy and those of the Bookman lineage never missed a single war, a single teardrop, and a single moment where human lives were taken as quickly as they were granted.
Lavi surveyed the scene, the words in the scenery below tabulating into murmurs for his ears; and he knew that there would be more of these losses to come. This would not be the first, nor would it be the last – human history was such that it educated the spectators about its cyclic repetition. Humans were stupid, he always believed, and through wars, they broke their own hearts. There were the young ones, and there were those who were bordering on their graying years; all in uniform – some medical, others in coats, or the exorcist-design of black and white.
There was one who wailed louder than the rest, on her knees, too weak to stand, attachments to a nearby IV pole stringing from her hands. Asian, he deduced, noting her long black hair which fell down to her waist in pools that mirrored her grief. She was soiled with wounds that seeped through the beige bandages – some wrapped around her head, others around her arms and legs. So young, he reasoned; she couldn't have been more than fifteen, yet the colours of the exorcists clung to her like an irreversible stain upon her skin. It was when she looked up, her gaze barely meeting his, when he saw the gauzes and plasters sticking to her skin, burying the injuries that painted her face. The only remnants of her expression left untarnished were her eyes, and he saw the tears streaking down her cheeks like a heart undone.
And for a minute that felt like eternity, he felt his heart sink into the cavities of his chest, and her pain was his own.
"I refuse to accept this." He spoke with conviction, like a man who had made up his mind decades ago and stubbornly refused to change his thoughts for any single well-presented reason. Komui always suffered moments of fleeting panic whenever his subordinates and co-workers whispered dark elements into his ears during times of office slumber, each one detailing the marital plans of his sister, Lenalee. Not once did he ever dismiss their whispers as lies; she was in her teenage years, after all – the time when most fathers had to invoke intimidation or fight off hormonally-engaged young men who wished to court her, or spin her round on a couple of intentionally-clandestine outings. In place of their father, it was he who harbored this role instead; not out of familial obligation, really – but out of personal concern. He had, after all, already lost her once before.
"Brother," Lenalee replied, and he knew that she was questioning his protectiveness, as she always seemed to do so lately, with the way she pinched shut her eyes and expelled the air from her lungs. It was as though she was silently screaming that her life was, at the end of it all, hers – and that he, despite their blood-tied relation, had no right whatsoever to determine what she could or couldn't do. Mistakes, after all, were for the young to make; and for the older ones to linger upon. Komui knew that all too well, but couldn't he, for another second longer, delay her from such things?
"I just cannot fathom how you could put so much trust in an individual who probably doesn't even go by his real name," he explained; rationality being his forte, "I've looked up his lineage, countless times, but my findings are all the same. Other than in the Black Order, Lavi does not exist. Neither does Bookman himself."
"But you trust him as an exorcist, don't you?" And how he hated her questions; each one determined to penetrate past his unwavering mind.
"That, Lenalee, is a completely different issue altogether. Innocence and compatibility is a predetermined thing; there's no changing that." She ought to know that more than others; it's what tied them down to their predisposed fates and bound them to the Order. "But for this…"
"Brother," another sigh, "Don't you think that there are other things you should be worrying about, that take priority over… trivial things like these?" He knew what she was getting at – his ability to overreact in regards to her relationships with others, while trusting her more in fields like missions, where she risked her life for a duty she never once truly wished for.
"I… don't want to see you get hurt," he spoke, quietly, and it was the truth – the single basis behind all his worries.
"Could you at least learn to trust me, then?" she asked, taking his hands between hers, imploring him with the silence she left behind her single question. "Sleep on it, alright? You've had a busy day." A single smile, perhaps pained, though undeniably genuine as always and laced with an unshakable, platonic concern graced her lips, momentarily reaching her eyes as she grasped the empty coffee pot and left the room once more.
"Your 49th?" Lenalee asked, perhaps in fascination of the adventures his previous aliases had seen; though she hid her awe behind graceful mannerisms – the tucking of her short hair behind her ears, and the slight aversion of her eyes that judged no-one and reflected the soft femininity she always possessed. "So will you tell me your real name, then?" and he couldn't tell if she expected anything or nothing, with the way she spun him round with her quiet gaze.
He whispered it into her mouth, before sealing it with a kiss.