Ahh, paper everywhere! How did this man ever get anything done? Right, he didn't. He likely just lost everything, Irina reminded herself. The man was a fool. Why had she agreed to this. A monkey had better organization than Komui! Irina related how she'd gotten there. Three days earlier she'd been released from the Black Order on account of losing her Innocence and being too nervous around people to fight properly. She needed a job, badly. By luck or God's grace, whichever came first, Lenalee had found her.
Four hours earlier
"Um, excuse me. I'd like to apply for a position here if it's okay," Irina asked.
The shopkeeper looked up from the newspaper he'd been reading. Irina looked around nervously at the rest of the store.
"We don't employ women here."
A little taken back, Irina flushed. "Well, I certainly don't see why not."
"Easy, they get in the way." He turned to the back shelf.
Irina felt her cheeks grow hot. "Wait please! I'm good at organizing. I could do shelves or something. You wouldn't even have to pay me much."
She turned her face down when the man looked around again.
"Really now, well if that's the case…"
Irina looked hopeful.
"Nope, can't do it. Now get out, you make business look bad."
Irritated and humiliated, Irina exited blush faced and close to tears. She walked to the side of the building and sank down against it's brick wall, head in her hands. She'd stayed in a hotel the last two nights but that last paycheck from the Order would run out tonight. If she didn't have a job by the end of the week…
"Irina?" Lenalee's voice startled her out of her thoughts.
"Oh Lenalee, I didn't notice you! What are you doing here?" She rushed to make herself look presentable.
"I wanted to come and see how you were. Is everything okay? You looked pretty upset just now," asked the sister of the head of the Black Order.
"Oh yes, I'm fine. It's just the sun you know, so strong this time of day."
Lenalee looked doubtful. "It's been cloudy all day." She looked down at Irina's worn black dress and jacket.
"You slept in those clothes didn't you?"
Irina tried to lie but caved.
"Yes, I've tried to find a decent job but no one wants me. This is the twenty-seventh one I've – "
"Irina listen, come back to the Order. You will get wages and a place to live. I can promise you," Lenalee said gently, trying to calm the girl.
"The Order…but my Innocence, I can't –"
"Not as an Exorcist, but as Komui's secretary. God knows he needs one. All you have to do is deskwork and organizing, things you're good at right?"
Irina nodded sniffling.
"Good, then you'll come back with me?"
"Wait, what will the others think? What if they get mad? What if –"
"Shh. If anyone pipes up, I'll deal with them. Trust me, they won't try again. Besides, everyone has missed you."
"Not Kanda," Irina pouted. It was no secret among the Order that Irina carried a bit of a crush on Kanda Yuu. Needless to say, unreturned feelings.
"Well, don't mind him, he's kind of an ass to everyone. There's lots of others who want to see you home," Lenalee encouraged.
"Okay, I'll come back."
So here she was in Komui's office trying to clean and organize the thousands of papers before he came back. Technically he had no knowledge of Lenalee's hiring her. Lenalee had promised six hours only. She'd sent her brother on a scientific goose chase, in hopes to keep him away from the office for awhile. She'd said if that wasn't enough, Lenalee could always fake illness to keep her very overprotective brother at her bedside away from the office. However, Irina doubted those measures needed taken, she was near finishing. She'd filled the otherwise empty filing cabinets and the two story book cases lining the walls with records and files otherwise lying scattered on the floor. She'd organized them all by year and then subject. All the books stood in order by subject and alphabet on other shelves. Again by year, she'd boxed up any records or files over thirty years old. As for the random food remnants she found everywhere; on the desk, in the desk, in between papers, in pages of books, by the phones, even in the disused filing cabinets for God's sake, she'd of course thrown them all away. It drastically improved the smell of the room too. Irina had also left a notice on the door, "DO NOT ENTER WITH FOOD, UNLESS YOU DO THE CLEANING"
Irina just stood on the ladder putting up some of the last books and file folders on the shelf when Lenalee popped in.
"How's it coming? Ooh, very nice! You can actually see the floor!"
Irina turned but too quick for her balance, not to mention bad shoulder. The ladder tipped backwards. She shut her eyes bracing for the impact. It came much softer than she'd thought and quicker too. Lenalee had used the Dark Boots to catch her. She floated down and let Irina sit on the now near empty desktop.
"Maybe I should do the rest of the high ones. Don't want you falling on that shoulder," she suggested cheerily.
She floated back up on the Dark Boots while Irina passed her books and folders.
"How is your shoulder by the way?" Lenalee asked in a concerned friend kind of way.
"It still hurts, even after two weeks," she answered truthfully.
"A cracked bone won't heal in just two weeks, though I think you should have let Bookman sling your arm so it wouldn't move."
Irina related the injury and the losing of her Innocence. In her last fight, she'd been firing at different Akuma with her Innocence gun, Black Stinger. Her back turned to one and she was knocked down and out by an Akuma's blast behind her. She'd come away with a seared back and cracked shoulder blade and no Innocence. Somehow the Innocence occupying the gun left it during the blast.
"And your back?" Lenalee inquired.
"I can't feel it; the nerves are all burnt dead. You could probably flog me and I wouldn't feel it."
Lenalee paused in putting a book up. "I'm sorry. We're all just glad it didn't kill you. A few inches closer and it might've."
"Do you think my Innocence might come back?"
Lenalee turned to the lavender eyed girl. "I couldn't even guess, Irina. This is the first occurrence of it. Even if it does, Irina, I don't think the battlefield is for you. If the Innocence comes back, you can always stay and protect those here at home."
Her voice seemed far off. "I'd like to know I'm able to protect my friends again."
Lenalee smiled. "Where there's a will, there's a way. I'll help you get your Innocence back, Irina, we all will, I promise you." She came down from the bookcase to sit beside her on the desk.
"Irina!" a voice called excitedly from the door way.
A white and black haired man pushed between the two and hugged Irina, picking her up off the desk.
"Crowley watch her shoulder," Lenalee warned.
The six foot man let her go. "Sorry."
"Don't worry you didn't hurt me." Not completely true but Irina ignored the new sharp pang in her shoulder.
"We heard you'd come home and wanted to see you," Allen answered first.
"Yeah, Allen wouldn't shut up about it. But we all missed ya, Irina," Lavi chimed in.
"So how's that shoulder anyway, eh?" he continued.
"On the mend, I guess. It'll be awhile though. Thanks," Irina answered.
Allen looked around in awe. "Wow, you really cleaned this place up! I don't think I've ever actually seen this floor before."
"I can't wait to see Komui's face when he sees it! "Lavi chimed.
"He's gonna look so stupid!" Crowley joined in.
Irina smiled, realizing how wrong she was to think they wouldn't welcome her back. This was her home and family and would be for a forever. Of course they'd welcome her back.
And then Kanda walked in. He seemed in one foul mood.
Irina's bright smile faded upon seeing him and his mood weighed upon her. Even her shoulder felt it. Everyone fell silent. Lenalee came behind her and put a hand on her good shoulder, squeezing it lightly. Almost automatically, Allen moved to Irina's side.
"Training not treating you well, Yuu-chan?" pushed Lavi.
"Don't talk to me."
"Grouchy pants. You could at least be polite to Irina. She's back so say hi," he pushed even farther.
"And why would I do that?" He turned cold pitiless black eyes on the girl, standing in front of Lenalee.
She swallowed. Fear turned her face ghost white, kept even her blushes at bay.
"Do you have your Innocence back?" his stone voice came.
She shook her head, unable to meet his black eyes.
"Then what are you doing back?"
With trembling lips she tried to answer. "I-I-I'm…"
Lenalee jumped in. "She's working as Komui's secretary, Kanda…at least until we get her Innocence back."
Irina hardly heard her, forgetting to breathe in waiting for the strike. Maybe it would hurt less then.
"Then I have no business consorting with her."
Chink!...Just like a knife to her chest. Irina felt her heart drop into her feet as he walked out. By then she couldn't control her shaking. She sat down on the desk again with Lenalee reminding her to breathe and rubbing her back. The strike was too sharp even for tears to form.
"It's okay, Irina. Shh, it's okay. He didn't mean all that," she soothed.
"He's just in a bad mood, Irina, I'm sure he'll talk to you later," Allen tried to assure, putting a hand on her arm.
"He's just a jerk, Irina. You don't need him anyway. You have all of us." Lavi put in. Crowley kind of just stood there, not really knowing what to do.
"Hey, I can always go beat him up, if ya want," suggested Lavi.
"Lavi!" Lenalee chided.
"What? Just trying to help."
Irina let out a small giggle.
"Are you okay now?" Lenalee looked at her carefully, as if she could see whether Irina would be okay.
Irina took two shaky breaths. "Yeah, I'll be okay."
"Oh Lenalee!" came Komui's singsong voice down the hall.
"Quick! Hide Irina! It should be a surprise."
Lavi, Crowley and Allen stood in front of Irina to hide the shorter girl from view.
"Lenalee, I found it! I – Ahh! My office! My records! What happened! Did Akuma come and take it all? Tell me, tell me!"
"Surprise! I had it cleaned and organized. And by none other than our very own Irina Vaenesse!"
The three boys stepped aside so the blush faced Irina was visible.
"Meet your new secretary, Nii-san!" Lenalee announced and pulled Irina toward him.
Komui's face drew a blank, open mouthed gape.
Lavi doubled over in wrenching hysteria over the desk. "I knew his face would be hilarious! Where's a camera when you need it?"
The head of the Black Order straightened. "I hope this isn't a joke…"
"Komui – " Lenalee started.
"Wait, let me finish…because I love this idea! I don't know why I didn't think of it." He hugged Lenalee and twirled her in his arms. "I love you Lenalee! I've needed a secretary for so long! Who more perfect than Irina!"
He let Lenalee down and came to Irina. "Thank you Irina. I'm sorry I didn't think of this earlier! I'm so sorry for what I said days ago, please don't take offense! Can you ever forgive me?"
She chuckled. "Of course I'll forgive you."
"Well, it's official. Welcome back home, Irina," Lavi said and hugged her gently.
"Hey, I want a hug too!" Komui whined.
"Well come here then," Lenalee smiled.