CHAPTER 1

DISCLAIMER: I DON'T OWN DGM, ONLY MY OCs (Kumori, Kyoko, Pichoncho).

these things are line breaks OwO

A Continuation of Awkward Silences

Pain. Nothing but pain. She would have screamed if she could've found the energy.

Struggling to breathe, a gurgle of blood made its way up her throat and spilled down her motionless, immovable lips. She couldn't move, couldn't say what she needed to say…

She watched in silent horror as the woman, in her bloody, torturously broken body, crawled closer and closer to her. She couldn't hear what she was saying. She needed to hear what she was saying…

"…" the woman's lips moved, but she couldn't hear, couldn't understand

"K…o, get…ready…"

"Kumori, get up already!"

Someone forcefully ripped the blanket off of her, interrupting the dream. "Do you plan to sleep the entire day away?"

"I do," she mumbled.

So cold, she thought. Where was Pichoncho?

"Really? That's too bad. I heard that Jerry was trying out some new recipes and was looking for a certain someone to sample them…"

Kumori jumped up. "Why didn't you say so sooner, Kyoko-chan?!"

"You never asked," Kyoko snorted as Kumori quickly jimmied out of her jammies and into a short, lacy black Goth Lolita, hurriedly adding a couple of necklaces to the black choker around her neck. The pendant hanging from it—a silver pentagram—flickered within the tangle of darkness, and she smiled. Quickly, she shook out her hair, waving away the few remaining wisps of the strange dream along with her fluffy pink locks.

"Almost done… gotta hurry, gotta hurry, gotta hurry—let's go!" Kumori cried, yanking a stiff Kyoko and Pichoncho, a four-foot tall rabbit plush, out the door. They quickly made their way past Finders and scientists, some of whom were just barely getting out of bed and some of whom seemed as if they hadn't slept a wink.

"Kumori, stop going so fast," the black-haired girl admonished, adjusting her glasses.

"Ne, ne, what's Jerry have for me? Is it dessert?!" Already Kumori could feel her tummy growing hungry at the prospect of delicious food, even the human variety.

"I-I don't know, he didn't say…"Kyoko slowly replied, a peculiar, dreamy look appearing in her eyes. Kumori frowned slightly and looked down the hall. And gasped.

"There were no new recipes, were there?!" pouted Kumori. "It was just about—"

"Shhh! Don't you dare say it out—!"

"Good morning Kyoko, Kumori."

"G-Good morning, Reever-san!"

Kyoko had gone even more stiff than usual, her face turning a noticably rosier hue as her voice rang out loud and breathily between them.

Kumori sulked. She'd been dragged out of bed for no reason, then?

"What's wrong, Kumori?" asked Reever.

"N-nothing," she perkily replied. It wasn't his fault she wasn't getting food… "Just a little hungry."

Kyoko ignored the pointed glares that went along with those venomous words.

Kumori glowered at the other exorcist. "You owe me."

"Mm-hm." Kumori frowned at Kyoko's lack of conviction. She murmured a quick "Ja ne, Reever-san!" and then suddenly jumped up and planted a big, sloppy kiss on the blond Australian's cheek.

"K-Kumori!"

"That was punishment for lying to me!" she taunted, giggling madly as she ran to the dining hall and away from Kyoko, who was fuming and trying to make explanations to the baffled scientist.

OxO

"Morning, Kumo-chan!" exclaimed Lavi as he pounced on his favorite little pixie. The adorable pink fuzz hugged him and giggled as she was set back down with an extra plate of sweets.

Her dining companion was much less pleased, however.

Lavi stared as Kyoko set her tray down beside them with a loud thump. "What's up? Why's Kyoko-chan so mad?" he stage-whispered.

Kumori glanced at Kyoko, who stolidly ignored the both of them. She waited a second more and then shrugged when the black-haired girl showed no signs of answering.

"I kissed her crush." Kumori mumbled around a mouthful of stroganoff.

"Really? Who does Kyoko-chan like?"

Kumori cast a sly glance at Kyoko and beamed at Lavi. "It's—mmph!"

Kyoko caught Kumori in a stranglehold and covered her mouth. "Kumori, don't you dare, or else—gah!" The girl gasped and dropped her suddenly wet, salivated hand. "H-How disgusting, Kumori! That is so unladylike!"

Kumori stuck her tongue out petulantly in response, and Lavi laughed. "Aaand why'd ya kiss him, Kumo-chan?"

"Cuz she lied to me—about FOOD!"

"Really? You must love to eat then, huh, Kumo-chan?"

"Mm-hm!" replied Kumori, shoving more beef and onions into her mouth. "Ne—Nii-sama said not to be wasteful with food, cuz you never know when you might get some more. So I was really excited when Kyoko-chan told me we were gonna get some samples…"

"Nii-sama?" Lavi asked, quirking his eyebrow at her. "Who's that?"

Kumori beamed at him. "Nii-sama is—ah, I forgot!" She covered her mouth with her hands and blew her cheeks out. "It's a secret."

"Come on, Kumo-chan! Tell me?" Lavi asked, butting her with his head.

She shook her head. "Gomen ne, Usagi-chan! I promised I wouldn't!"

He sighed. "Guess it can't be helped. Can't have you breaking those precious promises, can we?"

Lavi looked down at the plates piled up high around on the table around her and chuckled. "You know, Kumo-chan, when it comes to food, you and Allen are so similar!" She probably had a parasitic-type anti-Akuma weapon, too.

Kumori tilted her head. "Allen...kun? Who's that?"

"A former exorcist," Kyoko muttered stiffly, disgust pinching up her already tight face, "who abandoned the cause."

"That former exorcist," Lavi drawled, "is my friend." There was a subtle warning in his voice, a warning which Kyoko returned with a snort and a roll of her eyes.

"It doesn't matter who it is," she snapped. "Anyone who abandons the Order is an enemy of the Order, which includes that idiot pair Kanda and Gil. We've already been ordered to use any means possible to capture them and bring them back for interrogation."

"You sure are harsh," Lavi replied, eyeing her.

"I'm only retelling what's been spoken," Kyoko defensively responded.

"You know, Kyoko-chaaan, maybe you don't have much friends because you've got so little loyalty or consideration for people," Kumori sighed, making figure-eights in her drink with a straw.

Kyoko gasped. "Kumori—!"

"Now, now, Kumo-chan, no need to be mean."

"She deserved it!" Kumori huffed, noisily sucking up the remnants of her drink.

"As if I deserved—" Lavi stifled a laugh as she was interrupted by the madly flailing arms of a pink rabbit plush. Kyoko's face twisted up even further as Pichoncho's arm, with the help of Kumori, jabbed her in the chest.

"Uhn! Kyoko-chan was being mean, talking bad about Usagi-chan's nakamae!"

"You two are so—so unbelievable!" Kyoko sputtered, picking up her tray, her propriety melting away in the face of shock and indignation. "You two... two baka are so, so—so unbelievably immature and ignorant! Neither of you understand just how much the Order has done for us, for all of us!"

Lavi sighed as the girl whirled away and stalked off in an angry huff. "Kumo-chaaan…"

"Uhn, nani nani?"

"We're going to have to apologize to her."

"But—she was being mean, Usagi-chan! About your nakamae!"

"Still," Lavi replied. "Kyoko-chan's our nakamae too, right?"

"I-I suppose…" Kumori mumbled. She held up the pink plush toy. "What do you think, Pichoncho?"

Lavi didn't see how, but Kumori made the enormous rabbit nod its head, and she frowned as if she hadn't expected that answer.

"Kumo-chan, you're just too cute!" He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and squeezed, his eyes taking in a bit of pale white skin peeking out from the sheer lace she was wearing.

"Usagi-chan is cute, too!" she said, snuggling in closer to him. Lavi felt his face slowly heating up. Hopefully, she wouldn't notice his heart starting to beat a little faster in his chest.

"Kumori-chan!" They both looked up at Lenalee's familiar voice, and several heads turned as Komui's younger sister made her way to their seat.

"Good morning Lavi. Sorry, but I have to borrow Kumori for a bit."

"Gomen ne, Usa-chan!" He reluctantly let his arms fall as she squirmed out of his warm grasp. "I forgot, Komui-san told me to play with Lena-chan today."

He tried not to blush as she planted a big kiss smack-dab on his lips. He'd noted early on that it was a habit of hers to kiss people, regardless of age, gender or nationality. Kyoko shouldn't have been that surprised, really, if Kumori kissed her crush.

She gave him an off-handed wave as she ran away. "Ja ne!"

"See ya!" Lavi smiled as Kumori bounded off after Lenalee.

Because of her height, baby-doll features and cutesy demeanor, people often mistook her for an adorable little child. They were always surprised to find out that her personality was no where near as delicate as her appearane was.

At first he'd thought she was a kid, too.

His smile dimmed a bit as a memory rose unbidden to the surface. The first time they'd met.

There'd been a lot of yelling when she'd come, Kumori. A lot of fear. The Gatekeeper had identified her as something other than human, and Lavi, being the closest on-hand exorcist, had gone out to get rid of it. Of her.

When he'd gotten to the gate, he'd come face to face with an emaciated, grime-encrusted girl, little more than a child it had seemed, although he knew better now.

In spite of her appearance she'd given off the aura of an otherworldly fairy, one that would fly out of his grasp if given half the chance during a moment of inattentiveness. That was until he'd noticed her eyes, a bright amber beacon in the blind, stifling darkness.

It was the eyes that had set him off.

What had happened next was something he wasn't all too proud of, and just when he'd been about to use his finishing blow the moon had escaped the cover of the clouds and illuminated the scene, allowing him to see that, although she had amber eyes, the girl didn't have the dark skin of a Noah.

It was an understatement to say that Lavi had been surprised when, after stopping his attack, the girl had smiled and given him a hug.

In his anger, he hadn't even noticed that she hadn't laid a hand against him til that moment.

That gentle embrace had hurt worse than any wound she could've given him.

He cringed at the memory of her bright amber eyes smiling up at him, tears streaming down the sides of her face, a whispered "thank you" slipping past her lips.

She'd forgiven him, of course, but Lavi still felt guilty over it sometimes.

After alll, it was hard to forget that you'd almost killed the girl you love.

O_O

Kumori trotted alongside Lenalee. It was sort of hard to keep up, since Lenalee was so much taller than her, but she was fine. This was training, in a way.

"So what are we doing, Lena-chan?"

"Well, Nii-san told me to help you with developing your Innocence, since we haven't really identified it yet."

"Ne, Lena-chan, who's Allen Walker? Usagi-chan says I'm just like him." Kumori bumped into a solid wall of flesh as Lenalee suddenly stopped.

"H-How's that?" Lenalee asked, her voice a mix of surprise and something else, something that had Kumori playing idly with her hair and looking away. "Uhn, well, Usa-chan says I eat lotsa food like Allen-kun."

Lenalee smiled. "Well, parasitic-type accommodators eat a lot because they burn more energy than other users, so I guess that makes sense."

Kumori perked up and pulled on the bigger girl's sleeve. "Ne, ne, Lenalee-chan, what type are you then?"

"I'm a crystal-type."

"Crystal-type…" Kumori repeated. She liked the way the words felt on her tongue. "Ne, that sounds pretty."

"I guess. Some people find it disturbing though, because of the blood."

"I like red! It's pretty." It was her favorite color, because it meant her favorite person.

But no one needed to know the why, only that it was.

She bit her lip as Lenalee's steps slowed. "Say, Kumori-chan…"

"Uhn?"

"I couldn't help but notice when I came to the dining hall that you, Lavi and Kyoko were having some sort of... argument? What happened?"

Kumori puckered her face. "Kyoko-chan's mad at me."

"Why?"

"Well, there's two reasons why…" Kumori paused. At Lenalee's encouraging nod she went on. "I told her she's mean and inconsiderate and that's why people don't like her."

Lenalee reeled back in shock. "W-Why'd you say that?"

"She was saying heartless things to Usa-chan about Allen-kun, calling him a traitor, and, and… she was gonna hurt Usa-chan, I know it! And I couldn't stand it!"

She braced herself as Lenalee's face fell. "Kumori, it can't be helped. People will say what they want, even if it hurts others." Kumori blushed at the slight reprimand in Lenalee's voice. "We can't change how people feel."

"S-Still…"

"You have to understand where she's coming from, Kumori. Kyoko Kawasaki was brought into the Order when she was only nine, after her family abandoned her and left her on her own. She was starving, broken. A lot like you were, a few months ago."

"Really? I, I didn't... know that."

"It would've been too painful for her to bring up."

"How—How does Lena-chan know then?"

"I was here when she was brought in," Lenalee confessed. "I was lucky enough to have Nii-san with me, after I... after I got worse. She had no one. And when she had nowhere to go, the Order kindly took her in."

Lenalee looked up and sighed. "For someone like her whose only family has been the Order, someone leaving is like her family abandoning her all over again."

Kumori's eyes widened at the revelation. So Kyoko had been alone, too? Abandoned and lost after the people she loved stopped loving her and moved on. Had found somewhere they could be happy, somewhere without her.

Somewhere they knew would make her sad.

She tightened her hold on Pichoncho. And she'd been so mean to Kyoko!

It was silent for a while before Lenalee spoke up again. "You said there were two reasons…?"

Kumori started. "Ah, uhn. I-I sorta… kissed the guy she likes. On purpose," she finished lamely.

"Oh. I see." Lenalee gave an embarrassed laugh. "I guess if I were her, I'd be angry, too. Especially if my friend did it, knowing how I feel about him."

Kumori ducked her head and mumbled, "I know." But she didn't. Not really.

She paused and quickly looked up at Lenalee's face before she asked her question. "So Lena-chan has someone she likes too?"

Lenalee started and looked at her out of the corner of her eye. "What—?"

"Does Kumori know who Lena-chan likes?"

"I-I don't—?"

"Ooh! Ne, is it Allen-kun?"

When Lenalee stopped completely, Kumori giggled. "Uhn, I was right! Ne, ne, does Komui-san know?"

"No," Lenalee gasped, "and I'd like to keep it that way! What about you, Kumori? Do you have anyone you love?"

"Eh? Uhn! Well, I love Jerry …"

Lenalee stumbled. "J-Jerry?!" she coughed.

Kumori laughed when she saw how red Lenalee's face was turning. "Uhn! Cuz he makes me lots of food!"

Lenalee suddenly laughed, relieved for some reason. "That's not what I meant! I meant, do you love anyone the way I love… you-know-who?"

Kumori scrunched up her face. "I don't... think so?"

There was that person, but she couldn't tell anyone about him. Plus, he didn't really count, since she didn't love him the way Lenalee seemed to love this Allen fellow.

Lenalee frowned. "Really? I would have though... You and Lavi seem pretty close."

Kumori smiled. "Uhn, Usa-chan and I are best friends!" Lavi let her ride on his back and sit in his lap, and he made sure to hug her back extra hard whenever she was feeling down.

He always kissed her back, too.

"Just friends, nothing more?"

How could people be more than friends?

"Uhn!"

Lenalee gave her a slightly puzzled frown. "If you say so…"

"Usa-chan and I are just friends!" Even if Lavi somehow ended up "loving" her the way Lenalee meant, nothing would ever happen between her and him or anyone like him.

Her secret wouldn't allow it.

O.O

Excitement mixed with exhilaration and adrenaline, and the heady rush coursed through her as she fought Lenalee. It'd been a long time since she'd stretched her limbs this much, and it felt nice.

"Sorry to interrupt your duel, Lenalee," a voice called out from the darkness around them, "but Komui wants Kumo-chan to head to his office."

It took Kumori little more than a second to recognize the owner of that voice and hurtle towards Lavi like a human cannon.

"Usagi-chan!" she cried, nearly bowling him over she was so happy.

"That's fine," Lenalee replied, giving Lavi a warm smile as he stepped out into the light with Kumori attached to his hip. "We were just about done anyway."

Kumori's hand latched onto Lavi's, and her smile grew bigger as she turned to Lenalee. "Lavi, you hafta play with Lena-chan and me next time! It's really fun! Can we do it soon, Lena-chan?"

"Whenever you want to, Kumori." Lenalee smiled at them as Lavi led her away, and she grinned to herself as the warmth from fighting tickled her limbs and made her want to jump around again.

"Say, Usagi-chan, what does Komui-san want me for?"

Hopefully it was something that would let her do lots more jumping. She was really excited now, and she really wanted to do something with her hands.

The look Lavi gave her had her bubbling with even more excitement. "Komui says you're finally going on a mission."

OwO

"Pardon my lateness," Kyoko murmured, not sparing the rabbit or pixie a glance as she let herself into Komui's office. Her lips did turn down a bit at the edges though, when the pink-haired girl made an attractively unattractive duck face at her.

She sighed and tried not to frown too much as she stood herself in front of the supervisor's desk.

"Now that we have both of you here, why don't the two of you go on a mission? It's a simple retrieval of Innocence."

"No Usagi?"

"Ah—no. The two of you will be able to complete this on your own. Also, Lavi's needed elsewhere at the moment."

The supervisor gave the redheaded exorcist a significant look, and Lavi, taking this as his cue to leave, gave them all a lopsided grin.

"See ya, Kumo-chan!" The idiot gave Kumori a tight, lingering embrace before grinning at her and loping out the door.

Komui coughed into the terse silence as the door closed.

"Now then, all the necessary information needed for this mission is in these," he said, handing the both of them small, compact portfolios. "The small town of Fierre has been experiencing occurrences in which the townspeople have been experiencing strange gravitational phenomena."

She pushed her glasses up farther along the bridge of her nose. "Strange gravitational phenomena?"

Kumori continued playing with the arms of her pink rabbit plush toy.

"Yes, strange gravitational phenomena. The townspeople... well, they can fly."

The pink girl finally perked up and entered the conversation. "They can fly?! Like, fly-fly, with wings and feathers and pretty lights that—"

Komui chuckled, and Kumori's bright eyes fell when he corrected her. "Not quite. In certain areas of town people just suddenly find themselves floating or levitating. Which is quite entertaining until the Innocence stops working and they, well, plummet to the earth and their demise."

"I take it there've been several of those accidents?"

Komui laughed. "People just can't seem to help themselves!"

She heaved a sigh. The Superisor was a strange one. "So the closer they get to the Innocence, the higher they're able to 'fly,' right?"

"Hm, not necessarily," Komui admitted. "There are certain instances in which the field of levitation suddenly drops despite the proximity of the Innocence, so there are quite a number of unexpected deaths."

She stared at him.

Komui beamed at right back. "Good luck then, you two! I expect you'll be back in no time!"

Maybe as a mass of bloody pulp scraped off the sidewalk, she thought to herself.