2/28/2012 (While writing this story, I suddenly realized that I use the word 'suddenly' too much… Go, go gadget Thesaurus!)

Disclaimer: Hoshino Katsura is the owner of all things DGM.

Rifka and other original characters are mine. Except when they're not. (hehe)

Author's Note: This story takes place after the end of the Anime, but before the Manga continues.


*Prologue*

The little girl finished her glass of milk and set it on the nightstand. With a sigh, she snuggled back against her pillows and gazed up at the woman sitting beside her bed.

"Mommy, did you and Daddy really meet in Brazil?"

The woman smiled tenderly to her. "Yes we did. He came to speak to my father about buying land in the area, and when he met me he simply fell right in love."

"It was just like that? Was it like that for you, too?"

"It was just like that, baby girl, for us both. My father saw that we could not be separated, so he gave your father his blessing. And so, when he returned home, he brought me with him as his bride. He told me the townsfolk would be happy, but they celebrated for days! I was amazed!"

The girl was silent for a moment, thoughtful, and then she looked up at her mother. "Mommy, are there monsters in Brazil?"

Her mother considered her words seriously before smiling gently. "Every place has monsters, honey, but that's what your Daddy is for. He'll protect you from everything."

The little girl's eyes were slipping shut and she yawned. "I'm really looking forward to seeing Brazil, Mommy."

"I know you are, honey. Now shh, get some sleep. You have a big day ahead." The woman kissed the child's forehead and stroked her hair away from her eyes. When she stood to turn down the light, a scar across the child's right eyebrow was briefly highlighted. Then the light switched off, and the woman gently closed the child's door.

*Fifteen Years Later*

When Allen Walker left his room on what was promising to be a brilliant Friday morning, he believed it would be a pretty typical day. That changed immediately when he saw Lenalee running toward him looking alarmed, but lovely in a ruffled skirt and stockings that matched her black and red Exorcist jacket. He could see the unassuming red bracelets around her ankles that he knew to be her Anti-Akuma weapon.

"Allen! Have you seen Kanda?"

Allen stared at her, making a face. She knew full well that he tried his best, whenever possible, to avoid the violently grumpy exorcist, as he never seemed to know if something he might say was going to set him off.

She must have guessed what his expression meant because she waved her hands and looked around. "Sorry, never mind! Just help me find him!"

"Why? Is something wrong?"

There was a touch of panic to her face now. "Wrong? No! Not wrong, really, per se… I've already sent him to Komui's office, the science lab, and the library, but I've lost track of him! I thought he might have gone to his room, but he's not there! I've just got to convince him he needs to go somewhere other than the cafeteria for a few more hours. That's all!"

Allen blinked at her, and then peered at her suspiciously. "You're throwing a welcome home party for someone, aren't you? Has an exorcist just returned from a mission?"

She nodded, looking around quickly, keeping an eye out for Kanda. "Her name is Rifka and she was away on a mission for a really long time. I heard they sent her all the way from Brazil to Russia! Brother told me he's not allowed to discuss the details of it, so no one knows why."

Allen nodded thoughtfully. "Okay… I still don't see why you have to keep Kanda away from the cafeteria. He never goes to those parties anyway – unless it's by accident."

Lenalee continued to look over her shoulder as she spoke, as though nervous of being overheard. "He would want to go to this one, trust me… And we can't let him because, well, because he and Rifka…"

A door burst open somewhere behind them, followed by the pounding of feet across the stone floor. Allen turned in time to see Kanda pelting out of a hallway, his sheathed sword gripped in one hand as though he hadn't had enough time to fasten it onto his waist. He pulled up short when he saw them, and pointed at them accusingly with the hilt.

"You – I just got back from the library, Lenalee… imagine my surprise when there was no one there that needed to speak to me! Did you think I wasn't going to figure it out?! Tell me where she is!"

Lenalee's hands shot into the air in surrender. Beside her, Allen looked aghast. "Cafeteria – she just got there! I'm so sorry – it really wasn't my idea!"

Kanda shifted slightly to point his pommel at Allen. "Was it your idea?!"

Copying Lenalee, Allen's hands shot into the air. "I don't know anything about what's going on!"

"It's true, Kanda! He doesn't even know who she is, remember?!"

Kanda glared for a moment longer, as though unsatisfied. "She better still be there, or I will come back for you!" Then he tore off again, both the tails of his coat and his long hair flying out behind him. As he vanished, they heard him snarl to himself; "Why does this happen every time?!"

Allen looked at Lenalee again. "Is he going to attack her? His expression was… quite insane."

"He… No… Well, he might…" The look on Lenalee's face turned awkward and she turned her face skyward. "Oh Lord, I don't even know where to begin. Come on, if we get down there before he drags her away, maybe you'll understand." She turned and headed for the stairs.

They couldn't hear a sound from inside the Mess Hall, even as they approached the doors – which made them glance nervously at each other. Upon entering, they witnessed Kanda confronting a woman sitting at the center table. Those around her that had been welcoming her back all seemed to be highly embarrassed and backing away from her.

To she was scantily clad would be putting it lightly.

Dark brown hair curled in untamed waves around her shoulders, accented by braids hung with feathers, beads, and mirrored discs. She had a sleek, muscular frame clad in a white cropped t-shirt with gold hems that hugged the fabric tightly to her chest.

She had been sipping a glass of punch while Kanda loomed over her, the tip of his sword just barely brushing against her glass, but now she set the cup down and sat back, perfectly at ease, and lifted her eyes to him as she draped an arm over the back of her chair. One of her fingers pointed blithely at the elaborate banner hanging across the mess hall.

"Yuuuuu… Come on now, you're supposed to say 'Welcome Home, Rifka!' Or did you not read the banners?" She had a soft, low voice with a curious purring accent that Allen couldn't place, and her tone was playful. She fixed Kanda with a steady gaze, and Allen saw her eyes were a dark, chocolate brown, and her right eyebrow was split along the center by a white scar.

Other than Lavi, Allen had never heard anyone be so casual with Kanda – and Kanda almost always hurt Lavi for it.

"Get. UP." Kanda growled at her as a reply. He frowned at her, too. "And don't call me by my first name!" Well, that was normal, then…

She shrugged fluidly and rose to her feet slowly, revealing that she wore a split skirt over tight shorts that matched her top. The only thing that didn't match her outfit were her short black gloves, cut off at the fingertips to show her tapered, oddly black-colored fingernails… but at that moment, Allen was not looking at her hands…

"Haminahamina…" Allen mumbled in a daze, earning him an exasperated glare from Lenalee.

Standing also revealed that Rifka had a sword belt on, and hanging from it were two short black sheaths wrapped tightly in silver filigree. The pommels standing out of them were silver crosses set with large blue sapphires at the end. She wrapped her hands around them and gently drew the daggers out, and in the silence that befell the Hall, everyone could hear the whisper of steel on leather.

Slowly and gracefully, she swept her blades through the air, brushing Kanda's sword aside before taking a cross-wrist defensive pose. She stared calmly into his eyes, then quirked a quick half-smile.

"It's only been what," she glanced down at the slender watch on her wrist, "six hours since my last battle, Kanda? I can hardly consider this fair – to you."

Kanda bared his teeth at her. "I see you still have no respect for the uniform, or even clothing, for that matter…"

She grinned. "Oh, do you like my new outfit?" Her hand brushed casually down her side, and Allen's eyes weren't the only ones that followed it. Blinking, Kanda jerked his gaze back up to her face and snarled at her as though she had tricked him. Rifka merely laughed. "Oh good, you're still fun to tease! Come on, now, let's go!"

There was a collective gasp from the others in the room when Rifka sprang at him swiftly, but he was more than ready for her. The two of them immediately began to spar, though the way they spun around each other was almost like a dance, and had everyone watching them completely enthralled.

Allen suspected that if someone started playing music just then, no one would know this was a brawl and not a planned performance.

The ringing sounds made by their blades connecting echoed in the silent hall, and the two fighters were each so intent on the other that neither seemed to remember that they had started a sparring match in the middle of the lunch room. Heads turned from side to side as though watching a tense tennis match as the pair leapt tirelessly from floor to table, from table to wall, and from wall to floor again, never seeming to miss their target or lose their footing.

The fight ended as quickly as it had started. Rifka launched herself from floor to wall, ran a few steps and landed with a loud crash on a table. She paused there for just a split second, baiting Kanda into turning toward her, only for him to see her flipping over his head to land behind him.

When he turned again to face her, it was to see a dagger rushing up at his neck. Countering swiftly, he knocked her blade to the side and lunged forward to grab a handful of her hair, pulling her head back sharply so he could stare into her eyes. He was then distracted by the short, shallow wound on her throat and looked at her curiously.

The others saw her hands come up behind his back, and he froze when he felt the chill of her other blade on the back of his neck. She smiled up at him as he lowered the point of his sword to the floor, staring blankly at her. She leaned in close and brushed her lips against his ear.

Whatever she said, his expression abruptly became intense as he muttered something back to her, tightening his hand in her hair to pull her head back again. Her throaty, feminine chuckle and eager grin had everyone else quickly looking for something else to do. No longer being watched, the two exited the Hall together.

"Oh man, I think I need a cigarette…"

"Did you see the look on his face?"

"I'd kill to know what she said!"

Excited chatter started up immediately after the doors had closed behind Kanda and Rifka, and Allen looked askance to Lenalee. "W-wait," he stammered, "you mean… they did all that… b-be… because they… they're…" He couldn't finish, his face going scarlet.

Lenalee closed her eyes, fighting down a blush of her own. "There's no other way to say it, Allen. It's a pretty popular rumor around here that they're probably lovers."

Allen went white. "What, you mean with KANDA?!"

"Oh, well we don't really know for sure…" Jeri was flushed and fanning himself, his expression mischievous, "no one's successfully caught them at it anyway, but it sure makes sense! You don't really think Kanda would go for a woman that couldn't kick his ass, do you?"

"She is the only woman Lavi is almost too frightened of to hit on…"

Allen nodded thoughtfully. "Ah, yeah… That's really saying something… Wait, what do you mean, successfully?!" He flushed again at the implications, but he still didn't think it was possible for Kanda to like anybody.