CHAPTER 2

I've been getting up to nonsense on (I'm usage-strike there too, find me!), so sorry for my long absence…

But then, it don't seem like many of you guys are reading this…? Other than UnicornDrug! *clapclapCLAP* Thanks, for that, you! :D You should go write stories so I can read'em and like'em, too!

But! Guess yall got carried away reading other, much better fanfics ("Changing World," guys, by wreathdeathscythe! Who… hasn't updated in some time, but hey, who am I to judge? [the pot, that's who! XD] ).

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

OxO

Unauthorized Landing

"So, did they tell you what it is we're doing?" Quince had to yell over the screaming of the wind, which was flipping his long blond hair into her mouth and eyes.

"Someone should have briefed you before you came!" Ailee shouted, moving her head away the smallest bit. Not like it did much to assuage the situation, since she still received another mouthful of her new partner's fair locks, which tasted even less appetizing than they looked.

She heard rather than saw his smile, and her hands on his arm and the back of his legs reluctantly tightened when she felt the hands around her neck squeeze. "I was out on mission when I got the call, and the golem got blasted ta bits before I could get more than that I was to head over to the European Branch!"

She sighed and scanned the ground for a sight of their destination, mouth tilting into a slight frown as ethereal white and gold flitted past the corner of her eyes. "We're to be an escort service for a rebel Exorcist who has several incriminating relations with the Noah clan!"

"Say, Ailee, how old're you?"

"I'm nearing nineteen!" That was only according to the burnt remnants of the forgeries found in her former orphanage, which hadn't been updated.

"Really? You don't sound it!" She stifled a snort of derision. Of course she didn't.

"You should loosen up more, ya know? Maybe while we're together I could show you around and—" The rest of his words were, thankfully, lost in the wind as she folded her wings and took a sudden dive, a raspy "W-Why don't you slow down a bit?" sounding out close to her ear.

"I'll take that into consideration!" she shouted, smiling faintly as she plummeted towards the earth with her cargo, the black speck that was the new European Branch of the Black Order suddenly looming imposingly in front of her eyes. She felt another squeeze from Quince.

"Where're we landing?"

"I've no idea!"

"That's a—" Ailee shook her head as Quince cursed long and hard. "We even allowed to landlike this?!"

"We'll find out soon enough!"

"Bloody—!" The rest of his reply, again, was lost as they descended in a flurry of white.

"Hold on!"

"What else'm I supposed to do!?"

"Refrain from screaming, of course!" She wasn't sure if she would be able to make a soft landing at this height and velocity…

Hopefully, they wouldn't mind too terribly if she destroyed the ground somewhat.

OvO

There was a great reverberation as sky met earth, with Ailee being the human conduit between such great natural forces.

She had braced herself, as always, but impact still made her legs tingle strangely as she landed, and as the tips of her snow white feathers brushed momentarily with the ground, her form wavered. She nearly tipped over with her cargo into a graceless heap right there, but Quince, who had quickly recovered from her plunge, jumped out of her arms and took her in his just as she dropped to her knees.

"My apologies, Quince," she murmured, one hand flying to her forehead. "I seem to have used more force than necessary in landing. Thank you for assisting me."

"Least I can do is help the fainting damsel. I mean, it weren't very manly of me to appear in the arms of some girl, even one as pretty as you are, Ailee."

Ailee looked up at the note of discontent in Quince's voice. He was so tall compared to her—nearly everyone was, since she was only 5'3"—that she had to tilt her head back to look at him. A faint smile graced her lips at the mock outrage on his simpering face. "Then the next time we fly, I will make sure to throw you to the ground before anyone sees, so you can maintain your dignity."

"Sure thing, pretty lady. I'll return the favor and let you pick yourself up off the floor next time, too."

She was saved from having to answer when a timid voice interrupted their banter. "A-Are you alright, miss?" Ailee glanced around to find that a considerable number of individuals from the Order—as well as other airy forms—had amassed and were gaping at them—at her—in the awe and reverence that she had become quite familiar with.

She sighed. "I'm perfectly fine, thank you," she responded, giving the individual who had been so considerate as to ask a benevolent smile. "Just somewhat—" Ailee's eyes widened as a bright red streak came hurtling towards her at breakneck speed.

Digging her heels into the ground for greater purchase, she swiftly bent forward and hooked her hand into a fist and thrust it forward. There was a great whoomph and a release of air as her attacker made contact with her fist.

"—disoriented," she finished, standing in satisfaction as the red-haired young man—nearing twenty, if she remembered correctly—toppled backwards.

She smoothly dusted off her hands to the stunned silence of the crowd and the fish-out-of-water gasping of the young man, from which could be heard a winded "Stri…ke…"

She sighed. Her Innocence must be quite a sight to behold, if they were still staring at her in wonder despite her current action.

Sprouting from her shoulder blades were a pair of snow white wings, light yet sturdy things with a span of nearly twenty feet—eighteen point two five, if the scientists back at Central were to be believed—when fully extended, which they were, at the moment. Her attire, rather than taking away from the magical appearance of her wings, rather complimented it.

The long dress that flowed around her in a pool of shimmering white of the softest silk had often made her former colleagues sigh in wonder. They'd said that, in this form, she greatly resembled an angel, one sent for the purpose of healing and comfort. A messenger of love, as angels were typically depicted.

This was an inapt description, though, when considering the fact that she was sending akuma to their doom. An especially inapt description, when coupled with the reality that she was doing so out of anything rather than love.

That was why she did away with the ridiculous notion as efficiently as possible as quickly as possible, whenever she was faced with the problem, which happened quite often.

More often than she'd have liked, considering that she had a cold, forbidding demeanor atypical of an angel.

A small smile threatened the contours of her face. If that aspect of her were taken into account, her colleagues would readily say that she had many similarities with angels…

Of the avenging sort, that is.

With a small dusting of hands, Ailee promptly turned to face Quince. "Shall we get going?"

In reply, he lit another of his pesky cancer sticks and smirked. "If y'promise not to hit me."

Ailee let out a small breath and gave him what was supposed to be a reassuring smile but, judging from the skittish response of the Finders and scientists around them, was something that came out a little on the side of spine-chilling and disturbing. "Why, but of course."

OUO

Ailee knocked on the polished oak door, and at the muffled "Come in" that sounded from within, she entered, a disgruntled Quince, sulking Lavi, and indifferent Bookman following behind her. Before the door had even closed, the imposing man with the crisp uniform and sharply-cut hair spoke, a cutting edge to his no-nonsense voice.

"Ah, Ailee-kun, Quince-san. I see the two of you have arrived. I noticed that you caused quite a stir with your arrival. Despite your… unique abilities, it would be best if you avoided unauthorized landings like those from now on."

Ailee dipped her head in acknowledgement of her mustachioed superior's order. "I apologize, Leverrier…-san." The strange honorific rolled off her tongue, though it wasn't as unnatural on her lips as she'd have thought it would be. Still, it must have come out sounding awkward, since the man's eyes narrowed at her.

Ailee bit back a sigh of mild annoyance and continued with her explanation. "We were waylaid by akuma on the way here and I decided that flying would be the simplest method of travel to avoid trouble." She turned and bowed to the purple-haired man sitting quietly at the desk at the back of the room, the man watching the on goings with a cool eye. "I apologize for the damages I may have caused to the property, sir. I'll make sure to be more—"

The head of the European Branch, the bespectacled scientist Komui Lee, who was said to have a strange relationship concerning his sister—one Lenalee Lee who was notably absent from the room at the moment—cut her off with a smile and a careless wave of the hand. "No problem! The exorcists and scientists of this branch usually cause much more damage on a daily basis."

"That's mainly Komui-san's own doing, of course," Lavi conspiratorially whispered, winking at Ailee as he did. The playful grin on his face wilted somewhat when she directed at him the gaze she usually reserved for annoyingly affectionate, overly-familiar people.

"Those're all obviously measures taken to ensure my adorable Lenalee from the octopi."

"I don't fault you for that, Komui-san." Ailee looked Lavi in the one cheeky eye he had left. "Especially if the octopi are like this Bookman Junior has proven to be."

"That's not true. Nii-san just can't help but cause trouble for everyone," a light, pleasant female voice teased. Ailee turned around and watched as a pretty, tall Asian girl—most likely Lenalee Lee herself, judging from the use of the honorific—came into the room, a steaming platter of coffee held in one hand. She gave Ailee and Quince small welcoming smiles, giving Lavi a slightly worried glance before turning her attention back to her older brother, one hand held over his face as a self-deprecating smile appeared. The man opened his mouth and—

"This is all quite interesting, truly, it is," the cool voice whipped out, snuffing out the small buds of camaraderie that were flowering in the room, "but we'd best get on with the business at hand. Ms. Luna and Mr. Chandler have quite the day ahead of them."

Lenalee ignored Leverrier's comment, proving that the information provided beforehand—that the cheerful Miss Lenalee Lee had quite the strained relationship with her superior officer Malcolm Leverrier—to be more than just idle gossip.

"Here, Nii-san," she perkily replied, though the smile from before was notably missing from her suddenly wan, tight face. She handed her brother a steaming cup of coffee. "I added something special to it this time, since I knew you probably have a headache after the meeting you had before this one." Leverrier's eyes narrowed at the barb, and Ailee's lips twitched. As the girl turned to leave, her purple eyes met with Ailee's own silver gaze, and she noted the wariness in them, though it was directed at her rather than the man she'd been baiting.

Narrowing her eyes, Ailee kept up eye contact with the girl, expecting her to blink and look away.

She didn't.

Only when keeping eye contact would've raised questions—staring was all the more obvious when you craned your entire head in the other direction—did the girl turn away. When she did, Ailee's eyes met with another. Lavi gave her a cheeky wink of his single emerald green eye before turning his attention back to Komui, who was shuffling around papers on his desk without doing much of anything.

"Well then, I'd like to tell the two of you upfront that your mission will be quite difficult to carry out, at the moment."

"Now why's that? You thinking we aren't capable enough for the job, Komui?"

Leverrier's face tightened at the utter lack of respect, but Ailee turned and gave Quince an amused tilt of her lips. He smirked in appreciation before turning to face Komui, who was giving the both of them a humorless smile.

"I'm not implying that either of you aren't up for the job. It's just that your charge, Kumori, isn't here anymore, so I don't see how you or anyone else will be able to escort her anywhere."

"And why is that?" Ailee finally asked, her eyes narrowing ever-so-slightly at the director's round-about way of speaking. The man, noticing her disconcerting stare, coughed into one hand. "Ah, well, that's because she escaped this morning."

"Well, guess that's that," Quince drawled, lighting a cigarette. With a swish of his dirty brown coat, her partner started for the door. "When can I get the next train back to Central?"

Ailee's eyes didn't leave Komui, who glanced at Lavi and the short old man, who were still standing in the room, quiet as ghosts.

"There's more to this, isn't there?" she murmured, stopping Quince in the middle of his pretend rant. "I take it you were going to ask if we would mind if you changed the description of our mission from 'escorting' to 'finding and capturing' this Kumori person."

Ailee's suspicions were proven correct when Komui smiled at them. "Are you volunteering, then?"

Ignoring his question, she looked at the pair out of the corner of her eyes. "Are the two over there to join us on the retrieval?"

"Oh, Lavi will be departing, yes, but he won't be accompanying the two of you. For the moment, though, they're here to watch."

"I thought assigning missions would be a little more… discrete, sir. Least ways, they are back at Central."

"Ah, right, well, usually, yes. This is a special case, though." Ailee raised an eyebrow, but when the purple-haired man before her didn't offer to elaborate with anything other than an overly-innocent smile, she simply nodded. "As you will, sir."

"Yes, yes. Hm, so I take it that's a yes, Ailee-kun?"

"Yes." There was no hesitation in her answer, no need to be any, really. Out of the corner of her eyes, Ailee saw a small shift, a quiver of movement from the red-haired fellow.

O-O

The double doors behind her shut with a dull thud, and Ailee turned to look at the trio trailing after her with mild interest, tilting her head inquisitively. "I take it that you're Bookman, since the other is Lavi?"

The Bookman gave her a passing, curt nod before he continued on down the hall, but Lavi stopped in his tracks and gave her a cheeky grin. "And I take it you're Ailee Luna, the exorcist said to be an angel descended from the heavens, sent by God himself to aid exorcists in their fight against the Millennium Earl?"

A small frown twisted her lips when he put a hand on his chin and gave her a slow, deliberate once-over, nodding in appreciation as he did. "Ya certainly look the part, but your personality could use a touch more su—"

She didn't wince as the small black blur flew into the side of the annoying redhead with an audible crack.

"Oi, Jiijii!"

As the redhead sat nursing the lump on his cheek, pouting, Bookman shook his head. "Quit with your flirting and get on to your studies, boy." With one last passing glance at her, Bookman turned and made off down the dark hall. Ailee's eyes followed him until he became indistinguishable from the shadows, and only once she was sure he was gone did she turn back to Lavi and Quince, who had watched the entire debacle with a cocked eyebrow.

"What is it?" she asked. She pursed her lips when Quince grinned and shook his head, popping out another one of his nasty cigarettes. "Nothin', pretty lady. Nothin' going on in this empty head of mine. Nothin' at all."

"That's good for you," she murmured, peering into the darkness at the other end of the hall, the one the Bookman hadn't taken. "You can come out now." There was a moment of stillness, and then a form detached itself from the shadows.

"Kyoko-chan, it's not nice to eavesdrop," Lavi chided, grinning at the bespectacled girl that slowly walked up to them. The girl merely angled her head lower at the redhead and narrowed her dark blue eyes.

"Well, I've heard that I'm not known for being nice anyhow," she snorted, and the two shared a small smile. The smile disappeared as soon as she looked at Ailee again.

"How do you do," Ailee murmured, dipping her head into a small bow. The girl returned it with a nod of the head.

"I'm—"

"Kyoko Kawasaki, yes, I've heard. I'm Ailee Luna." She pointed a hand to Quince, who was taking a long, deep drag of his cancer stick. "This is my partner, Quince E. Chandler."

"How do you—"

"I had to do some extensive research for this mission," she replied, watching the redhead watch her watch him. He gave her a tight smile and tilt of the head but said nothing, and she continued with her explanation.

"It seems that you're one of the few people that knew of our charge's special condition prior to mass exposure." When the girl didn't respond, Ailee nodded. "If you would, will you and the Junior Bookman answer my questions?"

"What for?"

"Simple curiosity," she replied.

There was a short burst of laughter and "Well, ya know what they say: curiosity killed the cat."

"They also say cheeky monkeys get no bananas."

"That's not cute at all!" Lavi chortled, wrapping his arms behind his head.

"Who ever said you were cute?"

Ailee covered one ear as more nonsensical banter ensued.

"Those two seem to have hit it off well." She turned to the other girl, who pushed up the glasses perched atop her nose.

"How did you meet Kumori?"

Kyoko looked at her, her eyes narrowing slightly. "I met her the same way Lavi and the others did."

"The bloody gate entrance, right?"

"Yes."

"And the Gate monitor didn't catch her." Not surprising, since he hadn't registered her either. She had been flying though, so maybe that amounted for something.

"She's human enough." Ailee gazed serenely back at her, despite the defensive, almost reproachful note that had crept into the girl's voice.

"Human enough that she can repress her akuma urges?" The girl flinched.

"Humans… we make mistakes sometimes. That's just life."

"Life ends so quickly, for humans."

The girl turned accusing blue eyes on her. "You make it sound as if you're not one."

Ailee looked at Kyoko and smiled. "Are any of us still human, after what we've seen and done?"

"Human is a subjective term though, don'tcha think?" She turned to find Lavi smiling at her, his one bright, emerald green eye gleaming coolly at her. Behind him, Quince was speaking to the girl, Lenalee, who had appeared once more.

"Yes, I quite agree," she replied, turning back to the redhead. "It greatly depends on the person at hand. Being human doesn't guarantee being humane, nor does being humane guarantee being human. It is evident in the fact that humans create their own monsters and loose them upon others." It was true in the mundane sense that there were increasing numbers of man-made murders every year, but it was also true in relation to akuma. The akuma were in part just as much a creation of the humans as well as the Earl's, since he needed their willing cooperation for the demons to take form.

"So you're saying sometimes the worst monsters are human, huh? Strange, since you fight akuma."

"I have a reason to fight." A stupid reason, but a reason nonetheless. "Do you, Bookman Junior?"

Her question was greeted with a smirk. "If you know I'm a Bookman-in-training, you also know what it is we do, right?"

"Of course," she murmured. "You are the recorders of time. Choosing neither one side nor the other, your clan stands apart, observers to the passage of time, the making of history and, if you so wished it, the fall of civilization.

"The death of humanity."

"We're stronger than you give us credit for," Kyoko interrupted, a stiff jut to her chin. "Humans have struggled on even in the worst situations."

"Yes, very much like cockroaches," Ailee delicately snorted. The girl puffed up, and she waved her hand. "And what of your half-akuma friend, Kumori? How has she carried on, with all the losses she's cut, over the course of a hundred years?"

She turned her silver eyes on the Junior Bookman. "What do you make of that, recorder of time?"

"I make that it's surprising you'd think cute little Kumori's been around for a hundred years, since we were only guessing it to be about fifty or so." He grinned at her then, a bearing of teeth parodying a smile. "What makes you so sure she's been around as long as that? Is it an angel's intuition?" In her peripheral view, Ailee saw a strange quiver of movement, and she laughed, startling Kyoko.

"I wouldn't call it that," she exhaled, brushing back her hair as the white blur persisted. "More like a devil's awareness."

"Ironic, since you're supposed to be the Order's angel."

"Not so ironic as a demon hiding in the midst of an order of priests and exorcists." Ailee smiled then, hoping that the Bookman would finally slip out of the façade he had so poorly created and painstakingly maintained, despite its crumbling appearance. "Would you deem her a monstrous human, or a humane monster, that akuma girl you're all so fond of?"

"Is there a difference between the two?"

"Of course." She stiffened when Lavi laughed, watching her with a humorless green orb. "When faced with two evils, one as bad as the other, which do you choose? The lesser of the two?"

Ailee frowned as he bent forward, looking up at her from his new vantage point with a cheerfully false grin. "You'd only be able to know the difference if you were already well-acquainted with evil itself, Ailee." Her own eyes narrowed. The boy was even more intuitive than she'd thought.

"Things change. Nothing ever stays the same. Likewise, you can't lie so close to evil without becoming tainted yourself."

"Oh, talkin' bout philosophy now, are we? Never could bring myself to care bout that crap, but if you pretty ladies want, I guess I could suffer through a short lesson."

Ailee turned to Quince and smiled benevolently at him, ignoring the perky Chinese girl at his elbow. "No need to strain that brain of yours, Quince. Already I've gathered the information we needed. Besides, I've been told that too much cerebral activity would be detrimental to your health, and as it stands, you need all the aid I can give."

"Would you mind tellin' me who was so kind as to tell you that? I'd like to give them my appreciation. For their attention t'my health, of course."

Her eyes darted to the pretty, fair-haired young woman standing behind Quince, who smiled at her and shook her head. Ailee's lips twitched, and she fought down—with little effort on her part—the smile that bubbled up.

Abruptly, she turned to Lavi, who was eyeing her strangely. Even when she made eye contact, his gaze didn't waver, and so she had to ask, "What are you looking at?" to which he replied "That should be my question."

Brusquely, she brushed past him, and a cool tingle thrummed through her body as the young woman ghosted past her. She gave the redhead an offhand answer over her shoulder.

"I look at nothing but remnants of the past."

O.O

Hah! First long chapter I've written in a while, for my fanfics. I've been getting lazy, heheh…

Well. Isn't Ailee boring. Hopefully she won't stay that way too long. Hopefully she doesn't seem too much like Kyoko too, you AA fans (that probably aren't even reading this, even when I asked you to, too… no worries, I won't like you any less).

Sorry bout that whole philosophy overload. It was fun, but… writing that was a bitch since I had to make sure what they said here coincided with the crap these other people mentioned (AA: Chapter 32). It didn't. I spent forever trying to "fix" this (even though it supposedly happened before the other chapter anyways, despite the fact that I started the other one first knowing that I still had to work on this), which is why that debate of theirs doubled in length and took up more time than it had originally (only about four spoken lines, hahah….hah). I eventually just decided to fuck that line that was supposed to be said and changed AA's Ch 32 around a bit.