Chapter 24

''You never realize how alone you are until you look into your own eyes and see nothing but emptiness...''

Luna's POV:

On that day a lot of things changed. Everyone was affected somehow, not just those who knew the Fallen exorcist. It was like the domino effect. His death affected Mina and she affected me. A lot of things changed since that day, some for the better, and a lot for the worse.

But to make things clear, lets return to that particular day, the day in which something in Mina Carmichael's heart was born.

And something else died...


I was anxious. Mina was supposed to return any moment now from that goddamn mission and… I could feel the tension in the air. It was so thick you could cut it.

I was leaning on a window, having nothing to do, but even if I did, I had other things on my mind. Ita was keeping quiet, which had me even more on edge. She hadn't spoken to me through the day; it was as if she didn't exist.

Mina had saved a Fallen One; a feat believed to be impossible. Allen had told me some time ago how he'd witnessed the incident with Suman Dark with his own eyes, how he desperately tried to save him from his own Innocence and how he released his 100% when he wasn't ready, resulting in over-tasking his left arm. I shivered just from the thought of ever doing that.

What would happen to the man, no one knew. We all had to wait patiently for their return to see Lvellie's decision.

I didn't like that one bit either (to be honest, I didn't like a lot of things). I didn't know him for that long, but after the connection with the golem was ceased, his face was...disturbingly calm. That promised only trouble, if anyone asked me.

I sat on the windowsill and twirled a cigarette in my hand. I'd smoked some time ago, but decided to stop them on Mina's behalf, trying to find another outlet for my problems, one sick kid had been enough back then(in Mina's words). But I was dying to light one, man, the desire was so strong. Good thing one of the men working in the Science division agreed to discreetly give me one.

I put the cigarette between my lips andjust and as I was about to light it, a tall figure approached , I knew who it was before his face was illuminated by the lamp.

It was Kanda. He didn't say a word, only stared at me, as if asking me to pick up a fight. I wasn't in the mood for games, so I stared right back at him. Damn, he was so annoying. What did he want? He made his intentions clear on the train: he didn't want to have anything to do with me. So, why wasn't he going away?

'Why are youconstantly coming backto me...?'

The longer I looked at him, I could've sworn, the clearer I heard running water from some sort of a spring. A sweet scent, the same scent from the tunnel filled my nostrils. The scent of lotus.

'But how do I know it? I've never seen a lotus before. Ita, do you have something to say?'

Ita grunted, the only answer I received. She didn't insult me, didn't want to start a fight. Another evidence that she knew what was happening to me. But why would she hide it? She was supposed to be my advisor, right? Even though we mostly insulted each other, I wasn't dead yet. It was really infuriating.

Something caught my eye. Then I gaped inshock. It couldn't be real. The lack of sleep must've been getting to my brain. There was no way for what I saw to be real. It was illogical.

And yet, hundreds of flowers were scattered around us. Thousands of them. Their scent making my head spin. It was too sweet, giving me a headache.

'Where the hell did they come from?'

Ita stayed quiet, but I could feel her anxiety. She definitely knew what was happening to me. And was keeping it quiet,the bitch. I lifted my head and the look on Kanda's face shocked me even more.

He was staring at me like he saw something on my face only he could see. Or he thought I was going crazy, because I was 100% seeing illusions of lotuses around us. There was even water, crystal clear and it even felt cold to the touch. I was losing my mind. And yet, he didn't look at me like I was a lunatic. It was more like he couldn't believe his eyes.

'Is he seeing it too?'

No, that was impossible. There was no way for him to see it. Still, why wouldn't he? I knew nothing about him and about his story, about his life before the Order. What had happened to him and how he became an exorcist. But that annoying feeling of familiarity never left me.

Whatever kind of moment we had, though, was ruined by the shock and agonizing pain that shook my body. It was so strong that I slipped from the windowsill and fell on my knees. I felt the cold water against my skin, wetting my jeans. My cigarette fell too, sinking into it instead of floating like it should. That was the evidence I needed to know that everything was in my head. The pain hit me again, like a ton of bricks. Small numbing needles were piercing my limbs. But it wasn't coming from me.

It was from Mina.

I cursed myself, for slacking off, for not being careful enough. For daydreaming with Kanda at a time like this.

But what was worse, I didn't feel the numbness that bad. It was the growing panic and despair in my chest. In Mina's chest.

Obviously, as I had thought, the things weren't going smoothly.

Before registering what was happening, on instinct I activated my Innocence and flew, leaving my senses to guide me to her. To Mina.

Before it was too late...


I was too late.

Had I been faster, I could've done something to prevent it. There was also the possibility of me being made to watch everything.

It was a fact, though, that I was late.

Meters before entering the hall, I heard a wail, filled with despair. It took my brain seconds to realize that it was Mina's scream. The worst sound I'd heard in my entire life.

I flew right into the hall, freezing at what I saw. A barrier was made from CROW's talismans, the science division yelling, captain Reever flailing some sort of bat, slamming it against the force field; Bookman had hidden his hands in his coat, his stoic expression almost genuine, if not for the way his teeth gritted his cigarette; Lavi pinned to the wall by more talismans, cursing every living thing in this room. If the situation was different, I actually would have written some of them down, because of how innovative they were. But after seeing Mina, it was as if everything disappeared.

Mina was pinned to the ground, almost completely covered by talismans. Her mouth and eyes were probably the only uncovered thing. Her tears seemed endless, her eyes red and puffy. Desperate wails and cries escaped her lips, her throat hoarse and yet she seemed like she would never stop. My ears hurt from the sound. I'd seen Mina cry before, she wasn't a ray of sunshine the past few years before her last surgery, being all moody and depressive, even going to the extent of attempting suicide, but never to that extent.

Someone had broken her in a way I could never imagine.

I had to take those binds off her. So, without knowing if it'll work, I used my powers. I acted purely on instinct, telling me I had to protect her.

''Crystal mischief: Crystal mist!''the mist was emitted from my wings, the small crystal particles reflecting the light from the lamps and candles around me. I concentrated and sent it towards Mina and Lavi's binds. ''Break!''

Surprisingly, not just for me but for Ita as well, the talismans actually crystallized and broke to pieces. Lavi fell down the wall, groaning in pain. Mina remained on the ground, still crying.

I rushed towards her and took her in my arms. She was a mess, clinging to me only seconds after embracing her, holding on to me for dear life. Her cries didn't cease, even worsened.

''He died, Luna! He died! They killed him! HE killed him!'' I didn't have to ask who that ''he'' was. In my guts I knew all too well. ''He died! He gave up! He left us, he left me! I feel-f-f-.'' she trashed in my arms, either gripping my arms to the point of bruising or trying to get up, to go anywhere but here. She completely contradicted herself.

She started having trouble breathing and to convulse. I looked at her. She was a mess- both physically and emotionally. If not calmed down soon, she would have a seizure.

In the distance I saw captain Reever waving at someone, soon finding out to be the head nurse and her first-aid kit. She came to us, telling me to hold Mina tightly. Good, but she wouldn't stop flailing around. So Lavi, still groaning came in to help, helping me hold her down as well. It wasn't an easy task, Mina's sobs and cries making it all the more painful, pleas and attempts of soft caresses not working, but the Head nurse finally managed to give Mina a sedative. In a few minutes she quieted down, her breathing evening out and her eyes closing as she succumbed to sleep. The medicine really was strong as it knocked her in less than 5 minutes. I softly stroked her head as Lavi lay on the ground next to me groaning.

Dad came out of nowhere, startling me and picking Mina up, following the nurse to the infirmary. A few people from the science division came to help Lavi on his feet and in the direction to the infirmary as well. After checking him over again, I noticed that he grunted every now and then, probably the moment Mina fell on him during the mission, she'd bruised him.

True, I didn't expect for the situation to have a happy ending, but surely, I never expected to end in such a disaster.

What followed though was even worse.


While Mina slept, I stood on Lavi's bed, listening to what had happened after the fight in the lake.

Mina had bonded with the exorcist and that bond was shattered in the cruelest way possible.

Zack. The exorcist who lost everything, all hope, but managed to find it again in my sister. Not much, just barely enough to live his last days to the fullest. I felt sorry for Thomas, who probably knew from the beginning that the boy he loved would be killed the moment he set foot in the Order, that he'd have nowhere safe to go; felt sorry for Lavi and Mina, who managed to bond with Zack, each in their own unique way, Lavi from previous years and Mina in a way no one could comprehend. I wished I had the chance to meet him, to see what kind of person he was and why he deserved the salvation Mina offered him. What Lvellie had done was uncalled for. Part of me agreed with him, but the other part felt disgusted with myself for siding with that monster.

Ita remained quiet. I never imagined that I'd miss the days when she insulted me, and I literally argued with myself. The silence made the atmosphere even more depressing as we waited for Mina to wake up. The sedative really was too strong, considering her weight and built, but the situation called for drastic measures.

When she did wake up, she didn't say a word. She refused to eat, to drink, she barely even slept. Never thought I'd see the day when I'd discuss with the doctors prescriptions for sleeping pills for her.

The way Zack died broke her on a whole new level. I was lucky for having empathetic link only towards Mina. Still, the thought of losing her filled me with dread. And she had actually lost someone. The emotions I sensed from her were only a small part of what she felt. I was really scared at how strong I felt them. Especially the emptiness. I shuddered every time I came in contact with it. No wonder Mina closed herself, no wonder she shunned us. Some things were way more painful than imagined.

The emptiness came every time Mina was reminded of the mission. As if someone had to make it worse, Link came in whispering in Lavi's ear something, obviously not enjoying it either. Lavi then got pissed, grabbed Link's collar and pressed him against the wall and yelled, refusing to let Mina report about the mission. I jumped in between them while Mina only stared vacantly.

At least, in the end, I managed to make her drink water. But she didn't speak to us, even to me. She never looked at my eyes, but she seemed conflicted. As if our presence was the anchor she needed but it was also the cruelest punishment she'd ever received.

She was a shade of the person she was before. It was as if Mina herself had died.

Mina's POV:

Everyone was asleep.

Lavi was sleeping on the bed next to mine. After looking him over, I found out I'd hurt him quite badly when I fell over him. Not just that, but also from when he was fighting the Binding Feather 'd gotten hurt then as well.

Luna was sleeping on a free bed next to mine as well. At least she got the chance to sleep. She had a rough case of insomnia since we were 14. Three years of inability to sleep. Her fear for me had taken that away. The only way for her to sleep nowadays was through the use of pills. Though, she did seem a bit better, the black circles under her eyes looked paler than before. Probably her mission had a positive effect on her. I sure hoped so.

I never believed that I'd become afraid of falling asleep. My dreams were the place where I could do whatever I wanted. Since I was sick, the only thing I did was sleep.

Yet now, every time I closed my eyes, I saw the endless field where I saw Lavi and Zack. The way the imaginary sun kissed his hair, brightened his face, making him look years younger. He wasn't that old, but the life of an exorcist wasn't easy.

We'd talked about so many things, his family and his life; my family and my life. Surprisingly, we got really close, probably from the empathic bond we shared. He got me all flustered when he called me''My guardian angel''. I'd immediately protested, and he laughed at me, finding joy in teasing me, the idiot. We even talked about our love lives.

He told me about somebody he probably had feelings for, how that person was way too kind for their own good, how he didn't deserve them. That he was glad to have their friendship and that he didn't want to ruin it. Zack knew of this person's feelings, but didn't act on them, deciding to let the things at their own said he wasn't sure about what he felt, but somehow from the way my chest warmed as he spoke about that person, I already knew the answer. For a fleeting moment, I saw a ephemeral image of a very familiar face. As I looked at him, I just knew that he wouldn't wait anymore, not after what happened. He'd take the chance the moment it was given to him.

He then asked me about my love life, but I denied, far too quickly, which was a mistake I realized only a second later. Because of his question, the image of a red-headed goofball came into my mind. I remembered the day when he fell on me, as his green eye gazed at my brown ones, analyzing me, musing at what he could and what he couldn't see. Zack caught it and teased me to no end. Just when I was going to punch him, he disappeared, leading me to conclude that he was awake.

I shook my head, wanting to rid myself of the memory. Suddenly my stomach growled, making me cringe. I hadn't eaten in days. Anxiously, I looked around myself in the room. Lavi, Luna and the other exorcists remained asleep.

Silently, I got up and exited the room. I went for the canteen, hoping to find Jerrie still there, even though the chances weren't high. It was the middle of the night, too late for dinner and way too early for breakfast.

The corridors of the building were quiet, the only noises coming from the rooms in which other residents peacefully slept and from the lower floor, where the science division worked. Dad had a late-night shift as well.

When I entered the giant room, as expected, Jerrie was nowhere to be found. What was unexpected, though, was the familiar mob of white hair, sitting on one of the tables at the far end, his figure crouched and partially hidden in the shadows. Probably Allen wanted some time for himself, too.

Just as I made a move to turn and walk out of the room, a yellow ball bumped lightly into my forehead. When my eyes refocused, I recognized Timcanpy. Allen lifted his gaze and with a slight movement of his hand beckoned me to go to him.

I silently obliged, strolling to him and taking the oppositeseat. He pushed a box full of sandwiches towards me. I raised an eyebrow, while at the same time I took one. I didn't have much of an appetite, but my stomach hurt like hell, so it had to do.

''Jerrie knows that sometimes in the middle of the night I get hungry, so every night he prepares this box for me, just in case.''

''And how often do you come to have a late-night snack?'' I asked, not believing that Jerrie would prepare food which might go to the dumpster, just like that. I knew Allen had a special place in his heart, after all, it was Allen we were talking about. Allen, who was going through his own personal hell.

''Lately, it's every night.'' he mumbled, taking a bite of his sandwich and staring into space as Timcanpy flew above his head.

I ''hmm''ed and silently ate my sandwich. It was nothing special: ham, lettuce, tomato. Something to fill your stomach until breakfast. The sandwich was made with deep thought and care. As if Jerrie really wanted to ease Allen's worries. That was probably why the chef was one of the few people in this God forsaken place that I actually liked. I had thought I'd start to accept the Order in time, even if it wasn't directly after my first mission.

Now I felt the opposite way.

''I heard what happened on your mission.'' Allen started, breaking the heavy silence.

I didn't reply to his attempt at conversation, just took another bite of my sandwich and munched slowly.

''I've been through this path. If you need something, anything, you can always rely on me and ask me for help or advise.''

I knew it was uncalled for. Allen was just trying to be supportive, because he had gone through this. But for days on no end I was babied, and I was sick and tired of the pity-filled gazed everyone threw at me.

''The thing, Allen, is that you don't understand what I'm going through.'' I jabbed back at him. I felt awful for doing it, but he understood only partially what I was really going through. ''I could feel him, his emotions, his state of mind, his physical health. I had a connection to him. His heart was part of mine'' my voice cracked at the last line, a traitorous tear falling from my eye. ''I watched everything, and I couldn't do anything.''

''And yet, you're not just sad...'' that wasn't a question, but a blunt statement.

''No. I'm sad, angry, frustrated. He just...gave up!'' I yelled, not caring if someone would hear me. That was why I didn't speak with the others. All of those feelings were bottling up and I was feeling like I was going to explode every moment while they talked to me. I felt all kinds of emotions: sadness, anger, anxiety, frustration. It was because of the way it happened. How he just... ''He just walked towards them, offering them his life. And it pisses me off, you know. It pisses me off how happy he was. He was scared, shit, he was terrified of them. And yet, he had the decency to look me straight in the eye and to-to-'' my speech broke as new sobs racked my body. I was crying again, after trying my hardest to hold it in myself for days.

'Some things just have to be let out' used to tell my mom.

Allen silently stood up, went over to me and hugged me, offering me his shoulder to cry on. I felt so weak and defenseless. I watched how someone close to me died. I could've saved him, only if I was faster, only if I'd realized the consequences.

''I know how you feel. I've felt the same way with Suman. With M-mana.'' my sobs ceased after he told me his adoptive father's name. The way his voice broke made me look into his eyes. He wasn't crying, his expression was calm. But his eyes were sad. His eyes looked like the eyes of the little boy who witnessed his own father's death. Twice. '' The best thing to do is live your life in a way to honor their memory. Mana taught me one thing: to never stop moving forward. The truth is that my feelings towards him are way more complicated, but that phrase he told me so many years ago, keeps me from losing myself, keeps me from falling apart.'' his voice gradually became quieter with each word until it completely disappeared.

Allen was conflicted lately, it was more than obvious. He was alone in this fight, he didn't let anyone help him as he didn't want to burden any of us, especially only person who could have really helped him was his Marshal- Cross Marian, who was murdered recently.

We stayed like that for some time, hugging each other, I stopped minding the traitorous tears which fell every few minutes. When Allen got sleepy, we bit our goodbyes and headed to our separate ways.

When I returned to the infirmary, everyone was still asleep. Luna was sleeping peacefully, Lavi was snoring lightly, sleeping on his back, his blankets kicked away. I sighed and went to him silently tucking him in, when he turned towards me and in his sleep caught my hand.

I froze. Was that really happening?

I tried to pull my hand away from him, but it didn't work. The jerk had quite the strong grip. Sighing softly, I went to my bed which, thank God, was next to his. Before I fell asleep, I decided to make use of what I've learned during this mission.

gave forgiveness. But the Order didn't.

's heavenly crystal had more morals than mortal human beings.

I had a feeling that in the future there'd be more situations like these, when people will lose hope. And in those moments, I'll have to act accordingly, in a way that no one would be able to point their finger at me. In the face of the Innocence I was a warrior, which could seek redemption and fight for what was right in my heart; in the face of the Order I was just a pawn, which would be thrown away and replaced if deemed useless by their own criteria. Just like Zack.

If I acted smart, I'd be able to be on top of it all. And no one precious to me would be hurt ever again.

With that thought in mind and Lavi's hand still holding mine, I fell into the long-awaited dreamless sleep.


A few days later, when everyone was sure that I wouldn't randomly burst into tears I was finally permitted to go sleep in my own room as long as I went to have my daily check-ups on my injuries and my heart.

Lavi, Luna and dad still circled me, watching over me, keeping it in mind not to pressure me too much. They thought that I was fragile. They were in for a surprise then. Mina Carmichael would not show weakness. In front of no one. And being thought to be fragile and unprotected gives you some advantage. I would able to move unnoticed by anyone.

With the exception of Lavi.

He was watching me the most out of the three. It surprised me one night, when he suggested seeing me off to my room. That was a first and I was wondering what it was all about. He was eerily quiet and that unnerved me. When we reached the door of my room, he grabbed my arm.

I turned towards him, puzzled. He still didn't say a word.

''Yeah?'' I asked.

''You sure you're OK?'' he asked, his grip not easing.

I wanted to say that I was fine, just how I did with the others, but for some reason lying to him was harder. It was actually impossible. I didn't know why...or maybe I did.

''To be honest, I don't know. This emptiness in my heart doesn't go away. It stays, and I can't fill it with anything. It's like that's his place, the place where he belongs. It cannot be filled by anyone else but him.'' That was so brutally honest. But it was also another reason why they were around me - I needed to learn to be independent.

I had to keep my mouth shut.

''Then why do you lie and tell the others that you're fine?''

''I don't want to worry them...'' and that wasn't a lie. I didn't want them to worry about me. I'd decided to do things in my own way.

Alone.

''What point is there of having us if you don't trust us?'' Hurt could be felt in his voice.

''It's not that I don't trust you. It's just-''

''Just what?'' he pressed further, making me feel exposed.

Vulnerable...

''Just that...'' Why did he make me feel so weak, how come he could read me so good after knowing me for a little over a month?

''Mina, don't go down that path. Believe me, your place is not there.'' His tone didn't change, but his eye sure did. It was filled with some sort of weird light. Was it sympathy? Or pity?

''I have no idea what you're talking about.'' Damn him and his sharp senses.

''That was the worst lie you've ever told me.'' He seemed a bit ticked. By me.

I was a bit too. By him.

''I'm fine, Lavi. You don't have to worry about me.''

Lavi's eye narrowed. He leaned a bit closer to me, putting his hands on the wall behind me, caging me between him and the wall.

''I worry because I care, you idiot. Don't you care about us, about me as well?''

That was a low-blow. A blow which he made, because he knew me and he knew I was at my most vulnerable. Damn him.

''You're a jerk. Of course I do.'' I tried to swallow the lump forming in my throat, my eyes stinging with tears that wanted to escape.

''Then, if not for yourself, then do it for us. Do it for me Mina, don't go down that path.'' he was practically begging. Why was he begging?

''I'm following the path I've chosen the moment I became an exorcist.''The path I decided to follow a month ago was different. I was amazed at myself because of my attempts of lying by now.

Lavi gritted his teeth, balling his fists. I tensed and for a moment I thought he was going to yell at me and my stupidity. Part of me was screaming to get away from him, but the other part was telling me to trust him, that he knows what's best; begging him to reach out for me.

But no one has that kind of knowledge and no one knows what I really needed. Even me.

Before I had the chance to open my mouth to say something, whatever it came to my mind in order to escape that situation, he acted in the most unpredicted way possible.

He kissed me.

To be continued in ''The Call of the Heart''...


A/N: Thank you for those who followed me from the beginning to this very end...of part 1, of course XD. God, I'm so evil. But yeah, thank you, for being patient, for waiting for me to publish new chapters. God knows I tried to be punctual, but some things just happen; thank you for being good enough to observe me and witness my writer's development. Because you've noticed that I've got considerably better. Well, that's from me for now.

I hope we meet again in part 2.

Love,

Mimkanz XD

A/N from the beta: A big thank you to those who stuck with Mimkanz till the end. I am very happy that you chose to read this fic till the end. She is a dear friend of mine and I am glad that you decided to support her as well, even if just by reading this far.

I am also sorry; the slow updates are very much my fault. I promise I will try to be better in the future and not leave you hanging for months at a time.

Au revoir, until the next part!