Now That You're Gone

The order had several teams of Exorcists that went on missions against Akuma. They varied in number, and often times, Exorcists completed their missions solo. Only a select number of missions even required more than one Exorcist, never mind more than two having the time to go on a mission together.

There was one Exorcist that worked well with practically anyone. Allen Walker teamed up with several, but the group most often seen together was him and either Lavi or Lenalee. Sometimes, if God was feeling particularly sadistic, Kanda was included in the mix.

Yet, there was one team that stood out even more than Allen and his teammates. A trio that did practically everything together. Hardly anyone else in the order knew more than their names because they kept so much to their own inner circle. These three Exorcists had joined up at the same time years ago and had stuck together ever since. They hardly spoke with any of the other exorcists (including during the move to new headquarters), much less completed missions with anyone else.

They ate together in the lunch room, fought each other in the training hall. Occasionally they went out on solo missions, but rarely for long. And when they did, the others in their group waited for them to return.

Jeryy only knew the names that went with the faces because he served their lunch.

Karyn was the American brunette. Wavy hair, freckles, and a smile that was so wide it could swallow one of his pizzas whole. The second in the group was Reina, a Spanish native with few words and thick, raven hair. Her olive-colored skin made her emerald eyes stand out like sparkling gems in a dusty sky.

The so-called leader of the trio, and the one who got all the group mission reports, was Joan. The only Englishwoman in the group, she had the pale skin and light eyes to match. It was fitting her hair was a dark-chocolate brown, since her personality seemed as much a mix of the other two, much like the color of her hair.

Just like every other afternoon at the European Branch, the women sat down to lunch with the rest of the Order. Sitting a table towards the back, waiting on their favorite native dishes.

Karyn leaned back in her seat, eyeing the Exorcists across the hall. One group of Exorcists in particular. "I don't know. They look kind of shifty to me."

Reina didn't bother glancing up from her mission report. "Everyone looks shifty to you."

Before Karyn could answer, their orders were called. Seeing her friend was too engrossed in their mission report to get it, she made the trek across the hall. Returning with her trays laden with enchiladas on one arm and a burger/fries combo on the other.

Slapping the trays down on the oak table, Karyn's hazel orbs moved back on the other Exorcists. "No, seriously. I mean, that kid's got white hair. How's that work?" The American used her bottle of ketchup to generously douse her hamburger. "The girl seems normal, anyway."

"You shouldn't judge people by appearances. Look at the three of us."

"What do you mean? We're normal on the outside and not-so-normal on the inside."

Reina sweat-dropped at her friend. "You realize you're just saying the weird-looking ones are the most normal, right?"

Karyn's face screwed up in thought, still watching the chatting Exorcists across the hall. "Um, you might have a point. I think my analogy needs some revision."

Reina grunted and returned to the mission report. Karyn was just upset because their latest mission, courtesy of Komui, would team them up with Allen Walker, Lenalee, and Kanda. Which, the Spaniard had to admit, was a bit odd. Some missions needed a few exorcists, but six? Even looking through the mission file, she couldn't figure out why. Even if she did have a suspicion.

Switching to the enchilada and away from the mission report, Reina asked, "Where did Joan go?"

"Her golem came in with a message. She left before you arrived." Another bite of fries. "What do you think it was about?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean the call from her golem. That's the third she's gotten." Pointing her fry accusingly, the American continued, "Don't tell me it's from Komui. I already checked."

Looking at her through narrow slits, Reina commented, "Perhaps if you quit being so nosy about her business, Joan would be more inclined to tell us what's going on."

A humph as she returned to her fries. "Being nosy's the only way to learn anything around here. Girls gossip, remember?"

"Do they now," Reina asked, exaggerated blandness in her tone.

Karyn clicked her tongue in reprimand, knowing she was being mocked. "Laugh it up, Rota. We'll see who's victorious in the end."

"Why do you call her Rota when you know she's from Barcelona?" A new voice asked.

Karyn, having forgotten Joan could be that quiet, nearly jumped when the dark brunette appeared behind her, lunch-tray in hand. "Jesus, get some tap shoes or something." Joan, smiling at the comment, took a seat beside the American. "I can call her Roma if you prefer," Karyn continued. "Tomatoes come from Spain, right?"

Reina's glare could have melted butter. "Try it and die, Witch."

Making a face at the old nick-name, Karyn turned turning to the woman beside her. "What was that call about, Joan?"

Joan's sky-eyes met those of her friends'. "Something that's going on at Headquarters. Nothing to worry about."

"I don't know. If Komui's concerned, it's probably a bit deal, right?"

Reina wasn't happy at that leading question but didn't interrupt. Joan seemed to be only half-paying attention anyway, pale eyes moving from theirs to the mission folder. "It's nothing to worry about. They just wanted to pick my brain because of all the different branches I've been to." Giving her friends a soft smile, she said, "That's all."

Shrugging, Karyn left it at that. "What time's the train leave?"

Reina checked her watch. "In an hour. Allen and his crew are going to meet up with us in a few days."

"So we're the forward scouts?" Karyn asked, swallowing the last of her fries.

Reina hefted her Spanish Halberd, which she kept with her practically at all times. It was five feet tall, excluding the curved blade and spear point, which added about another foot. Reina was tall, and when she stood beside it, the spear point extended just above her loose hair. A menacing weapon on any battlefield, and a good forward weapon against Akuma.

"The more we get to kill," she answered, downing the last of her tea as she got up from the table.

"What if there's a Noah?" Both looked at Karyn, who shrugged. "It'd explain why Komui's sending so many Exorcists."

"If you're that worried, feel free to stay behind," Reina deadpanned.

Karyn rolled her eyes. "Do you really think a Noah's going to scare me off?"

"It sounds like we're all well-armed. A Noah shouldn't be a problem, then," Joan couldn't help a small, fond smile. Grabbing the last of her sandwich, she added, "I'm going to find my rifle. Meet you guys at the train."

Karyn grabbed the mission file, the duo following their friend out shortly after. Reina pausing long enough to cover the bladed end of her weapon with a canvas bag, tied at the guard, before following.

Both Reina and Karyn walked out of the room like it was any other day at the Order.

Neither one realized that by tomorrow, their best friend would be dead.

Rain poured from the heavens. As if the world were crying the tears she couldn't.

The funeral had ended some time ago. An hour, a day, or a minute, Karyn didn't know. She vaguely heard the words for the burial. Barely recognized the finders who had attended. Hardly noticed Komui give her shoulder a firm squeeze, or the tight hug Lenalee gave that Karyn couldn't quite return.

Then, there was darkness. The heavy, pregnant clouds yielding months of accumulated water. Green grass soaked, no trees to protect it or the pale headstones.

A darkness filled with emptiness. Loneliness not just because the funeral attendants were gone, but because of a missing half.

A missing third, actually.

A bolt of lightning boomed through the sky. Illuminating dark, charcoal words, so sharp against the headstone they were burned into the brunette's irises. Words so sharp the world looked black and white.

Joan Eylesbarrow
Exorcist of the Black Order

Her bones were too hollow to support her body. Too weak to keep her upright.

Karyn fell to the ground. Grass crunching beneath her knees, water from the rain soaking into her pants.

It was almost surprising when her knees slammed into wet grass instead of going right through the earth. It already felt like it was swallowing her whole.

Her hood had fallen back at some point, cold water slapping onto her cold skin. Her soggy ponytail trailing water down her neck, into her dripping shirt.

Karyn felt water track down her cheeks. The rain or her own tears, she had no idea.

Reina was gone. Joan was dead.

They left her alone.

What was she supposed to do without them?

No one in the Order knew what happened. All they knew was that one day, there had been a trio of Exorcists.

The next time they looked, there was only one.

Allen wasn't quite sure what to make of it. And, despite having arrived the day it happened, he still had no idea what had gone down.

That didn't stop the Order from trying to guess, however.

Sitting in the lunch room, he watched the wraith-like American wander into the mess hall. It reminded him of that day everything had changed for her… Karyn, he remembered her name was.

Allen was the first off the train in that small, English village those days ago. And, subsequently, the first on the scene. By the time he, Lenalee, and Kanda had arrived that night, the town had already been decimated from an Akuma battle. Rubble scattered across the streets, dust still lingering in the air. The remains of the buildings sticking into the air like bones from a scavenged carcass.

Kanda, as usual, took off on his own to search for remaining Akuma. Lenalee followed Allen as they charge off into the remaining street paths, alert for any surprise attack.

When they turned the corner, they saw the three women.

The Spaniard, identifiable by her dusty Halberd and olive skin, was kneeling over a pale brunette. She was pressing fabric to the woman's bleeding abdomen, saying something to the prone body. Probably trying to keep her awake.

Lenalee rushed to the third figure lying against a pile of rubble. This one had a dark brunette braid, her body lying on the gray stone. Her head… it was twisted at an angle too abnormal to belong to a living person. Pale eyes fixed somewhere off in the night sky, mouth open in a final gasp of air.

The Chinese woman crouched over the body, finger to a pale neck. Allen, coming up behind her, asked, "Is she…?"

Lenalee shook her head.

"Jesus fuck, Reina," a voice breathed. "That…" The voice tapered off in a gasp. Silent except for the sudden breeze.

"Karyn," A harsh, almost panicked, voice, snapped. "Come on, Witch," the dark woman growled. Allen could hear the worry in her voice from feet away.

The Exorcists rushed to the Spaniard's side. She had blood dripping down her face from a wound beneath her dark hair. Instead of her own troubles, the foreigner had her hands pressed to the prone brunette, who was unconscious, a dark stain covering almost all of her white uniform shirt.

Allen knelt down, offering his help. Without a word, the foreign woman shrugged off her Exorcist jacket, peeling off her own ivory shirt in one yank. Leaving her in nothing but a bra.

Allen, averting his eyes with a blush, tried to help with the wrapping. Shortly after they tied it off of the unconscious fellow, Kanda caught up with them. He didn't say anything and his clothes were still intact, so Allen figured the Akuma were all gone or dead.

"What the fuck happened?" he snapped, either irritated there were no Akuma to kill or frustrated with the mess they had to clean up.

Reina shot him a cold look. "Did the Noah get away?"

"There was a Noah here?" Lenalee asked, concerned.

Instead of answering, Reina rose from the dust. Whatever head-wound she had was probably the cause for her sudden wobbling. This forced the tall woman to use the Halberd to hold herself upright, white knuckles gripping the pole like a life-line.

"Get her back to the Order," the Exorcist said, awareness returned. Her emerald eyes looking at her unconscious friend.

And, despite the questions they shouted at her back, the Spaniard walked out of the town. Her figure disappearing with the rising sun. Dust from the recent battle pluming in her wake.

Allen thought the woman was just going to take a last walk around the town for the Noah. He didn't know at the time she didn't plan on coming back to the Order at all.

It had been two weeks since then. The Spaniard – Reina, he'd learned – was still AWOL.

The white-haired Exorcist thought it was tragic, but in the end, it was none of his business. Lenalee, on the other hand, was disturbed. Allen figured it was her natural empathy towards the other Exorcists, since as far as he knew, she hadn't known any of the three women personally.

Karyn's obviously changed attitude didn't help. Ever since being released from the hospital a few weeks ago, she'd roamed the halls like a pale wraith. Before she'd been such a smiling creature. Everyone who ever ate in the mess hall knew her laugh by heart, thanks to her loud voice. Jeryy, who used to chat with the American over the proper mixing time for scrambled eggs, looked almost just as gloomy as Karyn.

"Hey, Kanda," Lenalee asked before Allen realized the Japanese man was so close to their table. "Did you know Joan?"

"Who?" Kanda asked in his usual growl, pausing long enough to talk to Lenalee.

"The Exorcist who died a few weeks ago… Remember that mission?"

He blinked, as if surprised. Standing a little straighter if that were possible, gaze turning suspicious. "Why do you want to know?"

She shrugged, forking some steamed bun into her mouth. "No reason. I've just been thinking about it. It… it seems too sad, you know? The three of them were so close."

A grunt before Kanda stormed off. "Not my problem."

"Hey," Allen snapped. Because he was still waiting for food, there wasn't anything enticing enough to distract Allen from arguing with Kanda. "Be nice."

"Fuck off, Moyashi," the dark man scowled before disappearing out of the lunch room.

"Someone's in a good mood," Lavi quipped, leaning back in his chair, lone eye catching the gold light. "Doesn't even have the interest to fight with our little bean sprout."

"It's Allen," he snapped, but quickly moved past the insult once his three trays of food arrived.

"I don't think it's that," Lenalee sighed, violet eyes still looking at the door Kanda had just vanished through. "He and Joan used to meditate and spar together sometimes. I think… maybe he misses her."

Lavi just rolled his eyes. Well, eye. "Our Yuu doesn't care about anything but his sword and his hair. I doubt one Exorcist puts him in the dumpies." A bite of quesadilla. "What makes you say that, anyway?"

"I saw them together a couple of times."

The red-head got a dangerous gleam in his eyes, leaning over the table as if sharing a suddenly juicy secret. "You mean, together together?"

Lenalee rolled her eyes. "Of course not. I just think they were friends. That's all."

Lavi still had a gleam in his eye that usually meant nothing good. But Allen was too absorbed in his hot dogs to care. Lenalee, her hair grown down to her shoulders, was busy watching the American Exorcist across the room.

A moment later, the once-friendly American left as quietly as she'd entered. And lunch returned to normal.

Hey guys. I started writing this to get out of a writer's block in my BSD fandom story. I've got a plan for this that'll probably include romance. So if this gets a good following, I'll continue it past my writing-slump-needs and to the end (but I might do that anyway - I have a thing about endings: mainly, I usually end up finishing stories I hate just to have them... hopefully this won't be the case for you gents).

I understand it's all about the OC now, but the other characters come into it (Promise) - I just need a few chapters (sorry) to introduce said OC (seeing as we both know - and don't know - the other Exorcists so well XD).