Shorter than I would have liked, but I felt like posting. Also, finally get Kanda's POV.

One issue I have with OC stories is that the other Characters don't get a lot of screen time... I'm trying to get the others involved, so let me know (PM or review) if I've succeeded as this goes on.


Strength in Numbers

Karyn awoke the next morning to a tremendous pounding. It felt like… hammers snapping against wood (Where her skull was the wood). Or like Reina abusing a punching bag (or a fellow sparring partner) with her fists.

Whatever the cause, it made Karyn moan into the cotton pillow. Silently begging whoever was doing the jackhammering outside to shut the fuck up. Between the sounds and the bright, vicious rays of the morning sunlight… it felt like she was an egg beneath Jeryy's beaters (which were super speedy thanks to modifications from the scientist department).

The brunette was just starting to figure out that the sounds were real and not just part of her hangover when they were accompanied by an equally-annoying voice.

"Oi, shika, open the damn door!"

Karyn groaned again, trying to disentangle herself from the blankets. Automatically, she forced herself out into the brightness of her room and towards the door. Not pausing to consider who the voice belonged to and change her mind in the process.

As it was, the Japanese man's vicious scowl didn't quite penetrate Karyn's hungover brain, bleary eyes managing to focus in on his dark hair and fine features before a large yawn overtook her jaw.

"If it isn't mister sunshine," Karyn greeted, trying to run a hand through her matted hair. "What're you doing here so early?"

Without saying even a good morning, he whooshed into the room with a che. "You smell like alcohol," Kanda observed judgmentally, Karyn shutting the door behind him. "Sounds like you're nothing but a drunkard and a waste of my time."

He wanted her to be awake? Fine. She'd be awake.

Turning on the man, the brunette crossed her arms over her ample chest, giving him a look. "I'm an adult and I don't answer to you. Tell me you're here to do more than insult me. In my own bedroom. At… seven in the morning. I don't particularly feel like wasting my time either."

Kanda didn't look properly cowed, but at least he shut up with the judgements. Still, Karyn spent a brief moment wishing she didn't have such a headache if it would mean getting a chance to hit him. A feeling that grew even more when the Japanese man tsked at her, obviously not minding the apparent inconvenience (or the headache that was growing by the second).

The Exorcists were distracted from their mini-staring contest by a buzzing orb zipping out of Kanda's pocket. The sphere had raven wings and a single, glittering ruby gem in the center.

Joan's golem flitted from the crabby Japanese man and over to the more familiar Exorcist, nestling into Karyn's neck and the fluffy hair hanging around her face. The brunette couldn't help a brief, fond feeling in her heart… until she noticed the state of her hair.

Scrounging for a hair-tie and finally managing to pull the chocolate mat into something a little more presentable, she turned back to the other Exorcist. "What did the scientists say about her?"

"Nothing helpful," Kanda groused, arms crossed as he glared at a spot just below Karyn's left ear, probably where Rubi was resting. "They said it's fine."

The brunette couldn't say she was surprised, but… she'd still hoped the scientists would have some idea how to fix the golem. Karyn certainly didn't.

Could it be something as simple as heartbreak making Rubi not function right? Well… Karyn wouldn't be surprised. Rubi was more than just a piece of metal, but she didn't know enough about golems to say how different. And, apparently, neither did the scientists, so that meant the issue probably wasn't related to simple golem-mechanics.

"Have you done anything besides sit around and drink?"

Karyn smirked, striding over to her garishly-pink dresser. "You should try it sometime, Kanda. Maybe some alcohol will get you to calm down."

"I'd calm down if people would leave me the fuck alone."

"Maybe you should try leading by example," she muttered, finally locating the leather-bound notebook in one of the drawers. Karyn was half-surprised it hadn't ended up under the furniture in her inebriated state last night.

"Want to say that to my face, shika?"

Karyn turned, finding Kanda less than three feet away from her, dark eyes holding a hard glint that made her want to hit him. Again.

"Sure! I don't want to hear that from- wait… 'shika'? What's that?"

"Your new nickname," He growled, like it were obvious.

"Yeah, but what- No, forget it. I don't even want to know." Moving onto the important subject that would hopefully get Kanda to leave, Karyn held out the notebook. "I recovered Joan's diary last night."

The Exorcist's face scrunched in confusion. Which for Kanda looked like narrowed eyes and an even deeper scowl. "What the fuck does that mean?"

Ah. Well, she'd expected that question. Sort-of.

Karyn did her best to explain without out-right lying. Joan had never liked a lie, and Karyn was trying to honor her memory… Despite how Joan's principles grated against the brunette's usual attitudes.

Hopefully, if Joan were looking down from above, any attempts to follow the rules would earn Karyn enough grace points to at least be considered a break-out from Hell (A destination that was practically inevitable, thanks to the frowned-upon activities of Karyn the Younger).

"…I used my natural talents and basic memory to re-create Joan's diary."

There. Not even an exaggeration – just a generalization.

Take that, doubters.

"You recreated it. From memory," Kanda dead-panned, crossing his arms as he gave her another judgmental look. His dark frame was outlined in the rising sunlight, pointing out the sword at his waist when his jacket shifted.

"I had help." He opened his mouth to say something else sarcastic and she continued, "But that's not important. What is important is that I might know where she was going. In the diary, Joan talked about some friends she had abroad. If Reina was trying to hide out from the Order, she may have hit some of them up, so I was going to see if they'd heard from her. You're free to join me if you want."

"Che. Like I want to talk to a bunch of foreigners about your lost friend."

The brunette, nursing a headache, once again wished she could smack that abrasive attitude out of her fellow Exorcist. Because, really, Karyn had enough to worry about and didn't need… whatever his problem was.

"Suit yourself." Glancing at the clock, with a stretch, she added, "If there's nothing else, I'm going to get some breakfast. See you later." But hopefully not, she silently added.

Then, after seeing the Exorcist out, Karyn changed into her now-standard black clothes and headed out to find food. And, if Lenalee's headache was as bad as her own, Karyn would deliver the fellow Exorcist some coffee. Lenalee had been… refreshingly patient with the brunette. Something, Karyn realized, she'd sorely missed – Lenalee deserved a cup of coffee, if not more, in return.

And maybe coffee would lead to some more time spent together. It would be preferable, Karyn realized, to being alone.


Kanda waited down the hall. Waited for his opportunity.

Karyn (AKA Shika, in Kanda's mind) was quick at changing, so the opportunity arrived less than ten minutes after he'd been none-so-nicely forced from her room. The brunette, her wavy locks in a lose bun, sauntered down the hall with a less-than-steady gait. Miranda, also a brunette, had a similar flaw in her clumsiness; It was a wonder either had qualified as Exorcists.

Once the woman was out of her room, Kanda slid down the empty hall and to her door.

Lock-picking wasn't his skill. Usually the Japanese man just beat whatever obstacle was in the way down to get wherever he wanted. But, since that would be reported by Karyn, he'd have to be sneaky.

Using the lock-picks Kanda had pilfered from the Moyashi, the tall dark-haired man crouched before the lock and put the utensils to use. Moyashi always managed to pick a lock within ten minutes; Kanda figured it couldn't be that hard.

…forty-five minutes later, the door was still locked.

"What'cha doin' Yuu?"

Kanda was so engrossed in his growing frustration and futile attempts to pick the lock that he hadn't even sensed the red-head approach. A first for him, and something that only added to his growing anger.

"What the fuck do you want, Usagi?"

"I was just going down to lunch. But whatever you're doing looks more interesting." Kanda glanced up in time to catch Lavi's tell-tale smirk. "You downgraded from maiming to B & E? Seems kind of risky to try that right in Exorcist Headquarters."

Lavi raised his hands in surrender when Kanda traded his pilfered lock-picks for Mugen. "Hey, hey, no need for violence," he said with a smile in his voice, not sounding apologetic at all. "Just, uh, before you kill me, you should know I can pick a lock."

Kanda stopped the blade at the red-head's neck, kill kill kill mantra in his head pausing long enough to process the words. Weighing dead-end lock-picking attempts against the time Kanda had left until the room's owner returned, he quickly prioritized his search over Lavi's annoyance.

"Tell anyone, and even Bookman won't find your body," the samurai promised, midnight eyes carrying the threat of his words.

"Oh, don't worry – my lips are sealed," Bookman Jr promised with a zipping motion across his lips.

Less than seven minutes later found the partners-in-crime standing in Karyn's quarters.

"Nice digs," Lavi – the endless annoyance – commented, single emerald eye taking in the space.

Kanda, ignoring him, started searching the room.

It took longer than he would have liked, mostly because he had to be careful not to disturb anything he rooted through. Not to mention that when Kanda had left the room, he'd seen Karyn – Shika – put the book on her nightstand; it wasn't there anymore. The Japanese man started his search for the now-missing book at the vibrant, almost neon, pink dresser, clinically unearthing her shirts, pants, and underwear (over Lavi's endless commentary, which Kanda ignored for the sake of time and his sanity). Finding nothing there, he checked the unmade bed, finally unearthing the leather book from between the mattress and wire frame.

"You broke in here because of a book? Wow, Yuu, I didn't know you were that much of a reader. Or that you could even read, actually… Ok, Ok, I'm leaving, I'm leaving. No need to get your panties in a – hey, that hurt! Yuu, no need to be so rough, I'm a delicate flower, so let's take things slow for-"

Lavi didn't get to finish that sentence, too busy racing down the hallway and away from Kanda's sword. Something that was conducted with surprising speed, since the red-head's only eye was already swelling from the punch he'd failed to dodge.

Kanda paused long enough to lock Karyn's door, stuffing the book in his Exorcist coat, before giving chase.

Fuck his promise. That Usagi was dead.