|Rebirth of a Queen
Author: LoC978 PM
No good at taglines. Here's my introductory OC fic: A 6 year old experimental cyborg and a middle aged bachelor with a limp trying to survive in Section 2. Chapter 5 is finally up! ... Not that it's spectacular or anything...Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 6 - Words: 11,494 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 10-08-07 - Published: 11-03-06 - id: 3227320
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
disclaimer: I don't own Gunslinger girl. Yu Aida does. I don't own a pizza van, Section 2 does. I do own Orazio and Guinevere, but Orazio owns more cool stuff than I ever will.
author's notes: uh… sorry I'm late? I spent more time getting all my details straight than I did actually writing this time…
Rebirth of a Queen
A Gunslinger Girl fan fiction by LoC978
Chapter 5: Rediscovering the Home
Hairbrush in hand, the blonde girl waited impatiently for the hospital elevator to reach the third floor. Her fellow passenger (of whom she had made a small observation project), normally a thoughtful sort, was displaying an unusual lack of expression. He was also attired formally today, black tie and all. She'd never thought him the type to play poker, but she was starting to rethink that conclusion (though that might be due to the James Bond movie marathon she'd caught Amadeo and Georgio watching at work a few weeks ago. She'd joined them, but only because they seemed uncomfortable with her presence). There was one other unusual thing about him this morning: he was carrying a black, rectangular instrument case with a fancy gold logo on the side proclaiming 'Yanagisawa'.
"So, you finally picked out an assault weapon for her? Or is it just an instrument?" she asked him, breaking the silence suddenly.
He practically jumped into the air in surprise, and she sighed irritably. The girl hated being ignored. Well, most of the time she hated it...
"T-Triela! Sorry, I didn't see you there..." he trailed off with a sheepish look and a shrug.
Good, at least that was some emotion.
Clearing her throat, she arched her eyebrows at him. The elevator made a ding noise as it reached its destination. The doors slid open silently, revealing the starkly white third floor hallway. They both exited wordlessly.
"Yeah, it's a weapon case," he replied finally (and a bit lamely), as they started walking.
A few meters down the hallway, Triela stopped and knocked on a door.
Angie's voice sounds so weak today…
"See ya later, Orazio!" Triela said with a forced smile as she ducked into the room, "Good morning, Angelica!"
Thirty minutes early. For a 'good' habit, punctuality can sure be annoying.
As Orazio settled down to wait, he seized upon the memory of that night, trying to make sense of his young ward's actions…
Orazio's back had a slight but painful spasm as he lifted his tiny cyborg's still form off the pavement.
"Thirty-eight kilos feels pretty heavy after an adrenaline rush..." he muttered.
Guinevere's blood was still slowly pulsing out from where a .44 magnum slug had struck her, a few scant centimeters above her right eye. After laying her down gently in the back seat of Section 2's 'pizza van', Orazio wrapped her head with a white handkerchief pulled from his jacket pocket and went back out to help Marco haul in the bodies. Georgio had gone ahead to set up their extraction.
As they lifted the grisly mess that was once the mortal shell of a thug named Denis, Orazio couldn't help but notice that he'd only scored eight hits on the man. He resolved to bring his own pistol more often to Guinevere's practice sessions.
The other three dead ones were cleaner, appearing to have been shot execution-style (minus the powder burns of a point-blank shot, though). It was almost embarrassing how quickly his trainee's marksmanship had surpassed his own. Orazio briefly checked up on said trainee after he helped toss Pavel's corpse on top of the pile in the back of the van. She was still insensible, breathing slowly; the bleeding had stopped, though.
Anton woke and screamed in agony as Orazio exited the van. Marco quickly put a stop to the screaming with strips torn from the screamer's own blood-spattered shirt. Gagged with cloth and thoroughly bound with zip-ties, Anton was hauled bodily into the van and set next to the child who had broken his legs (and nose. But one could blame that on the cobblestones).
After securing the man with a seatbelt and more creatively applied zip-ties, Marco climbed into the front and started driving. Orazio took a seat between Guinevere and Anton, elevating the little girl's legs on his thigh in an attempt to treat shock. There were a few minutes of relative calm as the van made its way out of Torino. The calm ended when Guinevere woke, and sat up. She looked up at her handler in apparent confusion, mouthing the word 'daddy'. Anton noticed her, and amazingly managed to unbuckle his seatbelt. Panicking like a prey animal, Anton threw himself at the side door of the van… only to wind up tangled with the seatbelt he was secured to, hanging between the seat and the door.
Orazio reached over and pulled the seatbelt away from Anton's throat, which deposited the man on the van's floor.
Turning back to a now cowering Guinevere, Orazio offered her a small bottle of water taken from under the seat, and tried to ease the sudden tension a little, "Well. I can see why you chose this one, Gwen. He can't even out-fight a seatbelt."
Marco chuckled as he re-adjusted the rear-view mirror to keep an occasional eye on Anton, but Guinevere just shook her head at the offer of water and gazed out the window into near blackness. Orazio unscrewed the cap of the water bottle, wetting another handkerchief from the breast pocket of his jacket.
"Here, at least let me clean that blood off your face," he said, reaching out with the damp cloth.
She shook her head again. As Orazio's hand neared her face, one of her tiny hands held it away with an iron grip… her fingers encircling perhaps half of his wrist. Wordlessly, Orazio twisted his hand around so that the cloth rested in his open palm. Guinevere just shook her head again, and released his wrist. By then the van was approaching their designated emergency extraction point: an open field that belonged to the government. A helicopter was already waiting to pick them up.
Two men in casual clothing exited the chopper. One was Georgio, and the other was a man of African descent that Orazio had recognized only vaguely. He learned later that the man's name was Nihad. Marco stopped the van a bit less than one hundred meters away. Orazio looked at Marco's reflection in the rear-view mirror questioningly. Guinevere, usually the most unflappable six-year-old on the planet, suddenly clung to his arm in apparent fear.
"Go with her. I'm sure the three of us can handle this," Marco said, gesturing with contempt at Anton.
After retrieving his white umbrella, Orazio opened the van's sliding side door and stepped outside; while Guinevere still clung to his left hand. His right leg trembled on the verge of collapse as he began limping toward the helicopter, and he began using the umbrella as a cane.
"Thanks, guys," Orazio said as they passed the two operatives. Georgio briefly gripped his shoulder; Nihad just nodded… and Guinevere clung to his hand tightly, eyeing the men with fearful suspicion.
As Orazio tried to climb into the side of the helicopter, Guinevere froze, looking at the twirling blades above her. As she was still gripping his hand, and he was expecting her to follow him, Orazio lost his balance. Guinevere stumbled forward while Orazio fell backward, twisting to avoid falling on top of her. Letting go of his umbrella, Orazio planted his hand in the muddy grass, catching himself just short of a hard landing. His other hand was now twisted behind his back, still trapped in the grip of a dazed little cyborg.
"Gwen?" he said, trying to keep the strain out of his voice, "Can I have my hand back?"
She seemed to come back to herself for the first time since being shot.
"Oh!" she said, letting go of his hand, "I'm sorry, Orazio!"
While Orazio regained his footing, Guinevere busied herself with collecting his umbrella and trying in vain to brush the mud off of his jacket. Once they were strapped into the helicopter, she seemed to relax. She was asleep almost before Orazio shut the door.
Orazio's reverie was broken by a slight disturbance in the air. Manipulated by a tiny, hesitant, pale hand, the door across from him opened. Guinevere stepped through, closing the door behind her. She was wearing the dark green sweat suit that she normally conducted Close Quarters Combat training in, and looking down at her black running shoes. Her expression was heartbreakingly downcast.
Orazio quickly suppressed a sad, somewhat frustrated sigh.
Every time... she's harder on herself than I could ever be.
Another memory popped up, this time unbidden:
"Don't be too surprised if she's forgotten some things, Orazio. Memory dysfunction is a common side effect of the reconstruction process, especially with head wounds," the surgeon said quietly as he replaced the skin of Guinevere's scalp.
"How're ya feelin', Gwen?" Orazio asked with a good deal more cheer than he felt.
Do you even remember being shot?
… He was too afraid to ask.
"I... I-I'm f-fine now," She stammered back. If he hadn't known better, Orazio would've sworn she was on the verge of tears.
"Do you feel like you'll be ready to go back to work soon?" he queried, as gently as he could.
Guinevere's head snapped up at that, a look of slight shock her face.
"C-can I?" she asked.
He chuckled a little, "Of course! You're not even half-trained yet, kid. Speakin' of..."
Lifting the instrument case into his lap, Orazio unlatched and opened it up. Inside was an old, scratched-up, mostly matte-black assault weapon.
"That's a Chang Feng submachine gun..." she said, and lifted the weapon out of the case at Orazio's prompting. She began examining it closely.
"The old DAP58 prototype..." she trailed off as she tested the magazine release and charging mechanisms.
She sure has been studying Claes' books a lot… I wonder which one had that little tidbit in it...
"As you can see, it needs a little love to be useable. That'll give you a chance to become better acquainted with it," he said with a grin.
Almost reverently, Guinevere set the SMG back in its case. He handed it to her.
"I'll keep it in perfect condition, Mr. Orazio," she said with a serious expression.
Taken aback, Orazio didn't respond immediately. This was only the third time she'd ever addressed him like that. The first two times were during her first week at the agency. The silence stretched for a few uncomfortable moments.
"Well, there's no rush, Gwen. How about you take today to get used to the dorm again?" he said finally, standing up.
Guinevere gasped worriedly, in a way that only little girls can, "Oh no! What about Peeko? I-is he okay?"
"Don't worry, he's fine. I've been feeding him every day. I think he misses you, though. I am pretty boring," Orazio said.
She finally smiled, if only a little.
As she closed the door, Guinevere took stock of her room. The bed, wardrobe, wooden chair and table were just as she had left them when she headed for Torino a few days before. Respectively: neatly made, closed, pushed in, and bare. Peeko's cage was empty, save for a full water bottle, full seed tray and fresh newspaper laid across its base. He was probably out on the roof. Additionally, there were three new pieces of furniture: a miniature desk with matching chair, and a bookshelf… all made of polished red wood, and sized perfectly to her tiny frame.
Is this a reward or something?
She couldn't recall doing anything worthy of a reward, though. Just a string of near failures followed by a bullet to her armored cranium.
How did that happen, anyway?
Just thinking about it made her head hurt.
Setting the weapon case on her new bookshelf, Guinevere took out the Chang Feng and its tool kit. She moved to her new desk and began disassembling the gun from memory. It never occurred to her that she hadn't heard of a Chang Feng submachine gun before that morning.
"Fancy meeting you here," Priscilla jumped back a step when Orazio spoke, only a few feet in front of her.
How the hell does he sneak around with that leg, and in dress shoes, too!
"I-uh… I do come here sometimes, you know. I'm not just a pencil-pusher!" she said, realizing that she still had her earplugs in.
Okay, maybe he's not that sneaky…
There was a short, uncomfortable silence.
"What's with the James Bond look today, anyway?" Priscilla asked, to clear the air.
"Oh, this. I just got debriefed by Jean and the Chief. I wanted to look my best while I was being reamed," Orazio replied sheepishly, "Turns out it was unnecessary. They were pretty understanding."
"Ah. So where's Gwen? I've never seen you down here alone before."
"Oh, I gave her the day to get used to the dorm again… and I need to work on my marksmanship. Got a new pistol," he replied, pulling a gun from inside his suit jacket.
"Huh. Looks a lot like mine…" she said, examining the star symbol on his pistol's grip.
"Yeah, it's kind of a Chinese 92F clone. Fires the same rounds as Gwen's new SMG, though."
"Well, have fun with that… I've gotta get back to my pencil-pushing," Priscilla said, heading for the exit.
"Alright. Have fun with that," Orazio said, echoing her absentmindedly as he watched her go.
Just as she was topping the stairs to exit the range building, Priscilla heard some rapid gunshots followed by Orazio laughing as he shouted:
"Hah! Awesome, there's no kick at all!"
"We have artificially enhanced children to do our killing for us; we have microphones smaller than my thumbnail to do our listening for us; we even have computers sort out recorded conversations for us. So why in the hell do we still make mission reports in hardcopy?!" Giuseppe groaned and lowered his head onto the desk.
"Amen, brother," Marco said, setting another small stack of papers on Orazio's desk. Papers fresh off of a fax machine, of all things.
Orazio added them to the bottom of his already sizable pile, and then examined his next exercise in ridiculous bureaucracy.
"Reason for expenditure of ammunition?!" Orazio read aloud, incredulously.
"Yeah, the rest of us decided that every time they send that form, we'd just put 'firing pin struck primer of each expended cartridge'. Maybe they'll get the point someday," Marco said, reading over his shoulder.
Walking between cubicles on her way out the door, Priscilla pantomimed shooting Orazio with her index finger.
"Bang!" she said with a devilish grin.
Orazio chuckled as he, once again, watched her go.
Nice walk, Priscilla. hell, nice everything…
He sighed and closed his eyes as he turned back to his desk.
'Hey, Priscilla, wanna come over to my apartment for dinner and breakfast?' Hah. Come off it, Casanova; you've got no chance.
Orazio reluctantly opened his eyes. The damned paperwork was still there. He was hoping it had been carried off by pixies or something.
Where's Gwen when I really need her?
"Is it always like this after a mission?" he asked, measuring the fifty-plus page stack between thumb and forefinger.
"God dammit!" Giuseppe shouted as he broke another pencil, "I'm goin' out for a smoke."
"Pretty much," Marco said with a shrug.