I do not own claymore.

Teresa and the trainee

Chapter 1

Oblivion... Flickering consciousness... Sensations returning... Sounds once more. Sound of breathing, air taken in, chest rising, exhaling ,chest falling, a pulse sending blood flowing through long dormant veins, muscles twitching again, thoughts. Lying on a hard surface, cool air on bare skin, dryness in the mouth... water! Want water... Eyes long closed, fluttering open to see a dimly lit stone ceiling. Teresa sat up and looked over at a young girl wearing warrior garb and sitting quietly, her silvery gray eyes were wide at the sight of Teresa sitting up and looking at her. Wordlessly, the girl offered her a cup of water, wordlessly, Teresa took the cup and drained it in one go, she handed it back to the girl and smiled. Teresa looked around the grim, stone walled room, it looked as if she was once again back within the clutches of the organization. Absently, Teresa felt her neck, the skin was smooth, there was no scar.

"Damn!" she muttered, "Even death is not a sure thing anymore."

"Excuse me?" the girl asked,

"Never mind, just talking to myself."

After a moment, the girl said quietly, "I was told to watch over you and to let Lord Dae know when you woke up."

Teresa gazed at her for a moment then said gently, "Wait a little while longer before you run to Lord Dae, I'm not ready to see him, not just yet. You understand?"

The look in the girl's eyes told Teresa that she too, knew about Lord Dae. The girl stood up and went over to a cabinet, reached inside and took out a set of clothing. She handed the clothing to Teresa and said,"I hope this helps, at least his eyes won't see your bare skin."

Teresa took the clothing and began dressing. Soon Teresa stood carefully and looked herself over, she still felt quite weak, but at least she was no longer naked.

Teresa looked the girl over, though just a young trainee without a rune on her ascot, she was already quite tall, taller even than Teresa herself, and Teresa was not a small woman.

"What is your name, child?" The girl flushed slightly and said softly, "I am Sheila, I came fro..."

Teresa cut her off with a wave of her hand and said brusquely,

"It doesn't matter where you came from Sheila. The organization owns you now, even getting your head chopped off won't release you!"

"It's a good thing that you told her that, Teresa of the faint smile." Came the voice from the doorway to the room. Lord Dae, a horribly disfigured old man dressed in black robes, stepped into the room.

He glared at Sheila and said harshly, "Trainee! Did I not tell you to come get me the moment Teresa awoke?"

Sheila visibly shuddered at Lord Dae's admonishment, she quickly cast her eyes down and clasped her hands in front of her as if waiting for either a rebuke or a cuff to her head.

Teresa spoke up quickly, "It's not her fault Lord Dae, she told me she had to tell you and I asked her to wait. Punish me, not her!"

Lord Dae's ruined face, twisted in a ghastly mockery of a smile and he said, "I'll let it go this time, but only because you asked me to, Teresa of the faint smile."

Lord Dae spent a few minutes simply looking Teresa over, he opened her uniform top and looked closely at her neck and at the incision in her abdomen.

Nodding his approval of her progress, he closed up her uniform top once more, gestured to Sheila and said, "This trainee here, has been assigned to be your helper during your recuperation and retraining. While your past skills are legendary, you will need to reacquaint yourself with your sword and rebuild your strength."

He paused a moment and remarked, "You're lucky, Teresa of the faint smile. The method we used took very nicely and your incision is healing well. We have improved the procedure somewhat since your first time, now the incisions are healing." Once again, his ghastly parody of a smile distorted his ruined face.

Teresa looked at Lord Dae for a long moment before she asked, "Is deflowering the girl, still a part of the 'procedure'?" Lord Dae twisted his face again and retorted, "Would you deny an old man, his one real pleasure?"

When Teresa did not reply, he shrugged and said haughtily, "I thought not!" and he left the room.

Teresa glanced over at Sheila, her eyes were welling up with the tears of suppressed emotions."I know just how you feel child, he has touched every girl that ever underwent the procedure. There's not a one of us who wouldn't mind seeing his head separated from his shoulders." Remarked Teresa.

Sheila smiled at Teresa through her tears and said quietly, "When I went through my last combat simulation, the one where a real yoma is hiding in the course? I imagined that I was actually killing him, and not that yoma."

Teresa clapped her hand on Sheila's shoulder and said cheerfully, "I think we've all imagined doing just that, only you've actually admitted to it!"

The next morning, Sheila and Teresa ate with the other advanced trainees. They each wore the blank trainee's ascot covering their throats. Upon becoming a ranked warrior, the blank ascot would be replaced by one with a rune embroidered into it, the symbol by which each was identified, the symbol that would mark them forever. Soon, the most advanced trainees would be joining the ranks and getting their first assignments as warriors. Teresa ate quietly, ignoring the looks she was getting from the other trainees.

Finally, one of them stood up and approached Teresa. "I'm Patrice, I don't believe we've met, and you are?" Teresa swallowed her bit of food and stood up.

Facing Patrice she replied,"Teresa... My name is Teresa and I've been asleep for a while. It is a pleasure to meet you Patrice." Patrice looked at her quizzically and asked, "Asleep? I'm not sure I understand. I've been here over six years now and I'm pretty sure I would've remembered you." Teresa just smiled at Patrice and replied, "I was one of Lord Dae's special projects apparently. I woke up yesterday evening and Sheila is here to keep me out of trouble." Patrice grinned and said cheerfully, "Beanpole here can't keep herself out of trouble. You're both goners for certain!" Patrice turned and rejoined her friends at their table, Teresa sat back down and resumed eating or rather, nibbling.

None of the warriors had any real appetites, birdlike was the best way to describe their eating habits. Silence fell across the room as one of the men in black entered and came directly to the table where Teresa and Sheila sat.

Teresa looked up at the man and said placidly, "Hello Rubel, I can't say it's a pleasure to see you so soon after waking. Is there something I can help you with?"

Rubel smiled at Teresa and in a silky voice said, "Ah! But it is a great pleasure to see you again, Teresa of the faint smile."

A low murmur drifted across the room at the mention of Teresa's full name. "I've missed our repartee, your flirtation with insolence was always so... Stimulating!"

Teresa's doll like face was unmoved at Rubel's remarks, he smiled again and said, "Well, I'll let you get back to your meal... Soon, we'll have much to talk about."

The room remained hushed until Rubel had left, then the sounds of conversation came back in a rush."Teresa of the faint smile? Here? I thought she was dead?" being the general theme of the conversations around them.

A burly girl rose from her table, approached them and stood with her muscular arms folded across her chest, she gazed at Teresa for a few moments, then she declared,

"You don't look too impressive to me, why did they bring you back? We have a number one already."

Teresa only shrugged and replied pleasantly, "You'll have to ask Lord Dae, I was perfectly fine with being dead. No insolent youngsters needing a lesson in manners to bother me."

The burly girl's face reddened and she drew back her hand as if to slap Teresa, Teresa's eyes never flickered, she gazed at the girl with steely eyed calm, awaiting the blow without fear. The girl hesitated, then went back to her table and sat down noisily.

Sheila asked her quietly, "How did you know she wasn't actually going to hit you?"

Teresa smiled at her young guardian and replied, "She didn't have the resolve in her eyes, she hasn't faced real fear yet."

Sheila looked a bit confused at that remark until Teresa said, "It's one thing to push around younger, weaker and scared young girls. It's quite another thing to face a powerful opponent in a real battle. I've faced real fear, I faced it every time I drew blade against a yoma or an awakened being. Battles, no matter how brief can go wrong, even a weak yoma can get lucky."

Sheila looked thoughtful, then said reflectively, "I was scared when I fought a yoma during that last training exercise, but once I swung my blade for real the first time? The fear just vanished, I concentrated on the fight and forgot how scared I had been. Was it that way for you?"

Teresa grinned at her and said cheerfully, "You're catchin' on kiddo, I'll make a warrior out of you yet!"