Author's NOTICE:  Yes, and an IMPORTANT one, this is the sequel to my other story Loving Sweet Death for one thing. The other, maybe even more important note is that something like a continuously plot/storyline/whatever will from now go through ALL my stories, INCLUDING Wishes upon a Tree and Mother and Tree (can both be found on fanfiction.net, yes). If you have not read those two maybe it would be wise to do so, they will explain a lot of the conditions in my small Noir universe sparing you a lot of "Huh? That wasn't in the show!"s since both of those stories takes place approximately a decade or so before the actual anime.

Now, enjoy.

She, upon a crimson Field

By: Shigan Lee

The wild do not pity.

I sure as heck didn't feel very wild at the moment. Being tied up and half drugged in a cold, damp basement could do things to a person's confidence. Not to mention that I was weaponless and guarded by two thugs who eyed me like if my body was a juicy steak, ready to be devoured at any moment.

Shit.

Maybe Kirika did have a point with wearing so casual clothes whenever we went on a mission, the miniskirt and sleeveless top wasn't exactly helping my situation here.

The poorly lit room blurred for a moment when I felt the effects of the drug they had used on me, it became harder to collect my thoughts as I closed my eyes and lay back against the rough wall, determined not to fall asleep. It seemed like this gang had fallen pretty deep since I took out their leader together with a bunch of their clients a few years back. They couldn't even afford a dose of decent sleeper judging by the crap they had shot into me, morphine would have worked better than this.

Maybe it had been a tad naïve of me to believe that we could just settle down without any hassle after the whole mess with Soldats. They were still watching us from the shadows, now and then leaving a little reminder of their existence for what I believe, to scare us. Not that we really minded, since they were the ones who should be afraid. Kirika and I were by all their traditions and rituals Noir, officially. Not a title I would have raved for after learning its meaning but still, we were the eternal darkness, feared by even those who had created us.

The passing months had been quiet ones, Soldats seemingly having chosen to leave us alone for the time being. Maybe Graipaul had meant more with the 'Good luck' than he had given on, knowing that ultimately, they would never be able to control us. To long of tranquillity seemed to have it downsides besides cooking, the small matter of that I had other enemies seemed to have slipped my mind as we had lived our rather simple life. You did make a lot of enemies in this job; people have this annoying habit to take an assassination personally on the count of the assassin, while I was only getting paid for a job done.

Someone of the gang must have recognized me on the streets and decided to call for a grand revenge, hence my current situation.

I have to admit that I am a bit out of shape, I don't recall that being hit over the head hurt this much. We had been out for dinner after purchasing Kirika some new watercolours. She had become really good with her pencils in those few weeks which meant that she also drew her pictures with a obsessed frequency that would turn Dali green. I had been on the outside getting some air when they attacked me, two went down before a punch caught me in solar plexus, knocking the air out of me before one of them dealt me a blow over my head. The rest of my memories were in a blur, being hauled into a car and getting a shot, then the all but pleasant awakening of being here. The whole mess must have taken less than a minute while Kirika was off to the restrooms, my luck could obviously have been better. I made out the grumbling of the two thugs through the thick haze, my mind clearing for a few moments.

"Shit, is the boss serious about killin' this bitch?" One of the men said, his breath leaving a white cloud in the chilly air as he emptied the last of a beer. "I mean, lookat her…"

"Hey, patience Tony. Never said anything about not touching her did he?" I could hear the leer in his voice and fought back a wave of nausea. "Won't be wasted, chill it 'til the boss gets back. I'm sure you'll get your share."

A rough hand cupped my face and forced me to look upwards, the face of a sombre man in his late thirties whose face was in desperate need for a shave and soap leered down at me. I smelled the alcohol he had been drinking in the sour odour of his breath, suppressing all urges to brash actions as he eyed me hungrily with his small, pig-like eyes. I really should be afraid. It may have sounded absurd to me a couple of years ago; the idea of an assassin that was afraid of death was laughable but a lot have changed in my life since then.

I want to live.

The clicking sound of a safety was heard, I felt something cold against my stomach and let out a small whimper when I realized that the man was shoving his gun against me, pressing it painfully against my bared skin while he snickered in that disgusting lustful voice.

I don't want to die, not now when I have someone to live for.

Another wave of dizziness struck me and I lose my holding, falling back towards the ground while I clung to my last string of consciousness. There is swearing, I feel how I am lifted up again and shoved against the wall, my shoulders slamming painfully against the uneven stonewall while my aggressor is holding me by the front of my top. His other hand was all over my body in disgusting violation while the other man watched in amusement. The drug made my rage somewhat unfocused together with the growing feeling of sickness in my stomach.

Kirika.

I kicked out blindly, screaming like a lunatic while using my tied arms to push him away. My foot connected with something soft, a stream of angry curses followed and the man let me go.

I want to live for her, live with her.

A slap accompanied with a cry of anger snapped me out from my drugged stupor, the sheer force from the strike made my vision go grey. More screams and curses followed while the fists and kicks rained down onto my body. I had fallen again and was now facing the wall, curling up as much as I could to prevent damage to my vitals. A hard kick to my stomach made me scream out in unbearable pain, violent coughs rocked my midsection as my lungs fought to get precious air.

Religion had never been a big part of my life but I could really use some divine help right now.

Who was I kidding? My only chance to survive this would be Kirika. I could only hope, and pray that she had been in time to see us before they had stuffed me in the car. The floating image of the girl's serene smile settled my nerves somewhat, she would be here, I would believe in her.

I heard the door being opened and slammed into the wall with a cold metallic bang and the beating stopped. Footsteps of… men filled the room, there were two dozens of them least, all armed with handguns and a few of them carried steel pipes. God, my chances weren't exactly getting better here. A medium sized man with sloping shoulders, dressed sloppily in a worn out, grey suit and striped shirt stepped up closer to me. He gave me a sadistically amused smile and leered down, giving me a shove with his foot and kicked my back.

"How the mighty can fall, am I right Miss Bouquet? Your confidence seems to have lagged compared to our last encounter." Another kick followed as he talked on, did he really expect me to listen in this condition? "You know, my uncle even considered to hire you a few times. We could have all been good friends." I couldn't for the world remember his rather dull face. Great, another one of those self-proclaimed hot-shots, king of another molehill. I hope he wouldn't take offence by that.

He pulled out a gun from his pocket and toyed with it in his hands, releasing the magazine and reloading it. The punk was probably around my age judging from the voice but his skill was laughable, Kirika could have taken her Beretta apart, polished it and put it together again in the same time. None of the thugs seemed to be any better either, the whole group consisted of street trash, first class. Even trash could obviously be smart thou, the drug hindered me effectively to put any focused thoughts or plans in action and I doubt I would have been able to stand straight if I had tried.

Shit.

"But you just had to go and blow the old man's head off do you? Not that I minded, seems like none of the whores he ever banged could spurt a kid from his load. Leaves me the heir you know, pretty good really, that you took him off, spared me the hassle." He said.

I was lifted again, this time I didn't have the strength to struggle, my whole body hurting after the severe beating I had received.

"I mean shit, why couldn't you have just settled for the old man? What fucking good was it for me to take over when you had blown all our regulars to hell and beyond?" He lifted my arms and tied them to a lower pipe on the roof, forcing me to stand while he droned on, much like an angry child that had been snubbed of his candy.

"You know what that feels like princess? To wait and wait for the old geezer to die and receiving nothing more than a grand piece of nothing and a crumbling syndicate?" His hands, on my hips, I felt like retching. The small eyes darted down my body, scrutinizing my curves like a hungry wolf as he stepped closer. "My, you really are a sexy little piece of fun aren't you?" He smirked, inclining every inch of his lecherous intentions to me with his hands. I so wanted to kick out, cry, vomit, anything to get him away. His face was just in front of me now, hands still resting lazily around my sides as he pressed me against the wall with his body. Oh god, no, please…

"Don't worry bitch, you're not going just yet. Me and my men will be with you all the way there, one and one or a couple at one time? Your choice." His voice literally dripping with malice and lust as his hands wandered. The weight of his body was becoming suffocating and I coughed, hopefully spitting on his clothes in the process.

"It's really a crying shame you know, the red-light district would pay good for yo…" He was interrupted when the door opened again with a bang. One of the thugs who must have been standing guard outside stumbled in backwards and rammed into the two men who were closest to the door. The both men swore in surprise and irritation, shoving the other man back who fell headfirst onto the floor in a seemingly lifeless heap.

And hell broke lose.

Five shots rang out and echoed against the walls, followed by the pained cries of the five unlucky men that had been closest to the door. They fell and sent their guns clattering to the ground, leaving the rest of the men in shocked stupor as they stared at their fallen comrades. The familiar sharp sound of a gunshot brought my senses back to attention again, my instincts telling me to take the moment of surprise to full advantage; I shoved my knee upwards, ramming the guy in his Oh-so-sensitive part with all my remaining strength. He cried out, his voice having become a lot more soprano than I thought was possible for the male species and fell backwards in a crouched position. It took me another few seconds to realize and register the sudden change of my situation. I was the least of their troubles now by the looks of it.

I doubt the low class thugs even knew what had hit them with such fatal efficiency as another three of them went down, one of them being the spoiled brat who had led them and was still on the ground when he suddenly let out a pained gasp. A rusty, nine inches long iron nail, those you often see during bridge construction or in factories pointed out from his neck, puncturing the larger blood veins in the neck perfectly. He stared at me with a look of disbelief and watched down the floor where his blood where spilling, oozing out from the wound that in a few seconds would be his bane.

A last gurgling sound escaped his throat and he fell by my feet, the look of horrified surprise forever etched into his unshaven face. The other two had been in the way for the throw, both eliminated by the small figure who had struck them before hey had even reacted to the first shots.

My lips tugged upwards in a tired, yet revealed smile at the sight of her. She was still in the clothes we had purchased for her this morning, and by the looks of them, we would have to go shopping again. The stylish, black pants had been ripped by the knees and were dusty all over; the cornflower blue blouse seemed somewhat whole together with her regular white jacket if you let out the missing sleeve and bloodstains. The journey into this basement had apparently not been an easy story, her hair was even more messy than usual and she was clearly out of breath. The gun was balanced in one hand with refined ease while she held another nail in the other, droplets of red liquid dripping down the rusty metal.

Then, she saw me.

Oh god, I couldn't make a nice picture. Drugged, beaten and with torn clothes, go figure. Her transformation was immediate as the look of relevance upon her face faded; all traces of my kind Kirika disappeared when her eyes stopped. She opened her mouth in silent disbelief while her eyes wandered over my battered body. I could almost sense the other presence awaking within her, but this time it was different. It wasn't that slow, almost sneaky way of appearing like at home. The changes had become more and more mixed lately and sometime I could almost swear that the both sides of her had settled into a pace, where she sometimes was both or neither. However, the awakening I sensed now through our silent communication was furious, like a savage beast trying to break free from a cage.

This was clearly different. Her eyes which had still held the softness of her lingering innocence vanished like a shadow, everything in her posture to the way she gripped her weapons changed in the momentum of an instant. The crushing presence of approaching death was suddenly so heavy in the room that it made me shudder. What surprised, and scared me the most was that this time, she clearly lacked her usual collected cool of a professional. The remaining thugs had somewhat recovered from the sudden death of their leader and were starting to move but Kirika was faster. Her eyes were still resting at my limp form as she let out a scream, a primal sound of anger and pure rage like a wounded beast that had been released.

The first of them died before they even realized that she had moved. She leaped into their midst, attacking simultaneously in all directions with kicks and stabs, using their own weapons against them with techniques so brutal yet smooth that her movements became a crimson blur. A rather small man with a greasy looking ponytail received the full honour of Kirika's superb skills in martial arts when she kicked away his gun, locking her arms around his neck in a somersault and following it up through breaking his neck with a loud snap. Another man leaped at her with a steel pipe which she avoided with laughable ease, ramming the nail through his eye into his skull with an almost casual move while firing her gun, using the still twitching body as a shield from bullets.

Another shot rang and I tumbled to the floor, the bullet had pierced the rough ropes I had been tied up in. I managed to sit up with the little strength I had left, picking up the gun of one of the dead thugs despite that I would barely be able to do anything with it.

Kirika fired across the room, doing a perfect headshot on a man that had been taking aim at her. She emptied her magazine on a bearded Asian looking man near the exit and threw her gun away, now relying completely on her skills in close combat. The horrid cries from the men was almost deafening, it didn't take a genius to figure out that they didn't stand a chance against her furious rampage. Her moves being primal, close to animalistic in her deadly fervour while taking them down one by one in a blinding speed. Fleeing seemed hopeless as she was everywhere; those who tried went down even faster as she caged them in a battle that grew more and more desperate for every fallen man.

The blood from the dozen of bodies soon soaked the floor in slippery pools, more of the red liquid stained the dark walls as Kirika let out another snarl and stabbed a man from the back when he tried to turn to flee, puncturing his lung and followed up with several more stabs to his vital organs before shoving him away like trash. Another large man aimed for her throat with a knife but was easily thrown into the remaining few of them with a classic jujitsu move, trapping a smaller comrade of his under him in a cry of anguish. Kirika paid them no heed however as she dived towards the struggling duo, avoiding a rain of bullets by a fraction while slitting their throats with the man's own knife almost systematically before leaping for the next enemy.

One of the thugs seemed to not have completely forgotten about me and made a dash in my direction with his knife raised. The tedious training under Uncle Claude made itself present, my self-preservation instincts kicked in and I raised the gun to blast his face off, focusing my mind to rid the nausea from my tired mind. I hadn't even released the safety before Kirika was upon him.

Another growl of blind fury escaped her as she dashed for a jump, the nail raised in her now bloodied hands. She landed on his back, knocking the air out from him with her knees as she prepared for the landing, somehow avoiding a couple of bullets that hit the wall behind me, showering me in shards. I could see the cold rage clearly in her eyes; strangely, it gave me a secure feeling of safety. It was not the eyes of a murderous beast as one would believe but eyes which promised me tranquillity. Using the full weight of her body, she stabbed the nail into the back of the man's neck, breaking his backbone with a wet, cracking sound. He didn't even have the time to scream.

She stood over me, crouched in a ready position partly in front of me to provide cover from any other possible ambushers. My eyes watered upon the sight of her, all we had wanted was a simple life, away from all the pain and our past, why wouldn't god allow us that? Her clothes were now drenched in crimson, the sticky substance dripped down her arms and hands, streaks of red even covered her beautiful, yet twisted face. Her features were frozen in a grim look of unrestrained fury while she eyed the last of her enemies with an unfeeling, primal look of hunger. I never wanted to see her like this again, bloodied and stained by the countless crimes we have committed in our short lives. She was not meant to be like this, I refuse to believe it.

She snatched the gun out from my hand without a word, released the safety and pulled the trigger, all in one smooth move that put a SWAT member to shame. Sending the remaining three thugs to the ground with continues shots in the blink of an eye; she stretched up to retrieve her own weapon, the last of them died in the hall, in a futile attempt to flee his fate.

The suffocating silence that followed the last shot was soon followed by a hollow, metallic clang when Kirika let the iron nail fall to the ground. How many times had I seen this scene before? A girl child of barely mature age standing amidst a sea of blood, her innocence corrupted by greed and wicked ideals.

And this time, for my sake.

I looked around the room; two dozen bodies or more lay on the ground in the sparely spacious room, practically in heaps. The smell of blood and gunpowder was so thick in the air that you could almost taste it. She had done this because of me. Tears streamed down my face when I looked up at her face.

"Mireille." Her voice, the tuneless voice called my name, not a question of concern but a statement of confirmation. She kneeled beside me and reached out but stopped halfway, seeing the condition of her hands. Her other self was still dominating, merciless yet affectionate eyes stared at my beaten body and I saw the flicker of anger upon the sight of the bruises. She looked down, stopping her hands in midair before she spoke after a moment of hesitation.

"I'm sorry." The mumble was barely audible. My heart cried when I realized after a few seconds what she was apologizing for. Thinking that she was the one at fault, believing that this would not have happened if she had been there in time, it was so typical her logic to take the burden upon herself. The signs of the conflicting emotions were evident on her face even if an average person could have easily missed it. The somewhat strained movements of her facial muscles were just barely detectable for me but it was enough to be understandable. This side of her was still confused about showing emotions, and mostly didn't if not triggered.

I should be the one who is sorry. I was the one who had failed. It had been my ignorance which had in the start caused this whole mess, destroying the tiny resemblance she ever had to a normal life, even if it had been brief. Maybe the old sayings of this trade were indeed true, that an assassin could never retire. Maybe we truly are, and have always been trapped in the endless cycle of carnage and destruction, futilely believing that we even had a chance to escape. I was the one who had acted like a fool, failing to protect her from the endless path of murder out of naivety.

Ignoring the blood on her clothes, I dragged her into my arms, crying softly against her neck as I felt how she put her arms around me and hugged me back. An unsure yet strong embrace which she crushed me into when she was sure that I didn't mind the gore. The feelings she poured into this didn't go lost on me. I could feel the tiny droplets of tears that hit my forehead. She sobbed as her arms around me tightened even more to an almost choking strength. The sobs sent her petite body into tremors as she drew in air and dug her nails into my back.

I peeked up at her, surprised that it was still the same unemotional eyes but yet so different this time. Tears streamed down her face, making streaks among the stains of blood. The mixed look of confusion and surprise was saddening, like if she was unsure why she was crying in the first place, yet she clutched herself to me like no tomorrow.

I'm not giving up my life with this girl, never. All the old sayings can go to hell.

Trying to mouth my thoughts into words, I opened my mouth, realizing just how long ago it must have been since I drank any water. No words came when the dizziness overtook my senses again, sending me reluctantly yet seductively into the awaiting darkness of sleep, and the inviting warmth of Kirika's arms.

************

It was dark when I came back to my senses, and warm.

A few moments of recognition relieved me when I realized that we were back in our apartment. Kirika must have carried me back after my black out, across the whole ruddy town while looking like if we had come straight out a horror movie. No, she must have taken the sewers, it's a small miracle itself that she managed to find her way.

I opened my eyes slowly, still feeling heavy headed from the sleep. The effects of whatever drug they had used seemed to have worn off now, I was still a bit sick but that was about all. Moving my head, I felt something soft shift under the weight of my head, the familiar presence behind me didn't stir at my motion. I looked up at her.

She had positioned us on the bed with me taking the most of the space while resting my back and head against her in a rather cuddly way. Her own back was against the wall in a rather uncomfortable position while looming over me protectively, almost like a mother who was defending her young. One of her arms were draped over my stomach, holding me against her while the other hand rested at her side where she had placed her gun, maintained and loaded from it's earlier usage by the looks of it.

A droplet of water fell from her hair and landed on my face, she must have been fresh out of the shower before which couldn't have been long ago. Her breathing was even, almost hypnotically rhythmic as she rested in something like a half daze while still holding me in place, confirming my whereabouts on a subconscious level. Her face was still locked in a slight frown but it had regained its usual refined grace, no longer twisted in a grimace of cold, deadly anger. I shuddered at the memory. Never had I seen her like that before. Being the most professional one of us, she always made killing look as easy as breathing while she took down targets with a brutal precision and cool unmatched by anyone but possible Chloe.

The incident today had triggered something else in her, something even deadlier, even if it was hard to imagine that it was possible in her case. The Kirika I had witnessed today had been something else, something with the same or even superior killing skills. A side of Kirika that witnessed the loss of all the unfeeling calmness she had in her usual act of murder. The memory of her bloody, enraged figure amidst the fallen bodies came unbidden to my mind and I shuddered. No, I didn't want to think of that.

I buried my face in the loose fitting shirt she was wearing, trying to flee the horrid visions in her calming presence. She smelled of lilacs from the new shampoo I had purchased just yesterday, plus her own personal fragrance that was a mix of sweat and something that reminded me of fresh olives. Strange as it seemed, lying like this in her arms always reminded of my home in Corsica. It seemed absurd that a Japanese girl would have any resemblance to the warm island country in southern Europe, even if she did smell a little like olives. Maybe it was because of her presence, the warm feeling of having a person who cared and loved you despite all your human faults, something that felt like more than a friend and deeper than a lover, a family.

Yes, Kirika is my family. Even if I'm not entirely sure on who had adopted who.

Our relationship had been pretty clear in the start when I held the dominating role in our duo. I had solemnly decided on our missions, targets and methods while Kirika was something of my tag-along. That lasted through the whole mess with Soldats until we returned to Paris. The side which Soldats and Altena had desired from her did not, and I doubt that it will ever, disappear. Deadly and cold, yet strong and affectionate, the other side of my sweet artist was truly an enigma that more or less shot her way into my life, sending tsunami sized ripples through the koi-pond of my heart.

Mind you, it is kinda hard to dominate over someone who can freeze the sun with a yawn.

It was the only rational reason I could think of to explain the feeling of peace and home whenever I was with her, the both of her. She was my family, like the one I had had on Corsica, therefore, she smelled like olives… …?

Dear gods, maybe there is still something stuck in my system. I stiffened a yawn and massaged my temples, letting out a deep sigh to still the tumbling thoughts. Waking in the middle of the night, effects from a bad sleeping drug and various injuries did not make a good and stable ground for deep reflections upon your life.

"You should sleep." It was a statement, not a suggestion nor an order. I blinked in surprise; she had still not reverted back. The slight monotone voice together with the familiar commanding aura surrounding her was never to be mistaken.

She looked down at me with a questioning face; her tune was soft and heavy with the drowsiness of sleep as she shifted her back into a more comfortable position. I smiled to reassure her, earning me a satisfied, fond look aback. She moved her hand over my stomach, caressing my sensitive skin until she reached a part which was covered in bandages. There was a sting of pain but it was soon covered by the comforting warmth from her hand, I relished in the slow massage as her hands moved to my sides, working her way down my stiff muscles until I was completely relaxed into her embrace.

I never wanted to move again.

I let out a content sigh as I felt how she pulled a blanket over my body, cuddling me even closer. She draped both her arms around me in a firm squeeze, placing her cheek on the top of my head as she pulled her hand through my hair in a slow, if not seductive way. I could feel her breathing settle down again despite that she was not asleep. She was not planning to sleep before I did.

I moved my head so I could see her delicate, yet strong profile in the poor light from the moon. She glanced down at me, asking me in our non verbal way of communication if I was still not satisfied. Even if I hadn't minded another hour of her skilful ministrations I doubted that either of us was really up to it, she was hiding it well but I could tell that she was tired to her bones. Shaking my head in a meaning way, I raised my hand and touched her soft chin, knowing that she liked that. Very much.

I could understand why Chloe had loved this Kirika so desperately now. Staring up at her impressive figure from her lap, I could only awe at her being. A girl, no, young woman who had lived through enough suffering and pain in her short span of life to atone for this whole cursed world. Yet she remained strong, clothing herself in emotional apathy to survive the trials of her life but never truly losing the thin thread to her own humanity. Even in this state, she was still human and ruled by her emotions, the outburst of primal rage she had exhibited today was no exception. It had been her desire to save me that drove her to the brink, and I swore silently to myself that it would never have to happen again.

The petite, appearing unemotional girl who right now held me against her protectively was indeed someone who deserved admiration and love more than most selfish people I had crossed in my life, including myself. She was probably the most efficient assassin in the world, cold, professional and lethally skilful in all the arts, someone to be admired and feared. But also, while behind the locked door of our apartment she was another human girl, affectionate, craving and passionate, starving to be loved and eager to give it back alike. She was a maelstrom of human extremities, destruction and death yet love and passion so fierce and protective that it put Shakespeare to shame.  

To be loved by her is like being the nexus of that storm. You could only awe at her wild magnificence and reveal in the safety she provided. Soldats would never be able to control her, and if those who claimed the world couldn't, who could? When I watched her like this, under the pale light from the moon, I was seriously in doubt that our lives would ever resemble something called normal.

How do you tame darkness itself?

I admired her perfect, beautiful face. She looked like a death angel, sent by someone to look over me. I am grateful whoever that may be, truly. Grateful for having her coming and staying in my life, grateful for being the one whom her heart had chosen. A lone tear rolled down my chin, leaving a taste of salt on my lips as I closed my eyes, ready to let sleep take me anew.

"Mireille?" She asked, whispering into my hair, her voice hoarse with stuffed emotions.

"Something on your mind Kirika?" I mumbled, God did I sound tired.

She didn't answer immediately, only tightening her arms around me even more while cuddling against my neck.

"Go back to sleep, you need to rest."

"Mmm, I'm doing so." Peeking up at her a last time before slipping from reality, I gave in to the heavy weight of sleep. It wasn't like she would tolerate any protests from me in my current condition anyway.

  Sleep Mireille, I will protect you.

I know you will.

  Like I promised.

… Promised?

  Yes.

I wasn't conscious enough to ask about it.

**********

To be continued…