Disclaimer: I don't own Noir.

AN: this little ficlet is just something induced on rewatching my Noir too much, and listening to the soundtrack too much. Nothing more, though I might post the new series that I had been working on one day. We'll see, neh?

The Echo of the Ocean

She stared at the seashell, sitting on the bedside table in front of her.

She had picked it up on a whim, after a particularly nasty job in the Caribbean.

She remembered the way it glinted in the sunshine, catching the sunlight prettily, as the beach ran red with blood.

It was a conch shell, and a rather perfect specimen, especially for one found out in the wilderness.

There was a slight chip at one end, but other than that nothing was wrong with it.

It was coral in color, and very beautiful. She remembered, walking away from her victory, wondering what it was doing out there, a little above the high tide mark, just sitting in the sand. Blending in, yet out of place.

(There was a sudden ache in chest, a sudden squeezing of something she thought she had forgotten, thought she had put aside as a single clear thought rang through her mind, bouncing off the sides, and ringing true like metal; Just like me)

She had stooped there in the sand, her back to the bodies that just a few seconds before had been animate, her back to the death, and faced the beautiful view of the sea as she stooped in the sand.

(She remembered that view, still, as if it were burned into her mind, but more than that. There was that feeling that as she faced away from the red-ish sandy beach, that she could pretend that it had never happened, that she was just a bystander, a tourist, and that she could start again, start anew. So, even now, that view remained.)

She scooped up that shell, a little sloppily, so that she had to shake out a little of the sand that had come with the shell, and without a second thought, slipped it into her pocket.

Then she continued on her way, heading toward the Jeep, and didn't think of it again.

(That last thought (But that perhaps was not true, since she had this memory—vague, but there—this memory of wondering why Mireille had not made her throw it out, complaining of the stink a shell like that would create—though it created none, she had this, vaguer still, feeling that if Mireille did not complain about anything, she did not feel alive—for she could not have missed her picking it up, after all, it took nearly five seconds, and that was too noticeable not to notice.)

That is, until she arrived back in Paris, and was finally able to investigate that dull feeling of pain she had in her leg, as if something was digging into it. It was, of course, the shell.

If, the next day, Mireille noticed that a shell stood on the windowsill, with still a smell of the Caribbean clinging stubbornly—though it was a losing battle—to it, she said nothing, except to mention, casually, in passing, to her, "You know, if you hold that up to your ear, you can hear the ocean."

That was the first time she had heard the tale, and she managed to hide her surprised look very well as she and Mirielle both pretended that nothing in particular had happened.

(Even then, she had believed, had known, that it would be impossible for such a thing to happen. Her mind was too calculated for that, yet, it was nice to pretend.)

And both pretended even harder, when, the next day, the shell was gone, only to appear on her bedside table.

(Thinking that, she noticed for the first time exactly how bare her table really was, besides the shell and a lamp, it was bare.)

She remembered the first time trying Mireille's words, holding the shell to her ear, trying to convince herself that is she heard nothing, that it was only because of the chip, that of course, because of the chip, the shell could not possible work its magic.

By then, she had known of course. She had known the truth of the words. That she roaring you heard was only that of your blood pounding in your ear.

Even so, she held her breath—unconsciously, of course—only letting it out a few seconds later, letting it out in one big breathe, like a sigh, except that she would never sigh, not for that.

She only let it out after she heard it. The roaring sound.

Blood was pumping through her body. Here was her proof.

(Because, sometimes, she wondered. She knew that it couldn't not be flowing, she knew that, yet, sometimes, she still wondered. After all, how can one that didn't feel human still be?)

Yet, less than a second after her brain confirmed the message she was hearing, she removed the shell to place it onto her lap.

She didn't raise it to her ear again.

She had stayed in that position for several minutes, waiting for the trembling to go out of her hands. Then, very carefully, she took the shell, and set it back onto her table, wasting some time to try and arrange it back into the position it was in before she had taken hold of it, but nobody but herself—certainly not Mireille—knew what that was.

(She remembered thinking, the only clear thought she could remember from that time, that if it were back in its original spot, then she could pretend that it had never happened. Or—she had this thought lurking at the back of her mind for sometime now—she had been thinking of nothing. This last one, to her dismay, seemed to make more sense.)

She didn't even know why she wanted to preserve the moment, to try and go back to the moment before. After all, nothing had happened. Nothing but the expected.

So why did it feel so precious?

Since that day, she had refrained from touching the shell again, but to perhaps move it out of the way as she dusted it and around it. She did all this without realizing it, and though she saw it—almost—everyday, she never put thought to those images, and never acted upon those thoughts not there.

She had returned to life as usual, and it wasn't until the next job, about a week after the incident, that she had touched the shell as if it represented something more than one more item to dust.

She had been heading out the door, off to Peru or Egypt, somewhere she couldn't even remember now, when, on the way out, she had touched the shell, stroked it really, then turned off her lights, and closed her door.

(She remembered hearing of sports stars that always wore a certain pair of shoes to ensure a victory, or to say a certain phrase.)

She did all this without seeming to notice it, and it wasn't until, in the cab, on the way to the airport, that she realized what she had done.

She had spent the rest of the ride—and most of the plane ride—looking at her hand sideways, subtly, as not to alert Mireille, because she really hadn't felt like explaining what was wrong with her. Not that she had even known.

When she arrived back, she had turned on the lights and gazed at the shell, sitting innocently on the table, for many minutes, thinking thoughts too swirled to decipher—perhaps too blank to remember—until Mireille, in the frenzy of unpacking that she was always in, had wandered by and remarked casually, that she hoped that her partner had not suddenly developed a fear for monsters in closets.

(She remembered watching so called "horror movies" with Mireille once or twice, until she could hold in no more that she could see no 'horror' in it and had wandered off, leaving Mireille to sit there on the couch, with half her fist stuffed into her mouth, watching the movie with a suppressed shudder.)

So then, of course, she had stepped into the room, and closed the door behind her, politely, of course, but mostly so that she could stare in peace and relative silence, at the shell.

And stare she did, though she could see nothing special, except, perhaps, that one chip on the side.

And after a bit, watching nothing more than the shadow of it crawl across the table, she left, walking away from with a nagging feeling at the back of her head.

The second time that it happened, the second time that she stroked it, she managed to stop watching herself once they entered the airport.

But when she returned to the apartment, she watched it with a different air—this time with the door safely but politely closed—cradling her arm in a way that she wasn't even aware of.

She watched it accusingly, as she fiddled with the white bandage a bit. It was a simple misjudgment, but one made nonetheless, and it was nothing but the fact that she had underestimated her opponent and the fragility of glass.

Just a tad. But that was enough to not be able to entirely dodge the bit of stained glass that flew her way, not to entirely halt the slight exhale of breathe that come out of her mouth as the glass pierced her arm.

It could have been worse. She knew that. After all, that little miscalculation could have caused the glass to hit her in say, the face.

Yet, she couldn't help but blame the shell, in the same manner that a football player may burn his winning underwear the day after the game in which he fumbled his big catch.

After all, it was supposed to keep her safe, safe long enough to—

(From her position, sitting, on the bed, she started suddenly, aware of her last thought. Long enough to what? She called out into the corridors of her mind, leaving her position—mentally—to chase after the thought, flinging doors open heedlessly and glancing inside, only to shake her head and close it a few seconds later, running on. She ran with the speed that her birthright had granted her, yet, it was too late, as the thought sped out and away, perhaps scared off by her actions, leaving her alone in her mind, with nothing but the certainty that the thought had been there, to comfort her.)

At which she shook her head, clearing her mind, and resumed glaring at the shell.

This continued on for some minutes until, quite purposefully, she made herself step forward and deposit her bag onto her bed and begin to unpack.

During all this time, she kept a wary eye on the shell, knowing full well how stupid the act was, yet not being able to let go. And during all this time, she kept a wide berth around her night table, aware yet not aware of what she was doing.

And the next time that she left, she did not restrain herself when she realized that her hand was once again outstretched towards the shell.

Nor, did she, however, get used to it.

And after that one time, she did not raise it toward her ear again.

(Her hands, since before folded neatly on her lap, in the exact spot in which she placed them, suddenly twitched as if they were disobeying her; ready to clasp the shell and listen to the ocean that was not there.)

And yet, she was still not sure how she got to be in the position that she was in now, sitting on the bed, gazing at the shell, knowing full well that when she did eventually rise to eave, that she would have to walk past it. Funny, it did no bother her before she sat down.

"Kirika!" a voice called from down the hall, surprising her, but not enough for her to move, "Can you come here for a second please?"

Mireille was using her Voice again, the one that had an air of the disciplinary older sister, about to reprimand the younger one for once again, Leaving the Cap off of the Milk.

It was the voice that she always used when she received an e-mail about a possible job, and was asking her opinion in whether it would be prestigious enough for a company such as Noir—

Her mind skittered around that word, as it had been doing for the past several months, ever since they had returned, and she could not quite force herself to say it voluntarily.

Her mind just froze around it, really.

And it was not like she was unable to kill. That was a skill she had been born with, and seemed to be something she could never not do, but just that word…

But it meant that she would have to get up soon, and go see what it what, and she was not sure if she was ready for that.

(She knew that it was not the ocean she heard, but her own blood, and she did not know if that made it all the more frightening)

And the shell was just there, sitting.

And in her mind, she could hear the sound of the beach waves, crashing onto rocks.

And she could hear the roaring of her blood in her ears.

And no matter what, she would always have that memory.

(And even though she knew that it was impossible—though in her time she has seen many impossible become the opposite—she still couldn't help but wonder…)

She rose to her feet silently and made her way past the shell, silently stroking the now-memorized bumps and ridges.

(She couldn't help but wonder…

What would happen, should one day she raised it to her ear, only to hear…nothing?)

She turned off her lights and closed the door softly behind her.

And that is it, my little offering.