Title: She's Not There

Fandom: Kill Bill

Prompt: #1 - Unexpected News

Characters/Pairings: Elle/Beatrix one-sided, implied Bill/Beatrix

Rating: R for violence, imagined sexuality

Summary: Elle hated her, hated her because it was easier--in that moment--to do so.

The Black Mamba's screams of pain echo through the dusty stillness of the chapel, but it's far enough that no one in Two Pines will know what's happened for hours.

In spite of herself Elle feels it tug at her chest, at the single heartstring remaining on the busted and neglected guitar of her soul. And yet when Beatrix half-falls half-stumbles in her direction, kicked around in a semicircle by the other Deadly Vipers in a twisted perversion of the childhood game of keep-away, it makes her slam the heel of her shoe even deeper into the former assassin, sending her to another of her comrades to further the torture.

Despite the twanging of that tone, strained and incessant at her core, the one-eyed blonde trusts in her anger, hating the ruined bride all the more with each of her whimpers. It's no less than what she deserves, Elle tells herself. But what truly fuels her hate is that her fellow assassins-- even Budd-- are only here at the behest of their leader. She had more than enough thoughts on how to torture Beatrix than simply shooting everyone in the building. On her own, she could've made the traitor feel such agony that a shot between the eyes would have been a blessing. But then that was her feelings talking. She didn't need them, they made things complicated, the last thing the greatest band of modern killers the world had ever known would need to do their job.

She didn't need or want them, but Beatrix had made her HAVE them.

She hadn't trusted Bill's judgement at first when he brought her to the fold at first, thinking her too scrawny, too innocent with her big blue eyes, to last for long in their world. But alongside her she had seen a warrior-- a rutlessness and clear mind that more than made up for her inefficiency and inaccuracy with a shotgun.

Elle had felt a connection with Beatrix, a sort of unspoken trust after the first mission Bill had sent them on together. She remembered teasing the rookie for favoring guns over swords. Beatrix said that she'd never completely liked them in combat, only when they were used in the old kung-fu movies she'd snuck into as a street urchin. And then the blonde had smiled-- such a strange, mysterious and undeniably mischevious grin-- that Elle had almost forgotten what they were even doing here. Their jobs, she recalled reluctantly. So she kept it professional, never acting on the brief impulse she'd had at that moment.

But Beatrix had stayed close to her long after that, gleaning advice and direction, the proper way to clean her gun, reluctantly learning to to fight with a Chinese blade. She never told Beatrix that steel polish was hard to clean off hands, and so she'd come to love it when the younger of the two sat at a table, her sapphire eyes glued to the endless rows of springs and levers at hand with precision and utter concentration, the smell of polish on her hands more potent that the most expensive perfume. Not that Beatrix ever spent her hard-earned money on scented water anyway.

It wasn't enough that she became so talented, so confident and brilliant at their vocation as she got older. Beatrix had simply blossomed into womanhood, her body slender and curved in all the right ways but still radiated the strength that had quickly put her at the top of the Deadly Viper's ranks. But still she and Elle fought together, more often on their own than with the others, the two that Bill trusted over O-Ren and Vernita, even his own brother. But when Beatrix walked out of the motel shower when they shared a room, her hair dripping wet in an effort to get the blood and shame off her body, all Elle wanted to do was drag her against the wall, screw her until she screamed her name, tasting every inch she could of Beatrix until she whispered that she could take no more, then screw her again until their plane back to Bill arrived. It got to the point where Elle was ready to have her on their next mission, protests and obligations be damned.

But the next time Beatrix went alone. And when she came back Bill grinned that 'lady-killer' grin at her, sliding a hand along the small of her back that her own smile made clear she didn't take offense at. So Elle let it go. After all, as Bill had made clear in not so many words, anyone who went against him wasn't likely to live for more than a week. And if she so much as laid a finger on Beatrix now they'd both be dead in minutes. She was his woman now, and even though she didn't like it, even though she had been by Beatrix's side for so many years and it tore at the thing in her chest she'd only now realized was her heart, she could understand. She was a professional.

And then she was gone, not more than a few years after that. That was worse, the fear that gripped her, that something had happened to her she couldn't do anything about.

But then Bill had called them all together, telling them they had a very important assignment, that Beatrix Kiddo was a traitor and was hiding in a little Texas town called Two Pines. Elle had felt a chill run down her spine then, a sudden, reckless feeling that if it came to her betraying all that she'd known for so long to protect her she'd do it, or at least die trying.

But then she'd seen her, radiant and surprisingly elegant in a simple wedding gown, her belly swollen, and suddenly Elle understood why Bill had been so utterly furious.

She'd wanted to know why, wanted to ask her, wanted to say a million things to her face in that moment. But instead she'd gone completely numb, only aware of the machine gun in her hand, the sounds of gunfire and the too-familiar scent of blood permeating the air. She'd hit her with such relish and violence because it had been the only thing, in that daze of mixed, unspoken feelings and rote duty, that felt right to do.

She'd wanted to cry as she watched Beatrix beaten and defeated on the ground, lying in a pool of her own blood and spit and sweat and tears. Had wanted to turn her gun on Bill as he stood over her, menacing and vicious in the way that only someone completely heartbroken could be. But she'd turned away with the rest of them, the sound of a single, close-range magnum bullet shattering the unearthly quiet that had remained, and washing away the remains of her own broken soul like a wave breaking against the sand.

To this day that sound haunts her nightmares, though she would never admit it. And so she waits, four years later, for the only woman-- only person-- on this planet that she'd go to the grave without regret for.