A/N. Hello again.
This fic is for all the shippers who I hope will forgive the tackiness brought about by my severe writer's block.
Thanks to all who read.
Pairing: Miria x Galatea.
Disclaimer: I don't own Claymore or any of the characters.
A trail of dried red blood led towards the entrance of the hotel suite's bathroom. It ended in a small pool by the bathtub. Across the bottom of the empty bathtub his lifeless body still warm sprawled the occupant of the suite. Stabbed clean through the heart his blood had stained the front of his white shirt a deep vermillion. The murderer reached over the dead body and wiped the blood caked blade clean across the lapels of his suit. In her defence she hadn't meant to kill him. It had been a simple shadowing mission but things had gotten out of hand and the result was the addition of another name to her kill list. The numbers weren't very high as she hated that particular aspect of her work not because she had an aversion to killing but because it proved so damn messy. Her knife clean she replaced it within the leather sheath strapped to her thigh and surveyed the damage in the bathroom mirror. Not as bad as she feared. She had avoided any blood splatter on her clothing and more importantly in her hair. Her previous kill had proved to be a nuisance and that time a good two hours had passed before she could emerge from her bathroom with all the traces of blood removed from her pale blonde hair.
Returning to the body, she searched within the folds of his jacket and carefully extracted an electronic pad. The screen flicked to life requesting a password. She sighed. Technology wasn't really her strong point but then that was where Dietrich came in handy. That girl possessed a strong persistent streak which kept her stubbornly hacking into places that were deemed impossible. Dietrich said it was the fault of all networks as they sent her an indirect challenge by claiming they couldn't be breached. A ring-tone cut off her thoughts concerning her comrade and she answered her phone with a brief greeting while absentmindedly keying in her date of birth as the password on the electronic pad.
"You're late." Her boss's monotone filtered through the speaker. "Is the package secure?"
"Almost, although I wouldn't say the same thing about this line," she replied, her eyebrows rising slightly in surprise as the password proved correct.
He was always the sentimental type she reflected flicking through the files on the pad.
"Proceed to drop point."
"As you command." She paused upon a certain file labelled Operation Claymore opening it out of curiosity only to find it encrypted.
"Also boss I need you to take care of my dry cleaning."
Slipping the pad into one of the hidden pockets of her dress she made her way to the bathroom. As she opened the window the cold night air entered the room. The window was just the right size for her to fit through and from its ledge she could easily swing herself up onto the roof of the hotel and make her escape from there.
"How many items?" Her boss's tone betrayed the faintest hint of disappointment.
"One. In the bathroom and be careful with this one it was a favourite," she added before hanging up and making her escape through the window.
Leaving the hotel far behind she made her way towards the bustle of the city. She checked the watch upon her wrist, a present from the man she'd murdered just four hours previously. A contact was to meet her at the local bar Mucha where the exchange would take place. She could then return to her civilian life once more until her boss handed her another assignment. She briefly considered asking for vacation time knowing full well that it would never be granted. You get breaks in between missions her boss would say. Well if she took that tack then she would have to blackmail her with the knowledge that she was quite aware of her boss' attraction to one of their fellow agents. But then the whole division knew their boss's less than subtle feelings concerning their number one agent. It would certainly be worth it to see her superior's pointy ears turn that brilliant shade of red in stark contrast with her pale pasty skin. Getting thrown out the office would be worth it and it wouldn't be the first time either.
The neon sign announcing bar Mucha open for business loomed above her and she entered glad to be out of the chill of the night. A background cool jazz vibe greeted her entrance making her feel right at home. Mucha was one of the many places her division owned and operated. A number of the staff were agents in disguise as were many patrons. She herself had started out as an informant in this very bar before being booted upstairs and promoted to field work. Heading to the bar she chose a seat near the vase of white lilies as per her instructions and settled comfortably down for the long hour wait for her contact.
"May I take your drink?" a nervous voice asked causing her to look up amused at the very young bartender in front of her.
"Umm…I mean drink order?" the young woman clarified, a slight blush forming upon her cheeks.
"Do you know the story of the seven ghosts?" Her voice teased as she noticed the nervous way the woman smoothed her uniform.
"Seven ghosts?" The bartender looked confused running a hand through her spiky hair.
"It's not at all important." She ignored her puzzled look now that she had ascertained that the new bartender was not a member of her division. "Are you the new bartender? What happened to Isley?"
"Isley broke up with his girlfriend and requested time off," the girl shifted uncertainly. "Or so I heard."
"I told him it wouldn't work out," she sighed before scrutinising the young woman closely.
The girl didn't look like a bartender at all which was unfortunate as she had been looking forward to her usual Death in the Afternoon cocktail that Isley made so irresistibly. Still it wouldn't hurt to give the girl a chance and she was quite partial towards cute girls like this one now that she had gotten a good look at her. Very cute she amended. She glanced at the girl's name tag before speaking again.
"Well, Zelda." She paused. Surely that couldn't be her name she thought.
The spiky red haired girl noticing her frown couldn't control her smile which suddenly formed.
"I was in a hurry to get to work and took my roommate's name tag instead. My name is Miria," she added.
"Galatea." She wasn't sure why she offered her real name to a complete stranger but the girl had quickly endeared herself to her. She was so different from the other people who filtered quickly through her life. Galatea was certain that the girl was incapable of deception and was more naïve than knowing.
"Miria, now that we are acquainted you may fix me two Death in the Afternoons."
Miria nodded and gathering the ingredients for the drinks fumbled slightly when it came to opening the bottle of absinthe. She looked apologetically up at Galatea who could only smile in response to the girl's clumsiness.
"What grade are you in?" Galatea asked, intrigued with her new bartender. Her question startled Miria who nearly upturned the champagne flute she was using for the absinthe.
"I'm twenty four. My school days are far behind me," Miria answered her as she added the chilled champagne to the flute before placing the drink in front of Galatea.
"Forgive me. You look at least seventeen." Galatea sipped her drink ignoring Miria's glowering look. "Not bad. This is actually quite good."
"Keep that attitude up and I won't make you the next one," the bartender threatened.
Galatea smiled undaunted.
"The second one's not for me. Think of it as a welcome to your new job."
"I don't drink on the job," Miria replied seriously all traces of her previous humour gone.
"Then save it for when you finish," Galatea smirked as Miria turned away grumbling.
"When do you finish by the way?"
Miria, making the second cocktail didn't look at her as she replied.
"Seven hours from now."
That would make it two in the morning Galatea calculated. It had just turned seven and her contact was to meet her within the hour which would leave six hours of waiting. She inwardly sighed. She hated long waits but then one must make sacrifices.
"Then I'll just have to watch your drink until then," she smiled disarmingly as Miria placed the second cocktail in front of her.
"Enjoy your drinks." Miria placed her emphasis on the plural and as a smile tugged at her lips she turned away to serve another customer who had signalled her.
Galatea watched her go before returning to her drink. Already the girl was losing her previous clumsiness, seeming more in control. Not that it stopped the appeal. As if she sensed Galatea's gaze the bartender turned to look at her and the mischievous blonde couldn't help giving her a discreet wink. Her smirk widened as her action caused her prey to fumble with the cocktail shaker once again. Satisfied, Galatea turned away to take in her surroundings once again. The bar was slowly coming to life as more patrons entered. Mucha was never overcrowded as it was more an exclusive bar with the bouncers doing a good job of keeping out the rowdy types. The pool tables tucked into the west corner were as popular as ever and she observed the current game with little interest. The man in white was going to win and the short stubby man who could barely stand was likely to throw a tantrum in the face of his failure. Her gaze moved beyond the table over to the small faintly lit stage where the musicians were finishing the final number of their set which meant that it was almost time for the diva to show. Turning her gaze from the curtains she smiled as the diva made an unexpectedly early entrance from the backdoor of the bar. Wavy blonde hair falling down across her shoulders was highlighted against the midnight blue of her tightly fitting dress. Gracefully she made her way towards Galatea thanking her as she drew out a stool for her to take her seat. Flicking one of the strands over her shoulder, the diva turned a cool gaze towards her fellow companion.
"It is good to see you're still alive."
"And it is good to see that you still know how to make an entrance." Galatea's words were followed by an appreciative look as she shamelessly scanned the diva's low cut dress.
"I'm touched you chose to wear it," she continued.
"Don't think so highly of yourself," the diva chided. "I most certainly did not wear it for you."
"Then I will have no regrets taking it off you." Galatea's reply brought an amused smile to the diva's lips.
"Unfortunately I sought you out for business." Her tone turned professional in stark contrast to that of her companion. "Apple cannot make it tonight…" She trailed off as Galatea let out a laugh.
"With a name like that I would imagine she'd want to avoid the crowds."
"Don't make fun of her call sign." Despite her scolding the diva was holding back her own giggle. "You know she chose it herself."
"To name yourself after your favourite food is ridiculous," Galatea scoffed. "If we were all named after our favourite things then I would be…"
The diva cut her companion off with a wave of her hand and a disapproving but affectionate look.
"You needn't say anymore. I'm quite aware of your favourite things." She leaned closer resting her elbow upon the bar. "The type, the size…" she trailed off suggestively.
Galatea smiled at the diva's words and reached up to entangle her hand in one of the many blonde strands. Her smile lost its smugness and was replaced by affection as her hand slid through the strands to stroke the smooth cheek of her companion. The diva leaned into the touch, her gaze still locked with Galatea's. She offered no resistance as Galatea closed the remaining distance, kissing her with the faint taste of her cocktail upon her lips. Throughout the quick kiss the Diva closed her eyes to enjoy the familiar sensation and felt most disappointed when Galatea pulled away to whisper into her ear.
"Flora, if only you weren't so easy to catch."
The mention of her name, spoken with a tinge of regret quite unusual for the confident woman in front of her forced her to open her eyes once again.
"You do enjoy the chase more than the consummation don't you?" she asked softly, knowing the answer. "You enjoy the thrill which is why you'll never tire of that kind of life."
"Now that just sounds bitter. I'd rather stay for the thrills than out of a one-sided love for Irene," Galatea gave her a pointed look. "You know that she's not interested. She says jump you reply how high? So what has your admirable sense of love and duty gotten you into now?"
"I'm Apple's replacement for the drop." Flora chose not to rise to Galatea's bait. There was little that escaped the astute number three agent.
"Let me guess you took the job for free."
"I'm still scraping a living together out of singing, aren't I?" Flora answered dejectedly.
"Then can I buy the pauper a drink?" Galatea offered sincerely which made the diva brighten up.
"Thanks but I've already had my pre-performance drink. Maybe some other time when you don't have company." She gestured towards the two cocktails.
Flora rose from her seat only pausing to brush her lips lightly against Galatea's cheek. Her action obscured her companion's hand as it slipped the electronic pad into the hidden pocket of Flora's dress.
"It was nice seeing you again, Gala."
Flora quickly vanished from her side strutting her way provocatively towards the stage and effortlessly morphing into her stage persona. She greeted each of the musicians with a small nod before taking the microphone from its stand and while she tapped out the rhythm of the song the music began again. Lifting the microphone to her lips she sang her mournful song of long lost love.
From her spot at the bar Galatea observed that Flora never changed her repertoire, recycling the same ten forlorn love songs. Although she took great pains to make each of the performances unique there was no denying that the girl was aching under the strain of her unrequited love.
"You look guilty." The now familiar voice greeted her drawing her stare away from the stage and towards the spiky haired bartender who replaced her finished drink with another.
Galatea pulled the drink towards her ignoring the comment. She was happy just to feel the all too familiar bite of the absinthe. Miria's brow rose apprehensively as her customer downed the contents of the glass in large successive gulps. Slamming the now empty glass in front of her she ordered another. Closing her hand around her third glass she looked up at Miria.
"She's not singing about me," she informed her.
Miria had the grace to look embarrassed by her assumption.
"Sorry. I just thought she was your girlfriend with that display and all."
Galatea couldn't help but laugh at the awkward way she phrased it.
"Flora was never my girlfriend. Not my type." She took a sip from her glass.
It was true that the attraction to Flora had died when the diva returned her affections. But that didn't mean that Galatea wasn't concerned when she saw Flora helplessly pining for their dense boss who in turn was pining for a person who was totally oblivious towards her. Love within her division was truly a one way street.
"You must have pretty high standards," Miria muttered but Galatea nevertheless heard her and turned to face her. The melancholy mood that had gripped her previously was nowhere to be seen.
"No just picky. Flora is great but she lacks the qualities I'm looking for."
"Boundless patience or total immunity to your ego?"
Galatea ignored the jibe fixing Miria with a flirtatious smile.
"She lacks stubbornness, seriousness, naivety. I'm partial to those who are uptight, who can never take a break and who play so wonderfully hard to get. Red hair is a definite bonus," she continued. "Not a fan of the spikes but I'll overlook it."
"I'm sure that your perfect soul mate will no doubt take your graciousness under consideration," Miria countered, sarcasm dripping from her tone.
"Miria," Galatea reproached her while lifting her glass for yet another refill. "You're not meant to give in so easily. The chase has hardly begun."
"There will be no chase and the bar is closed." As Miria took the empty glass she accidently brushed fingers with Galatea who seemed not to mind the brief touch.
"It's only eight thirty."
"It's closed for you. You're drunk enough," Miria sternly told her as she reached for the untouched Death in the Afternoon that Galatea had insisted buying for her. To her surprise, Galatea took her hand freezing the bartender with her simple action.
Their eyes met. Miria was curious as to what Galatea would do next. The smell of the alcohol on Galatea's breath wafted towards her but strangely she did not mind, being somewhat awed by her customer. Galatea's intentions however became very clear as the space suddenly closed between them with the flirtatious blonde stopping just short of Miria's suddenly dry lips.
"If you're going to kiss me I would prefer it if you were sober." The words tumbled from Miria's mouth before she processed their teasing nature.
"Miria, I hardly need dutch courage to kiss you," Galatea teased back. "Just your permission."
Galatea's smirk widened as Miria pondered her words before throwing caution to wind to give Galatea all the permission she needed. She quickly closed the remaining distance to plant an awkward kiss upon the other woman's lips. She was aware that she really shouldn't be kissing a customer on her first day or kissing a customer at all. She was also worried about how Galatea would view her now that she had shown her inexperience. However all doubt was cleared away as Galatea, recovered from the initial shock was now taking control. Deciding to salvage what little dignity she had left Miria broke the kiss while struggling to maintain an impassive face.
"That's all you're getting," she muttered hurrying away to serve a customer she had served ten minutes previously.
Galatea was stunned by Miria's abrupt departure but her expression soon formed into a genuine smile which was not disturbed by the sudden buzz of her phone. It was a text from Irene a fact that would have put her in a sour mood had she not been dwelling upon a certain bartender. Flicking open her phone she read the message. It was instructions for another mission and she opened the picture attached to it. Her smile faltered as the image stared back at her. Snapping the phone shut she placed it upon the bar resisting the urge to fling it into the far corner of the room. Her eyes immediately locked onto the girl who was doing her best to serve the customers as far away from Galatea as possible. A faint blush still stained the girl's cheeks but its presence did not make the smile that had vanished from Galatea's face return. The picture she guessed was a recent one showing the spiky red hair and all too serious expression in her silver eyes. Miria moved towards the bottles at the back of the bar bringing one of them to pour into her customer's glass. Galatea's eyes followed the girl's movements. She would be shadowing her more now that she had received her new mission details. After all in her business, love was forever a one way street.