Gunslinger Girl Fan Fiction ❯ Scars & Bullets ❯ Accettazione ( Chapter 4 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Disclaimer: No I do not own Gunslinger Girl. Raphael and his other aliases yes but the rest of them no.
The next day I woke up with a less than the usual fuss. That's because most days I find the agency grounds dull. Anyway my everyday routine was just wake up find a book, read it, get tested by the doctors, keep reading maybe do a little gardening or play the piano then go back to sleep again. Today was different, someone was new and for some reason I was more energetic than usual. So I climbed down my bed, careful no to wake up the still sleeping Triela, and grab a book. before long I was out of the room without a peep. My usual walk on the grounds every morning was solemn. It was just me the sky and the plants. However today this ambiance of mine was disturbed by constant gunfire. No it was not a fight it was happening in the target range. The shots were coming from Angelica's old Steyr AUG A1 rife but now in the hands of… the new guy!
Chapter 4 Accettazione
I approached him as he continued shooting but before I could say anything and without even looking at me he said:
“Good morning Claes!”
I thought I was unnoticed but then he stopped shooting so I stopped pondering over the thought. Instead I asked him about Angelica's rife:
“Do you know who owned that gun?”
He looked pretty surprised; I guess he had no idea that the rifle he was using was actually left in the gun bin because no one wanted to take it out ever since Angelica placed it there. He eventually read my facial expression thou and exclaimed:
“I'm sorry, I have absolutely no idea that this gun was your handler's!”
Well he was close to the point and he did clean the gun nicely afterwards and put it back in the bin. So I told him that the gun was Angelica's but then he acquired a look that said that he was about to beat him self, so I told him that no harm was done. With that he was able to relax and sit down for a rest. He rotated his arms a couple of times, probably because of the shooting then he asked me:
“I haven't had breakfast how about you?”
I didn't either so we went to the canteen together. The other girls weren't awake yet so it was only the two of us eating on a table. It was there that he tried to start a conversation. Personally I haven't had a good conversation with anyone except with Triela's teddy bears so I was open to his questions:
“Is it hard, being the only one not going out and just being put through tests all day long?”
I was prepared for a conversation but not something this personal! I decided to answer his question using my `grain of wheat' quote but when I was half way through I was given an insight on how deep Raphael actually thinks:
“A grain of wheat or a mustard seed.”
I did not get what he was trying to say so I told him: “Huh? What do you mean?”
So he told me: “Well like a grain of wheat, mustard seeds are insignificant when they are still seeds. Heck even more insignificant than grain they're as small as grains of sand. However, when they are planted on the ground mustard trees are one of the largest and most durable trees around.”
He actually made sense! For someone who is supposed to have forgotten everything he is quite a philosopher. I was dumb struck at that moment so all l managed to say was:
“This cake is good, care to try?” He tasted it and smiled
“Yeah, its good but it could use a lemon.” He made me laugh so I asked him “Why lemons?”
He replied, “I don't know, too be honest with you I don't know where all this is coming from, all these ideas just seem to flash through my head.”
I smiled at him and remarked “So, former Assassin, Philosopher and Chef?” little did I know that actually pulled his heart down since he lost his smile all of a sudden.
I tried apologizing but then he said “Its ok, its not your fault, it's just that I envy you.”
I blushed at the thought of someone actually envying me so I had to know why:
“Well you seem to know what you want or what you wish to be, while here I am with no idea who I really am and with no meaning in my life. I feel so empty.”
For the first time I was able to look at Raphael the way he really was, not the untouchable being that the handlers had described. In truth he was this lost boy without a purpose hiding the void of sorrow behind his eyes. He was pretty good at hiding it, the same way he is pretty good in hiding the agony of 15 gunshots but if the eyes were the windows to the soul, then I wouldn't like the view of Raphael's.
Eventually he perked up and waved at the approaching group of Henrietta, Rico and Triela. It seems that they have finally woken up and I guess that means more people sitting on this table.
Everybody was busy greeting Raphael good morning but what puzzled me is how he seemed to have a preference for Triela. He said “Hi everyone, hi Triela!” hmm, puzzling indeed. Its either he forgot Henrietta and Rico's names or he's got something going on inside him that has something to do with Triela. Personally I'd prefer the latter, it's just more interesting. Everyone finished breakfast and was already on their way to their own rooms but then Triela decided to approach Raphael and confirm my suspicions:
“Raphael, I know we just had breakfast but I am inviting you to my room later for tea and cakes, how does 3:00 pm sound?”
Raphael did not hesitate to say yes so as soon as he turned around I could feel the happiness in Triela build and burst a bit. When she turned around I could see that she was smiling from ear to ear so I smiled back at her:
Triela: What?
Claes: Nothing! Why?
Triela: Why were you smiling at me like that?
Claes: Because you were smiling at me too. Unless it wasn't me you were smiling at.
Triela: What do you mean… wait a second; I was not smiling at Raphael if that is what you're trying to point out!
Claes: Fine, then you were sure happy when you saw Jean, I wonder why?
Triela: I wasn't smiling at him either! I was just smiling, just because I was smiling doesn't mean I like him you know!
Claes: I did not say anything about you liking him; I wasn't talking about Raphael in the first place. Now where did you get that?
Triela: What? O god you caught me! Stupid Claes and her confusing words.
Claes: Well you like him or not?
Triela: Well… you like him too!
Claes: And where did you get that from!
Triela: Well… you were talking to him before we got to the table.
Claes: We were just talking anybody can do that!
Triela: Well I can't!
Claes: And why is that?
Triela: Because…um…damn you caught me again!
Claes: So it's settled you like Raphael… he likes you back!
Triela: No way! I am the one who got him shot!
Claes: He does not care. If you ask me, you should just go to him and tell him how you feel.
Triela: NO! Do you know what will happen if… what if you're wrong!
Claes: Fine don't, and suffer the agony.
Triela: Why are you so frustrating to talk too! I am actually surprised that Raphael could stand you!
Claes: You have no idea about him do you? Well I do.
Triela: grrrr <walks away>
Triela: <self-only> *sigh* is it true? Does Claes who has no feelings for you know more about you than I do? What the hell is wrong with me!
I went straight to the room after that argument with Triela so that I can prepare the tea. Eventually Triela came in as well and she said sorry. I took the apology knowing what she's going through and we got everything ready for the `date' at 3:00.
If their was a person who was afraid and was excited at the same time for 3:00 that day, it would be Triela. I couldn't hold her still she kept fidgeting on her seat. She kept asking me questions like:
“What should I say?” “How am I supposed to feel?” “O my god should I hide my teddy bears? What if he thinks I am some sort of brat!” all the romance novels I have read did not prepare me for the bombardment which is Triela's questioning so I just decided to tell her:
“Just act natural, for god sake Triela this is not a date yet, its just tea.” I thought I got her to relax but I realized my error when someone knocked on the door and Triela literally sprang off her seat. Only to realize, that it was just Henrietta on the door.
“What is Henrietta doing here I did not invite her?” whispered Triela.
“You didn't but I did” I replied, “I was hoping that having more people around would relax you.”
“Well you sure did Claes.” She said this as she sat back down and as the door was being knocked at again, this time she managed to say, “Come in.”. Since her seat had its back against the door Triela had no idea who just entered she found it handier to ask me who it is than see for her self, “Did you invite Rico?”
I laughed out loud then told her “Rico's is having training with Jean right now. Raphael is right behind you thou. Hi Raphael!”
When Triela had the nerve to turn around she saw Raphael leaning by the door smiling back at her. She nearly fell of her chair but when she did get up she was able to say “Hi there Raph.”
Raphael was laughing at her predicament then he asked: “Raph?”
Triela's face turned red as she tried to explain her self: “Well Raphael is such a long name I thought of shortening it, is it ok?”
Raphael just smiled and answered: “Yeah its ok. Tri.”
Henrietta and I burst into laughter. Never in our life did we hear Triela shortened into `Tri' it was just overkill. Triela got even redder but managed to roll her eyes and say: “Fine, I'll stick to Raphael, sheesh, you did not have to rub it in. Can we have tea now?”
Teatime was filled with talk about the next assignment, how lemons would have went well with the tea (obviously brought up by Raphael, what is with him and lemons anyway!), and how Raphael found Triela's Teddy Bear collection cute. However, before Triela could exploit the moment Raphael used `cute' and `Triela' in the same sentence Joze entered the room and asked us to go to the briefing room.
I wanted to finish my tea (and talk to Raphael more) but Joze insisted that we go now. So all went to the briefing room, including Raphael, it looks like he is joining us in this assignment. The mission was simple, eliminate some drug smugglers as they smuggled drugs through the city port. The scene was suppose to be in some warehouse but if the problem arises the smugglers might try to escape by boat in the dock nearby and we'd have to pursue them by boat as well since neither of us seem to know how to swim. Briefing however always brings up a question from the handlers:
“Isn't this Section 1's job?” asked Hillshire.
Lorenzo then replied, “Not this time, we are not entirely sure where the smugglers are so we are going to have Henrietta play as lost girl and check each warehouse in the dock.”
Joze was appalled by such a plan and tried to contest. However Jean proceeded to nudge Joze about their discussion about Joze being too attached to Henrietta, I don't want to go into details since the thought of it just makes me sick. Joze sat back down and the briefing continued. Eventually it was time to suit up and take arms so all of us went into the weapons section of the building. Personally I don't need much picking I just go to the 3rd row to the left and pick my M1897 Trench Shotgun, better known as simply `The Trench Gun' this baby has been around since WW1 but it still packs a punch so I am not complaining. Raphael on the other hand seemed to have trouble picking his weapon. He just stood there looking at the guns. I approached him and asked:
“What's the matter can't find a gun?”
He looked back at me and said, “No I am just having trouble looking for the AK 74.”
I was skeptical so I asked him “Why look for such a gun? AK 47s have the same performance as the 74 right?”
He gave a grin and replied “Yes, but the 47 is a very common gun now. I want something that is similar to the 47 yet still different.”
He was sure picky about his guns, he did find it thou and when he did we went to pick our secondary weapons. I got my usual H&K P7M8 pistols and he got a pistol like the one Jean let him borrow on his first day a USP .45 ACP Tactical he later explained that he wanted one since it makes it easier for him to install a silencer later. Then he grabbed a gun holster for 2 pistols, the type where you hold your guns on the sides of your abdomen. He then started looking for another pistol but decided to just ask me:
“Have you seen a Desert Eagle?”
“Why would you want one of those, they're so bulky.” I retorted.
“Well in a tight situation I'd prefer to have a bulky Desert Eagle in my hand instead of some other smaller pistol.” He said.
With that I pointed out to him the location of the DE, which is the topmost left corner in the rack. He eventually found a way to get it and when he did we went to grab our gear. I didn't need much, just some extra belts to hold more ammo and grenades. On the other hand he went off to measure on some Kevlar vests. I approached him and asked about it, which he replied saying.
“My muscles may be harder than steel but it still hurts when I get hit.” He said with a sheepish grin. “Besides it will make me less hesitant to take a bullet or 2 for you if the moment requires it.”
I stuck my tongue at him for saying such a thing, which he would then defend himself by saying, “Don't take it personally, such a pretty girl would have all the guys willing to put their lives on the line for you.”
I blushed at his statement but was still able to reply, “Just make sure you don't die, I might need you for next time!” damn I think that came out wrong.
Raphael: <self-only> what are you doing! You're compromising everything! Watch yourself!
The mission proceeded like clockwork, with Henrietta's signal we were able to ambush the smugglers and take them by surprise. Raphael showed his other self during the confrontation, he was cold and ruthless the entire time. He did not nudge on any of the shots the smugglers were firing at him. At a steady rate he picked them off one by one. Most of the survivors resorted to surrender right away but some needed a little `persuasion' to give in. All of a sudden one of the smugglers appeared from his hiding place with a grenade in his hand. Rico was quick enough to take her rifle out and shoot the man but not before he was able to throw the grenade! It did not hit us directly but blew up into some crates, throwing us to the ground and injuring a number of us as well.
Unfortunately when we all got up one of us was not accounted for; Henrietta was gone! It took us a while to realize that she was the one thrashing out in the dock. When we reach the edge of the dock we saw her struggling in the water as she screamed:
“Joze! Joze!” Joze was yelling for Henrietta as well but he had a piece of wood driven into his leg and was unable to get there.
I would have saved her and probably Rico as well but neither of us could swim. Soon the sickening scene became silent when Henrietta disappeared beneath the waves. I dropped to the ground with tears in my eyes unable to cope with what is happening. It was on that moment that I saw a streak slip by me and before I knew it, it had jumped over the dock and into the water as well. Well Joze was still there crying to him self with Jean and Hillshire, also injured, trying to comfort him so I inferred that it was Raphael who dived. Wait Raphael could swim? I looked over the dock and saw nothing but the undisturbed surface of the water. I was about to break down again when suddenly the surface broke and out came Raphael swimming towards shore with Henrietta in his arms! All of us rushed to the shores to meet them and when we got there we saw Raphael trying to resuscitate Henrietta. He was pushing her chest and… putting his mouth into her mouth. Ok, I know he was just trying to save her but… I can't believe that the 1st person to technically kiss Raphael was Henrietta. Soon Raphael's `kisses of life' revived her and she started coughing out water. When she regained her composure she embraced Raphael, and he embraced her back. My fists were balled up and ready to hit someone but I managed to let that slide. Soon the handlers approached Raphael and Henrietta and intended to take them someplace warm, as for me it was a long cold trip back to the agency.