Noir Fan Fiction ❯ Black Turned Red ❯ Chapter 1

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
Black Turned Red - By Kirika

******

This is my first time writing a short fic, so I'm not sure if I'll be any good at it or not. I prefer writing a story with a long plot and dragging things out (agonisingly) slowly. But, since this was a fanfic for the Yuricon fan fiction contest, I had to limit its size.

This fanfic is a Mireille/Kirika one from the anime series Noir. Sorry, but no action here. It's romantic fluff all the way (for the most part). It takes place a short time after the conclusion of the series, so there are some spoilers. Additionally, several themes of this fic will be shared in my other (soon-to-be novel length) Noir fanfic. Think of this one as a brief taste of what's to come (except with a lot of action accompanying it ^_^).

And of course, I don't own Noir or anything. Oh, and before I forget, there is some yuri in this. But then, if you don't like yuri-yuri then what are you doing reading a Mireille/Kirika fanfic to begin with? ^_^

Now on with the fic…

**This fanfic won 'Favourite Drama' at the 2003 Yuricon Fan Fiction contest! Wai! ^_^

**Hey, Mediaminer.org has a Noir fanfic section (at last)! Yay!

- Kirika

******

Mireille Bouquet's eyes slowly fluttered open, and a slightly blurred view of the apartment's ceiling greeted her. The woman blinked her bleary blue eyes groggily for a few moments, clearing her vision. She then took a deep breath, before releasing it softly, the act barely audible. A satin-smooth, solid, and yet at the same time supple mass was pressed against her side, radiating a comforting warmth that spread over her naked body under the bed covers. Mireille exhaled peacefully once more, used to the presence next to her. She had been now for a considerable amount of time even before everything had… changed. Sleeping in the same, somewhat larger than normal, single bed had previously been out of necessity for them both--simply a woman and a girl sharing the only bed in the apartment. But now the reasons behind it were quite different. Mireille's *life* was different now, but she couldn't even think of ever going back to the way things had been.

Mireille drew her arm a little tighter around the presence, holding it closer to her body. She heard a quiet intake of breath at the action. A faint smile tugged at the corners of Mireille's lips. So she was awake. Mireille wasn't surprised. It was nearly always the same every morning.

Mireille turned her head on the pillow to Kirika, meeting the girl's while not quite intense, but rather intent, or even rapt, brown gaze. Kirika's eyes were so expressive, soulful, and spoke volumes… at least to Mireille. The quiet girl often gazed at her partner in that way, simply looking, but at the same time conveying something much more. It had disturbed Mireille to some extent at first to be looked upon so intently, as if she wholly enthralled Kirika. But of course, now, she was completely comfortable with it. Indeed, she expected and, she had to admit, craved it. It was just one of many things Kirika did that so enamoured Mireille, one of many idiosyncrasies she possessed that the woman now couldn't imagine living without.

"Good morning," Mireille said quietly, her smile now taking hold over her features, growing somewhat.

"Morning," Kirika replied in her soft voice, continuing to gaze at Mireille, except now into her eyes.

They spoke in Japanese, as they always did when they were alone together--which was virtually most of the time. And in a city where the French language predominantly reigned, it granted Mireille and Kirika a sense of privacy even when in a crowd of people; their own little world where only the two of them existed. It was strange… Mireille had always communicated with Kirika in Japanese--at least when in private--only speaking French or another language when it was necessary ever since they had first met. Perhaps it was because she had first encountered Kirika in Japan, or because of the fact that the girl was Japanese. Whatever the reason, Mireille knew that initially it hadn't been to make Kirika more at ease in a foreign country. Mireille's feelings for her had been considerably different back then.

Mireille moved her left hand from Kirika's bare shoulder to the nape of her partner's neck, and idly began playing with her sleep-tousled dark locks, twisting them gently around her fingers. "Sleep well?" she said rather teasingly as her expression turned wry, a fine and suggestive blonde eyebrow rising.

Kirika made a small sound in the affirmative and nodded her head, not catching the insinuation behind Mireille's words.

Mireille smirked a little. She didn't believe the girl could have forgotten what the two of them had been occupied with throughout most of last night; Kirika was just still so naïve in many ways. While Kirika possessed combat abilities far beyond that of countless people older than she, in essence she was still a child. She still retained some of her innocence, despite the life she had led thus far. And a part of Mireille was thankful for that.

Deciding not to push the subject of the previous night's passionate events, Mireille instead shifted forwards a little and deposited a light peck on Kirika's lips. "You can stay in bed if you want," she said as Kirika opened her eyes again, having closed them during the brief kiss, "I can handle breakfast today."

"Mmm," Kirika mumbled in the negative, shaking her head a tad. "It's okay. I can help."

Mireille smiled. Kirika always tried to be helpful to her… and the darkhaired girl rarely took no for an answer. "Alright, you can make the tea then," Mireille conceded, eliciting a dutiful nod and a small, pleased smile from Kirika.

Mireille extracted her arm from under Kirika and sat up in the bed, letting the sheets fall heedlessly from her naked body. After a politely suppressed yawn, she got out of bed and stretched with a quiet moan, reaching high for the ceiling as she got the kinks out of her aching muscles. Mireille then walked over to the nearby blue coach where her dressing gown resided and picked up the white silk garment, slipping it on. The woman turned back to the bed with a knowing half-smile on her face, having been acutely aware of Kirika's eyes on her as soon as she had left the bed. And sure enough, as Mireille turned, the girl's gaze met hers.

"Do you see something you like?" Mireille purred coyly, noticing Kirika's eyes flick to the opening in her dressing gown for an instant, before returning to her eyes. The blonde took her time in drawing her robe closed and tying it; she had known her partner wouldn't have been able to resist looking.

Kirika quickly averted her eyes from the sight of the beautiful woman's partially exposed form and rolled onto her back in the bed, saying nothing. Mireille simply smiled and put on her slippers. She was rather fond of teasing Kirika. While the girl didn't really show it by blushing and such, she did sometimes get a little shy when it came to the physical aspects of their relationship. Not as much as a girl her age normally would, but Mireille could see the signs of embarrassment, even if they were subtle. And she delighted in bringing them out.

Mireille flicked her mane of blonde hair out from under the back of her dressing gown, and then walked down the few steps that led from the bedroom to the living room. Her eyes were unconsciously attracted to the pot plant sitting on a small square table by a window, near to the billiard table. After the old one had been destroyed in a shoot out, Mireille had bought a new orchid. Unlike the last one however, this one possessed a number of pale pink flowers laced in between its long and wide green leaves. Mireille and Kirika had shared in caring for the plant as soon as it had been purchased shortly after they had returned to Paris, taking turns watering it, as they had done so in the past. Over time, the orchid's buds had blossomed and then flourished, with more and more pink flowers blooming everyday. It always made Mireille feel happy when she looked upon the thriving plant. It was a symbol of her relationship with Kirika, and continuously reminded the woman of all they had been through together. It hadn't been easy getting to this blissful, peaceful point.

Mireille smiled nostalgically, remembering how it had been previously between herself and Kirika. She had been so cold to Kirika when they had first met, seeing the girl as merely a means to an end more than a friend, or even an actual colleague. But as time went by…. It was as if Kirika had somehow, almost unnoticeably, sneaked her way into Mireille's hard heart, warming it and melting the ice that had surrounded it. Mireille had eventually realised what was happening, and had tried her utmost to resist the changes between them. But her efforts had ultimately been futile, and token. By that time Kirika had already claimed Mireille's heart utterly. Nevertheless, Mireille had kept up the denial of her feelings after her realisation, swearing to herself that when Kirika was no longer needed, she would keep her promise to kill the girl.

Mireille shook her head ruefully. What foolishness. Kill Kirika? It had been far to late to do that and consequently fulfil her pledge. When it had finally came to the time when Mireille was expected to kill her, the assassin had hesitated and then faltered outright, instead granting Kirika a supposed stay of execution. Another self-delusion. And when Kirika had left… at first Mireille had been glad, pleased that her life could go back to the way it had been, back to normal. But without Kirika, a void, an emptiness, had been left behind inside Mireille; one she hadn't liked to admit existed. But it had been there.

And of course, there was Kirika's letter, the letter that had confessed all of the introverted girl's feelings to Mireille. And that had been enough to shatter most of Mireille's waning resistance to what she felt. She still had that letter, but she would never tell Kirika that she did. Although she suspected her partner knew.

However, Mireille had always been quite a stubborn woman, and not until the very end, not until Kirika was about to leave her again for the last, absolute time, had she finally faced her feelings. It had taken Kirika's near death to at last push Mireille past her self-denial, and for her to confront what she felt for the girl. To confront that she in fact shared Kirika's feelings, and that she actually….

After returning to Paris, things had progressed slowly between Mireille and Kirika. Mireille had always worked alone, but now to have a partner… and one for life… It had been a big step for her. Kirika had always been a little more open with her feelings than Mireille, and like before, she had let the woman take control of their changing relationship, being patient and giving her time to adjust. As a result, their love for one another had grown gradually, like the plant they nurtured together. Firstly, they had talked more, and with greater intimacy, especially on Mireille's part. Soon there were meaningful looks and casual touches; mere brushes of hands and the like. However, those fleeting touches soon turned to caresses, then close, fond embraces, and then finally Mireille had gotten the nerve one night to kiss Kirika for the first time, and at last tell her outright how she felt about her. It had been somewhat difficult for Mireille to admit that she indeed loved Kirika; it had been the first time she had ever told anyone she loved them, romantically at least. She had had other lovers, but those relationships had been purely physical, nothing more. Regardless, with that final barrier gone, their love for one another continued to bloom even more brightly, like the beautiful flowers on the orchid had, growing and flourishing as time went by.

Mireille looked over to where her yellow scooter was parked, resting up against the radiator. It hadn't been used for months now. It was made for only one person to ride, after all, so she didn't have much use for it anymore. She was no longer alone. There was a tale, wasn't there? A tale that said a red thread joined two eternal lovers together by their pinkie fingers. When exactly had the thread tied between herself and Kirika turned red? Mireille had believed--or at least had wanted--that thread between them to be black, a shade darker than darkness itself. But somewhere along the line, that thread's colour had flaked away, instead revealing a deep red beneath. A part of Mireille had feared the loss of her independence--the part of her that had been so resistant to how she felt about Kirika--but another part of her had welcomed it. She was in love. Mireille and Kirika were a couple now, a family even; something the woman hadn't experienced in a long time, if ever. One would think that it would be impossible for someone to fall in love with their own family's murderer; they would expect Mireille's parents and brother to be turning in their graves at this very moment. But Mireille didn't see Kirika as the person who had killed her family. It hadn't been the girl's fault. She had been so young at the time… and easy to control, which Altena had taken full advantage of. If Mireille blamed anyone for her family's murder it was Altena and her Soldats enclave. Altena had only used Kirika as the tool to preform the nefarious act. Kirika had been the weapon, and Altena had been the wielder of that weapon. And did one blame the weapon or the user of that weapon for an ensuing misdeed? Kirika had been a victim, as Mireille saw it, and she believed that her parents and brother would have seen it the same way also. Her family could rest easy--their murderer had already paid for her crime.

"Mireille," a soft voice spoke from behind Mireille, caressing each syllable of the woman's name in a special way no one else could.

Mireille came out of her reverie and turned to Kirika who was standing by the half-a-dozen or so steps leading to the bedroom, now dressed in the spaghetti top and shorts she normally slept in. Kirika looked at her curiously, and the blonde brought a hand to her head, smiling faintly.

"I was just daydreaming," Mireille confessed, rubbing one of her temples for emphasis.

Kirika's inquisitive expression vanished, replaced by a rather knowing one. She walked up to Mireille and embraced her without preamble, wrapping her arms around the taller woman's slender waist. Mireille looked down at the girl, bemused, as Kirika looked back up at her.

"You do that a lot," Kirika said, her eyes shifting to something behind Mireille for an instant.

"Do I?" Mireille replied with feigned surprise in her voice. She should have known Kirika would notice. Kirika always noticed just about everything when it had to do with her. While the darkhaired girl was still as subdued and as quiet as ever, despite the changes in her relationship with her partner, she could be quite perceptive. Mireille had no doubt that Kirika knew exactly what she had been reminiscing about a couple of minutes ago.

Kirika continued to hug Mireille for a few moments, saying nothing in response. She didn't have to. Mireille returned the hug, squeezing Kirika in her arms briefly before reaching up and stroking her fingers through the girl's short hair.

"Why don't you go and get the tea started? I'll be through to help with breakfast in a minute," Mireille said, placing her hands on Kirika's slight shoulders.

Kirika nodded enthusiastically and smiled, making a small, cute sound of approval Mireille knew well. She then let go of the blonde woman and scurried off into the kitchen, out of sight. Mireille watched her go. Kirika smiled a lot more often nowadays.

"Kirika, why don't you use the new blend we got the other day?" Mireille then called to the unseen girl as an afterthought.

"Okay," Kirika called back.

As she heard the clatter of what was most likely a kettle being put on the stove, Mireille went over to the billiard table where her computer resided. She switched on the machine and sat in the chair next to the makeshift desk, the sounds of a brewing kettle mixed with tableware being prepared coming out from the kitchen. Kirika must be starting breakfast by herself also.

"I could have done it," Mireille mumbled idly to herself, although she wasn't the least bit annoyed. She might have guessed that Kirika's assistance would lead to the girl ending up doing the majority, if not all, of the food preparation herself. It regularly happened. Kirika simply liked to aid Mireille in any way that she could. Mireille found it quite endearing.

As soon as the computer's operating system had booted up, Mireille logged onto the Internet to check her email, all the while circumspectly glancing over the monitor to the kitchen to make sure Kirika was still occupied with making breakfast. As the assassin had suspected, her secure email account's inbox had several potential assignment proposals waiting for her--or rather 'Noir'. Like she had done all the other times in the past after returning to Paris from Spain's border, Mireille deleted every single one of the emails. She wasn't ready to go back to that life yet. No, not yet. And she believed Kirika wasn't either. Mireille hadn't told Kirika about all of the assignments they had been regularly offered, preferring to hide the knowledge from the girl. Mireille didn't want that other life interfering with her and Kirika's content, peaceful world. It was always a dark shadow looming over them however; one Mireille tried her best to forget about but never quite could. The woman still even carried her Walther P99 with her whenever she left the apartment--she could never know when an old memory with a grudge to settle might track her down. A person in her line of work had to forever be vigilant. However, Mireille didn't want to expose Kirika to the violence that had been so predominant in her life before. Right now Kirika was happy, almost like she was a normal child with no skills at all in the art of murder. She even carried no firearm when going outside, having not replaced her previously lost one… although arguably, Kirika was a weapon in herself. But Mireille knew that another person lurked beneath the quiet, fairly shy girl she knew and loved… a darker, more unfeeling girl. And she didn't want that heartless persona of Kirika to ever emerge again, if she could help it. There would come a day, however--a day that Mireille dreaded--when she would have to place a gun in Kirika's hands once again. It was inevitable. The lives they led were filled with blood and death, and there was no true escape. Except to die themselves. But Mireille would delay that feared day for as long as she could and do her utmost to preserve her and Kirika's blissful way of life. And in the meantime, she would cherish each pleasurable day as if it were the last, because perhaps, one day, it would be.

******

Mireille was on her computer keeping up to date with the latest news from around the world via the Internet when she heard Kirika leave the bathroom. She then heard the wardrobe door slide open as the darkhaired girl began to get dressed. Mireille disconnected from the Internet and shutdown the computer. She was tempted to peek over the black wall that separated the bedroom from the living room and spy on Kirika, subsequently drawing out a reaction from her--although the blonde wouldn't mind the show of the girl getting changed either--but in all honesty her partner probably wouldn't react much at all.

Mireille sighed and leaned back in her chair, placing her hands behind her head, and listened to the rustle of clothes in the next room. Mireille had already showered and dressed before Kirika earlier, while the quiet girl had been busy clearing away and washing the breakfast dishes she had insisted on doing. Mireille felt a little bit guilty about that. She had frequently let Kirika do most of the menial, everyday tasks before the nature of their relationship had changed, such as letting her carry shopping bags and luggage. Even now, with their circumstances very different, Mireille still slipped into her domineering role and allowed Kirika to do most of the chores around the apartment. In the past the woman had viewed Kirika as a sort of little 'servant' as it were, someone to do all the jobs she herself didn't like doing. She had tried to change now that they were involved in a romantic relationship, but it wasn't easy. Although, Mireille thought defensively, she did usually help out with the cooking. Of course, that was the one task she hadn't been completely adverse to back then… and still wasn't.

"Mireille," Kirika's voice said from a short distance in front of the blonde.

"Hmm?" Mireille said absently, sitting upright in her chair to look at her partner. She then immediately smiled affectionately and leaned forward, placing her elbows on the billiard table and lacing her fingers together, before resting her head on top of her hands. "My, aren't we cute today?" she commented admiringly, taking in the outfit Kirika had chosen to wear.

Kirika was dressed in a red and white horizontally striped v-neck t-shirt and a short, light brown skirt that came down to just above her knees. Mireille recalled buying the clothes for her a while back. A couple of weeks after they had returned to Paris, Mireille had splurged on Kirika and bought her a whole new wardrobe, replacing some of the clothes her partner had lost on her long journey to the Manor, and also purchasing new ones. Mireille had more or less picked them out herself with only a minimum of input from Kirika, but the girl had seemed to like her choices… and had also graciously let the blonde play dress-up with her as the model.

Kirika lowered her head to the floor bashfully at the flattering remark, but with an obviously pleased smile on her face. "Mireille," she then said, "you said I could paint you today."

"Oh?" Mireille said, faking surprise. "Did I?" She smirked and then stood up from her chair, sighing in mock resignation. She ran the fingertips of one hand along her bare midriff rather alluringly, just below her red sleeveless top. "Anything for me to take my clothes off, hmm?" Mireille made a disapproving 'tsk' sound in the back of her throat. "But if it's in the name of art…" Her hands moved down to the top button of the low, stylish, hip-hugging blue shorts she was wearing, as if she was about to unbutton and remove them.

Kirika looked up and blinked before shaking her head quite frantically in denial. "No," she exclaimed in her soft voice, her expression one of mild shock. "You don't have to take your clothes off."

"Aw, that's too bad," Mireille said with disappointment in her tone, placing her hands on her hips while she schooled her expression to one of regret. "Perhaps next time…"

"I would like to paint you outside in the park," Kirika explained, ignoring her older partner's teasing. She glanced out a window to the sunny outdoors. "It's a nice day…"

Mireille's eyes shifted to the numerous paintings that adorned the black wall that separated the room from the adjacent bedroom. While several of them were of landscapes, the majority were of Mireille herself in various poses. In most of those portraits she appeared reasonably content, and yet at the same time, melancholy. Mireille didn't dwell on it.

Mireille had encouraged Kirika to take up a hobby not long after they had come back to Paris. Kirika had been robbed of most of her childhood; her no doubt extensive training in assassination having left little room for the activities that filled the days of a normal girl. And Mireille had felt sad because of that. The woman had even considered enrolling Kirika in school once again, since it was clear her partner's education on commonplace topics was noticeably lacking, but after careful deliberation she had decided against it. While Mireille had been sure she could have had an identity constructed for Kirika that would have provided relative safety from the girl's shady profession, the disadvantages of her returning to school had outweighed the benefits. Kirika would have probably wanted to return to Japan and finish her education over there, meaning Mireille would have to leave France with her. And not to mention Mireille would have been very lonely during schooldays left all by herself. Besides, the woman herself could teach Kirika the things she needed to know when it was required. And with those flimsy reasons in mind, Mireille had settled on keeping her partner out of school.

So as an alternative, Mireille had persuaded Kirika to take up her painting again. The blonde had been somewhat wary to do so at first, what with the bad memories that were associated with the hobby for Kirika, but in the end the introverted girl had complied with her wishes. It had been slow going in the beginning--Kirika having not been very enthusiastic about it, most likely haunted by the past--but as soon as Mireille had suggested that she paint her, she had warmed to the pastime. Kirika had become quite the little artist, and Mireille was glad for it. It made Kirika seem happier, as if she didn't have a soiled history behind her and was simply a quiet, ordinary girl instead.

Mireille turned her head to look out the window at the bright sunny sky. She smiled and looked back at Kirika. "Yes, it is. Alright, let's go to the park then, shall we?" she said, her smile broadening at Kirika's now even more delighted countenance. "But why don't we make a day of it; how does a picnic sound?"

Kirika nodded eagerly and made a happy sound of endorsement while keeping her eyes on Mireille. Mireille could practically see the love and adoration shining in those brown orbs. The woman felt her heart melt just a little bit more. It was hard to believe she had been so cold and callous to the adorable girl before.

Mireille walked around the billiard table to Kirika and draped one arm around her shoulders, while bending down to her. "Then why don't you go and fetch your art supplies and I'll get the picnic food started," she suggested with a playful wink. At Kirika's keen sound of agreement, Mireille grinned and kissed her tenderly on the cheek. "Good."

Mireille let Kirika leave her embrace, and with a pat on the bottom urging her into motion, the girl dashed off to gather her painting equipment. Mireille smiled indulgently as Kirika scampered to a windowsill where most of her supplies resided and began to pick out what she would bring along with her. It seemed like today would be like all the others before them so far after returning home to Paris. Another day filled with pleasure and peace. Mireille wasn't complaining. Indeed, she was thankful.

"Mireille, the picnic," Kirika reminded her partner, her voice startling Mireille out of her musings.

"Of course," Mireille said with slightly strained levity. "I just have to… do something first."

Mireille walked into the bedroom and picked up her handbag that was lying on the couch. After a discreet and rather anxious look back to Kirika to make sure that the girl was thoroughly engaged with selecting her painting utensils, she moved over to the now made bed and crouched down beside it. She reached underneath it and searched along the mattress supports until she felt the cool sensation of metal on her skin. With another apprehensive glance in Kirika's direction over her shoulder, Mireille pulled out her gun from under the bed. She dropped her purse on the bed while she checked the ammunition in the weapon as silently as she could, ejecting the clip it was loaded with. The magazine contained the maximum amount of 9mm Parabellum rounds it could carry, with an additional round in the actual chamber of the firearm. Good. Mireille slid the clip back into the gun and then placed the weapon securely in her handbag.

"Mireille," Kirika's voice called from the other room.

"Yes, I'm coming," Mireille called back. She replaced her purse on the couch, where she would soon retrieve it when she headed out with Kirika, and then proceeded for the kitchen.

******

Mireille dozed with half-lidded blue eyes on her back in the park located not far from the apartment. She was lying on a grassy slope with her legs crossed and her hands behind her head, her long blonde tresses fanning out around her. The bright sun bathed her in its warmth from above, lulling her senses. Kirika was naturally beside her, sitting with her artbook resting against her knees and with a brush in hand, while the rest of her painting equipment was next to her. The remains of the picnic were by her feet in a wicker basket, the majority of the food having been already eaten for lunch earlier. Mireille's handbag with its dangerous but prudent contents was by the woman's other side, away from Kirika.

Mireille reached down to adjust one of her black thigh-high stockings on one leg and then replaced her hands behind her head. She spared a glance at her companion. Kirika was busy painting away and had been doing so ever since they had finished eating. She occasionally studied Mireille for a moment or two with critical eyes, and then went back to painting again. Mireille could tell that the girl was concentrating, although she doubted anybody else would be able to recognise it. Kirika's features remained as relaxed as ever, and she painted with lazy, leisurely strokes of her brush. But Mireille knew by her partner's lovely eyes that she was focused on her task. The woman often used Kirika's eyes to gauge how the quiet girl was feeling.

Mireille tried to meet Kirika's eyes as the amateur artist scrutinised some particular part of her body, but without avail. Kirika was studying Mireille so keenly that she didn't appear to notice the woman's efforts. Mireille often wondered what Kirika saw when she looked at her so intently. She knew that the girl looked up to her a little. Did Kirika see a mentor then as well as merely a 'business' partner? Or an older sister perhaps--Mireille was the only family Kirika had; indeed, the girl was the only family the blonde woman herself really had also. Or maybe she saw a friend, her best friend? Or did Kirika see only her lover, the person she had given her heart to? Mireille didn't know, but she believed that perhaps Kirika saw all five. She was the only person in the darkhaired girl's life, after all, the only person she even knew… who hadn't been killed. And, in truth, Kirika was the only person that truly mattered in Mireille's life as well. The woman did have friends, but most could more accurately be called contacts instead. They were only really interested in her money.

Mireille had initially had her misgivings about being looked upon by Kirika as if she was everything important in the world, and still did to a degree. The sense of responsibility made her a little uncomfortable. She feared that if she ever made some sort of mistake in her behaviour or inadvertently did something to harm Kirika that the girl's image of her would be shattered. However, to be viewed as someone so utterly… *vital* to another person, did have some benefits also. It filled Mireille with self-confidence that Kirika saw her in that way, and, she grudgingly admitted, a smidgen of pride as well. It made her feel special. And, that despite all the sins she had committed in her life, someone still saw a person worthy to be admired and… loved. That particular feeling warmed and comforted Mireille's heart.

The blonde let out a little puff of air as Kirika returned her attention to her artbook. Or perhaps Kirika simply saw Mireille as a model for her artwork. Mireille smiled at the notion and gave a small chuckle, causing her companion's now questioning gaze to return to her, this time to her eyes.

Mireille shook her head where it rested on her hands. "It's nothing," she said, dismissing the laugh. After staring at the woman for a few seconds, Kirika went back to painting.

Mireille felt her eyelids grow even heavier as time passed, the songs of birds in the trees around her and the hum of other people's conversations in the park causing her mind to wander aimlessly. Now more acutely aware of the pleasant heat from the sun enveloping her body, Mireille's eyes closed completely, the blonde woman feeling drowsy. Well, she hadn't had that much sleep last night, after all. The stray thought caused a faint smile to form on her features.

Mireille was gently awakened by a tender voice calling her name, and by something warm stroking her lightly across her bare stomach. Her eyes opened slowly and she was greeted by Kirika's cute face only a short distance above her own, the girl's dark locks hanging a mere few inches from touching her cheeks.

"You know," Mireille said softly, "you're supposed to wake me up with a kiss. Like in Sleeping Beauty."

"'Sleeping Beauty'?" Kirika echoed inquiringly, halting her caress of the woman's midriff with her fingertips.

"It's a story about a prince who wakes a princess--who had been sleeping for a long time--with a kiss," Mireille explained patiently. "So it makes it rather traditional that someone should wake their sleeping lover with a kiss. See?"

Kirika nodded in understanding and then, to Mireille's mild surprise, she leaned down further and captured the beautiful woman's lips with her own, initiating a deep and loving kiss. After a considerable while, Kirika broke the lingering kiss and looked at Mireille expectantly.

"Like that?" she asked.

"Yes… like that…" Mireille answered rather breathlessly, licking her lips and tasting the residual flavour of her lover. "Although I should be asleep when you do it. Not that I minded…"

"I will remember for next time," Kirika assured the blonde.

"Ah, you're always so studious," Mireille commented as she sat up with a smile, the prospect of always being awakened every morning with a kiss from Kirika a pleasing thought. "Is your painting finished?" she then asked.

"Mmm," Kirika said, nodding. She turned away from Mireille to pick up her artbook next to her and then presented the final portrait excitedly to the woman, her expression one of expectancy mixed with mild apprehension.

The painting was one of Mireille, as expected, with the woman lying in a relaxed position on a grass-covered slope. A backdrop of trees and an almost cloudless blue sky was behind her, creating a peaceful ambiance. The colours blended into each other well with Kirika's style of painting, the darkhaired girl having forgone sketching beforehand. It was a good picture in Mireille's opinion, one she would be pleased to add to the growing collection of portraits of herself on the wall back home.

"It's very impressive," Mireille praised her budding young artist as she continued to admire the picture. "You've improved considerably since the last time you painted me." She looked at Kirika and smiled encouragingly. "I like it."

Kirika practically beamed at Mireille's remarks, appearing very thrilled. "Thank you," she said shyly while gazing devotedly at the blonde woman.

Mireille put down the artbook in her lap and ruffled Kirika's hair affectionately with one hand, making the girl's exultant grin widen, if that were possible. Whenever Mireille complimented her for some artistic endeavour or another justified reason, Kirika was always incredibly overjoyed. It was as if only the woman's opinion was relevant, that no one else's mattered in the slightest. And while thus far all of Mireille's prior accolades had been genuine, in truth she would probably always commend her partner when the girl sought it. She had a distinct feeling that any harsh or insensitive words on her part would be a significant blow to Kirika's psyche.

"Hey, do you feel like going out for dinner tonight?" Mireille asked on the spur of the moment. "You could wear that new dress I got you…." she added enticingly, more for her own benefit than for Kirika's. She had been dying to see the cute girl in it.

"Okay," Kirika promptly agreed.

Mireille placed a hand behind her partner's head and bent forwards, before planting a kiss on her forehead in gratitude. Meanwhile, the woman's other hand touched something beside her, something made of leather but with a hard, solid object beneath it. Her handbag. Mireille's expression fell a little, causing Kirika to look at her inquiringly. But the blonde quickly smiled reassuringly at the quiet girl, who then smiled prettily back, apparently placated. The world was still peaceful.

******

"Mm, that was good wasn't it?" Mireille remarked to Kirika beside her, fairly satisfied with their recent dining experience. "The lobster was just fantastic!"

The pair were walking down the street, heading back for their apartment a short distance away. The restaurant they frequented often was not too far from their home, and Mireille and Kirika normally simply used their legs to get there, rather than taking a taxi. It was late now, night having already fallen by the time they had finished dinner. The old cobbled streets were suffused in a pale amber glow from the black iron streetlights, causing ominous shadows to streak out from every murky alleyway Mireille and Kirika passed by, as if threatening to pull them into their dark embrace. The sky above was clear, but the moon was small, barely shining down its pallid light on the world below.

"I liked the tortes," Kirika said. "The strawberry one."

Mireille bobbed her head in ready agreement. "Yes, they were good too!" she concurred.

Mireille looked to her left, where her partner was walking next to her. Kirika had worn the dress Mireille had suggested she should wear, and the woman thought she looked simply divine in it. She suited royal blue. Mireille would have to buy more clothing of that particular colour for her.

Mireille looked away from Kirika as the dead weight in her left hand made itself known once again. She carried her handbag closely by her side, a heavy and constant burden. And reminder. Peace was fleeting; bliss didn't last forever. The assassin's features became serious, grave, as the hushed sound of footsteps that mirrored her and Kirika's own returned to her ears. The man a handful of metres behind Mireille and Kirika had been following them ever since they had left the restaurant. Mireille had only gotten a brief look at the tail, but it had been enough to disturb her. The man was nondescript, someone you wouldn't think twice about in a crowd. Someone you wouldn't normally notice, or rather, pay any attention to. He was simply ordinary. It had put Mireille's instincts on full alert.

"Mireille?" Kirika inquired, looking peculiarly at the blonde woman, no doubt noticing the change in her expression and the general air about her.

"Huh?" Mireille said, turning her head to Kirika. "It's nothing," she then assured the darkhaired girl at the sight of her slightly concerned countenance, faking a content smile as well as brightness in her tone of voice.

Kirika nodded, not appearing entirely convinced.

They were nearly home now with the side street that led to their apartment building now in view, only a dozen or so metres away. Mireille quickened her stride a little at the welcome sight of their safe haven, Kirika following suit to keep up. The footsteps behind them increased their pace also. Mireille swallowed somewhat uneasily. He would strike soon; she knew it. The best place and time would be when Mireille and Kirika turned down the lane where their apartment building was. It would be any second now. But Mireille would be faster. She had been ready for this moment for so long, from almost ever since coming back to Paris.

All of sudden the man's gait accelerated, and he broke into a hurried trot. Then, a fraction of a second later, a full out run. Mireille was caught off guard and her heartbeat immediately escalated. He wasn't waiting for the street turning! The Corsican assassin abruptly stopped walking and thrust her free hand into her handbag with lightning alacrity, half-turning to face her rapidly approaching adversary and beginning to draw out her gun as she did so. Her face was a picture of determination as she moved, about to defend her and Kirika's peaceful world. But… no. After this, it would no longer be peaceful.

However, the unknown man instead ran harmlessly past Mireille, leaving an astonished woman in his wake. She turned around to see him call out in French to a taxicab that was pulling away from the curb ahead to wait, waving wildly to attract the driver's attention. Mireille blinked as the taxi stopped and let the frantic but now also grateful man inside, before the vehicle drove off. Her heartbeat gradually calmed, and her breathing became more relaxed. It had been nothing after all. She had simply let her worries and imagination get to her.

Mireille slowly looked at Kirika and met her gaze. The girl appeared unruffled as usual, completely unperturbed. Her eyes shifted down to the pink and white striped purse the woman's right hand was still halfway inside. Mireille looked down, following Kirika's gaze. A dull greyish piece of metal could be seen peeking out from the bag, clutched in Mireille's hand. The handle of the gun was cold to the blonde's touch, almost freezing, and she felt as if the sensation reached all the way to the bones in her hand. She let it go, dropping it back into its dark, black confines.

Mireille looked up into Kirika's knowing eyes. She knew. But of course she knew; Kirika's senses and combat skills were superior to Mireille's--if the woman had known about the man behind them, then undoubtedly her partner had to have known about him as well. Mireille's abilities were second to Kirika's; the girl's were still as sharp as ever, in spite of her now tranquil way of life. The blonde shouldn't have forgotten that. But it wasn't just the man who had been 'tailing' them that Kirika had been aware of. Mireille had a suspicion she instead knew about *everything*.

"Come on," Mireille said with forced enthusiasm. "We're almost home." She started walking again, as if nothing at all had transpired. Perhaps if she ignored what had happened, it wouldn't affect their quiet, serene world. On the surface at least. But that would be enough for Mireille, and, she believed--or more accurately hoped--it would be enough for Kirika also.

After a moment's hesitation, Kirika wordlessly joined the woman.

******

Mireille, dressed in the loose-fitting shirt she sometimes wore to bed, looked on silently from the top of the bedroom steps at Kirika, who was standing in the dark and shadow-strewn living room of the apartment while resting her forearms against a windowsill. The darkhaired girl had changed out of her dress and was now in her nightwear, and was currently occupied with gazing out an open window, but at what, Mireille had no idea. It was an activity Kirika engaged in often, however. The blonde remembered that her partner had done it regularly when they had first lived together too. Apparently wholly absorbed by whatever she saw out the window, Kirika didn't stir as Mireille approached her from behind and enfolded her slim form in her arms.

Mireille rested the side of her head against Kirika's and closed her eyes, before taking a deep breath and inhaling the pleasant scent of the shorter girl's hair. Mireille's hands began to roam over Kirika's body, softly and chastely at first, but then with greater and greater intimacy. One hand slipped under Kirika's light blue top and caressed the hard, taut muscles beneath, tracing wandering patterns on the girl's skin. Mireille's fingers were then naturally drawn to Kirika's lower left side, where she knew a faint bullet scar resided. It was a testament and a reminder--if Mireille needed one--of how much her precious partner loved and cared about her. Mireille's fingers lingered on the mark under Kirika's top, circling it delicately, before moving on to other parts of the girl's lithe body.

Meanwhile, Mireille's other, previously stationary, right hand dipped down into the waistband of Kirika's shorts, halting when her fingertips were only just inside. She then bent her head down and started to lay soft kisses on her partner's neck, applying mild suction to each spot her lips touched. Mireille heard Kirika give a restrained gasp and smiled, before returning her mouth to its pleasurable ministrations.

Mireille trailed her left hand upwards along Kirika's stomach until she reached her small, but firm, breasts. She cupped and lifted one of the supple mounds carefully, it just filling her hand delightfully and no more. The woman then squeezed the breast gently, and heard Kirika's breathing become deliberately slow and controlled in response. Mireille's other hand then at last moved further downwards into Kirika's shorts, its descent ceasing only when she felt the girl's silky-smooth pubis. She began to massage the area with her fingers--only a fraction of an inch above Kirika's vulva--applying hard and steady pressure. Kirika whimpered and bent her knees slightly while pressing herself back into Mireille, as if she was starting to have trouble standing up. Mireille smiled quite deviously against the hollow of her short partner's neck and her blue eyes dropped down to where her hand disappeared into the girl's shorts, the rather obscene, rippling bulge in them making her smile become a little lecherous also. Kirika would soon definitely have difficultly standing up.

Sensing that Kirika was ready, Mireille ceased the motions of her right hand and moved a bit lower into the girl's shorts to make sure of the fact. She slipped her long and slender middle finger between the folds of Kirika's inner labia--being careful not to so much as brush a specific, sensitive, spot--and felt how slick they were. Oh yes, she was most certainly ready.

Mireille kept her finger just on the outskirts of Kirika's swollen labia, all the while continuing to knead one of the darkhaired girl's breasts--and being very careful to avoid the unbearably hard bud gracing it. Her finger nestled near the entrance to Kirika's vagina occasionally delved further into the warm cleft, playing with the abundantly growing sticky wetness there. Kirika threw back her head and shut her eyes tightly, and was unable to hold back the small moan that escaped her throat as a result of Mireille's agonising--and highly arousing--fondling… or rather, teasing.

Resisting the urge to sink her finger deeply into the inviting and deliciously wet opening it was dancing around, Mireille instead stopped her sensual caresses and brought her full lips to Kirika's delicate shell of an ear. "Why don't you close that window and come to bed," she whispered in a sultry tone to the shorter girl, her voice barely audible, but knowing that her lover would hear and understand perfectly.

Kirika swallowed and then, after opening her eyes, straightened in Mireille's embrace and reached out to shut and lock the window. Mireille extracted her hands from under Kirika's top and from her shorts, allowing the girl to turn to face her. The blonde woman first took her time to pop the finger coated with her lover's juices into her mouth and seductively suck it clean--all the while staring into Kirika's brown eyes with her own smouldering blue ones--before taking her partner tenderly by the hand and leading her quietly to the unlit bedroom.

Mireille arranged herself in a sitting position on the bed first, before directing Kirika to join her with a small tug of the hand still holding one of the girl's own. The woman licked her lips in anticipation as Kirika obeyed her and gracefully climbed onto the bed, situating herself in a kneeling position between her parted and slightly bent legs. Reaching out to her lover with a hand, Mireille tenderly cupped one of Kirika's cheeks and softly stroked it with her thumb. Kirika closed her eyes and inclined her head into the blonde's hand, pressing against it, and then let out a little content sigh. Mireille's thumb strayed to the darkhaired girl's lips, outlining them in lingering, feather-light circles.

After several moments, Mireille's gentle caresses stopped and her hand moved behind Kirika's head, before drawing the girl to her. Kirika opened her eyes briefly but then closed them once again at the sight of the Mireille's nearing mouth, the woman's lips parting and connecting to hers in a soft and loving kiss. The kiss however soon grew more and more heated, until Mireille's tongue was duelling for supremacy inside Kirika's warm--and slowly becoming ravished--mouth.

Many minutes later, Mireille's lips left Kirika's and her eyes opened to meet her partner's, both lovers now panting somewhat, their breathing quick but hushed. Kirika stared into Mireille's eyes, wordlessly seeking a signal from the woman. Mireille simply stared silently back through the darkness of the bedroom, speaking with her blue gaze. After a couple of seconds Kirika blinked, and then looked down to the blonde's white shirt, before beginning to slowly unbutton it from the top.

Mireille watched Kirika's fingers as they deftly opened her shirt--the only article of clothing she was wearing--and revealed her full, luscious breasts to her partner's view. Kirika's amorous intentions were perfectly clear. Once, in the past, Mireille would have been very uncomfortable allowing the girl to do such a thing to her… and not to mention she herself doing what she had done to Kirika earlier. After it had dawned on her that eventually their blossoming romantic relationship would be taken to a more intimate, physical level, Mireille had been wrought with reservations. Kirika had lost much of her innocence already, and the woman hadn't been sure if it was right for her to take away what little remained of it. The girl was so young too--still high school aged compared to the blonde's own, more mature age--and if that hadn't been enough for Mireille to be concerned about, Kirika had been completely naïve about sex also. Altena and her lackeys had evidently skipped over discussing the mechanics of intercourse and reproduction with her, like many facets of the girl's general education. And, thankfully, it hadn't appeared that Chloe had managed to get the chance to improve Kirika's lacking knowledge with 'hands on' experience during the time they had spent together either--Mireille had been quite angry and considerably disappointed when she had learned that her departed knife-throwing rival had stolen her partner's first kiss from her… and still was. But then Mireille had never really liked Chloe… the deceased Soldats assassin's attempted murder of her notwithstanding.

With Kirika more or less clueless about sex, it had left Mireille with the dubious--while albeit rather arousing--honour of teaching her all about how to make love to another woman. After having taken into account the complicated situation she was faced with, Mireille had ultimately decided in favour of allowing herself and Kirika to express their love for one another physically, with no boundaries. She had reasoned that Kirika would no doubt eventually ascertain that something was missing from their relationship, and that in the end they would sleep together regardless. And, Mireille reluctantly admitted, she had furthermore long desired to make love to her cute partner, and hadn't been able to wait any longer. And if that made her a dirty, cradle-robbing old woman, then so be it. Besides, it wasn't like she was that much older than Kirika. At least, that was what Mireille had told herself.

Mireille's reflections were interrupted as she suddenly felt Kirika sucking on one of her breasts, while teasing the erect nipple with steady flicks of her tongue. In the meantime, one of the girl's hands began to rub and squeeze her other breast, the actions only occasionally broken by moments when she gave the stiff teat atop it loving attention.

Mireille swallowed hard and looked up to the dark ceiling as Kirika pleasured her skilfully, her lover now shifting her mouth to the other breast that craved her wonderful care. The girl traced the aureole of the blonde's breast with her tongue for a few moments, before licking the almost painfully hard nipple a couple of times, and then finally enveloping the prominent pinkish bud and as much of pliable, fleshy globe as she could with it in her wet mouth.

Mireille felt a new trickle of moisture develop between her spread legs. After a number of exploratory but enjoyable 'teaching experiences' under Mireille's tutorage, Kirika had become quite the competent lover. Sometimes Mireille thought that perhaps the quiet girl knew her body even better than she herself did.

An indeterminable amount of time passed to Mireille; Kirika's devoted attention to her breasts causing her mind to be focused on other, more pleasant and current, things. Finally, Kirika ceased her exquisite affection for Mireille's chest, eliciting a consciously composed breath of air to emerge from the blonde that helped to calm her rising pulse rate… to a degree. Mireille placed a hand on Kirika's head as it then descended down her body, softly butterfly-kissing its way welcomingly to the drenched juncture between her thighs.

Mireille gasped and scrunched her fingers in Kirika's short tresses as the girl's tongue began to tentatively lap all over her vulva, purposely missing the throbbing spot that begged for the most attention. When at last she felt her lover penetrate her smoothly with two fingers and start to directly--and relentlessly--massage her special place inside her vagina, Mireille's eyes darted all over the room, searching for anything that could distract her from the intense sensations she was experiencing, before finally resting on her handbag where it lay on the couch a short distance off to the right of the bed. It was empty now, with the woman's Walther P99 nestled for safety's sake back under the bed below her and her lover. Even now, at a moment like this, it was a grim reminder to Mireille of what the future would ultimately contain for herself and Kirika. A future of violence and murder.

Mireille was suddenly brought back to the here and now as Kirika's tongue brushed her clitoris, before the girl began to suckle on it, giving her blonde lover what she so desired. The woman's eyes fell closed as she brought her left hand up to join her right on Kirika's head, and entwined her fingers in her partner's hair, as if to keep it in place where it was presently buried between her long legs. Now was not the time to dwell on such matters of what the future held. Mireille was here, right now, in her peaceful world with Kirika, the person she loved the most with all her heart. And, for the moment at least, that was all that was important.

Mireille's breathing started to rapidly increase as she allowed herself to be taken away by Kirika's knowledgeable mouth and fingers, putting all thoughts but of her lover out of her mind. She would reach the edge soon; she rarely lasted long when Kirika was serious about giving her pleasure. But that was fine. It would only be the woman's first climax of the evening… the first of many. And Kirika would undoubtedly need Mireille's adoring reciprocations, which the blonde would be more than happy to give her. The night was still young… and the day hadn't ended just yet.

******

Mireille lay naked on her back in the bed, with an equally unclothed Kirika beside her. Both were totally sated… for this night, at least. Mireille turned her head to Kirika, looking at the girl as she gazed vacantly up at the ceiling. It was very late, and they should have been asleep by now. But Mireille knew she wouldn't be able to just yet, not until she heard a certain phrase from a certain girl.

Sensing her lover's eyes on her, Kirika turned and looked at the woman next to her. "Mireille," she breathed softly, her voice scarcely above a whisper, "I love you."

Mireille smiled at the words she had ached to hear, and then draped one arm around her partner, before pulling her close to her body. Kirika snuggled up against the woman's taller frame, resting her head near the crook of her neck. Once she was certain the quiet girl had settled herself in a comfortable position, Mireille kissed her affectionately on the forehead.

"I love you too," she answered just as quietly. The words came to her easily now, and without any hesitation. Mireille knew and accepted implicitly how she felt about Kirika; she had done so ever since the day they had first kissed.

Kirika smiled faintly at the declaration and then closed her eyes, allowing herself to drift off to sleep where she was cuddled close to Mireille, safe and content in the beautiful woman's arms. Mireille gently ran her free hand through Kirika's short locks, soothing her love into a deep slumber. The thread that tied them together was a deep, dark red now, and forever would be. Mireille knew that their peaceful world wouldn't be everlastingly, she knew that eventually either she herself, by her own free will, would be called back down the black path she had chosen to live her life along--bringing Kirika down with it--or some other incident or individual would do so. But, no matter what happened, Mireille and Kirika would face that path together. They may have not been the Noir that Altena had wished them to be, but they were a partnership of a sort. A formidable one. A deep one. A loving one. Their relationship had strengthened and their hearts had bonded even more closely, joined by a red thread. And while Mireille knew that the day when their world would change loomed ever closer; the black path they would surely travel down didn't look so black in her eyes. It looked to be tinged with red, and not with blood… but with love.

However, for present at least, the world was still blissful, still peaceful, and Mireille intended to enjoy it fully with Kirika… until that day arrived.

******

The End.


Author's ramblings:

And so ends my first one-shot fanfic. I hope it was decent. I could have made the yuri scene very long and very explicit, but I toned it down as much as I could since I didn't want it overshadowing the rest of the fic and making it become purely a lemon.

Character wise, I figured Mireille was the type to be a bit of a tease now, whereas I kept Kirika relatively taciturn as usual.

The picnic/painting scene was inspired by a particular image of Mireille and Kirika together.

Thank you for reading!


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