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Title: Bullets For My Love

Author: Odon

Rated: PG-13. Romance/Angst.

Fandom: Gunslinger Girl.

Summary: How do you respond to the affections of a fourteen year-old killing machine? For Hilshire/Triela shippers.

Disclaimer: No profit is intended in the writing of this story, and the Italian government denies using cyborg children to assassinate enemies of the state.

Send feedback to odon05@hotmail.com. Archiving is welcome, but please try and contact me first. My thanks to Nachtsider for his beta work.
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BULLETS FOR MY LOVE

They'd laugh it off in the dining hall afterwards - the flowers handed in with empty ammo clips, chocolates that appeared next to stakeout coffee, a sonnet in the margins of an after-action report. Bantered over graffiti on the walls of the Killing House: "H+heart+J. Who could have written that, Jose? Anyone you know?"

"At least Triela doesn't give you these problems," said Jose as he scratched off the love note with his multitool.

And Hilshire had nodded as if in agreement. Smart, proud, impertinent Triela - pining over her handler like a dizzy schoolgirl? No way.

He'd told no-one of the kiss she had stolen while he was half-conscious in a hotel in Naples, the warmth of her body on his bare chest and the pledge of love until death like a dream, a shock-fuelled fantasy dredged from a mind that's too long listed the acts and excuses of perverts.

The next day they'd collaborated on the after-action report, lying to the Agency and lying to each other. He had agreed not to take on wet work without her. She had promised to share the dangers equally with him. Weeks later when he ran the Killing House weighed down with flash-bangs and kevlar, his guts still burning where she'd pulled out the bullet, Triela had punished him by sprinting ahead, ignoring his shouted orders as she riddled the targets with berserker fury.

The others must have noticed they were spending more time together, but Angelica's death had affected them all. Jean had been seen hugging Rico - an act which portended flying cybernetic pigs, or so Triela claimed. There were rumours that Sandro (it would be Sandro!) was sleeping with his cyborg, and snide comments from Section One meant broken teeth in a bistro at three in the morning. If that taboo had been violated Hilshire had no doubt the other Second Gen handlers would follow suit, their desire driven by absolute power and the closeness of death. How long before he heard the all-too familiar scheissdreck: "She came on to me. I was only trying to comfort her. I couldn't help myself."

So he pretends not to notice her overtures; she puts her fists on her hips and lectures him (with historical and literary annotations) on the nature of PLATONIC love and OF COURSE she knew he would never do THAT! He wasn't that kind of man!

(And if he'd replied that he wanted to use her like the worst of those pigs in Amsterdam this proud, impertinent, brainwashed love-struck child would have gone happily to her destruction.)

Her flirting would be quaint in its inexperience (lines from French movies and classic romance novels) had she not sought his embrace with the implacable ruthlessness of the programmed assassin, striking when he's tired and distracted or his heart pounds with adrenaline. As he stares at the bulletholes where his head had just been, as she steps (still alive!) from a shrapnel-riddled van, on endless lonely stakeouts with too much time to think. Or perhaps he is rationalising - maybe he craves her touch as much as any paedophile.

They make plans, urgent and whispered where the rattle of gunfire drowns the ever-questing microphones of Section Two. Steal medicine and a vehicle, study maps of the border, get forged papers from his underworld contacts. As the recoil of the G3 brutalises her shoulder, Hilshire talks of fairytale castles and valleys covered in vine, of a life free from the dull aching fear.

She dreams of dying in his arms on the banks of the Mosel.

But it's all a fantasy - when the hallucinations start and her immune system rebels against the high-maintenance implants, he'll load her trembling body into a stolen ambulance and drive back to the Agency and whatever punishment they decree, all so she can live a few weeks longer.

Her death is an obsession. This killer maiden who's seen hardened Camorristi begging as she pushed in the bayonet, smelt the stench as they voided their bowels thinks her end will have dignity. Her blood will be red on the snow, his tears wet on her cheek, the foes she has slain piled in tribute before him. Sometimes she lies on a hospital bed, shining with love for her executioner as he presses his SIG to her eye, firing the bullet that will free her from a drug-blurred limbo where she won't remember his name. Never blind and screaming, trapped in a scorched carbon-fibre shell with the limbs ripped off as he stumbles away through the wreckage, sick with guilt yet ever-so-grateful that she caught the blast meant for him.

Nights spent writing letters that she burns on completion, without letting him read.

She's waiting in the corridor. He places a box of 9mm Kurz in her gloved hand; Triela's face lights up like he'd given her another damned bear. Hilshire wishes he'd not held back on the conditioning - her eyes should be like Rico's, soulless as the muzzle of a gun. Not this burning fervour to throw herself into the breach, between his heart and the cannon's mouth.

"It's all I can give you."

She pockets the rounds. "It's enough."


THE END.
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