Claes found her day quite agreeable– up until she stumbled across a particular Google entry and followed the link to the horror created by a smut writer with a terribly terrific imagination.

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Domino Effect

An Admissions Spin-Off... Sort Of...

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Disclaimer

Sheo Daren does not own Gunslinger Girl.

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Dedication

To Nachtsider. While it isn't a new chapter of Life Goes On, it is one of my classic GSG stories.

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Chapter 1

A Day In The Life Of Freda Claes Johansson

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Earlier…

Warm sunlight washed across her face. It filtered through the thin cotton of her sleeping clothes and kissed her skin, friendly greeting and gentle rousing, wordlessly whispering summons of wakefulness.

Her response was to burrow herself into her bed. She had spent the previous night feverishly devouring an Italian translation of Rose Madder. Not quite intelligent of her– and she was a very intelligent girl– but even intelligent girls could be silly when having fun. She paid for that now, but it was a cost she didn't mind paying.

Anyway, today was a Saturday, as close to a day off as she could ever have. She could oversleep if she wanted to. It wasn't like there was a mission that needed doing. Jean had given them all the weekend off. And she was her own person. No one could make her do something she didn't like.

"Freda Claes Johansson," commanded the stentorian voice of her father. "Stop slacking off and get back to work."

Yes, Sir Raballo…

Slowly she came into wakefulness. Stared blankly at the clean white ceiling of the room she shared. From below was the sound of gentle sighing so soft. Triela was still asleep. And not snoring. How pleasant for a change.

Claes carefully got up from bed. She reached for her glasses.

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It was a Saturday, an off-day for the whole organization. Even Jean, that stick-in-the-mud, relaxed rigid rules. The balmy weather furthered the residents of the former monastery into enjoying themselves and this rare moment of simple peace.

Henrietta and Mireille were out shopping. Angie practiced playing a violin under the shade of a tree and Rico's marksman eye. Triela paraded across the compound in her favorite blue dress. (Disturbingly, Hilshire did not seem to mind…) Beatrice patrolled the corridors out of routine. Petrushka practiced sexy dance routines in an empty room.

Claes' garden waited.

But first she ministered to herself. She showered briefly, the better to clear away the cloying cobwebs of sleep still clogging her brain. She then donned the same 'Kansas farmer' overalls that had sparked a war way back to a time she'd forgotten (but which her notebooks did duly record at her behest and in her hand). A wide-brimmed hat, a gift from Mireille and Etta, topped her dark mane.

Her garden was a neatly compact affair. A low wall of bricks fenced off the fifty-meter-square plot of land. Neat rows of various vegetables partitioned its length and breadth. Her sagging children begged to be released of their heavy burdens. She obliged and got down to picking.

The happy weather assisted her. Thick white clouds kindly helped her hat shade her head, while agreeable zephyrs fanned her puffing cheeks.

Still, it was hot work. Claes wiped stray strands of sweat-slicked hair from her eyes and looked around her in case Triela or Henrietta was waiting in ambush with a camera like that last time.

Then it was time to break up the ground for aeration and fertilizer. Claes loved the feel of good black earth between her fingers. Working with the soil pleased her much the same a good book and drowsing while fishing did. Times like this, she felt completely content. Almost as if the man who shaped her into who she was now stood right beside her, gruffly but kindly approving her minor accomplishments.

Here is your garden, Sir Raballo. I planted it for you. I hope that I did well help.

The morning was nearly gone when Claes finished. She decided a thorough bath was in order, what with the sweat and dirt (but it was good dirt, the dark black of garden soil, soft and pleasant on the skin) covering her from head to toe. She asked a conveniently passing-by Beatrice to pick up a clean change of clothes for her before hurrying off.

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The shared facility reserved for the mechanical bodies was separate from the dorm rooms but otherwise superb. As always, the standard issue pink-colored toilet paper caused her to shake her head in slight dismay. What was wrong with white? Or brown, Claes being partial to earthy color tones. Maybe we can petition Jean to buy a different brand. I'll see what support I can get from the other girls. Then we'll go to Mireille. After all, if you want a man to do something, you go to his woman.

A torrent of water quickly washed off most of the grime. (She was almost reluctant to see it off. It gave her the feel of being one with Mother Earth. But dirt was dirt and she was fastidious.) Scrupulous scrubbing with a loofa sponge handled stubborn holdovers. A deliciously gentle body shampoo recommended by Petrushka soothed the few raw spots on her skin. Applying it reminded her of not a few memorable scenes from her romance novels. She sighed.

Cleansed, it was time to spoil her self. The bathtub was halfway full when Beatrice knocked.

"Claes? Here's the clothes you asked of."

That it was a set of Triela's clothes– white long-sleeve shirt, black pants, paired white cotton lingerie (about the only feminine apparel in Triela's wardrobe aside from the infamous blue dress and the pajamas), even a black necktie– didn't really spoil her mood. My fault. I should have been more specific in my instructions. Beatrice had been glad to help out.

Besides, the clothes more or less fit. And Claes could change once she got back to her room. Triela would understand. They were friends and roommates. About the only things they didn't share were handler and eyeglasses. No, sir, Hilshire was Triela's, and Raballo was Claes'. One man in a girl's life was enough.

Claes lowered herself into the hot tub. Her artificial muscles did not detract from the enjoyment of a luxuriously long soak. She stayed long after the water cooled, her mind transporting her to a lakeside camp far away, drowsing beside a man whose face she'd forgotten but whose name and legacy she recovered from the wreck of her memories and his secret records.

"This isn't so bad, is it?"

No, Sir Raballo. It is very good.

So she found herself late for her daily chat with Black. Not for the first time, she regretted the significant distance between her room and the reading room she inherited from Raballo, torn as she was now between changing out of Triela's clothes (the front of the blouse was admittedly baggy) and getting to Black in time.

Finally, she decided Triela would understand. What were friends for, after all?

Black teased her for being late. Their following discussion in Yahoo Messenger proved long and fruitful.

Among other things, her online friend from America had introduced her to Stephen King just a month ago. Claes had instantly converted to the religion of "Bestsellersaurus Rex", buying– and finishing– half of King's works in just two months. She couldn't get enough of the man. Romance novels and gardening books couldn't cover everything in life.

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Black: You should read his epic saga The Dark Tower. Or at least read the first volume. You'll find it apt for the likes of us.

Claes: What's the title of the first volume?

Black: The Gunslinger. :)

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How apt, indeed.

Finally, Black signed off for one of her routine medical checks. The American would be gone for the rest of the day and most of tomorrow.

Claes was alone again.

Beautiful alone…

She closed her eyes and stretched her arms above her head. The soft fabric of the polo shirt on her skin reminded her that she still wore Triela's clothes. But the need to change was no longer there. The elegant feel of her current costume had grown on her without her knowing. Hilshire's fashion taste was actually decent in some ways.

Triela would laugh her head off at that observation. Even scarier, the blond wouldn't disagree.

Google currently occupied her Firefox Web page. On a whim, Claes typed her name in as the search word and pressed Enter.

Three seconds later, Google informed her that there were 70,071 entries on the Internet containing her name. That impressed her. I'm popular.

She refined the search by limiting it to English (the meeting with the Handsome Men had placed a new emphasis on the language) sites and bracketing her name in double quotation marks. 1,160,000 articles left. Among the articles, she found the one on the Central Laboratory For Agricultural Expert Systems at . rather pertinent to her interests. The link led to a dead site, though, much to her disappointment.

Curious, she added "Triela" to the mix. Just 662 articles remained. As expected. Her roommate always cut things down to a much more manageable size. Mere mention of Triela packed the same devastating crowd-clearing capabilities of her M1897 Trench Shotgun. Double the effect if she had the dress on.

Fifth in line on the first page (the setting was ten links per page) was a curious item.

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Admissions by Sheo Darren

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Her curiosity was sufficiently perked, Claes clicked on the link.

Fictionpress contained original stories and poems posted by amateur authors for the reading consumption of interested parties. It was a sparely furnished site whose first concern was story content.

The story she sought was written by one Sheo Darren. It was classified as a "Romance" story. The brief description ran thus:

You guys asked for this, what with that stupid picture you showed me on the forums. ClaesXTriela lemon fic. Yuri.

Her first reaction was to ask why her name– and Triela's– was there. Her next was to wonder exactly what subdivision of the wide-spanning English language did those last two lines belong to.

I know Yuri is a first name. But why is there a big X between my name and Triela's? And why would anyone want to write about a lemon? And what's a 'fic'?

She noticed something else. The rating was NC-17. For adults only.

Claes was not exactly repelled. Virtually all of the romance novels she had read could easily qualify as PG-13 at the very least. She considered herself an open-minded individual. And she wasn't a child anymore, though she still possessed the body of a twelve-year-old. Besides, it was a romance. To be expected. Nowadays, even in a conservative Catholic country like Italy, sex and romance went hand-in-hand.

Finally, she was curious as to what a story containing both her name and Triela's could amount to. Especially one tagged as a romance.

Somehow she failed to connect two and two. Then again, Claes was a good Scandinavian (her exact nationality escaped her) Protestant (she didn't know this, either, and could hardly care) girl who didn't know about these sorts of things. Romance novels were one thing. What the Japanese (or any anime fan, such as Henrietta's look-alike American friend Danielle, for that matter) would have recognized– and either be warned off by (or attracted to, depending on the person's taste)– struck her as alien and incomprehensible as extraterrestrial life from the Andromeda Galaxy (the usual culprit for sci fi authors). Not to mention the story seemed interesting.

So she scrolled down and began reading.

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Delicate lavender eyes widened. Hot blood rushed up her pale face. Whether from anger or embarrassment or perhaps both, she was unsure. Quickly growing less unsure with each sentence she browsed.

She so wanted to react. Vent out the sea of broiling magma quickly gathering within her chest. But she couldn't. The story held her fast. It completely banked upon a completely inane and perverted premise, and dragged and dunked her mind in and out of filthy mud (now there was a truly dirty thought)– but the writing itself was above-average English and the dialogue admittedly amusing. And Claes was a reader.

So she finished it. Only after the last word could she deem herself sufficiently able and equipped to respond.

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Triela nearly jumped out of her dress (today was "Tease Hilshire Through My Choice Of Fashion Day") as an indignant snarl made it through the closed door beside her.

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"What the hell is this trash?"

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To Be Continued/Tsuzuku/Itutuloy

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Author's Note: Ah, nostalgia… I started this story back in 2008. That's six years ago. I was still in college back then. One can really see the difference between my writing style back then and my style now.

This story has been more or less untouched since February 2010. About the only change I implemented involved a few corrections and adding scene breaks in the form of periods, what with ff dot net again changing its policy on scene breakers. Seeing the outdated shift+enter style scene breaks that I once used brought a smile to my face.

Why did I take four years to publish this? I was trying to finish the entire series before I started releasing it. I've only finished two chapters so far. This is one of them.

Why didn't I modify it before publishing it? I was quite fond of this story, and I remain fond of it today. I tend to overwrite my older fics, so what relics I still possess are usually print-outs or –if I felt prescient enough- separate soft copies.

Chapter 1 and 2 will be released with only minor corrections. Chapter 3 will probably undergo a significant rewrite, but may retain much of my old style of writing. The fourth and final chapter will be a total rewrite solely using my current style of writing.

I hope you guys enjoyed it. Especially you, Nacht.