Mademoiselle E

Chapter I

"My love!"

He knew what was coming but still had barely enough time to close the door and remove the knives around his waist before a whirlwind of thin limbs attacked him and wrapped him in a welcoming hug, fast as lightning and very tight despite the smallness of her frame. Then all he could do was hold the weapons on one hand and the canvas bag on the other. Both were heavy but nothing he couldn't handle.

He had to admit it was very nice to come back home and have such a warm welcome waiting for him. In difficult nights things of that sort helped him cope with his work and just knowing she'd be home waiting for him made him want to come back on one piece for reasons that had nothing to do with politics or revenge. Sometimes she reminded him of a little tree monkey, with her tendency to jump and then cling to him with arms and legs.

The first time she'd attempted to do it, both ended on the floor and he had to control defensive reflexes that hadn't expected her to do that and considered her affectionate reaction a real threat. It was so stupidly funny that he laughed for a good minute, probably not the best thing if he wanted her to be more careful and start behaving like a lady. After that she came up with a lighter version of it saying that –he- needed training, and she'd still attack him with a quick jump but she'd settle for wrapping her arms around his neck, tight enough to support her weight, and she'd hang from his neck and at a good number of inches above the floor for as long as he would let her, even if he was moving from room to room. The arms plus legs hug came later once –he- had learned.

"Oh, so I'm your love now? This afternoon you called me a stiff-backed Halloween voodoo scarecrow." He just had to tease her once in a while and remind her in a good-humored way that her mood swings turned her into a disrespectful little beast. He'd loved her since the beginning.

"V, you were nagging me over nothing!"


"It was just an old flick!"

"My dear E," Yes, now she insisted he called her that; apparently she wanted a letter of her own. "It was Caligula you were attempting to watch, the director's cut even."

"So? If it's good for you it should be good for everyone else." It was fun to scold the little beast, especially if she managed to pout like that, squeeze him with arms and legs, and defend her point of view, all at once.

"So? So I believe right now it would be a little too much for you. But you are smart and it won't be long before you can watch that film and any other you'd like. For now there are other things more appropriate for you."

"Oh, so you let me play with guns but I can't watch an old movie?"

He just had to laugh. He loved her rebellious spirit, even if sometimes it turned against him. That spirit had kept her alive and combined with a remarkably sharp mind, produced a very interesting combination. There were also very dark corners inside that little body, not of the sort caused by cruelty inflicted upon an individual but something completely of her own instead; one of those oddities of nature that from time to time produced charming little demons, half irresistible and half frightening. Sometimes he could catch a glimpse of those dark corners in her brown eyes, eerie and even perverse, but when put next to his, the result was some sort of bizarre and surrealistic harmony. In their private reality they were well-adjusted and perfectly functional, what the rest of the world would call "normal".

"First of all, I don't let you play with guns; I teach you how to use guns –and- you always practice under my supervision. I would have you use paintballs as well but in this place and age it's easier to find real ammunition."

She rolled her eyes and that announced the rebellion was over for the night, or at least it seemed to.

"And shouldn't you be in bed already, mademoiselle E?"

"I was! I'm on my pajamas, see? I went to the bathroom, heard the locks and ran to greet you."

"So if I understand correctly, you were not up waiting for me or doing God knows what with my things in the makeup room but actually in bed until you had to piss, which by coincidence happened just as I was coming in, right?"

"Uh huh."

"That would mean your bed should still be warm if I checked."


"I suspect it's actually quite cold and I also believe my wigs will be full of knots." He finished presenting his empiric evidence and tilted his head in a benevolent gesture of forgiveness. "Did you remember at least to push the covers aside and lie down for a short while to give the right impression of someone sleeping there recently as I taught you?"


"Good girl. Well, I didn't expect you to be awake but since you are, I have something to show you, unless you prefer to go to bed after smothering me so thoroughly."

He hated to ruin the party but it was late, he was tired and dirty, and the brat shouldn't cut her sleeping hours short. It would be best to hurry. After all she was on a tight studying schedule he'd put her on and even more important; at 14 she was still growing. Not much really but she was healthy and vigorous so it was probably a matter of genetics and he expected her to become a pretty petite lady. She was a perfect teenager in any other sense or at least as perfect as he could expect coming from a girl with such a troubled past.

He'd found her a little over a year ago, one cold winter night. She'd been living in the streets like a rat after she'd escaped the Juvenile Reclamation camp she'd been sent to after her parents had been black-bagged and killed like so many other citizens. He'd been scouting alleys, looking for new routes and very busy taking notes on the positioning of surveillance cameras when his sharp senses let him know he had company.

The shadows were dark enough and once alerted of that other presence in the alley, it was easy for him to slip out of sight and hide properly to listen. It sounded like a muffled sob, behind the mountains of garbage he'd already seen, piled against a wall. He heard it for the third time and his curiosity made him forget for a short while why he was there in the first place. He ventured out of his hiding place and slid without a sound to where the sounds were coming from. He looked down and his gaze was returned by a pair of terrified brown eyes. He felt the impulse to escape before he was even seen clearly but those eyes below him guessed his intent and two desperate tears became his downfall.