Story: Return ~refrain~ (all chapters)

Authors: bleeding.blade

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Chapter 1

Title: Prologue (Vanessa Speaks of Finding and Being Found)

[Author's notes:

PREFACE: This is less a story than it is a duet of extremely short vignettes. I wrote it out of a belief, born from experience, that well-rounded and appealing characters are too rare in anime to be simply killed off. Although writing this story helps me "rectify" the anime's "error" somewhat, I still feel a lot more can be done to do justice to the relationship between Madlax and Vanessa. It's one of the most poignant pairings I've ever seen in anime - which is why it's certainly a pity that the series doesn't have a bigger fanbase.

WARNINGS: This story takes place AFTER the series, so spoilers do abound as well as several references to the anime's ending.

NOTES: Full credits go to writer Bakablonde for being the first (at least to my knowledge) to come up with an idea that allows Vanessa Rene to come back to life - you can read her wonderful retelling of the Madlax story on her website For consistency, all character names and series terminologies have been based on the Madlax article in Wikipedia. As a final note, the title of the story follows the same device used by the series' episode titles.

DISCLAIMER: The characters of Madlax are the creations of Bee Train and are therefore not my property.


I remember the day my life started again in earnest. It was the day she came for me.

She'd stood in the shadows, a chestnut-haired, blue-eyed angel with the most beautiful smile I'd ever seen.  My mind didn't recognize her, but the rest of me did.  I could feel it in how I wanted to touch her, could sense it on the answering smile on my lips. It felt as if I'd been waiting for her ever since the day I'd woken up - waiting for her to claim me, or perhaps, reclaim me.

I greeted her with the only word that I carried from my vanished past.



That first day, when she'd seen me, she'd looked as if she were about to cry.

Vanessa, she'd said, over and over again, like an incantation, a spell, a word of blessing. She had reached out to touch me, but had pulled back instead. (Later she had told me, I was frightened of frightening you. I had stroked her cheek, smiling. Idiot. You could never frighten me, whether in this life or another.)

On that day I'd only said: You know me. You know of my past. That name you just called me, is it my real name?

She'd nodded and said it again. Vanessa.  A single tear had run down her cheek. On an impulse, I'd leaned forward and brushed it away. She'd smiled then, flashing that beautiful, heart-breaking, soul-wrenching smile. You're still you, Vanessa Rene. I'm so glad.


They told me that villagers had found me; that I'd lain comatose for weeks. I'd woken up without a name, a past, or a memory - just a single word that seemed to mean nothing, but contained...everything. I'd said it to myself, over and over again, like an incantation, a spell, a word of blessing. It was all that I had. And in those first few months, it was all that I'd needed.

During rehabilitation I discovered that I had a talent with computers, an asset that eventually saved me. In a country just recovering from civil war, skills mattered more than identities. My first job had been in the hospital, but even then I'd had a goal. My past lay somewhere in the tattered remains of the country's bloody history. And so it was, that three years after waking up, I'd worked my way into the Gazth-Sonikan Intelligence Agency, a low-ranking officer in the Clandestine Services division, but one with unparalleled access to the country's information databases.

In a lot of ways, the job had been a perfect fit.

But it was the only thing that fit. There was still a hole in my life, and it had a shape, and I knew its shape the day she came for me.



I'd found her profile in the War Criminals Database, her name an innocuous-sounding heading to a long list of obituaries. She was a legend in the underground, amongst the police and the military. I thought then that perhaps she had tried to kill me, and that was why her name had been on my waking lips. She was the key to my past, the obsession of my present, and - if the day came that I finally found her - perhaps the forfeiter of my future. I didn't care. I needed to know.

(Later, when I'd told her that, she'd smiled and said. You were always a reckless fool, Vanessa Rene. But reckless fools I've never hated.)

So I looked for her but didn't find her. Then one day, she came and found me.


We'd sat across each other in some nondescript café. She had stared at me then smiled.

When SSS told me that someone in the GSIA was looking for me, I never, ever thought it would turn out to be you, Vanessa Rene.

She'd looked as if she would cry again, but had continued instead with her train of thought.

When Margaret told me about the wishes she'd made at the Door of Truth, when she'd encountered her three desires...I never thought they would come true like this. Which means...and she had whispered to herself then...that somewhere in this world, Elenore Baker and Carrossea Doon are alive...Oh! Margaret will be ecstatic!

Then she'd remembered that I was sitting there, had apologized and smiled. But that can wait. You're here, Vanessa Rene. And for myself, at least, that's all that matters.

I'd still known nothing of her then - except the fact that she was deadly and wanted and possibly my "murderer". I'd also been confused by her strange ramblings. But I'd felt so safe with her, had been so entranced by her chestnut hair and her kindly blue eyes, that my fears and my questions had lain forgotten. She'd looked at me then and nodded her head. I'm sure you have questions; things you need to ask. Do you want to have dinner with me tonight?

I'd love to, I'd said simply. She had blushed and looked away. Later then, she'd told me - then added with a smile, until then, Vanessa Rene, please don't die okay?

It had been a strange thing to say; only I found myself replying with an even stranger response. It's a promise then...and one I'll keep this time.


She'd knocked at my door, and the sight of her had taken my breath away. She wore a white dress that ended at her knees and gave me a bouquet of flowers. They're helianthus flowers, she'd said, and added with a grin, their name is supposed to carry the word "temptation".

Like you? I'd teased, staring boldly at her in her dress. She'd laughed and shaken her head. Do you always flirt with strangers, Vanessa Rene?

I never flirt, I'd told her (and it had been the honest truth). And besides, I'd added, I...know you're not a stranger.

She'd looked at me with tenderness. You're beautiful, Vanessa Rene. I wish I'd told you that before. She'd spoken the words like a caress and I shivered in spite of the warmth. 


We'd had dinner at an expensive restaurant. For some reason, I'd known we would order pasta. She'd asked me about my life - when I'd woken up, what I could remember, the things I'd been doing since then. She'd asked me if I had a lover, and had seemed pleased when I'd said no.

She'd taken me back to her apartment. It'll be easier to tell you everything there. And then she'd told me a fantastic story - a story so preposterous I knew it had to be true. When she'd finished, all my questions had been answered. All my questions except for one:  what had we been to each other that she had wept when recounting my death, and I had wept when I had seen her pain? But I'd said nothing and had stared, wondering, at her instead.

What's wrong? She'd asked me. Do you feel sad?

Yes, I'd nodded. But not for the reasons you believe. I feel sad for her...the old Vanessa Rene.

She'd looked puzzled and asked me why. Because, I'd said hesitating, because she met late in her life.

And the way she'd looked at me then, the way she'd smiled as a tear fell down her cheek, the way she'd taken me in her arms and kissed me, and the rest of the tender violence that had followed - all of those had answered my question.


She had me in all the ways we could think of, on all the surfaces we could find: on my back, on my knees, above her, below her, over the counter, under the table, between her sheets, against the wall.

Hours later I had asked her: Did we make love like this before?

She'd paused for a while then smiled: I think you only went as far as holding me, and it only happened once.

I'd laid my head against her shoulder: I must have been a fool.

She'd laughed then, but I had meant it. I couldn't imagine being close to her and not wanting to touch her skin; couldn't imagine just holding her and simply stroking her hair. Even then, after hours of making love, my hands already wanted to repossess her. I wanted my taste on her lips; I wanted her taste on mine. I was already living my second life - I didn't want to waste any more time.


We'd started living together after that. One day soon, she told me, we'll visit Margaret and Laetitia. But right now Margaret is busy, trying to find someone she's lost.  We help Margaret as much as we can - Madlax searching through her contacts, me searching through my databases. We still haven't found Elenore or Carrossea, but someday soon we will. Until then we won't give up. 

Chapter 2

Title: Epilogue (Madlax Speaks of Everyday Life with Vanessa)

On remembering...

It's hard for me to remember what life was like before she arrived. Or maybe it's more accurate to say that there wasn't much to remember before she came. I was born out of sadness - was created out of the denial of pain. She tells me that I rescued her, but really she rescued me: Vanessa, my black-haired, green-eyed protector - my seducer, my lover, my reason for living. Margaret brought her back from the dead; then she came to me and brought me back to life.


On going to bed...

She looks perfect in everything she wears, but I love it best when she has nothing on but a man's shirt. I love the anticipation that comes with removing each button; love how it exposes her skin in delicious little increments. It's become a game for us to see how long I can make unbuttoning her last. She teases me when I do it - arching her breasts against my hands, whispering dirty little things in my ear. Sometimes, just to get even, I tease her back, refusing to remove the fabric, sucking her nipples through the cloth, until finally she tears the shirt off herself, and we forget to read the time on her stopwatch, losing ourselves, making time itself stop. We've ruined a lot of her shirts this way.


On waking up...

I'm a light sleeper, which makes it difficult for her to surprise me. She never stops trying though, and I never want her to. She only tries it when she knows that I'm tired and have no assignment lined up the next day. She waits until she thinks I'm asleep, and starts by unfastening my clothes. She'll start kissing my neck, working her way between my breasts, then trailing her tongue around them, before fastening on my (by then erect) nipples. I start stirring when she does this, though I try to stay still. Then thinking that I'm still asleep, she'll start kissing her way down my belly, past my navel. By this time, she knows from the arching of my hips that I'm awake, and takes advantage of the movement to remove my underwear. She'll start probing me with her tongue, start exploring me with her fingers (though it's terrain she's covered infinitely). Vanessa, I'll say, in sleepy exasperation. By the time she's done, I'll have screamed her name twice or thrice. She likes waking me up like this too. We've never needed an alarm clock.


On bathing...

Showers are tricky, baths even trickier. She loves it when I come in when she's bathing. I'll lean against the other side of the shower curtain, watching her silhouette as it moves. She pretends that she doesn't know I'm there, and starts provoking me by running her hands over her thighs, arching her back, thrusting her breasts. I'll stand there mesmerized, feeling the steam from the shower, the steam from my pores, until finally, I'll rip the shower curtain aside and she'll be standing there smiling, knowing that I can't resist (can never resist). I'll hold her against the wall, while she wraps her legs around my waist, her hands in my hair, her nipples in my mouth. My fingers know her intimately. I know from her gasps that they always enter at the right angle, always hit the right spot, until she's bucking against me, her screams echoing across the tiles.  When we're done, my clothes are drenched with water, with suds, with her. I should just do my laundry this way, I tell her with a sigh. She smiles and tells me: That's my third bath for the day.


On working...

There are times when I'm rough with her, after I've had a particularly grim assignment. I'll come home and throw her onto the bed, tear her clothes off, pin her arms down, silence her moans with brutal kisses. I never do anything violent enough to actually hurt her, but I know it's different from our usual playful tenderness. She never complains, always gives herself to me fully, even when I'm fucking her mercilessly. During these times, she says my name like an incantation, a spell, a word of blessing. When I've calmed down, and she's holding me against her breast, I'll look at her nearly crying and say, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry...You don't have to put up with it. She shushes me with a finger on my lips. Idiot, she tells me tenderly, there's nothing to put up with. Besides, she smiles wickedly, revenge is sweet - and just the slightest bit salty. It's the only reason I accept the tougher assignments.


On cooking...

I'm the better cook between the both of us. She always finds the fact exasperating. How you learned with your profession I'll never know, she tells me. But I know her exasperation is superficial; I can feel her grinning behind me in the kitchen. She never tries anything when I'm at the stove or at the chopping board. But when I'm doing salads I'm fair game. She starts when I have my hands full and can't touch her. She always opens with the same excuse. You have a bit of lettuce on your neck. It amuses her to invent such outrageous excuses. You have a splash of vinegar on your shoulder. Because it's food and shouldn't be wasted, she doesn't wipe but licks. You have a drop of dressing on your ear. If it's my ear she'll also take a little nibble. If you keep this up, I warn her, you're not going to get any dinner. She smiles. Then I'll just have to eat you. So far, I've never managed to toss a single salad.


On eating...

Sometimes, I'm amazed by the power she has over me: how simply hearing the sound of her voice brings to mind our endless nights; how just having her look at me arouses me. She knows this and takes advantage accordingly. How many times have we had our meals interrupted by her scorching gaze? I asked her once if she ended up being hungry. She told me that I was her favorite meal of the day. Sometimes, I'm amazed by the power I have over her. How the sound of my voice, the touch of my skin, the very sight of me reduces her to helplessness. It thrills me to know that only I can do this to her. It humbles me. 


On falling asleep...

She enjoys lying out by the balcony and holding me in her arms. She'll curl up around me, my head tucked underneath her chin. I'll turn around and look at her silently, not saying anything, knowing she can hear it, knowing she can see it in my eyes, in the way I look at her and hold her, my heart so full it hurts. She smiles at me when this happens. Say it again, she teases me, though nothing has been said. I smile at her, knowing what she means. No way, I say, and she laughs and curls her leg over mine. It's always the perfect end to our day.

[End notes:

I've actually begun writing a much longer version of this story, if only because I am extremely fond of Madlax and Vanessa. Someday, I'll get to finish it and post it. I hope :0)


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