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Charming 1/1
By [livejournal.com profile] tsukinofaerii
Rating: SNIP
Generic/Generic
Warnings: Sexual, male/female
Spoilers: No spoilers
Series: St Tail
Pairings: Meimi/Asuka Jr

Summary: A very powerful aphrodisiac has been stolen, and St. Tail's the only one to get it back. Of course, there's going to be complications... There always are. Complete short story.

This story is a work of transformative fiction, such being defined as a work which incorporates characters and situations which have been created by other authors/artists. No infringement of copyright is intended and no profit is being made from the creation or dissemination of this work. St Tail was created and is owned by Megumi Tachikawa. It is used with respect and admiration for the work.

Author Notes: Well, here it is, re-edited and all spiffied up. There were only some minor changes, so if you've already read this, you don't need to be in a hurry to re-read it. And (in a similar fashion to my last note) this is NOT a good source for information on the Wiccan religion. You want to know, go read a book. I recommend just about anything on the subject by Scott Cunningham or Silver Ravenwolf.


***

Asuka Jr. wandered into the classroom well before the bell rang, stretching lazily. His face held the sleepy, content look of one who hasn't quite woken up entirely yet, and doesn't plan of finishing the process any time in the near future. His green ahir was slightly more rumpled than usual, falling into his half-lidded eyes. The first thing that caught his half-awake attention happened to be the girls in the room. Usually, he only noticed them when they somehow managed to intrude their way into his life, which seemed to happen much more since his growth spurt, for some reason he had yet to fathom.

This time, though, they were gathered in a small circle, cooing over something and obviously off in their own world. For some reason, it struck his pride that they weren't fawning over him, like they usually were. Not that he enjoyed it, but surely he was better than whatever it was they were so giddy about.

"What's up?" he asked casually, weaving his way through the desks to the grouping. At the center of the group was the American exchange student, Erika. She was holding something in her hand and showing it to the other girls, who were all appropriately awed.

"It's soooo cool!" one girl squealed piercingly in tones only dogs and teenage girls could hear. "Are you sure it'll work?"

"Of course it'll work!" Erika scoffed. "Back in California, these things are really popular. Sawatari's as good as mine with this baby!"

"Hi, Asuka Jr.!" Another girl chirruped, smiling brightly. "Isn't it cool?"

"What is it?" he asked doubtfully. It looked like a piece of paper with some weird drawings to him. They weren't even proper kanji. The only thing he could see that was in the least bit interesting was the red, orange and white braided tassel hanging off the bottom and lining the sides.

"It's a love charm!" Erika told him. "I got it from that New Age shop that just opened up."

"She's going to use it on Sawatari," another one, Ami, explained to him, eyes alight with the universal glow that over-took all things female when romance was occurring.

"Ami!" Erika gasped, blue eyes widening in horror. "Don't tell him, Asuka Jr. Please?" She looked at him with giant, watery eyes, a trick she'd picked up from her new friends in Japan. "I'd just die if he knew!"

"I'll keep it a secret," he promised, still wondering what the big deal was. If she liked him, why shouldn't he know? After all, there was no way anything could work out if neither said anything. "But those things aren't real anyway."

It wasn't the smartest thing he'd ever said. It earned him a glare from every female in hearing range, and a few out of range that used some sort of girly sixth sense to feel out a male acting stupid. He sweat dropped.

The tableau was broken a minute later as Reita looked up and screamed, "Meimi!" Asuka Jr. once again found himself outside the group as the girls all gathered around the vibrant Haneoka. He scowled, but decided that his pride wasn't worth being brutally slaughtered.

Sawatari walked by, intently inspecting the vents in the ceiling. "That chill has to be coming from somewhere," he muttered, wetting a finger and holding it in the air.

"What?" The dark haired young detective blinked.

"Just a minute ago while you were talking to the girls, I felt this weird chill. It has to be one of the vents." The blonde journalist climbed up on a desk, holding his hand up. "No, it's not here..."

In the background, the chourus of giggles rose, and more than a few wickedly naughty glances were cast Sawatari's way.

"Aaaah-CHOO!" the blonde sneezed, then shivered.

Asuka Jr. sweatdropped again.

***

Meimi sat at her seat, diligently taking notes, even though she hadn't heard a word the Sister had said and didn't even know which subject they were on. While her body worked on automatic, her mind was running around in circles, many different thoughts tearing through her skull.

'Should I go to that shop and buy a love charm? It can't hurt...'

'Asuka Jr.'s wearing the pants that are a little too tight again...' *mental drool*

'Yum... Men's Pocky...'

'Those charms were sooo cute, I want one. Even if I don't have a crush to give it to.'

'Oooh... He's undoing the top button on his shirt!' *squeal*

'I wonder if I brought an apple today..?'

'Certainly not Asuka Jr.; he just chases Saint Tail. Nope, I don't like him at all...'

*fan fan* 'Is it getting hot in here, or is it just him?'

'Chocolate! I brought chocolate-covered apple slices! Yay!'

'Yup, not interested in Asuka Jr. at all. It would just look cute on my wall, that's all.'

'I wonder if he'd notice if I shortened my skirt a few inches..?'

"Meimi, what is the answer to problem three?"

The young burglar slapped her desk resolutely and stood. "I'm going to get a love charm!" she announced to the world.

The Sister leveled a Look at her student. "Miss Haneoka, would you care to try again?" she asked sternly, bouncing her pointer off of a palm.

Meimi blushed. "Ummm... 73x plus a?" she guessed wildly, sweatdropping. Everyone stared at her.

The Sister stared, then sighed. "You are an incredibly lucky girl, Miss Haneoka. That's correct." She turned back to the board to continue the algebra lesson.

***

Asuka Jr. found himself paying an odd attention to Haneoka's outburst.

'Maybe I should check out that store after school today," he mused. 'Just to see what the fuss is about, not because Haneoka's gong there or anything.'

'Keep telling yourself that, buddy,' his hormones sniggered at him.

'Shut up.'

***

Meimi browsed the large selection of charms that the store carried. The girl behind the counter told her that you carried them with you for a day, and then gave them to the person you liked. If they liked you back, they would tell you that soon. If they didn't, the charm wouldn't work.

"But aren't love charms supposed to make someone fall in love with you?" she wondered aloud, looking at a light purple friendship charm.

"What's the use of love if the other person doesn't have a choice?" someone behind her asked lightly.

Meimi gasped and spun around, coming face to face with a tall, slender woman in a pair of blue jeans and a T-shirt. Her brown hair had silver streaks running through it, and was pulled back in a loose ponytail. "Oh! I'm sorry, I didn't hear you come up!" she explained, bowing to hide her blush.

"Oh, please don't do that," the woman said. "There's nothing to be sorry for, it happens to me quite a bit." Her chocolate brown eyes crinkled at the corners, as though she were laughing at a secret joke.

"I usually pay more attention to the things around me," Meimi told her sheepishly. "What was that you said?"

"I asked what the use of love is if the person you love is forced to love you back," she explained.

"I never thought of that," the alburn-haired girl replied wonderingly.

The woman chuckled. "In my line of work, I have to think of things like that," she told her gently.

"Oh?" The Junior-highschooler's interest was piqued. "What business do you work in?"

"I'm Laural Hannon, I own this shop." She bowed slightly, eyes twinkling with amusement.

"Oh, I didn't expect... I mean..." Meimi stuttered, blushing. "I mean, I'm Meimi Haneoka. Pleased to meet you." She bowed back, very deeply.

Laural grinned. "Let me guess, you expected a little old lady with a crooked, warty nose, who waves around a staff with a skull on it and wears greasy black robes?"

Meimi blushed more. "Well..."

"Sorry, I left my skull-topped staff at home today," the older woman joked. Meimi giggled, brushing a strand of hair back from her eyes. Laural laughed with her.

"So, my dear, what are you here for?" she asked, after they had gotten their breath back.

"I was just looking at the charms," Meimi explained. "One of the girls in my class bought a love charm yesterday, and I was thinking about getting one for myself." She waved a hand at the impressive display. "But I don't know which one I want!"

"So... There's a person you like?" Laural asked, tossing her bangs out of her eyes. "We have a lot of different love charms; I could help you choose."

"No! I mean, there's no one I like," the girl shook her head violently.

"You're a horrible liar."

"I'm not lying!" She turned red and studied her shoes for a moment. "What gave me away?"

"You brushed your hair back with your left hand." Laural patted the embarrassed girl's shoulder. "There's nothing to be embarrassed about, dear. We all get crushes now and then."

"But... well, it's complicated," Meimi explained, toeing the floor with her shoe.

The shop owner raised an eyebrow. "How complicated?"

"Well... he kind of likes someone else," she said sadly, sniffling a bit, shoulders slumped in the picture of dejection.

"I'm sorry, child, but sometimes it's simply not meant to be," Laural consoled her softly.

"That's not all," Meimi explained. "See, I know that girl like him back, because she's me."

"But he doesn't know that it's you?" Laural guessed shrewdly.

"Yeah," the girl whispered. "And I don't know if he'll still like me once he knows its me, or if he'll hate me for not telling him the truth."

"Meimi, if he really likes you, he'll understand." At the front of the shop, the bells on the door jangled. "I'll help you find just the charm to clear things up," she promised. "If he really does like you, he'll come around."

"You think so?" Meimi asked, perking up a little. "Really?"

"I know so," she was assured.

Smiling, the thief turned back to the charms, putting the one she held back. "Do these things really work?" she asked.

"You'll find out," Laural murmured mysteriously.

***

Asuka Jr. walked into the small shop, ignoring the little bell on the door that jingled merrily.

"...really likes you, he'll understand," someone was saying soothingly. "I'll help you find just the charm to clear things up. If he really does like you, he'll come around."

"You think so?" another, more familiar voice questioned eagerly. Asuka Jr. ducked down quickly, hoping that Meimi hadn't seen him over the racks of merchandize.

"I know so," the first voice answered.

There was a pause, then a slight rustle. "Do these things really work?" Haneoka asked.

"You'll find out."

Asuka Jr. found himself barely breathing. 'Haneoka likes someone?' he wondered. 'And what's she doing here, anyway?'

'Obviously buying a love charm, nitwit,' he reminded himself. 'Why else are you here, if not to ogle her?'

'That's not it at all!' he told the voice. 'I don't like Haneoka!'

'Suuure, I believe you. Wimp.'

The conversation the other side of the rack started again. "So, Meimi, what his name?"


Asuka felt his heart skip a beat.

"A- is it important to picking the charm?" He could have sworn that she sounded nervous. He just couldn't imagine it. 'Mei- I mean, Haneoka's never nervous!'

"Not really, just me being a nosy old lady," the other woman said cheerfully. "Here it is!"

"The blue one?"

"It's not all blue, see? There's little strands of white and orange in the braiding."

He could almost see Haneoka's adorable, confused face. "Why blue, orange and white? Isn't red the color for love?"

"Not for young love, that's more for married couples," the lady explained. Inspite of himself, Asuka Jr. found himself listening closely. "Orange is for young love, it's the color of the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite. White is for purity."

"And blue?"

"For a river."

"Why a river?" He could almost picture her eyes crossing as she tried to understand the color-coding. It was starting to confuse him slightly too. Not that he'd ever admit it.

"Because it always finds it's way to the sea. This is just the thing to straighten out your young man's feelings."

There was a squeal and the sound of someone bouncing. "You really think so?"

"Yes, I'm positive. And because I like you, you can have it for half price. 500 yen."

"Oh! Thank you!" Haneoka sounded thrilled. He listened as she paid, barely scuttling around the corner backwards in time to keep from being seen as she left the shop.

"You can stand up, now," someone said behind him. The sleuth fell backwards onto his butt in shock, craning his neck back to look at a middle aged woman in jeans.

"I take it that you were listening to my conversation with Meimi?" she asked neautrally, one eyebrow slightly raised in curiosity.

"I... uh... That is..."

The woman smiled. "You have a crush on her?"

"No!" His eyebrow twitched.

"Mm-hm. I see." She didn't sound like she believed him. "Then why were you listening? And hiding?"

"Ummm..." Asuka Jr. thought hard to come up with a plausible lie. "She's a friend of mine from school, and I didn't want her to get swindled." He mentally patted himself on the back.

"I see," she repeated. "Since you're not interested in Meimi, may I ask why you're here?" She sounded remarkably sarcastic. "Besides making sure I didn't cheat your friend." It was really amazing hwo muchinuendo and emphasis could be put on a failry innocent word like "friend". "Which, may I add, you could have done much better without hiding out like a sneak theif."

"I..." He blushed.

"You wanted a love charm?"

"NO!"

The woman looked at him, eyebrow lofting a little more. "So there's no one you like?" She stared down at him for a moment. "Why don't you stand up? You're giving me a crick in my neck."

Asuka Jr. scrambled to his feet, brushing imaginary dust off his pants.

"So? You didn't answer my question."

He cursed inwardly. "Well, there is this one girl I've been chasing..."

"Chasing?" She blinked, and the other eyebrow joined it's mate, lifting as well.

"Yeah, she's a thief I'm going to capture. Saint Tail."

"Ah. So you're Asuka Jr. I believe I saw your story in the paper, young Asuka." The woman nodded, casting a glance at the door Meimi had just left through. "I believe I get the picture now."

Asuka bristled. "There's no picture to get!" he insisted, not sure why he was so vehement about it.

"Only because you're not looking hard enough, dear," the woman said, then turned to the charm display. "I do believe that you need a good-luck charm," she murmured, fingers dancing over the items. "Let me see... Here's the one I sold Meimi... It should be just to the left..."

Asuka Jr. took a long look at the charm Haneoka had bought, then realized what she said. "I don't need any luck!"

"Of course you don't," the woman murmured sarcastically, pulling a white and pale green one off the rack. "Here." She pressed it into his hand. "Take it."

"I don't need it, though," he insisted.

"I didn't say you do. It's a gift; free of charge."

"A gift?" he asked suspiciously. "Why?"

She smiled graciously, the glow he had noticed in the girls at school lighting her eyes. "Because I have a soft spot for young love."

***

Laural Hannon grinned to herself as she walked through the back room of the shop. She just loved helping out young lovers, and something about this particular pair told her that there was destiny involved.

Humming under her breath, she opened up a small cabinet that was filled with an assortment of bottles. Picking up a tiny blue one with a thick oil in it, she peered at its label while reaching farther into the shelves. Her smile froze as she didn't feel anything. Setting the down the oil, she reached deep into the cabinet, patting around. Nothing.

Worried, she dug through the jars, looking at each individually until there were none left.

"It's not here," Laural murmured, hands shaking. "But it has to be here; I was working on it just yesterday, when Ter..." She stiffened, eyes wide in realization. "Terra."

***

Seira wandered through the park idly, taking deep breaths of the fresh spring air. She usually would have been at the church, but she'd been told to relax. God would understand that she couldn't help everyone all at once. And, as much as she didn't want to admit it, Seira was enjoying herself. It hadn't really hit her until just then that spring had arrived, something she used to look forward to tremendously.

Voices cut through her peace. "Terra, please give it back," a woman begged softly, her voice almost inaudible. "You're only hurting yourself by keeping up this stupid rivalry."

The nun-to-be looked up, curious. Nearby, two women were arguing. One seemed on the verge of tears, her brown eyes watering. The other had pale blonde-white hair, and seemed smug about something.

"You'd just let it go to waste, Laural," the blonde was saying. "I'll put it to good use; there's quite a few people who would pay very well for that little number." She giggled, one hand rising to cover her lips and the nasty smile there.

"Terra, that's rape!" the other woman, Laural, gasped. "How could you?"

Terra tossed her bangs, looking down her nose at Laural with hard green eyes. "It's not rape, and it's not in my hands. What they do with it is up to them."

"'What thou does comes back to thee,'" Laural whispered, the sound of it barely carrying to Seira's ears. Tears slid down her cheeks.

"'So ever mind the law of three,' I know. I KNOW." Terra turned to walk away.

"Please, listen to me! I'm only trying to help you," Laural grabbed her hand only to be shoved violently away.

"Ruin me, you mean! You just can't stand the thought of my imminent success, can you?" Terra snarled, hatred twisting her features. "Go play with your little karmicly-safe love charms, and leave me alone!" Terra stormed away, leaving Laural on the ground, staring after her.

Seira ran over and kneeled beside the fallen woman.

"Ma'am, can I help you?" she asked worriedly

Laural just looked at her hand where it was braced against the ground. "Stupid, stupid," she muttered, shaking her head. For some reason, the pattern her tears made as they splattered against the ground seemed fascinating.

"Ma'am?" Seira repeated, touching her shoulder. "Can I help you?"

Laural looked up, smiling wanly. "That depends on how good you are at listening," she said, wiping a tear off her cheek.

Seira smiled back serenely, putting on her best 'nun-to-be' look. "I think I can do that."

***

Seira smoothed down her white habit, looking at the cross that hung over the church's alter. The warm glow of purpose filled her, making her lips twitch in a tiny smile. Behind her, the doors of the church creaked open. She turned.

"Meimi, I'm glad to see you. There's something I wanted to speak with you about."

The young thief was clutching a small shopping bag to her chest. "Sure, Seira," she grinned. "What is it?"

"In the confessional, please," the nun in training waved Meimi past her, moving to her own place behind the lattice.

"So what is it this time, Seira?" Meimi asked in a semi-hushed tone. "Another lost lamb?"

"This one more lost than usual," Seira grumbled good-naturedly. "You've heard of the New Age shop that just opened up on Sakura Lane?"

"You mean the one owned by Laural?" A faint squealing came through the grilling. "I just came from there, the charms they have are soooooo cute!"

Seira sweatdropped. "Umm, Meimi, the lost lamb..." she trailed off, waiting for the thief to get back to business.

"Oh. What about the Shop?"

"It seems that Miss Hannon, the shop owner, recently had a potion stolen from her by a rival."

"Potion?" She could almost hear Meimi blink.

"Yes, potion. Miss Hannon is a Wiccan, and had been experimenting with certain oils and herbs to create an aphrodisiac to sell in her store. Before she was able to dilute it, or even alter the ingredients to reduce the effect, it was stolen."

"So it's real magic?" Meimi asked nervously, fidgeting a little. She practiced stage-style magic herself, but she wasn't sure what to think about the real thing.

"Of course not," Seira scoffed. "There's no such thing. It's just herbs and such."

"Oh." For some obscure reason, Meimi was disappointed. "If it's not real magic, then what's the problem? Can't Laural make more?"

"Of course she could make more, but she's afraid that her rival will market it without dilluting it properly, making it little more than a date-rape drug. An extremely powerful one; the current dosage is three drops, and even that level is enough to use immorally."

Meimi's eyes caught fire. "This is a job for the defender of love and lovers," she declared loudly, fist in the air, "Saint Tail!"

Seira sweatdropped again. "Meimi, not so loud," she hissed.

"Oh. Sorry."

***

Asuka Jr. sighed, digging through his locker for his math book. He sighed, feeling more tired than usual for some reason. Inside his pocket, he could feel the press of the charm into his thigh. 'Maybe that's why...' He ended that train of thought. Magic wasn't real, everyone knew that. 'Well, maybe not Haneoka,' he corrected himself, remembering how happy- and gullible- she had sounded buying the love charm.

"Daiki! Heads up!"

The detective swiveled around on one heel, just in time to get a sucker-dart between the eyes. His eyes crossed, trying to get a good look at it. A little ball on the end of the dart broke open, filling the air with confetti. A roll of paper came out reading, "Surprise!" with a little card dangling on the end.

"I will come for the potion at the next Raven Wing Coven full moon ritual and circle casting. Saint Tail."

"Ooh, is it another calling card?" a girl near him cooed, stars shining in her eyes. "Oh, that's soooo romantic!" she sighed, swooning.

Asuka just kept staring at the card uncomprehendingly.

"Daiki?" someone near him asked. "What's wrong? It's from Saint Tail, right?"

He pulled sucker off his head, ignoring the red mark it was sure to leave. "I was just wondering how someone could go fishing for a geometric figure."

A tennis shoe connected with his forehead, sending the clueless boy sprawling. When he looked, Haneoka was standing in the hall, whistling and looking at the ceiling innocently. The open gym bag that was hanging on her arm, however, looked guilty as Hell.

***

"I still wish you'd let me bring security guards," Asuka Jr. grumbled, snuggling deeper into his jacket. It was a warm spring night, but a cold, damp wind had began to blow through the trees as soon as the sun had set. He found himself chilled in spite of the blazing "balefire" only a handful of meters away.

The leader of the coven, a short, dumpy man who asked to be called Gratiae, shook his head. "I'm sorry, but we just don't want out religion opened up to the public," he said, shrugging apologetically. "People on both sides of the fence have a lot of prejudice when it comes to paganism. We'd rather not be run out of town."

The young man snorted. "That doesn't happen in this day and age."

Gratiae sighed sadly and stared at the trees, his hazel eyes far off. "You'd be surprised, young man."

"Are you sure that it's the right one?" Asuka Jr. asked for the third time that night.

Gratiae nodded. "The tea we brew over the fire is the closest thing to a potion that takes place at these rituals," he explained. "I don't know why she'd want it, but who knows why a thief does the things she does?"

"Yeah," Asuka Jr. nodded, one hank of dark hair falling into his eyes. "Who knows."

"Gratiae," one of the coven members called, raising a wrist and pointing at her watch. The lead witch nodded. The girl grinned, then stripped her watch and threw it on a blanket that held an assortment of other small electronics and jewelry. When he'd asked about it, Gratiae had explained to the young sleuth that magic tended to short out electronics, especially anything that worked with crystals, and it was considered poor taste to wear jewelry in a circle, unless it was ceremonial.

"I have to go start the ceremony," the fat man told him. "Just sit back and watch for the thief. Don't interfere with the ritual unless you have to, please." And with that, Gratiae waddled away.

Asuka Jr. settled down against a tree at the edge of the clearing. He paid only a little attention to the ritual going on in front of him, instead concentrating on the woods around them. 'Come on, Saint Tail. Make your appearance.'

He did that for a half hour, barely noticing as the moonlight began to illuminate the field. The cherry blossoms fluttered down to the ground as the wind began to pick up.

A flash of light in the center of the clearing dragged his eyes back to the ceremony. Asuka Jr. watched in amazement as the roaring flames of the fire grew higher and higher, turning an eerie shade of silvery-purple that he absolutely knew wasn't natural. The image began shimmering slightly in front of him, like heat waves rising off of asphalt.

Two indistinct forms, one male and one female, began to move around the grouping, touching each person. They passed close by him, but Asuka Jr. found that he couldn't see what they looked like no matter how hard he focused. Then the shimmer began to grow worse, and the fire got brighter, until he had to turn his face away. When he looked back, it was as if a filmy curtain had been erected between him and the group. He could barely make out the fire in the center, even though it was only five meters away.

Something stepped out of the separating glow. It was the female figure, radiating a soft white light. She walked right up to him without hesitation, seemingly skimming over the ground rather than walking on it. Pausing, she looked at him for several silent seconds with wide lavender eyes that seemed to reflect back the light of the full moon. Finally, the woman smiled and leaned forward, brushing warm lips across his forehead. A distinctly girlish giggle echoed through the clearing. Then she stepped back and pressed a finger to her lips, before fading back into the curtain.

***

Saint Tail sat on a tree branch, watching the scene going on below. She frowned minutely as the woman kissed Asuka, but shrugged it off. The woman stepped into the strange light that had encompassed the group of pagans, and Saint Tail couldn't help but wonder what it was. From her vantage point, the light was shaped in a perfect sphere. Inside of it, she could clearly see the Wiccans watching the woman wonderingly. Absently, she wondered why Asuka Jr. was acting like he had trouble seeing through the light, but shrugged it off.

'Maybe she's their leader,' the young thief mused. Silently, she swung down and crouched on a lower branch. The woman went back to the group, which spread out in a circle. Once at the center, the lady smiled and took the hand of a man Saint Tail could only assume was her husband. She shook her head and reached for the first trigger for her opening.

'It's show time. Lord, forgive me for the tricks up my sleeve...'

***

Light flooded the clearing, coming from all sides in a brilliant display of showmanship. As quickly as they had appeared, they vanished, neatly leaving everyone blind.

"Good evening," Saint Tail called, balancing delicately on her tree branch. "I hope I'm not interrupting."

"Saint Tail?!" Asuka Jr. cried, desperately rubbing his eyes. He blinked furiously, barely making out her shadowy figure between sunspots.

The thief made a small guesture. "I'll be taking the stolen potion now." She frowned. For some reason, it wasn't working. She tried again. Nothing.

"Your little tricks won't effect a cast circle," one of the Wiccans taunted, her platinum blonde hair glinting in the firelight.

"Terra!" someone snapped. "Quiet!"

"Well, then," Saint Tail murmured, pressing a finger to her pursed lips. "I'll just have to do things the old fashioned way then, won't I?" Crouching down, she leaped, diving straight for the group. Rolling to her feet, she dashed straight for Terra, keeping her face in shadow. At the edge of the glowing light, the air grew thick for a second, slowing her steps.

'I WILL do this!' she swore silently, pushing against the barrier. A warm something seemed to buzz in her bones for a moment, then the air thinned back to normal, and she was in the circle of firelight. Without stopping or even lifting her head, she tackled the renegade Wiccan, reaching inside her robes and grabbing a tiny orange bottle. Holding it tightly, she ran for the edge of the woods, forgoing the usual flashy exit.

"Hold it right there, Saint Tail!" someone behind her yelled just as she passed into the shadows of the woods. She leapt into the branches, pausing to look at her tail.

"Sorry I can't stop to chat," she called, doing her best to ignore the ache that had begun in her knee; she was pretty sure it was just a bruise. "But I'm in a bit of a rush." With that, she ran.

"Oh no you don't!" Heavy footsteps followed her flight as Asuka Jr. pounded after her.

Behind them, Gratiae turned to eye Terra, who had the grace to look ashamed. "Stolen?" he asked, one eyebrow raised.

Behind him, a young girl was looking at her mother curiously. "How'd she break through the circle, Momma?" she wondered aloud. Her mother just shook her head and shrugged.

***

Saint Tail panted for breath, her steps faltering. She didn't know how he was doing it, but Asuka Jr. was keeping pace with her. Worse, he was starting to catch up. She took another breath, wincing as her lungs began to burn. She would have to stop soon. And if she didn't do it right, the game would be over. So she had a choice. Keep running, and hope for a lucky break. Or she could stop and face her pursuer on her own terms, with a fifty-fifty chance of being caught.

Decisions, decisions.

The choice was made for her as her foot slipped out from under her, sending the young thief tumbling to the ground. She barely managed to catch herself, rolling as she hit to absorb the impact and ending up slamming painfully into the base of a tree. Something in her shoulder snapped sickeningly as she felt something tear. A warm, wet trickle began to seep down her back, a faint glitter of shiny black in the faint moonlight.

"HA!" Something grabbed her wrist, pulling. She screamed as pain ripped through her shoulder. It felt like her entire left side was being torn open.

"Oh God," Asuka Jr. breathed, letting go immediately. He could barely make out the shadow of her figure in the faint moonlight. Crouching, he gently touched the injury, wincing as she whimpered and tried to get up.

"No, don't move." As gently as he could, Asuka Jr. held her down. "I think it's dislocated." She stopped struggling, small sobs of pain pushing their way past her throat. When he moved his hand, it came back dark with blood.

"Hold on, I need to stop the bleeding." He peeled off his button-down white shirt, leaving himself bare from the waist up, and folded it into a makeshift bandage. He felt around blindly in the dark until his fingers touched the jagged edge of the cut. As gently as he could, Asuka Jr. cleaned the dirt and leaves out of it, hoping it would be enough. She hissed as he pressed the cloth against her shoulder.

"Why?" The question was so soft that Asuka Jr. almost missed it entirely. He pressed harder on the wound, taking his time before answering.

"Because I want to capture you, not hurt you," he replied softly, hanging his head. His eyes shined velvety green in the dim illumination provided by the moonlight through the branches. "And, well, because you never steal anything just for the sake of it, or for money." He shook his head, checking to see if the blood flow had stopped. When he saw it hadn't, he covered the wound again and continued what he had been saying. "I know people who only give to charities because of the tax deductions. You may do the wrong thing by stealing, but you do it for the right reasons."

Her breath hitched. "And?"

"And..." He hesitated, heart hammering. This wasn't how he imagined things would be, when he finally caught her. "And I like you."

He could feel her shoulder shift as she lifted her head and smiled at him, eyes barely hinting at a dusky blue. "I'm glad I'm not the only one in this boat." Her skin under his hand felt warm. He flushed.

"Where's the bottle?" Asuka Jr. asked suddenly, trying to change the subject.

Saint Tail levered herself to a sitting position with her good arm, then patted the ground around her. He heard a sudden intake of breath as she froze. Her hand rose to her lips.

"What is it?"

"I-I think it shattered when I fell," she stammered. "It- there's some of it on my lips, and I think I can taste it in my mouth. It must have splashed when it shattered..." She tried to climb to her feet, but couldn't manage it in the dark with one arm, "Help me up, please, Asuka?" she asked, trying again. Her thoughts were getting fuzzy, almost dream-like, and a warm glow had started up in her stomach. "I need to go. Now."

He frowned, brushing some hair out of his eyes. "You should wait a little longer before running," he suggested. "What's the rush? It's not like I can see your face."

Saint Tail shook her head. Her breathing began to get heavier. "No- I can't. I... I think I swallowed some of whatever was in that bottle. I..." She shuddered, collapsing onto her good elbow. The woods, previously cool, seemed to be heating up. "It..."

"What does it do?" Asuka Jr. seemed to hear the urgency in her voice, but didn't help her rise. Instead, he knelt down at her side and placed both hands on her good shoulder, holding her down. "It can't be bad enough to risk hurting yourself more."

She was taking deep, shuddering breaths. "You don't understand." It came out as a low moan, ending in a tiny gasp as her head sagged forward onto her chest. "It was an aphrodisiac..." She swallowed, her tongue becoming thick in her mouth. Her eyes slid closed as she concentrated on ignoring his closeness and tried to get up. It was getting so very hard to think...

"Afro-wha-ziac?" Asuka Jr. asked, shaking his head. He couldn't understand why she was acting so weird, much less what the word she had just said meant. The term sounded familiar, but... "Saint Tail..?" He brushed her bangs back from her forehead, a worried frown crossing his lips as he noticed the sweat beginning to form on her skin.

Saint Tail moaned and pressed her face against his hand, marveling internally at how large it felt against her cheek, the calluses adding just the right amount of roughness. Images rose to her mind, unbidden, of how those hands would feel against her skin. She bit her lip, whimpering softly.

The young detective slid his hand down the thief's jaw, intending to check her pulse. Imagine his surprise when one of his fingers was captured by a very warm mouth, which immediately began to suckle and play with the digit. She leaned back against the trunk of the tree, holding his arm still with her good hand as she played, moving her attentions down to the sensitive inside skin of his wrist.

"Sa- Saint Tail," Asuka Jr. gasped, finally coming to his senses long enough to take back his hand. She whimpered and tried to follow, stopped only by a restraining pressure against her collar bone and chest. "Why..?"

"The potion," she murmured, sliding sideways to evade his grasp, managing to crawl halfway into his lap, where she began nibbling at the hollow of his neck. The burning in her shoulder and arm were a distant memory, pain overridden by a much more primal force. She was stopped by his palm over her mouth. She glared and pushed her torso closer to his, making sure her breasts pressed againt his chest enticingly so he could feel every movemnet as she squirmed.

"What about the potion?" Asuka Jr. asked, silently asking God to give him willpower. "You said that it's an aphrodisiac?" When she nodded sullenly, he continued. "What is that?"

She looked longingly at his bare chest, but answered. "It's a kind of drug that effects hormones, encouraging sexual arousal." Before he could cover her mouth again, she kissed him.

Asuka Jr. gasped, green eyes widening as her tongue slipped inside his mouth. Without his mind's consent, his body kissed back. All it was aware of was that a girl- a girl it was very attracted to- was sitting in its lap and rubbing up against it enticingly. Even more important, it was beginning to hit puberty, and so nearly any little thing was enough to cause a sizable reaction. This was anything but little. It didn't care about drugs, rivalry or even the fact that they really didn't know each other. Because of this, it reacted accordingly, and Asuka Jr.'s pants began to grow tight.

Her lips against his were soft and pliable, and very warm. She had somehow managed to squirm around and wrap her legs around his waist, and was using that leverage to press them together from groin to collar bone. His tongue felt out a tiny place at the corner of her mouth that must have been cut in her fall. She licked his lips one last time before moving to bite gently on his ear, her usable hand tracing feathery patterns against his chest. The sudden freeing of his mouth shocked Asuka Jr. back into thought.

One word floated through his head. 'Drug.' No matter what his body was telling him, or what he personally wanted, this had to stop. It wasn't right; she didn't know what she was doing. "No..." His voice barely came out as a hoarse whisper. Shivers racked his spine as her tongue traced the shell of his ear; it was all he could do not to fall backwards into the soft forest loam and let her do whatever she wanted. "Stop." It was louder, but she still ignored it, moving on to the spot just behind his jaw. He tried to push her away, but his arms weren't responding.

"Do you know I've always wanted this?" she asked, sotto voce, lips brushing against his skin as she spoke. "Ever since I first saw you in class that one time, I knew I liked you." She kissed the area again. "Even though I told myself that I didn't, I was thrilled when you decided to catch me."

Asuka Jr. did his best to ignore the hints to her identity. "Saint Tail, you have to stop this." His head rocked back as she bit down at the juncture of his neck and shoulder, rubbing against him more.

"Why?" She sounded honestly curious, and slightly disbelieving. "I can tell that you're enjoying it." She rolled her hips against his for emphasis, drinking in his hiss of pleasure with a quick blood-tinged kiss before moving back to his chest. She could barely feel the nagging ache in her shoulder as it was drowned out by drugged arousal.

"You... you don't know what you're doing," he gasped out, using every ounce of will he could dredge up not to thrust back against her. 'She doesn't know... she's out of control... but God it feels so GOOD.'

"I know exactly what I'm doing," the petite girl murmured, right before taking his nipple into her mouth. This time he couldn't suppress a low moan, wondering absently when he got so damn sensitive there. Her hand began to work at the button in his pants, fumbling a tiny bit as she became less and less coherent.

"No." Somehow, he managed to get his arms working again, dragging her lips away from his chest. This time he didn't let go, even though she rubbed against his erection.

"Please!" It was almost a sob. "I... I need..." she gasped, trying to yank herself out of his grip.

"No," he repeated firmly, finding it easier to think when her mouth wasn't occupied.

"I- I'll tell you my identity," she bargained, tears beginning to trace twin paths down her cheeks, glittering like diamonds in the faint moonlight.

Asuka Jr. was tempted by the offer more than he wanted to admit, but he couldn't see living with himself after such a deal. "Saint Tail." He shook her slightly, being careful not to jostle her arm. "You're drugged. You aren't in control of yourself. I doubt you even like me like that." It got easier to concentrate with every word he said.

"You don't want me," she wailed, going him in his grasp. "What did I do..? A-Am I- ugly like she..." Whatever she was going say was choked out in a sob.

Carefully, Daiki rearranged her in his arms, seating her sideways so that he could still hold her while she cried. "You didn't do anything." He ran his fingers through her ponytail, noticing that it smelled like strawberries and sunshine.

"Then why don't you like me?" Saint Tail asked pitifully, hiding her tears in his shoulder. They trickled down his chest, but he ignored it.

"I do like you." He almost laughed, but some deeply buried and usually ignored instinct told him that laughing while she was crying would be a Very Stupid Thing To Do. "Oh, God, how I like you. But I don't want... this." He tried to explain before the tears got worse. "Not when you've been drugged, and not when you're hurt."

She sniffled, but the tears stopped falling into his shoulder. "Really?"

In answer, Asuka Jr. kissed the top of her head, quickly memorizing the feel of her hair against his lips. She seemed to fit perfectly into his arms, her head snuggling in right beneath his chin. "Really."

"Good. 'Cause I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have a chance with you." Her speech grew slurred as the night began to catch up to her. She sighed, leaning into him. "'m sleepy. Stay with me, please?" He nodded, and she melted against him, everything going hazy. She still wanted him, but it was easy to ignore in the face of her exhaustion.

Asuka Jr. began to relax, his hold loosening slightly. Saint Tail stirred, turning so that her cheek pressed against his chest, nuzzling her head under his chin. "Love you, 'suka. G'night."

Asuka Jr. sat there, stunned, before a warm smile crossed his lips and he kissed the top of her head again. "I know you don't mean that," he whispered against her hair, almost silently. "But I think I love you too. Good night."

***

Asuka Jr. woke up to feel cloth over his eyes and sunlight shining on his face. He reached up to pull it away, but a gloved hand stopped him.

"Don't," Saint Tail murmured. "You don't want to know who I am, remember?"

He asked the first question that came to mind. "How's your arm?"

He could almost feel her wince. "It hurts. You were right; it was dislocated. I popped it back into place, but it won't get better overnight." He could hear her moving around. "I'm sorry I couldn't move you to a more populated area."

He snorted, sitting up and shaking his head, amazed that she could do something as painful as relocating her shoulder without help. "With that arm? You shouldn't be apologizing about it." His hands weren't tied. He almost grinned at the show of trust, but refrained.

"I know." It was a simple statement, but it held a whole range of remorse. "But still..."

"Why haven't you left yet?" he asked curiously.

"I wanted to thank you." Her voice was soft, almost inaudible.

"For what?"

She settled down beside him, her thigh barely brushing his own. "You could have taken advantage of me last night, and I wouldn't have blamed you for it." She laughed. It was a bitter, self-mocking sound that sounded very wrong coming from someone who usually sounded so cheerful. "Blamed you for it? I begged for it. And you still held out. So thank you."

He shook his head. "It was the right thing to do." He could still remember what her lips tasted like on his, and something told him that he would never forget it.

"But you cared enough to do it. I don't know anyone else that wouldn't have given in. So..." Something soft pressed against his cheek for a moment, her kiss feathery light. "Thank you."

He smiled. "You're welcome."

She got up and moved away. "I'll see you next time. Good bye, Asuka Jr."

Hit heart hammered in his chest. "Saint Tail..."

She paused. "Yes?"

"Good luck."

There was a soft, tired giggle. "Thank you, I'm probably going to need it." She hesitated a second. "But I'm not sure I want it, any more." There was a quick rustle, and he couldn't hear her anymore. Reaching up to pull off the blindfold, he stopped as her voice came from slightly above him.

"And Asuka Jr.? I meant everything I said." And she was gone.

The young detective pulled off the blindfold, noticing that it was a strip ripped from her skirt. As he looked around at the trees, he found that he didn't really feel like moving. So the dark-haired young man laid back down and watched the birds in the branches. Something dug into his thigh; it took him a moment to dig out the small, lamenated piece of parchment with blue, white and orange ribbon braided around the edges. Asuka Jr. looked at the card for a moment, then turned back to stare at the trees.

'Me too, Saint Tail. Me too.'

***OWARI***

perfect story

Date: 2011-10-07 03:47 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I love your story, it's perfect. Could you maybe make a second chapter to it?

Maybe he can't stop thinking about what almost happened and he decides to buy another one of those drugs and give it to her again?

My stupid idea.

idea for story

Date: 2013-06-08 03:36 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hello. I love this story and actually have an interesting idea for it. I know that this is your creation and that is why i ask. I would like to use the idea for this story to create a trilogy of saint tail stories i would like to call the elixir trilogy. Please, if you could contact me so we can discuss this idea at hksenak1@aol.com

that is all lowercase btw. The address is.

Anyway love your story. Again contact me. My name is Heidi and i am willing to collaborate on this story if you would prefer that. Lets discuss. I just have a cool idea.

sorry

Date: 2013-06-08 03:50 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Sorry. That was the wrong address. Incorrect old family adress. The new one is kksenaka1@aol.com

sorry about that

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