Continuity: Post-series, holds that Hao and Jeanne not only didn't win the Shaman Fight individually, but are acting on their obvious sexual tens--oh, right, keep my fantasies to myself. Gotcha.

--

-

Mercy Me

--

-

He was staring with peculiar fascination at the spaghetti wound elegantly around the fork's prongs when she slipped in the opposite seat. "I've wondered several times," he said after a moment as she tapped the laminated menu on the table, "why the Western cultures felt the need to have such extravagant cutlery. Do you know that many upper-class Europeans have four or more forks for each course in a dinner?" His dark, impenetrable eyes flickered toward her, humorous, and he popped the swirled, red-dripping noodles into his mouth.

"I simply can't understand it," he continued and shook his head, smiling slyly. "Why such complexity, when most cultures settle for reason, instead? Any proper society knows what works best is that which is simplest."

He lowered his head, slightly, to keep from producing a mess as he took another bite; his eyes gleamed up from under his dark eyelashes and the long hair tied back from his face. "Europeans are rather uncivilized, don't you agree?"

Jeanne raised her eyebrows and smiled delicately at him, batting her fair eyelashes in a cute display of sarcastic beauty. "Are we forgetting something, Hao?" she asked sweetly. She cast a quick glance at the menu, coursing her fingernail down the list of appetizers quickly. "Such as, say, one's dining partner's ethnicity?" A quick flicker of her fingers beckoned a harried waiter over. "A basket of the toasted garlic bread, please," she said with a pleasant smile.

"Present company withstanding," replied Hao without blinking, nodding stiffly to the waiter. He grinned broadly and, with practiced flicks of his wrist, twisted a large nest of the Italian dish around the fork. "Jeanne, dearest, you know I'd never hurt you." Swallowing the spaghetti, he nibbled thoughtfully on the prongs and the edges of his mouth slowly tilted up. "Kill you, perhaps," he admitted cheerfully, eyes dark with smug light, "but never hurt you."

"You aren't getting any garlic bread," she retorted. Primly unfolding the cloth napkin in her lap, she crossed her leg over its partner, and smoothed out an unimportant wrinkle in her professional skirt. "And Hao," again smiling sweetly, she leaned forward over the table, "you literally can't go around killing people anymore. There's no point to it, is there?" Jeanne shifted back and shrugged her hands, palms up, in a gesture of helplessness.

Hao glared, once, in an ugly fashion, before wiping the emotion from his face and replacing it with a sinisterly cherubic smile. "Must we be poisonous to each other every time we meet for lunch?" he asked coyly, and took another large mouthful of the spaghetti. He winked mockingly, and she smiled ironically. "You'll start getting wrinkles if you aren't careful. Wouldn't that be a pity? The Iron Maiden starting to rust." Finding that thought amusing, he snorted once and tilted his head to one side with subtle hilarity.

"If anyone here is going to rust," she answered breezily, "it would be the man over a thousand years old." The basket of garlic bread dropped in front of her face and with a hurried thanks to the waiter, she bit into one of the pieces. "Although that point might need to be argued."

"Semantics," he nodded. Setting his fork down, he thieved a heavily toasted slice. "And you're only jealous because when you die, you're merely dead." Still smiling slightly, he bit down with a delicate, heavy crunch; grimacing as he chewed, he brushed the tumbling crumbs aside to his napkin with the side of his dark hand. "But if we can find it in ourselves to be humane to one another," Hao continued blandly, face carefully apathetic, "I promise I'll adopt you as one of my spirits."

She stared at him for a moment, a small lump in her cheek where the bite of garlic bread had taken up residence. "I doubt I want to be stuck with you as my master," Jeanne said dryly. Chewing quickly and rather noisily, she swallowed and took another short bite, pinching her nose irritatedly. "If you want to get into another theological discussion, I'm not budging at all. I have nothing to tie me to this world, and for me, advancing to heaven to be with the glory of Christ, is the greatest desire I have." Smiling angelically, she finished the toasted bread and fished another piece from the bottom of the basket, earning a disgusted scowl from Hao.

"Eat the first one you touch; it's simple hygiene," he gave her a dirty look. Then, with interest, he asked, "You've finally f-cked that fey kid?"

Jeanne choked on her breadstick and glared, eyes watering at the scraping of swallowing it. "What does that have to do with Christ?" she rasped out, looking about for something to drink and upon seeing his glass, decided she would rather have a bleeding throat. "And his name is Lyserg."

"Aren't you interested in him?" continued Hao, still looking horrifically intrigued with the conversation's turn. "Here I thought you were determined to - what're today's youth saying? To screw him blind?" He nodded thoughtfully. "Always the godly girls, isn't it? In any case, that's certainly a worthy cause; I wish you the best of luck in seducing him. He and that imbecile with the banana hair are rather close." Taking a swift sip at the water, he slapped the glass firmly to the table and grinned adorably at her.

"I am not going to seduce anyone," she narrowed her eyes with a haughty sniff. "And I don't like you talking about Lyserg like that. Stop eating the breadsticks." He grabbed two pieces, just to spite her. "Bastard," she coughed, aggravating her throat, and winced; voice hoarse, she added, "I hate you, by the way."

"Observe my shock," Hao retorted and somehow managed to bite into one of the breadsticks with a classy air. As she rolled her eyes and glanced aside at the wall as though it were tremendously interesting, he smirked for no reason other than to be annoying. "Before we get completely enveloped with this riveting repartee, who's paying for lunch today?" He smiled, charmingly.

"Satan take your soul," Jeanne snapped, and stole the last breadstick from the basket; with a lift of her chin and pursing her lips, she restored her aura of perfect tranquility, elegant in her skirt and turtleneck.

Sagely, Hao responded with, "Ouch. Uncross your legs; the kid on the other side of the room can see your underwear."

--

-

Notes: It's either a vignette or a teaser. Title taken from that very sexy love song; y'know, "oh mercy mercy me." Yeah, you know the one.

Feedback: It's delicious!

Disclaimer: All characters are created and owned by Takei Hiroyuki, known by night as Kickass Man.