by Quicksilver

Note: This diverges from the anime at episode twelve, so should be consider alternate universe. Chiaki's background is entirely fictional; Fin Fish is not an agent for the devil.

Part One

'Being a Kaitou really sucks,' Maron thought as she returned to her apartment two hours after midnight. She had time for maybe five hours of sleep if she pushed it, and she knew that she would most likely fall asleep in her class tomorrow anyway.

What was worse was the fact that tonight's Checkmate had gone to Sinbad again. He always knew about her notices, and lately he was making good on his promise to steal all her targets. Fin Fish was just as frustrated with the situation as Maron was, and could offer little advice aside from telling Maron to put her heart into her work.

With a sigh, she collapsed to her bed, closing her eyes and praying for sleep to come. Of course it didn't. Sleep never came when a person actually sought it- it was one of those annoying truths in life, just as surely as the sun would rise in the east, or that Miyako would be obsessed with catching Jeanne.

'Sometimes I think it might be easier if I moved,' Maron thought. 'It would be so much easier to get out to jobs rather then having to sneak by my best friend. Miyako's not stupid- she'll notice soon enough that I always go out on the nights when Jeanne has sent notice. I really don't want to hurt her... perhaps moving really is the best idea.

'I could, of course, look about going out the window- but I'm on the seventh floor. Getting out would be difficult if I wasn't transformed, and I can't be seen creeping around here as Jeanne. Besides, Chiaki lives next door and he'd notice. Annoying as he is, even I have to admit he's fairly intelligent.'

A faint blush stained her cheeks and she rolled over, trying to shake his image from her mind. Thinking about Chiaki just before she went to sleep was not anything she wanted to do.

With an angry growl, she punched her pillow, trying to make herself more comfortable. Sleep seemed like an elusive wish, and she finally rolled out of bed to get herself a warm glass of milk. Glancing enviously at Fin Fish, who was sleeping the sleep of the just, she thought evil thoughts of slamming the door to make some noise. It just wasn't fair; if she couldn't sleep, then the petite angel shouldn't be able to either. Luckily she managed to suppress that bit of pettiness.

When her microwave pinged, she reached in to retrieve her milk, then headed out to the balcony to watch the night sky. Luckily for her, the light pollution was relatively mild from her apartment so she knew she would be able to see the stars clearly.

Stepping out onto the balcony, she almost jumped in surprise when a voice spoke to her. "Good evening."

It could only be one person. Spinning around, Maron spilled half of her milk, yelping as the warm liquid splashed on the front of her shirt. "Chiaki, you idiot!" she spat, wondering why her heart was starting to race. "Are you trying to scare me out of my wits?"

He raised an eyebrow in an amused fashion, and looked over her carefully. "I must say you look charming even at this late an hour," he said, his face barely visible by the moonlight. Something in his tone was more serious then the teasing she was used to hearing from him, and she paused to think before speaking.

"What are you still doing up?" she asked after a second, deciding to forgo her usual retort.

"Thinking," he said quietly, leaning against the banister of the railing. "I always think best during the dead hours of the night."

Again, she had to curb her impulse to insult him, but she managed to do so. "I think most people do," she said, taking a thoughtful sip from her mug. "There's something about the night that encourages people to become reflective."

Chiaki laughed softly, then turned around to look her in the face. "So what are you still doing up? We have classes in about five hours."

"I can't sleep," she admitted. "I occasionally get bouts of insomnia."

His smile was sympathetic, and if anything, sent her heart racing even father. She felt the blood rush to her cheeks and wondered why she felt like she had just finished running a long race. "So do I," he confessed. "It's so annoying- I'm so tired, yet there's no way I can get to sleep." He sighed, and for a second looked much older and more careworn. Then he flashed her a cocky grin and she wondered if it had been a trick of the light. "I guess it's not such a bad thing, though. I manage to get a lot of studying and other things done."

She return his smile, liking this quieter and sweeter Chiaki. A part of her wondered why he couldn't act like this all the time... but then he wouldn't be Chiaki if he wasn't infuriating. "No rest for the wicked," she returned cheerfully.

His laugh was melodic and charming. "Indeed. And I must say you look particularly wicked dressed like that."

Looking down, she saw what he meant. She was wearing a light silk nightgown, and though she had taken the care to cover it with a dressing robe, the milk she had spilled across her chest made the material cling to her breasts, leaving little to the imagination. His eyes were lingering on her with appreciation, and all she wanted to do was smack him.

"Chiaki!" she fumed, getting ready to storm back into her apartment.

He smiled at her. "You're so pretty when you're angry," he laughed, then leaned over the balcony. Before Maron realized what was happening, he had seized her lips in a soft kiss. "Sleep well, Maron," he whispered, then ducked into his home.

She stood still, unable to believe what had just happened. She had always fought with him; some of their conversations sounded like a broken record player, playing on track over and over again. But tonight the record had skipped, and she was onto something entire different. "My first kiss," she said, raising a hand to her lips.

In a stupor she moved back into her bedroom, absentmindedly leaving her cup in the sink, half-full. Not expecting to get any rest, it was a minor shock when she slid into the depths of sleep, for once having no nightmares.

Meanwhile Chiaki was finally preparing for bed, musing silently to himself. He had no clue why he had actually kissed Maron- before it had been all flirtation, but now the stakes had been raised. He frowned at his reflection in the mirror, trying to figure it out. However, his guardian, the Kuroi Tenshi Access Time, wasn't about to let him get away with that.

The little angel floated a foot away from Chiaki's face, ranting. "And what, may I ask, was that all about?"

Chiaki picked up tube of tooth paste and started to put it on his brush. "Just an impulse," he answered, turning on the water.

"Some impulse! Must I remind you that she's the enemy?" Access snapped irritably, waving a small finger at his errant ward.

Chiaki finished brushing his teeth before answering. "No. I know that. It's just a harmless game."

Access sniffed derisively. "Some game!"

"It's fun," Chiaki said, then gave a sad smile. "And sometimes, you have to take whatever amusement life offers you," he said, his voice full of sadness.

"Chiaki," Access said, wishing there was something he could do to alleviate the pain that Chiaki was remembering. Though he always was cheerful, Chiaki had a darker, more serious side that few ever saw. As Sinbad, the serious side became prevalent, but Access knew that splitting his two natures was not healthy in the long run for him. What Chiaki needed was someone to help him reconcile those feelings, but Maron was definitely the wrong person. She herself was split in the same way. Perhaps the other girl -was her name Miyako?- would be more suitable, but though Chiaki flirted her, Access knew the real score. Chiaki wanted Maron- who was the worst possible match. That was just the way it worked.

Chiaki made his way to his bedroom, thoughtfully touching the locked box on his dresser. If someone else was to get into it (a long shot, considering all the spells and wards that Access had taught him how to place on it, not including the more mundane traps), they would be puzzled to see that it contain only a few simple onyx chess pieces- more then would be needed for a game, and they were all pawns. It was part of his nightly ritual to touch this- since he had sealed the demons, he was connected to them in some odd way, and it was reassuring to think that they were all still trapped here... and would be for eternity.

Sliding between smooth sheets, he shut his eyes, and fell asleep almost instantly. He always slept well after he Checkmated.

Maron woke early the next morning. The morning sun fell across her face, and she sat straight up abruptly, recalling the events of the early morning hours. For a second she wondered if it had been real, but all she had to do was look down at her nightgown, which smelled slightly of milk. Growling to herself, she stripped it off, wondering why she hadn't had the sense to change before falling asleep. That damn Chiaki...

At the thought of him, she blushed. 'Why did he kiss me?' she wondered as she stepped into the warm spray of the shower. She lathered herself with her favorite soap, then washed her hair again. She wouldn't have time to blow-dry it this morning, so that meant she would be forced to tie it back.

Fifteen minutes later she had finished, almost ready to face the world. She had no clue what she would do when she saw Chiaki, and that worried her. Her life was complicated enough without that stupid idiot messing it up even more. The pounding on the door came almost to the minute- it could only be one person.

"Coming, Miyako!" she said, and she struggled to get her shoes on. They had practice early this morning, and Pakkyamlamao-sensei would be irritated with them if they were late.

Opening the door, she stepped out into the main hallway, relieved to find that Chiaki wasn't there. Miyako was, and from the scowl on her face, the other girl was pissed. It could only be about one thing.

"Jeanne got away again?" she asked, even though she knew the answer. The wire she walked was a thin one, and sometimes it was hard to remember that as far as Miyako was concerned, Jeanne and Maron had nothing to do with each other.

"Yes," Miyako practically hissed, storming towards the elevator.

"Why don't you just give up? It's not your job," Maron ventured. She was constantly trying to separate Miyako from her father's work. It would make it easier to Checkmate if she didn't have to go up against her best friend every time. Maron hated it, but Miyako always came off looking like a fool, and there was nothing she could do about it. Jeanne had capabilities granted by God, and no mere mortal would be able to best her. The only real threat was Sinbad.

"I'm not giving up!" Miyako practically yelled, pacing around like a caged line in the small elevator. Maron practically jumped off the elevator when they reached the first floor, eager to get a little space between them.

By the time they reached school, Miyako had calmed down somewhat, and Maron knew that practice would help her best friend work off some more stress. Really, it was just too much.

With a sigh, Maron picked up a ribbon and started to move, limbering up gently before pushing herself into one of her more familiar routines. It was times like this that she could forget about all of her problems and just be herself- whoever that was.