Lord Cynic: "What an inspired title."

Mashu: "Can it. Considering I typed this in one sitting, off the top of my head, I think I did moderately well."

Lord Cynic: "Well, we'll see…"

Mashu: "I don't own Atelier Iris. Gust do."

Drunken Lita

"C'mon, Klein! Let me have another!"

"No, Lita! Delsus, help me!"

The bowman glanced from the blonde alchemist to the brunette girl, and then shrugged. He chanced a knowing smirk at Marietta before responding.

"Uh… knowing what can happen, I think I'll pass. You're on your own, Klein."

"Why you -! Lita, give me it!"

Klein dove for the offending item, but Lita beat him to it. She yanked the glass of moon milk from Mofuma's outstretched hands and drank it down eagerly. Klein groaned in defeat as the last remnants of the drink vanished down Lita's gob.

"Meow!" chirped Norn. "Lita really likes those drinks, meow."

"Ugh, tell me about it," Klein muttered. "Delsus, just order your God's Dance and let's go before something happens."

"What's wrong with Lita drinking that stuff?" Marietta asked. She was unfamiliar to Lita's… antics after consuming moon milk, and she'd be lying if she said she wasn't curious.

"If you haven't already noticed," Delsus replied sneakily, "Lita loves sweet stuff. Don't worry, I'm sure you'll find out what Klein's so afraid of."

Marietta smirked as Klein forcefully led Lita out of Mofuma's store. The Blanchimont girl was already feeling giddy, and the blonde boy knew it was a matter of time before the effects of her drink obsession kicked in. Norn followed behind the pair, her staff hovering in front of her. Delsus and Marietta held up the rear, both grinning slyly.

It didn't take the group long to get to the centre of the Hidden Village (even though the actual village is tiny). It took even less time for Lita to become intoxicated. To Marietta's astonishment, seeing Lita disorientated was, while not a one-in-a-lifetime experience, certainly a sight to see. She was having difficulty staying on her feet, her eyes were glazed and she was wearing a silly smile on her face. Her odd-looking hat sat lopsided (or more so) on top of her brown hair.

However, the worst aspect of a drunk Lita (in Klein's point of view, anyway) was her uncontrollable urge to speak her innermost thoughts. That was actually very amusing to Norn and Delsus. Eventually, Marietta would soon join in their riotous laughter.

"Kleeeeeeein!" Lita whined, squatted down. "C'mere!"

"Uh, Lita, I don't think I should," Klein objected nervously. He glared at the other unhelpful three-fifths of the group, but they merely grinned back.

"But I'm cold!" the claw-wielding girl complained.

"This isn't Duran," Klein muttered out of earshot of Lita. "Look, if you're cold, maybe we should camp out and start a fire."

"But that's no fun!" Lita's hazy eyes suddenly gleamed, and Klein took an involuntary step backwards. "Klein," she cooed, "come over here and warm me up."

Delsus choked on his alcoholic beverage, spraying it over Norn and Marietta. They walloped him as Lita stood up and started walking towards Klein. Her grin had turned from flippant to devious, and now that Klein (unconsciously) thought about it, the way her hat sat precariously on her head, he wasn't sure that was unintentional.

"Klein," Lita began with a husky voice, "what do you think of me?"

"Uh…" Klein found himself unable to speak for a few moments. When Delsus nudged him, he finally willed himself to speak. "I think you're really nice."

"Do you think I'm pretty?"

Uh oh. There was the danger zone. Lita began to glare as Klein took precious seconds to find a reply. He only barely remembered a similar conversation between himself, she and Delsus, and chose the correct path to take. "Um, yes, you're very pretty."

Lita's withering stare dissolved into a satisfied, if (if Klein wasn't hallucinating) sultry smile. Klein automatically took another step backwards as the intoxicated girl twirled her hair nervously. If he didn't know any better, he could have sworn he'd seen the same expression on her face somewhere before. But was it as… sorrowful, as the one Lita was wearing now?

By now, Delsus, Norn and Marietta had stepped out of the picture, and were badgering Mofuma for more food. That left the two teenagers alone, which was actually more helpful to Klein. He didn't need the older pair of the group snickering when they thought he couldn't hear them. But then again, with the laboured breathing Lita was now doing, he'd never hear the snorts anyway.

Lita, in the meantime, was fixing the blonde boy with a coy but seductive stare. In her drunken state, she seemed to be contemplating her next words. Her mouth opened and closed a few times, her efforts to find the right thing to say evident. Eventually, she blurted out the question that would render a brain freeze in Klein.

"Do you like me?"

Klein stared at her wide-eyed. He had had inklings during their journey that she might end up asking him that, but he would never be prepared if, and now when, she did. When he calmed himself down, both on the exterior and on the interior, he took a moment to observe his best human friend. Her eyes were downcast, and her hat was finally sitting appropriately atop her head. Klein had difficulty deciding whether she was now sober or not, but even if she wasn't, he had to speak truthfully. If it resulted in him getting a beating like Delsus had, so be it… he guessed.

"I… I think I do," he admitted. "Even though you're rude, violent, and quick to anger," he waited for the anticipated beating, but it never eventuated, "you're kind when you want to be. Even though you don't like Veola a lot (he ignored the brief glower as best as he could), you still helped her. When we first met, if you hadn't come along, I'd probably be dead by now." Klein mentally heaved a sigh of relief as Lita started smiling. "I was so glad when we could make the Ruby Prism, if it meant saving you."

"You know, Klein," Lita began, "you may be inconsiderate and a jerk, but… you're really good-looking." Klein could've sworn he'd heard that before, but couldn't give the thought a chance to process before Lita was approaching him again. She was beginning to regain her coordination, because her steps were steady and purposeful. "You're nice enough to tolerate me, and I could never thank you enough for risking yourself to save me. Except… maybe…" She took another step towards the bewildered alchemist, who gulped nervously.

"Er, Lita? What are you doing?" Soon, he found himself against a stone wall, staring awkwardly at the brown-haired girl. She didn't seem deterred by his anxiety, and she came close enough to almost press up against him. "L-Lita! Snap out of it!" 'Do the efforts of the moon milk really last this long? I don't know if I can -"

Klein never got an opportunity to finish that thought, because his entire thought processor was prematurely shut down by the unexpected kiss Lita was administering. He didn't hear the excited hooting from Delsus, the giggling from Norn or the laughing from Marietta either, all his bodily functions temporarily halted by the foreign but pleasurable experience brought on by Lita (he really wasn't sure if she was still drunk anymore). He could, however, feel the passion, the anticipation, the relief, and the sorrow being expressed by Lita's bold action. It was as if she was telling him an eternity of things through one emotional outlet.

Eventually, she released him and stepped back, allowing him time to regather his thoughts, senses, and sanity. They were both still oblivious to their audience, one twirling her hair again, the other slack-jawed and breathless. Strangely, despite differing states of mind, both of them seemed to feel complete.

Suddenly, Lita started to wobble. Her eyes were glazing over again, and Klein only barely managed to catch her before she could fall onto the ground. The alarm in his expression lasted only a moment before he realised she'd fallen asleep. With that discovery, he smiled gratefully, before laying her down gently onto the ground.

It was then that the others made their presences known.

"Hey, what happened?" Delsus asked in well-rehearsed feigned concern.

"Gah!" Klein almost jumped at the voice of the sunglasses-clad man. "Don't do that!" Delsus' question finally registered, and he answered, "I think she's just asleep."

"Meow, Lita went nighty-night?" Norn asked. "That's a shame."

"Well, we'd better let her rest," Marietta suggested wisely. "I don't want to imagine what she'd do if we woke her."

Klein nodded, oblivious to the grins on the other three's faces. He didn't want to think about the first thing Lita would do upon awakening. He just hoped he wouldn't blush too hard when she looked at him. Even if she did (subconsciously) confess her feelings, she wouldn't want to admit them so readily.
"Well," Delsus began, "I managed to wheedle a few more flasks of moon milk from our buddy Mofuma. They might come in handy."

Klein's eyes widened instantly as Delsus was given another prompt thumping.

The End