DISCLAIMER THE FIRST: I do not own Strawberry Panic. And so on.

DISCLAIMER THE SECOND: This just sort of... happened today. I'll get back to Hand Me Downs in short order, but when Ninemil asked me in a review to tell more about Shizuma's attempt to flirt with Chikaru, well... it was hard to resist.

DISCLAIMER THE THIRD: This was originally a one-shot. Oops.

At Exactly What Point Did I Lose Control Of This Flirting?
By Suzume CA


Part 1: Kiss Me?


Hanazono Shizuma watched from a distance as Lulim's youngest student council president in twenty years or more walked down the hall with her favorite first-year troublemakers, chatting happily with them over heaven only knew what.

How was it that sweet little Minamoto Chikaru, the wide-eyed baby sister, had become such a beloved figure in so short a space? Certainly her election to council president had been aided by the reputation of her sister, but this fourth-year marvel had since earned the respect and devotion of her entire school, seniors and underclassmen alike.

Shizuma found herself envying that: as Etoile, she was no stranger to respect and even awe, particularly from the younger students, but Chikaru had somehow found a way to be everyone's friend and sister even in light of her vaunted position. Where Shizuma was detached and aloof, sometimes of her own choice but more often not, Chikaru was held firmly in the hearts of all St. Lulim.

Moreover, Shizuma envied her obvious sense of peace and contentedness, with just the barest hint of mischief, and wondered if she would ever find herself in such a place again. Both of them had endured crushing losses the year before -- Shizuma of her lover and fellow Etoile Kaori and Chikaru of her dear sister Naoko -- but somehow Chikaru, after a short period of being seemingly lost within herself, had emerged from her pain and blossomed, where Shizuma feared that the cold in her heart would never truly leave her.

Perhaps it was time to find out the secrets of the so-called Shadow Empress of Astraea. And Shizuma knew just how to do it.

"Council President Minamoto-san," she called, stepping purposefully toward the trio of Lulim girls, intercepting them in their path down the hallway.

"Etoile-sama," Chikaru bowed. The first-years with her (whose names Shizuma found, to her chagrin, that she could not remember) bowed as well, their eyes bugging just slightly before they looked down. Same old reverence.

"Do you have a moment to meet me in the council chambers, Minamoto-san?"

"Of course, Etoile-sama. I am at your service."

Shizuma smiled to herself as the first-years bid their onee-sama farewell and scampered off. Chikaru then followed Shizuma to the empty council chamber, where the Etoile waved her inside before closing the door behind them. When she looked around, she saw Chikaru standing near her customary seat at the table, as if out of habit.

"So what can I do for you so close to the end of term, Etoile-sama?"

"Chikaru-chan, please, you know you can call me by my name," the Etoile smiled, stepping slowly closer to the dark-haired girl. "I know we haven't been as close since... last year, but I'm still the same Shizuma."

"Mmm, yes, I suppose you are, but here within the council chambers, I imagine I should show your rank the respect it is due, Etoile-sama."

"Perhaps," Shizuma conceded, stepping purposefully into Chikaru's personal space, the young president edging back bemusedly until her back was against her chair. "But I didn't ask you here on council business."

"I see," Chikaru nodded. "Then what is your business with me?"

Shizuma leaned in and narrowed her eyes at Chikaru, giving her that look that had melted the hearts of many over these past lonely months. "You're an enigma, Chikaru," she whispered. "And when I see an enigma, I want to... solve it."

"Etoile-sama," Chikaru said, with just a hint of soft surprise in her voice, "what are your intentions?"

"I think," Shizuma breathed, leaning still closer, "that I want to kiss you now, Chikaru-chan."

"Really, now?"

"Mmm hmm."

"A kiss from the Etoile," Chikaru whispered. "A dream of so many."

"A kiss doesn't have to be a dream," Shizuma said in a playful growl, pulling Chikaru to her, feeling a thrilling spark at the ease with which their bodies fit together.

"A kiss," Chikaru repeated, her eyes briefly widening as she stared up into Shizuma's own. "I imagine you weren't thinking of a chaste little peck, Etoile-sama?"

"Certainly not, council president Minamoto-san," Shizuma grinned, returning the formality.

"Ahh," Chikaru nodded, as though only now understanding. When next she spoke, her voice had taken on a deliciously husky quality. "A kiss of fire and electricity, and the heat of all-consuming desire? A kiss of purest passion that feels like needles under your skin, where your mind is flooded with the wonderful agony of those millions of tiny pinpricks of sensation? A kiss that sends your soul reeling, and makes you wonder how much more you can possibly endure, where your tortured mind is begging you to stop even as your body hungrily demands more?"

Shizuma stared unblinking into Chikaru's eyes, her heart racing more than ever, and to her shock, she found that now she was edging further and further back, until she was the one with her back to the wall while the younger girl pressed ever closer.

"A kiss that makes you wonder 'Dear God, could this woman be some incarnation of all the Muses and goddesses of love that ever inspired the poets and dreamers of a thousand ages gone?' A kiss of such transcendent joy that it seems to exist outside of time and space, in a tiny white-hot world that contains only you, and her, and the palpable presence of your shared pleasure?"

Her breath had been coming in short gasps, but Shizuma inhaled sharply as Chikaru pressed still closer, their bodies sliding just slightly against one another.

"A kiss that leaves you dizzy and light-headed, with your heart pounding so hard that you think it might explode from your breast, with all the blood seeming to pool in a much, much warmer place further beneath? A kiss that buckles your knees such that you can scarcely stand? A kiss that leaves your skin flushed and damp, your eyes wide with wonder, your lips excruciatingly aflame as you ponder how to quench this desire that you've unleashed from a deep, deep place inside yourself?"

"Yes," Shizuma tried to say, but she had no voice, so she simply nodded.

Chikaru's lips stopped within a fraction of an inch of Shizuma's, and when her voice came, it was barely audible, just the traces of a seductive whisper. "I'm sure you were thinking of this, Etoile-sama. However, I need to go to class, so sometimes a kiss must remain a dream."

And just like that, she was gone, leaving Shizuma standing there unsteadily, shocked that the moment had ended so abruptly.

Mind spinning with questions, most particularly of where sweet little Chikaru could have learned all that, Shizuma fanned herself with one hand. "Why is it always the quiet ones?" she muttered to herself, pondering the merits of a brisk, cool shower before her next appointment.

Next: Come to Bed With Me?