Disclaimer: Kaitou Saint Tail is not, and never will be, my property. I am only borrowing them for a little fun. Please don't bother suing. I'm sure that I'm practically a continent away from you.
MONDAY MORNING, THE most abominable dreaded time of the week for the uneager student. Meimi was by no means a dedicated scholar and so hated the damp chilly morning she was pushed to greet. Well, she did look forward to seeing Seira and her other friends again but the thought of the teacher's monotonous droning voice babbling about who-knows-what proved too despicable to be cancelled by the good things about school. She had resigned herself to the fact, however, that she had no other choice but to face her responsibilities.
She looked at her watch grimly.
"I'm late," she said bitterly. Overslept she certainly had and on top of that awakened at the wrong side of the bed. She scratched her head angrily then strove to quicken her pace. Running was out of the question. It's just one of those days when most people seem to have gotten into their heads to exercise and not use transportation. Maybe the commuters jamming the sidewalks were as plentiful as any other day, but it seemed a lot more to Meimi since she was rushing.
Apparently, not everyone had Meimi's patience or indifference to having an unexcused tardiness. Ignoring the startled yelps of the people behind her till too late, she soon ended up sprawled on the floor under a heavy panting creature. The busy city-folks spared no time to fuss on her and the crowd merely sidestepped the mangled heap as they went on their way. And so, Meimi was given no privacy to regain her composure or mend her broken dignity, which had snapped during her fall.
"Darn!" she screeched indignantly, pushing hard to get the person off her. "Get off!"
The person wouldn't budge at first, obviously having trouble seizing up the situation. Stonily, it raised itself up with a groan and helped the girl up.
Muttering murderously, Meimi accepted the person's outstretched hand and hoisted herself up. She hastily straightened up, shaking her head in annoyance and was about to take off. She stopped when she finally caught sight of the detestable individual and recognized her "best enemy".
Asuka Jr. saw from the corner of his eyes the position of the hands of time on the clock tower and panicked. He has never been late all his life and he has no plan of ever going to be.
No way!Unable to stand the thought, he began shoving people aside, yelling "excuse me's" at the top of his voice. Of course, that doesn't mean everybody will listen, right?
Unable to control his velocity, the junior high detective-in-training crashed on to the unsuspecting and strangely familiar person in front of him. Slightly embarrassed but still determined to make it to school on time, Asuka Jr immediately leapt on his feet and helped the other person up. Only then did he recognize who it was.
"Haneyoka!?!" he exclaimed, his voice a mixture of shock, shame and horror.
At the same time, she yelped, "Asuka Jr.?!?" And to think she had almost forgiven him.
Asuka quickly regained control of himself. Scowling in that antagonistic manner he always uses on her, he crossed his arms in front of his chest.
"What are you doing staring like that at open space?" he demanded. "Do you realize how much inconvenience you are causing people because of your daydreaming?"
"Daydreaming?!" Meimi shrieked back. "Look at who's daydreaming. You're probably imagining you're chasing St. Tail and still haven't caught her 'coz she's too smart for you!"
"Why you- How dare you compare me with that thief! Especially intellectually."
"If it isn't cunning and wits, how come she slips off easily?" Meimi was red, being extremely annoyed by his unintentional insult on her mental capacity.
Asuka opened his mouth to snap back but was cut off by the clanging of the bell in the distant clock tower announcing the hour of seven. Leaving Meimi fuming on the street, he grabbed his bag and took off.
"Hey," yelled Meimi, running after him. "Wait for me!"
THE ARRIVAL OF Asuka Jr. and Haneyoka Meimi had an interesting effect of mixed reactions from the class, ranging from subtle curiosity to prying interest. Seira's face was an innocent mask of surprised concern, carefully concealing her intrigued curiosity. Some girls instantly swiveled to face their seatmates, tongues wagging behind the strategically placed notebook or text book or even hand. The others were content to sneak a quick glance at their direction and smile in amusement. Some of Asuka's friends, however, were more straightforward.
"Hey, Asuka! Did you enjoy it?" called one.
"Yeah," encouraged another. "You didn't have to do it on a school night now, did you?"
The class laughed. Some of the more conservative types blushed or frowned indignantly, fighting down the urge to the do same as the "liberals". But of course, the two butt of the joke weren't thrilled about it.
Meimi didn't just fume in silence. Taking a prank or whatever lying down just wasn't her nature. Neither was it Asuka's, who matched her stubbornness and pride in more ways than one. Especially now that both of them were still irked about their tardiness.
"Shut up, you-" yelled Asuka in rage.
"Yeah!" screamed Meimi. "You buncha perverts! You green-minded jerks! I wouldn't go near that" -points at Asuka- "thing to save my life."
Insulted, Asuka turns on her. "Oh yeah? Well I wouldn't hit on a scrawny little brat like you. I like real women."
"And I like real men, you sissy!"
"How dare you, you tom-"
"Don't you dare call me tomboy or you're a third rate tryin-hard copycat!"
"All right, that's enough!" yelled the teacher, finally able to break into their fight. "You two, to the office for being late and fighting in class."
Seira looked on as her best friend and her best friend's best enemy left the room. Still burning with humiliation, Asuka Jr. muttered unintelligible things at Meimi's direction. Meimi, by no means less embarrassed, turned to the boy detective and very coolly and meaningfully stuck her tongue out a like a little kindergartner.
"OOOOHHH! THAT BEASTLY kid makes me so mad!"
Seira sighed. Donned in her usual nun's habit, she watched as her friend paced on the chapel's courtyard, fire blazing on her path.
"Little girl?!" Meimi ranted. "How dare he! And he calls himself a mature gentleman. Che!"
"Meimi..." Seira chided softly.
Meimi mimes choking somebody. "When I get my hands on him, I'll squeeze the last breath out of him till he turns blue and we'll see which one of us is the zombie brain!"
Sweat drop. "I think that's a little too violent."
"Can you blame me?" Meimi shifts her scowl at the hapless nun-in-training. "I have a disciplinary case because of him. What will my parents say?"
Seira cleared her throat tactfully. "Um, I know you two hate each others guts and all but I did think you had the sense to know that it's not a very good idea to continue your squabble in the principal's office."
"What are you saying, Seira? That it's my fault?"
"Well, it's both your fault."
"No! It's his fault...mostly..."
Meimi however resumed her litany, mouthing pouring forth an unimaginable number of unprintables. Seira watched her glumly, giving up the idea of pacifying the red-headed dragon. She sighed again. This will not be easy to mend...
"SPORTS KLUTZ? CLUMSY ox? Nerdy freak?!?!!"
Asuka Jr. glared at his companions. "At least, I know the difference between an alkane and an alkene," he huffed.
"Uh, Asuka..." said one of his friends uncertainly. "I don't either."
"Well that's not surprising, Yoshio 'cause you like Meimi!"
"And you don't?" asked the third boy, eyebrows raised.
"I HATE HER GUTS! Isn't that obvious enough Niitsu?"
Yoshio rubbed his smarting ear. "Well..." he said cautiously. "Then why are you so worked up about what she said? If you really hate her, why worry about turning her off?"
Asuka grabbed him by his collar and forcefully shook him. "It's not only that, you moron! I got a disciplinary case because of her!"
"I expected you to be smart enough to delay your fight," remarked Niitsu.
The other let go of Yoshio to confront Niitsu. "Oh yeah? What would you do if you're the one she's harassing?"
Niitsu grinned coolly. "That wouldn't happen. I'm the coolest, most handsome guy in Saint Paulia Gakuin and all the girls dig me."
Asuka couldn't argue with that knowing it was true. "Che."
"You know why she's saying you're a childish nerdy geek major turn off? Because you really are!"
"Why you- I'm not!" Asuka grips the other's neck, shaking him again furiously. "You hear? I'm not!"
"Alright!" Asuka lets go of the choking Niitsu.
"Next week will be the school dance or the prom or whatever. Get a dance with the homecoming queen and I'll believe you."
"That's a stupid dare." Easy. I'll bribe her with the physics homework, Asuka thought, silently laughed evilly. Surely I'm the only one who can solve that problem.
"I'm not done yet."
"You also have to dance with every girl in our school."
"That's- Wait! Including Haneoka!?!"
"Yep. Including Haneoka Meimi."
"THAT'S NOT FAIR!"
"Backing out, sissy?"
Asuka murderously glowered at his two expectant friends. "All right, you're on!"
"Shall we shake hands? Yoshio, you're the witness."
Asuka grips Niitsu's hand with steel pincer like strength that was normally not his own. "You have deal there, Niitsu Minoru."
"A deal then. Asuka Daiki."
"AND GOD, PLEASE help Meimi and Asuka Jr. settle their differences. It's been a week already their fight is driving everybody crazy. This we ask in Jesus's name. Amen."
Crossing herself, Seira finished her prayer. She stood up from where she knelt looking around the empty chapel. It was then she noticed the girl moping at the corner. She had been there for nearly an hour and a half.
"Um, excuse me?" said Seira gently.
The girl turned to the nun uncertainly, revealing her round blue eyes brimming with tears.
"Oh my!" exclaimed Seira. "Dear me! I'm sorry for bothering you."
The brunette shook her head. "It's ok, really."
Seira flopped down beside the girl. "You don't mind?"
She shook her head. Seira waited patiently as the girl sat in silence. She discreetly observed her, musing on the fashionable get-up the girl was wearing. She was about her age, probably a couple of years older at seventeen. Apparently, she was wearing make up or at least mascara for it had streaked across her cheeks, making her otherwise beautiful face quite unsightly.
"Let me take care of that." Seira took some tissue from her pocket and began dabbing off the black stain from her face.
"Thank you." And they sat in silence.
Later, the girl broke their wordlessness.
"Sister?" she asked shakily.
"Eh?" answered Seira almost expectantly.
"May I talk to you?"
"My name is Heike Mikako."
"Heike?" Seira looked at her, slightly surprised. "The billionaire clan Heike?"
Mikako sighed wryly. "I knew you'd recognize my name. Everybody does."
Seira, blushing a little, cleared her throat. "Um, please go on."
"Anyway, tomorrow, I'll be celebrating my eighteenth birthday. Knowing my family and all, a huge party is being prepared for the occasion.
"Both my parents died a few years ago. However, in my mother's will she left me an heirloom. They were gold brocaded slippers that had been passed on from mother to daughter for generations in her family. They say it came from the Middle East brought by foreigners time immemorial.
"Anyway, my mother's stepsister has it, claiming herself to be the true heir and refusing to relinquish the slippers. When we were finally forced to file a lawsuit, she denied having the slippers. Unless we have proof that it's with her, we can't ask the police to get it. The real problem is that I have to wear those slippers on y birthday tomorrow as my mother requested on her will. It'll be a great disrespect to her.
"I remember as a child how she always told me how much she's looking forward to seeing me in those shoes, and now it's never going to happen..."
Mikako buried her face in her hands and wept silently. Seira patted her in the back sympathetically.
"There, there," she said. "Don't lose hope. Something will turn up. You'll see."
Mikako raised her head to look at Seira. She was about to protest when she saw the seriousness on the other's eyes.
"You sound so sure," said Mikako.
"I think I am."
"SO YOU'RE GOING?" asked Ryouko.
"Um..." Meimi was still uncertain.
"You can prove how wrong that Asuka is," pointed out Kyouko temptingly.
"I guess so. "Tantalized by the idea of shoving Asuka's words back down his throat, she grinned diabolically. "Yes. I'll do it."
"Way to go!" yelled Kyouko.
"We'll you the most attractive girl in school!" enthused Ryouko.
"Yeah!" said Meimi.
From behind, Seira came. "What was it you'll do?" she asked suspiciously.
"I'm going to the dance and show that obnoxoious Asuka Jr. who's the outcast loner!"
"But I thought you're not going Meimi." Seira was horrified.
"Well, I changed my mind."
"I think you'll have to change it again."
MIEIMI TOOK ANOTHER look at the sole mirror in the chapel and sighed. Can she do this? Will she be able to pull it off?
Turning to Seira, she said, "What do you think? Do you think Kyouko and Ryouko over did it?"
Seira blinked as she looked her friend over from head to foot. The long figure-hugging spaghetti-strapped evening gown was nothing like any attire Meimi has ever put on. For starters, it's all too thumpingly mature, not at all the cutesy girl type she usually prefers. It was however in vogue and more acceptable to the school's resident fashion experts.
"You look great," Seira finally murmured.
Meimi sighed and turned back to the mirror again. She barely recognized the figure blinking back at her from the mirror. She patted her hair piled on her head sleekly. Whatever way it's fixed, it still glared down from her head. It's the color, not the style, sighed Meimi. The color, as Asuka would say in his ever blunt, foot-in-the-mouth statements, was bright orange.
Meimi tossed her head coolly, nose wrinkling disfavorably. As if I care what you think, she thought. I'll show him.
"Um, Meimi?" Seira hesitantly broke into her vindictive thoughts. "Are you sure you can pull this off?"
"Eh? Of course. At quarter to twelve, I'll be here then I'm off to rescue the slippers."
"You make it sound all so easy. " Seira smiled slightly.
"It'll be a cinch." Meimi walked off. "Trust me."
Meimi turned back to her. "Are you sure you don't want to come?"
Seira shook her head. "Nun in training."
To be continued when I finish encoding……..