Notes and Disclaimers: The following is an original work by me, freely using the creative genius of Tachiwaka Megumi, to whom I am indebted. The characters of Saint Tail, Asuka Jr., et al are owned by Kodansha and TMS.
May we all find a love like Asuka Jr. and Meimi.
By Stirling Twilight
Ryoko pulled the newspaper from Kyokos hands and began leafing through the pages. The crackle of the paper almost covered the soft protestations of the smaller girl.
"I was reading that," Kyoko bleated.
Ryoko smiled wolfishly at her friend. "You know, and I know, the only thing worth reading in here is the Love Letters column, why pretend to be interested in anything else?"
Kyoko blushed, and then giggled, moving closer to her friend as Ryoko put the paper in order, the longed for column on top. They both bent their heads over the article and were soon chuckling.
Meimi watched them for a moment and then returned her eyes to Seira. Nothing was said between them, but Seira finally smiled and turned back to her book. Meimi sat for another moment before bowing her head over the math book that was open on her desk. She had been working on the first problem for almost a half-hour, with no end in sight. The timeless quality of 'homework' quickly descended over her.
Startled the redhead looked up, into the wide eyes of Ryoko. Her classmate wasted no time in putting the newspaper down on Meimis desk, her finger rigidly pointing to one of the Love Letter articles. Meimi looked at her gathering friends before dropping her eyes to the indicated bit of news.
Dear Love Letters,
There is a girl in my class that I love and cant find a way of telling her. Her fiery red hair and her deep soulful eyes are just too beautiful and I dont know how to approach her. Do you have any advice?
Meimi read, and re-read the letter before looking up at her friends. Obviously they thought the letter meant her. Shaking her head, she returned her gaze to the newspaper and read the columns advice.
Dear Love Sick,
Your problem seems to be in your self-esteem. Youre thinking shes too beautiful to be interested in you, and thats not true. Everyone has an inner beauty and you just need to show her yours. Try to think of the most perfect romantic moment and create it for her, this way shell see just how wonderful you really are!
Meimi looked up and laughed nervously.
Ryoko took the paper back with a sidelong glance at the fiery redhead. "I wonder who it could be."
Meimi laughed again, and turned to Seira for aid, only to find a grinning Asuka Jr. in her line of vision. With a gasp of surprise, she drew back.
"So, you made the paper again?" he whispered with an evil smile.
Meimi felt her color, and anger, rising.
"Sawatari just loves to put you in there," he mused, moving toward his desk. "I wonder what his most perfect romantic moment could be." He twirled to face his classmate again. "Youll tell us, wont you?"
The petit red head leapt to her feet, angry retorts rising to her lips... as Sister entered the room.
Meimi spent the rest of the day apprehensively looking around. There had to be other redheads in the school she just couldnt think of any. She did notice several people looking her way, as if expecting the romantic moment to happen right here on campus, before a crowd. By the end of the day she was exhausted, both mentally and physically.
Making her way to the front hall, Meimi stood before her shoe locker, almost afraid to open it. What if there was a love letter? Glancing around she noticed a familiar back leaning casually against the doorway.
No doubt he was waiting to pick on her some more. Meimi felt her eyes narrow and her anger returning as she jerked open the door on her shoes.
There was no note.
With a sigh of relief she changed shoes and headed for the side entrance, and then to the chapel.
"Im thinking either someone is playing an unkind joke on you, Meimi chan," Seira said as they stood beside the small pond. "I thought about it all afternoon and the only other redhead I could come up with has green eyes. Or," the nun paused for effect, "someone does love you."
Meimi sighed and nodded. "Ive thought of both of these options, and neither one appeals."
Seira looked surprised and faced Meimi. "Why?"
Meimi blushed and dropped her gaze. "I just its just that " She mentally wrestled for a moment and then blurted out, "Itll interfere with my evening activities!"
Seira hid her giggle in a cough. "Well," the novice went on quickly, "like all rumors, it wont last very long."
But it did. The following week another letter appeared in the Love Letters column. This one seemed, to those that were in her class, to be from Meimi.
Dear Love Letters,
There is a boy in my class that I wish would notice me, but his mind is so full of another girl that he rarely has time for anything else. Every once in a while I think he might like me, but then hes off again. Do you think Ill ever find a place in his heart?
Do you really want to be connected with someone who is so self absorbed? Would it make you happy to think that even if you are his girl friend this other person might steal him away at any second? Youd be best served in placing your affections on someone who is more constant.
Meimi looked up into the many faces that were watching her, but her eyes only saw Asuka Jr. He stood on the fringe of the group, obstinately looking away. Meimi blushed, rising to her feet.
"I didnt write this, if that is what you are thinking." She said it to the room, but it was directed at one person. And that one person made no sign of having heard her. Her flash of anger instantly gave way to a strange feeling of desolation and without another word she hurried from the room.
It was lunchtime when Asuka Jr. found Meimi seated on a bench in the small park beside the school. Meimi was oddly alone; her usual shadow of Seira was nowhere to be seen. Seizing the opportunity, he quickly made his way to his classmates side.
As he entered the clearing, Meimi gave a soft gasp of surprise, but said nothing. She turned her eyes away, a blush crossing her cheeks as he sat on the opposite end of the bench from her. For several moments neither spoke. Meimi was undecided if she should be angry or upset. Finally Asuka Jr. rose and stood with his back to her.
"I just want to say," he began, "whoever he is, if he hurts you, tell me so I can teach him a lesson." He didnt wait for a reply but took a step to leave as Meimi leapt to her feet.
"No!" she cried, reaching out to stop him. He paused but didnt face her. "No," she repeated, "it wasnt me! I didnt send that letter." Meimi dropped her hand, drawing back to the bench, "I didnt." The misery in her voice made him turn.
"Im sorry," he whispered, "This must be very hard on you."
Meimi turned away from him with a stamp of her foot. "Everyone thinks I sent that letter. Theyre all watching me for for I dont know what." Meimi stamped again, her frustration finding no other outlet.
Asuka Jr. smiled. "Ill tell you what. Ill find out who sent them."
Meimi glanced back at him, her eyes full of unshed tears. "You will?"
"Sure," the young detective said warmly. "Were classmates and I dont like to see you so upset." Reaching in his pocket he offer her a handkerchief. "Youre the happiest girl in class and I want to see you stay that way."
Meimi wiped her eyes and tried to smile.
"Thats better," he said grinning at her. "Meet me here later and Ill let you know what I find out."
Meimi nodded, not trusting her voice.
Asuka Jr. knocked on the door to the Directors office and was quickly allowed in. He explained that he needed access to the school newspaper files and that it was police business regarding Saint Tail. The Director didnt question him but quickly jotted a note allowing him the same freedom the Mayors badge did. As he accepted the slip of paper, Asuka Jr. suffered a moment of conscious but it passed in the next second when his thoughts returned to Meimi. With his resolve firmly in place, he headed for the newspaper office.
The young detective wasnt surprised to find the editor, Daichi Yomata, his head bent over a computer key board, in the room. There wasnt a time when someone from the newspaper club wasnt here. Asuka Jr. had to admit he admired that sort of dedication.
He explained to the distracted editor what he was after, with regards to Saint Tail, and showed him the note. Not surprisingly Yamata protested, expressing a breach of confidentiality, but Asuka Jr. reminded him that he was working with the police and would observe the same degree of decorum. The young editor looked dubious but could do nothing. The Directors note was as influential as the Mayors badge. Again Asuka Jr. felt a pang, but he quickly went to the filing cabinets and began looking for the Love Letters folder.
It was with no great surprise that Asuka Jr. learned the identity of the author of the letters. Even though they were printed off a computer, and unsigned, the same person received them both in. Piling up the folders, he returned everything to the filing cabinets.
"Do you keep a schedule of where your people are at any given time?" he asked the editor, who didnt look up.
"Its on the back of the door."
Asuka Jr. consulted the list, found Sawatari was at soccer practice, and excused himself.
He found the photographer on the sidelines, snapping pictures at a ridiculous rate. Without breaking stride, Asuka Jr. clamped a hand onto the taller man and pulled him, protesting, away from the action.
"What do you want, freak?" Sawatari demanded when Asuka Jr. stopped shoving him.
"I want you to stop bothering Haneoka." He spoke softly, without a hint of threat in his voice. It had a chilling effect on the photographer.
Almost instantly Sawataris eyes narrowed. "How did you find out? Those files are off limits to anyone not on the school newspaper."
"So you admit it was you."
Sawatari brushed Asuka Jr.s hand away with a contemptuous swat. "Would you have been this easily corrupted if it had been Takamiya san?"
Asuka Jr. paused, looking thoughtful. "I wonder at your mention of her," he began softly. "And I cant help but wonder if she isnt the brains behind this little charade."
Sawatari blanched, confirming Asuka Jr.s suspicions. "I wont tell Haneoka san," he began, with an apparent effort to contain himself, "and youll stop bothering her, so theres an end to it. If you decide this is beyond your monkey brain, Ill report your actions to the Director since I encountered your plans to harass Haneoka while investigating information about Saint Tail."
Sawatari took a long moment, wrestling between the urge to pummel the detective, or call his bluff. Images of the Mayors badge ended the battle. Asuka Jr. had the balance of power on his side in this case and there was nothing he could do about it. Defeated, his shoulder sagged, but then Sawatari drew himself up. "Who would have ever thought that the Mayors lap dog would resort to blackmail to gain his ends?"
Asuka Jr. smiled coldly. "The same person that would use the only means open to him to harass a girl into dating someone she doesnt want to."
Without looking back, Asuka Jr. turned and retraced his steps to the bench where Haneoka would be waiting for him. He smiled as he went.