Claim of Ownership: All characters and situations presented in this story are copyrighted (©) as of February 17, 2005 by Lauren Kollett, AKA the Dragon Mistress. All characters and situations are entirely fictional and exist wholly in the author's imagination; any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Warnings: Mild language, yaoi (m/m) content. Nothing graphic.

Note: All full names are written in the traditional Japanese format of Family Name-First Name.

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-Divine Intervention-

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-Act 1-

"Hikari, Angel of Mercy. And Kurai, Demon of the Fourth Order. You have ruthlessly violated the laws of the angels' realm, and we cannot permit this. Both of you are hereby banned from the angels' realm, and you may never return."

"Leaving the angels' realm means almost certain death, Hikari. If you leave me now, they'll let you stay. I can't let you be cast out like this. You'll... you'll die out in the human world. Angels weren't meant to survive there!"

"Oh, my love... I would rather spend the last of my life with you, than to live forever without you. I'm not going to stay. I'll accept my punishment."

"But -"

"Hush."

---

Kurai rubbed his lover's cold hand. "Hikari...."

Hikari smiled up at him. Though he was in constant pain, he was still smiling. It amazed Kurai that the angel could accept his death so easily. In the demon world, death was not accepted lightly. Demons fought for their lives, even if it meant sacrificing their own family or closest friends.

"I've told you before. I would rather enjoy my last moments on Earth with you, rather than spend eternity in misery by myself. I love you, Kurai. And I chose Death. I knew what leaving the angel realm would do to me."

His raven-haired lover squeezed his hand. A single tear fell to the sheets. "All right." he whispered. "Then I will choose Death as well. I will use the Binding Souls charm."

"Kurai..."

"You can't live without me. And I can't live without you. If we must die, we will die together." The Binding Souls charm was an especially dangerous spell that would bind two souls together in Death, so that both people would be reborn together. It was a step most lovers were unable to take, as the spell drained much of a being's life force. Lesser mortals lacked the power to perform the spell, but Kurai was one of the strongest demons, and his powers were great indeed.

Hikari closed his eyes. "All right," he whispered. "But hurry. I'm not going to last much longer, my love."

"Yes. I know." Kurai closed his eyes. He pressed Hikari's hand to his heart, and laid his free hand over his lover's. He took a deep breath, concentrating his entire will on the task before him. "Time and space, transcending the passage of centuries. Two souls brought together through love and pain and sacrifice. Bind them as one, and as one send them to be reborn. Under the covenant of Aphrodite I ask this."

Hikari chanted the next part with him: "Water, Fire, Earth, and Wind. Sun, Star, and Moon, Light and Dark. Bind lovers together and bring them to the next life."

It was as if a soft, warm light had enveloped them. For the most fleeting of seconds, there was the delicious smell of roses, and the gentle strains of a harp. Then the illusion faded, and Kurai was suddenly very faint. He managed to get up from his chair and lay on the bed beside Hikari. He held the angel close and closed his eyes.

"I love you." Hikari's voice was faint.

"I love you, as well." Kurai kissed him gently, one last time. They lay quite still, and in a few minutes both stopped breathing.

---

"I thought that day would never end."

"I know, wasn't it awful?"

"What did you get on the History quiz?"

"Urgh... I totally messed up on the Meiji Era...."

Kawanami Mayumi ignored the exchanges between her classmates as she followed them out into the brightly-lit courtyard. School was over for another day, and Mayumi couldn't be happier. She switched her bag to her other shoulder and headed for home.

Mayumi was a quiet girl with very few friends. There was something about her that seemed to turn people off, even though she tried her best to be friendly and polite. She had long since given up on trying to socialize with her classmates, who were all too concerned with grades and relationships and teen idols. To Mayumi, her peers were caught up in the meaningless humdrum of everyday life, and they were losing sight of more important things. On the other hand, the other kids considered her a snob, because of her reluctance to join in with them.

She swung her bag impatiently as she stood at the corner waiting for the light to change. Try as she might, she couldn't understand the other students at her school. Even the teachers seemed obsessed over petty details. They often criticized her for being 'too open', and she was disgusted by the term. She felt broad-mindedness was an excellent trait.

Glancing up at one of the buildings, Mayumi saw on the digital clock over its door that it was nearly four. She'd have to hurry home. Her father was returning home from his business trip to Osaka tonight, and her mother was planning on serving a special dinner. Mayumi glanced around. It would be better to take a shortcut.

The street she had chosen was jam-packed with small houses and tiny shops. It didn't look like the sort of street any self-respecting teenager would be caught on after dark; but she thought she'd be all right as long as she hurried. After all, she didn't want to miss a moment of her father's homecoming.

A sign caught her eye just as she reached the end of the street. An antiques shop sat at the corner, with many different, beautiful furin hanging in the open windows, tinkling in the soft breeze. The store seemed to be packed with all kinds of interesting things, varying from treasure to junk. A cute manekineko sat outside the doorway, one paw raised in greeting and a happy smile on its face. Mayumi smiled back. It was so adorable.

"Okay, just a quick look," she said to herself, giving in to her love of junk shops. She timidly approached the doorway, and peered in. There was no one else in sight, despite the "Open" sign in the front window.

"Hello?" Mayumi ventured inside. "Hello?"

An old woman shuffled out of a back room. She was tiny and plump, her hair twisted up into a snow-white bun. Her kimono looked immensely old and very valuable. Her wrinkly old face crinkled into a smile.

"Hello, my dear. Would you like to browse around?"

"Yes, please." Mayumi set her bag down on a black-lacquered chair painted with cranes. "I love stores like this," she confessed. Her feet carried her down one of the crowded aisles. She looked at everything, sometimes gently brushing her fingertip along an item. The little old woman followed her, offering a history of some of the objects.

"That vase is very old, I bought it off a man who was visiting from China... the collection of fans came from Kobe, and rumour has it the great one painted with sakura blossoms once belonged to the emperor himself...."

Mayumi stopped in front of a shelf filled with odd knickknacks. The first things that caught her eye were two small dolls. One had birdlike wings and was smiling, while the other had batlike wings and had its teeth bared in a savage leer. Mayumi picked them up, turning them over and over thoughtfully.

"Those are from Europe," the little woman told her brightly. "There's a legend about them, you see. The man who sold them to me tell me they're in love."

"In love?" Mayumi laughed. "These dolls?"

The woman nodded. "He told me they could not be separated. If one was moved away from the other, the second one would mysteriously move to join it. And look -" she pointed out a tiny chip in the angel's wing. "The demon figure has a chip in exactly the same place. After the angel fell and chipped, a chip suddenly appeared in the demon's wing. It's as if they were connected somehow."

"Connected...." Mayumi gazed down at the figurines in her hands. She couldn't imagine how, but at that moment, she felt a strange sensation... something almost familiar. Something was tugging at her.... something about these dolls. They were like a mystery to be solved... It was silly to believe in such stories, but suddenly she wanted the dolls, to see if the rumours were true...

"How much?" she asked.

The old woman smiled and led her to an ancient till at the front of the store. "Two hundred yen for both," she said. "You're a sweet girl, and besides, they're damaged. I couldn't ask for any more."

Mayumi dug in her bag and pulled out the money. The old woman carefully wrapped the dolls in tissue paper and put them in a paper bag for her. "Thank you, my dear. Please come and visit again."

"I will," Mayumi promised, lying the dolls on top of her books and closing her schoolbag. "Sayonara."

"Sayonara," the old woman waved as she left.

---

Later that night, Mayumi headed upstairs after dinner to start on her homework. Her father had entertained his daughter and wife by telling stories about his work in Osaka for his satellite television company. It was good to have her father home again after a three-month absence, but Mayumi couldn't put off her homework any later. She took the strawberry parfait her mother offered her for dessert and hurried to her room.

When she opened her bag, the first thing she saw was the bag from the antiques shop. She had completely forgotten about buying the dolls in the excitement of seeing her father again. She put her parfait down on her desk and carefully unwrapped the two dolls, studying them carefully. There was definitely something mysterious about them. Her fingertips brushed the identical chips in their wings. Could the stories the old woman had told her be true? Mayumi laughed a little. Not possible.

She rose and crossed the room to place the two dolls side-by-side on the top shelf of her bookcase, then turned back to her homework. As she sat at the desk, writing out proofs and daintily nibbling at spoonfuls of parfait, it felt like someone was watching her. It wasn't exactly a creepy feeling. It was more like she was being watched over by someone she loved, someone who would protect her.

"Mayumi-chan! The bath is ready!" Mrs. Kawanami's voice called up the stairs just as Mayumi closed her Geometry book.

"Okay!" Mayumi called back, rising and stretching. She grabbed her pajamas and clean underwear, and thundered downstairs.

"Can't you be a little more ladylike?" Mrs. Kawanami sighed, smiling at her daughter nonetheless.

"Gomen, Mama." Mayumi slid the bathroom door shut behind her, and took a deep breath. The scent of peaches rose around her. She loved peach baths. She laid out her clean clothes and stripped, tossing her school uniform into the hamper and reaching for a washcloth.

After showering and washing her hair, she climbed into the bathtub to soak, sinking in up to her neck and sighing blissfully. The water was warm and pleasant, and Mayumi felt as if she could fall asleep right there in the tub. She closed her eyes and relaxed, feeling content. School was constant drudgery, and she had no friends to make it easier on her - but it was worth it to come home to her parents and have some quiet time.

She finally opened her eyes and reluctantly hoisted herself out of the tub. She dried off and dressed, then headed to the kitchen to have a cup of green tea before bed as she always did.

Mrs. Kawanami passed her in the hallway, on her way to take a bath. She stopped and brushed Mayumi's bangs away from her face. "Did you finish your homework?"

"Yes, Mama."

"Good. I'm so proud of you - your father is, too. You're such a good student." Mrs. Kawanami beamed.

"Thank you, Mama," Mayumi said softly. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight, dear."

Mayumi made her cup of tea and headed to her room with it, pausing only to call out to her father, who was seated on the sofa, watching the news. "Goodnight, Papa."

He looked over his shoulder and smiled. "Goodnight, Mayumi-chan. It's good to be home."

"It's good to have you home," his daughter replied truthfully, before climbing the stairs.

She closed her door and turned on her stereo, popping in a Mizoguchi Komaru CD. She sat cross-legged on her bed and sipped at her tea as she paged through the most recent edition of the school paper. She rolled her eyes at it. Most of the articles were about finding the prefect soulmate or the best places to go out on dates. There were a few articles about events certain school clubs were planning. It all seemed so frivolous. With a sigh, Mayumi folded the paper up and tucked it between her books.

All of a sudden, she felt a vibration go through the house. Knickknacks clattered on the shelves, and her teacup rattled on the nightstand. Her CD skipped, and she reached out to turn it off. An earthquake?

The sounds of things falling echoed through the house. Mayumi got unsteadily to her feet and wrenched the door open. A few pictures had fallen from the walls, and the glass over one had smashed.

The shaking stopped just as abruptly as it had begun. Mayumi swallowed hard, and called, "Mama? Papa?"

Her mother emerged from the bathroom, dressed in her robe. Her hair was haphazardly wrapped in a towel. Mr. Kawanami came out of the living room. "Are you girls okay?"

Mayumi and her mother nodded. Mr. Kawanami smiled apologetically at his wife. "I'm sorry, Kyoko. Your grandmother's vase fell off the telephone table."

"Oh no," Mrs. Kawanami said, distressed. She looked at her daughter. "Is everything okay upstairs, Mayumi?"

"One of the pictures broke, but everything else is okay. Do you want me to help you clean up?"

"No, dear. You have school tomorrow. You'd better go to bed. Your father and I will take care of it."

"Well... okay." Mayumi turned for the stairs. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight," her parents said in unison. Mayumi headed back to her room, pausing every now and then to pick up a fallen picture and lean it against the wall.

Just as she shut her door, a mild aftershock trembled through the house. Her shelves rattled, and as Mayumi turned, she saw the two dolls she had bought that afternoon tumble from the bookcase.

"No!" Mayumi lunged to catch them, but she couldn't reach. Her fingers brushed empty air just as both dolls hit the ground and smashed.

A bright light appeared from nowhere, making Mayumi cry out and reach up to shield her eyes. At the same time, she could smell roses, and hear the faint sounds of a harp being played.

The light, the scent, and the harp disappeared all at the same time, and Mayumi finally took her hands away from her eyes. She expected to see shards of porcelain and ceramic on the floor, but instead she saw... two pairs of feet?

Mayumi looked up, and screamed.

To Be Continued...

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(A/N: This is the second story I've decided to post on this website. It's NOT the second series I've ever created, but it is the second I've decided to write out. I have many different sets of characters who sit around hoping that someday I'll do something with them... ohh, now I feel terrible! I firmly believe that somewhere out there, in another universe perhaps, everything a person creates becomes real. It's sad to think my characters are all sitting around together hoping to be used.... I'm awful. I really am.

Well. Moving on. This was a by-product of reading the 'Chrono Crusade' manga . I've always wanted to do demons and angels, but nothing made me want to do it more than 'Chrono Crusade'. Not that I'm stealing from that story! It just got me in angels and demons mode. In case you didn't know, 'hikari' means 'light', and 'kurai' means 'dark'. I thought it would be interesting to give two of the main characters names that represented the 'opinions' of the worlds they came from. As you can see, the angels' realm and the demons' realm are separated by the human world. In my story, demons can come and go between the realms as they please (except for prisoners like Kurai, but I'll get into that another time). Angels, however, can't leave the angels' realm, or else they lose their powers. The further away they go, or the longer they stay away, the faster their powers are drained. If they don't return, they will die.

Yes, Mayumi-chan listens to CDs by Mizoguchi Komaru, one of the main characters in my story "Glitter". I figured using my existing pop stars was easier than inventing new ones or researching real ones.

In case you didn't know this, either, the italics at the top of this chapter represent a flashback. If it made no sense, don't fret. It will make more sense as we go on. I plan on using these Author's Notes to give further background and information on the story and its characters as we go on (like afterwords in tankoubon), so please pay attention!

Well, I've got to go. I hope you enjoyed Act 1... please stay tuned for Act 2!)