Maria-sama ga Miteru : Sweet the Rose

To celebrate the almost-grand opening of our new site, here's the first new story I've managed to complete in what must be the best part of two years.

After watching the Marimite anime, I knew I'd have to try and write something about Noriko and Shimako - their relationship is just too much fun to leave alone. (For what it's worth, I think Shimako is secretly an evil genius. She needs to be to get Noriko wrapped so carefully around her finger.)

Maria-sama ga Miteru : Sweet The Rose

Grey skies.

Steel-blue eyes, half closed.

White china and green tea.

A wisp of brown hair falling towards delicate lips.

The sharp clatter of porcelain and metal.


A warm and comforting voice.


The dark-haired girl started guiltily, suddenly realising that she'd
been staring again.

"Are you alright? You've hardly touched your cake."

"Cake?" Noriko looked down at the fork in her hand and the plate on
the table in front of her as though they had suddenly and unaccountably
sprung into existence. Concentrating fiercely, she sliced off a piece
of millefeuille and lifted it to her mouth. The pastry was soft and
deliciously sweet, but somehow she could barely taste it.

From the other side of the table, Shimako giggled quietly, hiding her
mouth behind her hand. Noriko froze, feeling a blush creeping to her

"What is it? Did I--?"

Before she could finish, the older girl reached across the table and
wiped a spot of cream from the corner of her lips with her finger.

Despite her embarrassment, Noriko couldn't help but laugh. Shimako
carefully licked the tip of her finger clean, casting a slightly
puzzled look in her direction.

"I'm sorry," she smiled. "It's just that I keep expecting to hear
Rosa Chinensis complaining about my table manners..."

Shimako gave her a stern look. "Noriko-chan," she said sharply, her
voice a passable impersonation of the older girl, "a young lady should
comport herself properly at all times."

At the expression on her face, Noriko almost choked on her cake, trying
desperately to stifle a burst of laughter. "How long have you been
practicing that?" she asked, teasingly.

The other girl gave no response, other than an enigmatic quirk of her
lips, and the two lapsed into silence as Noriko forced herself to
concentrate on her food, glancing up only occasionally.

Shimako watched her wistfully, entranced by the shifting of the light
in her eyes and across her skin as, outside, the clouds began to darken
the sky. Her black hair brushed softly against the collar of her
sweater, highlighting the slow, delicate curve of her neck. Shimako
sipped at her tea distractedly, brushing a finger across the
lingering warmth on her lips and sighing quietly.

She was sure that only the briefest of moments could have passed before
she was startled out of her daydream by the sound of Noriko setting her
fork down against her plate, the tiny sound jarringly loud in her ears.

"That was delicious. Thank you so much, Shimako-san."

It seemed to her that the younger girl was watching her face intently,
almost as though she was fearful of some sign of disapproval. "I'm
glad," she replied, smiling warmly.

Another silence.

Noriko stared intently at the tablecloth, trying her hardest to avoid
the warm, uncertain tension that hung between them. In her mind
she searched frantically for something, anything to say. With uncanny
timing, just as she opened her mouth, the other girl began to speak.



They both laughed nervously.

"Please," Shimako began, "you go first."

"I..." Noriko swallowed and tried again. "I think we'd better leave,
Shimako-san. We don't want to get caught out here in the rain."

The older girl nodded sadly in agreement. Gathering their things,
the pair stood up and made their way towards the exit, Shimako pausing
at the counter to fish some wayward coins from her purse.

As Noriko pushed open the cafe door, a few spots of rain began to
spatter onto the pavement. Up ahead, the sky was menacingly dark. She
rummaged in her bag for a second, eventually pulling out a small
compact umbrella and wrestling it into shape. Raindrops began to smack
hollowly into the red fabric.


The younger girl turned to see Shimako staring at the clouds, a look of
obvious concern on her face. "What's the matter?"

"I forgot to bring an umbrella with me," she admitted. "Would you--?"

Before she could finish, Noriko walked over and dragged the taller girl
underneath the umbrella with her, pulling her close to try and make
sure that they could both stay dry.

As they began to walk, Shimako slipped her arm around the smaller
girl's shoulders. Sighing contentedly to herself, Noriko let her head
rest gently against the brunette's arm, the warmth of it suffusing her

In the distance, jagged forks of lightning flickered across the sky,
leaving lingering purple shadows in the air. The rain grew harder.
At the end of the street, Shimako made to turn left, only to find
herself tugged back by the smaller girl, who glared at her defiantly.

"Shimako-san, I am not going to leave you waiting outside for a bus
in this weather," she admonished. As if to punctuate her words,
a peal of thunder rolled over them like a wave. "It's not far to my
Aunt's house. You can stay with us until this storm passes."

Shimako drew a short breath, making ready to argue, but the fiery look
in the other girl's eyes made her think better of it. With a quiet
smile, she nodded her acquiescence, and together they began to make
their way against the growing wind.

As they walked, she looked down at the younger girl, her eyes
half-closed, resting once more against her shoulder. Strands of dark
hair blew lightly across her fingertips, and almost instinctively she
found herself twining a tiny lock around her fingers. Catching
herself, she let go, smiling wryly at her own foolishness.

All too soon, they found themselves at the front of a small two-storey
house. Noriko opened the gate, wiping her wet fingers absently on her
jeans as they made their way up the path.

She pushed the front door open to let Shimako step inside, slamming
it shut behind her to keep out the rain. "I'm home," she called out,
kicking her shoes off into a corner.

A tall, grey-haired lady stepped out of the kitchen at the end of the
entrance hall, humming softly to herself. "Welcome home, Riko," she
said happily. Catching sight of the other girl, she paused, her eyes
widening sharply. "Oh... Who's this, Noriko?"

"Shimako-san, this is my Aunt, Nishimuro Sumireko," the dark-haired girl
began excitedly. "Auntie, this is my friend, Todou Shimako."

Shimako gave a small, graceful bow. "I'm very sorry to intrude
unannounced like this, Nishimuro-san--" she began.

The old lady favoured her with a bright smile. "Please, don't worry
about it," she interrupted. "I've been looking forward to meeting you,
Shimako-san. Come inside and sit down - you must be cold."

Relaxing slightly, Shimako kicked off her sodden shoes and took a pair
of guest slippers from the mat, following Noriko and her aunt into the

"Would you like some tea, Shimako?" Sumireko asked, settling herself
slowly into an armchair.

"If it's not too much trouble..."

"Of course. Noriko-chan, would you mind making us some tea, please?"

Noriko nodded obediently and hurried away to the kitchen.

"She's told me so much about you, Shimako-san. I was glad to see her
happy - I had worried that she wouldn't fit in at Lillian. She can be
so stubborn when she wants to."

Shimako laughed quietly.

"I was so shocked when she returned home that evening wearing a
rosary around her neck. I hadn't imagined she would ever accept
someone as her soeur... Tell me, Shimako, how did you and Noriko
first meet?"

"It was at the beginning of the Spring term," Shimako began. "My
Onee-sama had just recently graduated... I was watching the cherry
blossom, underneath the tree where I first met her."

At this, Sumireko's smile cracked slightly. She rubbed at her eye with
one of her fingers. Shimako paused, uncertainly.

"I'm sorry. Did I--?"

"No, no. It's not your fault, child. I... I was just remembering a

"Do you know that place, Nishimuro-san?"

"Oh yes. I used to go there myself, whenever I wanted to be alone for
a while. Back then we all used to believe that it was haunted."

"Haunted?" Shimako looked genuinely shocked. "But who--?" She broke
off as Noriko stepped back into the room bearing three steaming cups of
tea on a tray. She handed one to her aunt, and another to Shimako, the
tips of their fingers brushing together for the briefest of moments.

Noriko seated herself next to Shimako, a short distance away, letting
her hand fall between them. Smiling warmly at her, Shimako turned back
to face the older woman. "I'm sorry. If you don't mind, I think I'd
like to hear that story," she continued, apologetically.

"There isn't much to tell. The rumour was that two lovers had been
caught there one day by the school authorities. They were due to be
expelled... They were so scared of bringing such shame upon their
families that they crept back into the grounds that very night and
took their own lives beneath its branches. Supposedly their spirits
haunted the grounds and that any two people who first met there would
be cursed."

Shimako covered her mouth with her hand. "That's terrible,
Nishimuro-san! Were there really...?" Her voice trailed off awkwardly.

The old lady smiled once more. "Who knows? We used to believe all
kinds of awful things. I think mostly it was just a way to make the
school feel a little more exciting." She laughed gently. "As far as I
was concerned it was just a quiet place to eat my lunch. At least it
was, until one day I found another girl sitting there in my place."

Out of sight, Shimako felt Noriko's fingers entwine with her own.
"What did you do?" she asked. Beside her, the younger girl leaned
forwards, excitedly.

"I was so angry at her! I knew it was silly of me, but it felt as
though she'd stolen something from me just by being there. So I walked
away, thinking that at least she'd be gone the next day and I could
have my haunted tree to myself again. But when I came back, she was
there again. And the next day. And the day after that. I tried going
there as early as I could, but it seemed like she was always ahead of

Sumireko paused to take a long sip from her teacup before continuing her
story. "In the end I decided that there was no way I could win, so I
gave in and sat down next to her. 'Aren't you afraid of the curse?' I
asked her. She turned to me and laughed a little. 'If we get cursed,'
she told me, 'I'm blaming you.'"

Noriko laughed delightedly, and Shimako couldn't help but join in.
"Did you find out who she was?"

"Oh yes. After that we ended up meeting there every day to eat our
lunch together. Her name was Suzuhara Keiko, and she was two years
older than I was. We used to talk to each other about all kinds of
things - about school, about the future... Whenever I felt lonely or
sad, she was always there waiting for me. Towards the beginning of
summer that year, she offered me her rosary while we were sitting there
in the shade."

Shimako sat up slowly, clutching the warmth of Noriko's fingers more
tightly in her own to hide the nervousness from her voice. "I hope you
don't mind my asking, Nishimuro-san," she began quietly, "but what did
you do after she had graduated?"

The older lady looked at her gently. "That's quite alright,
Shimako-san. I was sad for a time, of course. But after she left we
began to write letters to one another. She married a very handsome
young man and moved away to live with him in Yokohama. I still speak
to her quite often, even now."

At that, Shimako smiled sadly. "I'm very glad to hear that,
Nishimuro-san," she replied. "Thank you for telling me." She relaxed
slowly back against the cushions, allowing a comfortable silence to
fill the room, disturbed only by the steady hiss of the evening rain.

After a minute, Noriko put down her teacup and turned to face her
soeur. "Shimako-san, could you tell me about how you met your
Onee-sama? You've mentioned her before, but we never..." she asked,
her voice trailing off uncertainly.

The older girl set her cup down on the table, a gentle look in her
eyes. "Of course. I'm sorry for not telling you sooner, Noriko. I...
I hope you can meet her one day. I'm sure she'd like that."

"It was in the middle of the spring," Shimako began, leaning forwards,
her soft voice drawing the others in. "At first she seemed almost

By the time Shimako had finished, the last of the evening light had
long since faded. The rain was still drumming fiercely against the
window panes.

Sumireko looked outside and shook her head. "I don't think you should
try and find your way back home in this weather, Shimako-san..."

Shimako turned to see, a worried frown creeping across her face.

"You're welcome to spend the night here if you'd like. We have plenty
of room."

"Are you sure?" Shimako asked, uncertainly. "I don't want to impose
on you."

Sumireko nodded warmly at her. "It's no trouble at all. Noriko-chan,
could you pop upstairs and make up an extra bed, please?" Noriko
assented enthusiastically, bounding her way up the stairs two at a
time. "And Shimako-san, you'd better call your parents and make sure
they know you're here."

Up in her bedroom, Noriko busied herself laying out a mattress and
bedding on the floor next to her bed, trying to conceal the trembling
nervousness that thrilled through her. From a picture on the wall
above her head, the stone face of the Buddha stared down from a green
mountainside with a look of aggravating serenity. Noriko found herself
intensely jealous.

After a moment, she heard Shimako's voice calling querulously after her
from the bottom of the stairs. She walked over to the open door and
beckoned the older girl to come and join her.

Shimako climbed the steps with a slow, measured tread, looking around
the inside of Noriko's room with a mischievous light in her eyes.
"Noriko-chan, do you have something I could wear?" she asked. "I
didn't bring anything with me."

The dark-haired girl stared at her wardrobe for a moment, thinking.
"Just a second..." she stated, suddenly, dashing out of the door. She
returned a moment later, carrying a large cotton shirt on a hanger.
"This belonged to my Uncle," she explained, holding it up against the
taller girl to check the size. "It'll be a bit big on you, but--"

Shimako took it, smiling gratefully and rubbing the soft material
between her fingers. "Don't worry, Noriko-chan. It's fine. Thank
you." She paused for a moment. "Is it okay for me to get changed
in here?"

Noriko nodded, then looked away quickly as Shimako began to undo the
buttons of her blouse, feeling as though she might blush all the way
to her toes. "I'll just go and clean my teeth," she began, hoping that
her voice would not betray her discomfort. "The bathroom is at the
end of the hallway. You can... you can use my bed. I'll sleep on the
floor." Before the other girl could try and argue, Noriko had grabbed
her night-clothes and stepped out onto the landing, closing the door
behind her.

When she returned, she found Shimako standing next to the bed,
examining a small statue of the Buddha that she kept there. The
shirt's sleeves were rolled halfway up her arms, and the tails hung
alluringly around the middle of her thighs.

Catching Noriko's expression, she spun playfully on the spot, her hair
bouncing around her shoulders. "How do I look?" she teased. The
younger girl laughed in delight, shaking her head as Shimako walked out
towards the bathroom, before finally dropping to her knees on the

Through the thin fabric of her pajama top, Noriko absently counted off
the beads of the rosary that hung, hidden, around her neck. The warm
weight of it against her skin so similar, and yet so different from the
juzu she had sometimes carried in the past.

She hadn't meant to wear it like this - certainly not outside the
Lillian school grounds. She'd meant what she'd said when she had told
Shimako that she would merely keep it safe for her. After all, it
didn't mean anything much to her. Not really.

But somehow she'd kept forgetting to take it off. And with Shimako
here... This was her secret. A private prayer.

Another Decade passed beneath her fingertips. Her skin tingled gently.

Each bead of the juzu brought calm, a tranquility to be found nowhere
else. The rosary seemed almost its polar opposite, bringing confusion,
uncontrolled. Her heart beat faster.


She jumped in surprise, her fingers flying from her throat as though
scalded. Turning, she found Shimako standing a few steps behind her,
eyes bright with amusement.

"I'm sorry. Did I startle you?" she asked.

Noriko shook her head, standing slowly. "No, not at all. I...
Shall I turn the light off?"

Shimako sat down on the bed, shuffling herself under the blanket.
"Thank you," she nodded.

Sighing quietly with relief, Noriko turned out the light and settled
herself onto her mattress. The cross around her neck felt as though it
was blazing with light. Even in the dim glow of the street lamp
outside, she felt sure that Shimako could see it shining from where she

Shivering, she tugged the blanket up under her chin. "Goodnight,
Onee-sama," she whispered.

A moment later, she realised what she had just said, her fingers
leaping instinctively to cover her mouth. Her skin burned, blushing

In the darkness, she could barely make out the outline of Shimako's
face. Only her reply, softly breathed, hung in the air.

"Goodnight, Noriko-chan."


Yokohama Shopping Log: In Your Eyes

My first post on the NEW Fanfic Revolution. Yay! I chose this story to post first, because the series has just ended and I miss it already.

Notes and Disclaimers: Yokohama Shopping Log (Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou) and the characters of Alpha and Kokone are owned by Ashinano Hitoshi, Kodansha, Asiadou and SME Visual Works, and I can't thank them enough, because I believe that this series is one of THE most breathakingly gorgeous and wonderful ever. And I mean *ever*. Manga and anime. I am thoroughly gaga over both Alpha and Kokone and especially them together. If they were my characters I would never be able to stop writing them.

This is a yuri romance story. No sex. Go away and read something else if you wanted sex. But, if you love Alpha and Kokone as much as I do, then pull up a chair, have a cup of coffee and enjoy. :-) When you are done, let me know that you liked it at

As always, I hope you will support "World Shaking" Fanfic and Yuricon and ALC Publishing. Buy yuri manga, anime and gifts, attend yuri events, join the Yuricon mailing list! For reviews of the Yokohama Shopping Log anime and manga, please visit Okazu, my blog for yuri anime, manga and other reviews.

And again, because "fanfic doesn't have to suck" support the NEW Fanfic Revolution! Drop by often as we update!

In Your Eyes


The road was rough, bouncing and jolting the scooter beneath her. Kokone relaxed her grip, trying to find a rhythm in the unpredictable motion, but the handlebars kicked and she was forced to grab wildly to keep from spinning out. When she had started out on this trip the roads were in good repair, but out here there were more holes than road and, in some places, no road at all.

None of this really bothered Kokone; it was just something she observed as she rode. In fact, if anything, the poor road conditions kept her attention fully on her ride, and less on her destination. The front wheel once again bucked, but this time it wasn't the road that was at fault. Kokone could tell that she was fidgeting; beneath her cool exterior, there was a constant twitching, one that threatened to fatally distract her several times.

It all came down to one thing, really; every time she even *thought* the name "Alpha," Kokone became nervous. With some annoyance, she wrested the front wheel under control once again, then frowned furiously, wishing her heart would be as easily controlled.

After several hours of self-imposed torture, Kokone gave up for the day. She found a pleasant lay-by where others had, clearly, camped for the night. Wood lay stacked neatly by a stone-lined fire pit. Holes, tire tracks and footprints were recent enough not to have been washed away by rain and wind. Kokone set her scooter's kickstand and removed her helmet, letting the breeze move through her hair and cool her face. She imagined the other travelers who had come this way, weary with the miles, or just out for a jaunt. Letting her glance linger on the remains of the last fire, she wondered about the person who had laid it - was he old, or young? Did she find something she was looking for, or lose something she no longer wanted? Did he share a good meal with a friend, or lay here alone, watching the stars in the dark sky? As she stood in silent contemplation of those who preceded her in this place, the sun began to set behind orange and pink-tinted clouds.

Before the last light faded, Kokone removed a tarpaulin from her carryall and set up a makeshift tent, fascinated, as always, by her desire for shelter. Why did those who design her make her so fragile? Why did she like the warmth of a bath or the taste of food at all? There was no need for an android to feel these things, if you thought about it - they could just as well have made her impervious to cold and able to refuel with sand...and yet, here she was, heating up a can of soup over a small fire and happy for both the food and the warmth....

She yawned.

....and tired from the ride, she admitted to herself with a sleepy smile.

After she had eaten, Kokone cleaned up her garbage, damped down the fire for the night and curled up in her blanket, hands tucked in between legs for warmth, and slept.

The morning air was cold. Kokone pulled the blanket tightly around her, trying to eke out what little extra warmth she could, but gave up as her breath began to condense on the blanket's edge. Reluctantly, she rose, stretched, and began to pack her belongings away inthe carryall. A can of peaches served for breakfast, after which Kokone spent a few minutes finding enough wood to supply the next visitor with a warm fire. When that was all done, she put on her helmet and goggles and, once again, was on the road.

The day warmed quickly. In no time at all, she had left the wooded hills and was bouncing along a track that rose above a silvery ocean. Sand drifted across the road in places, slowing her progress, but Kokone didn't mind. The longer she took to arrive, the longer she could enjoy the journey.

The land flattened out, the trees receded, leaving only Kokone and a long stretch of almost uninterrupted horizon. Tall grasses waved on either side of the road, the occasional bird flew overhead, but the day was otherwise undisturbed by any living creature. Eventually the road filled in again, and a few dwellings appeared on one side of the road or other. When a lone truck passed her going in the opposite direction, Kokone waved at the old man in the driver's seat.

She passed a gas station where a lanky young girl sat with her feet up, chewing on a
piece of long grass. As Kokone passed, she sat up, dropping her feet to the ground, then waved, her mouth moving. Kokone couldn't hear her words over the hum of the engine, but she could tell that she was calling out her name. She waved enthusiastically and called out, "Makki-san! Good afternoon!" but did not slow down.

At last her destination appeared on the horizon - a little white house, set well back from the road. The deck was bleached with warm afternoon sunshine, but there were no obvious signs of life. Turning off the scooter's engine, Kokone pulled off her helmet andlistened for anything that might let her know whether anyone was home. After a moment, she could make out the high-pitched whine of hardware, followed by a scraping sound. It appeared to be coming from behind the house, so Kokone left her scooter parked where it was and headed in the direction of the sound.

"Hello?" She called out politely. "Is anyone home?" Her only answer was the sound of an electric saw. "Alpha-san?"

She cleared the side of the house to find herself facing a makeshift work area, with temporary storage and a handmade worktable. Alpha, wearing eye protection and earmuffs, stood over a table saw, her attention completely focused on the project before her. Her green hair was pulled back into a bun, sweat rolling down her neck visibly. Kokone stopped where she was, her heart beating loudly in her chest, as she watched Alpha move a piece of wood slowly around the blade. As Kokone observed silently, she once again wondered about the creators who had designed them. Why sweat? Why tears? Why did her heart jump at the sight of Alpha's head bent low over a makeshift table and the smooth, pale stretch of skin along the back of her neck, where individual strands of green hair lay?

The sound of the saw faded away, and Kokone realized that Alpha was looking up at her in surprise. She started, embarrassed to have been caught staring, fumbling for the right words. "I...uh...I just...good afternoon!" she gasped, bowing low in greeting,
feeling utterly foolish.

"Kokone-san!" Alpha's smile blossomed. "You made it!" She brushed sawdust off the form she had cut, and lifted it as she spoke. "I'm almost done here, can you wait just one moment?"

Kokone nodded, relieved that Alpha didn't seem to notice her awkward behavior. Her attention drifted from the other android to the wood in her hand. The saw sliced along a corner, slowly curving its way long the edge, until Alpha once again let her foot rise off the pedal, and lifted both her head and the piece of wood. A few brushes and she held what appeared to Kokone to be a double-sided oar, for a miniature kayak.

"That looks good," Alpha said, clearly pleased with herself. She lifted her eyes from the object and smiled at the other android. "How was your trip?" Alpha's eyes turned back to the object and spun it around slowly, as if it were being moved by the wind

"Fine, thank you." Kokone found the banality of their exchange comforting. She still wasn't sure exactly what passed as "usual" behavior in every situation, but this she could do. "The road looks a little more worn away about three hours east, but other than that, it was pretty smooth." As Alpha lifted a second oar-shaped thing from a pile of sawdust, Kokone guessed suddenly what the other android had been making.

Alpha approached, pulling the handkerchief off her head and fanning herself with it. "You mean that area that's gotten all drifty? I know. After a storm a few months ago, I had to walk my scooter across it for about a mile, there was so much sand." She exhaled broadly, and squinted up at the sky. "I didn't realize how late it is. Are you hungry, or thirsty? Let me make you some lunch."

A knot of tension in Kokone's stomach loosened at this offer. "I'll help," she said with a smile


As they prepared the meal, Kokone's conversation with Alpha was light, uncommitted to any particular topic, something the humans at work called, "chitchat." She enjoyed the give and take of their discussion, the calm relaxation that settled over her as they seated themselves in the window, ate sandwiches and drank coffee

"Was that a new whirlygig you were working on?"

Alpha smiled shyly. "Yes. I just got a whim and wanted a new one. It'll be a fish when it's done, of course."

The lavender-haired android laughed. "Of course. You've gotten the porch all repaired," Kokone noted.

"Mmm," Alpha agreed, her eyes sparkling with accomplishment. "I originally enclosed it again, but then it smelled all mildewy, so I took the walls down and started over. When Takahiro-san came back for a visit, he helped – he brought the wood over - and I've spent the last few months finishing it up." Her eyes traversed the polished slats of the porch with pride. "It looks good, doesn't it?"

"Better than the remnants after the storm, definitely." A silence fell over them, each woman recalling her own reactions to the damage the house had taken when a major typhoon had struck, several years ago. When Kokone spoke again her voice was a little shaky. "I was so worried about you, when I came by and you were gone. If Oji-san hadn't come by and told me that you had gone on walkabout, I don't know what I would have done."

"I owe him a lot, "Alpha nodded. "He protected me, and watched the house, when I needed to get away – and helped me repair it, too."

Kokone lifted her head and looked around her. "It looks really solid now."

"I've made some improvements. I don't have a lot of money – but I have plenty of time."

Kokone watched Alpha as the other android recounted the repairs she had done on the house. Of course she hadn't changed, - outwardly, anyway - in the years since they had first met. Neither of them could change, really. But there was something in Alpha's voice that felt different. Many years ago, when Kokone had first met the other android, there had been something in her eyes, and voice, and motions, which spoke of anticipation.

Kokone knew that in those days Alpha was actively waiting for the return of her owner. But many years had passed since then. Her neighbor Takahiro, once a young boy, was now a grown man with his own family and still Alpha's owner had not come back. Kokone could see tranquility in Alpha, a kind of contentment with what is, that filled her like liquid light. That must be what her human coworkers referred to as "maturity." In her own mind, she thought, "She glows."

They cleaned up lunch and Alpha made them another pot of coffee. The sun was bright, and the air warm, so she suggested that they drink it on the porch. Kokone agreed happily.

Now that she was here, there was no reason to rush.


The sun had set again, and the two had come back into the house to make more coffee. As usual, no one had stopped by the café, but Alpha didn't seem to mind. If anything, Kokone thought, she seemed a little relieved that no one had interrupted their afternoon.

"Would you like to make the delivery now, or do you want to wait?" Alpha asked, rather suddenly, Kokone thought.

"I'll leave it up to you." Kokone knew well enough that Alpha needed time to process after receiving a message. She smiled internally at the memory of the first time she had delivered a message to the other android.

"How about we do it now, then?" Alpha set the coffee beans aside and walked over to the table.

"Okay..." Kokone sat down facing Alpha and put her hands out. She smiled shyly. "Hands," she said, taking Alpha's into her own, then, "And now stick out your tongue...."

Eyes closed, she moved forward to touch her tongue to Alpha's. She could feel something buzzing through her, as the message moved between them. It was a long message, with a lot of data, which made her feel awkward and tingly. As the data slipped through the connection, Kokone could feel Alpha's hands tighten their grip

It seemed like a very long time this time, Kokone thought, as the end of message marker sounded in her head. Even so, she was reluctant to pull away from the other android. It was nice, she thought, even for a short time, to be touching Alpha. Kokone pulled back and let go of Alpha's hands.

As always, Alpha's face went pale, then her cheeks flamed. Her hands lifted to cover her mouth, but this time, her eyes went very wide and very unfocused. Kokone watched her with concern for a moment, then decided that there was nothing Alpha needed from her, nothing she could really do, in any case. Pushing back from the table, Kokone stood.

Knowing that her words would be unheard, she excused herself. "I think I'll go sit out on the porch until you're..." Kokone closed the door behind her quietly, as Alpha's head slipped down onto the table.


It was cold, and dark, on the porch. The stars wheeled dizzyingly above her head, but Kokone hardly noticed. Her heart and mind were focused on the little house behind her, where light streamed from one small window and was otherwise without signs of life.

Where was Alpha now, she wondered. In her bedroom, or sitting at the table in the café, her head still filled with strange new images? Kokone blew on her hands to warm them up, and sighed. What was the message this time, where had it come from and what did it say?

The door behind her opened and warm golden light spilled out across the porch. Kokone stood up and spun around.


Maruko shuffled the papers, stuck the pen in her mouth and chewed thoughtfully, then, then took the pen in her hand and began to write.

"Yo, Nai,." she wrote, then stopped.

She wanted to thank him for all the images he had sent her. She'd done a few sketches using some of them – and she hoped that he'd take a look and let her know what he thought. She stared down at the pieces of paper. She was sending them by regular mail, because Kokone was off on vacation and she didn't much like using the replacement method they had for delivery - it gave her a headache.

Maruko gazed at the paper, trying to frame her thoughts precisely. This was harder than simply sending data. With the camera, with robot-to-robot transfer, emotions, sense, feelings, colors, etc, transmitted precisely without loss or interference. But this was far more difficult. How was she supposed to communicate what she had experienced through mere words? How on earth did humans manage it all the time?

"Speaking of Kokone, I gave up, did I tell you that already?"

She could clearly remember telling him about the time she had taken the other android on a "date" to Café Alpha, but she hadn't told him that she had spent the afternoon sulking and being rude, because Kokone had never taken her eyes off Alpha the entire time.

She had returned to the café a couple of times, determined to ruffle Alpha's feathers, but she had never managed to really come to hate the older android. After all, it was her own jealousy that was the problem, wasn't it? Alpha hadn't ever really done anything to her.

"I came right out and told her how Kokone feels, trying to shock her, but she just answered that she liked Kokone back, like it wasn't anything."

Maruko could remember the moment clearly. She had thought that, perhaps, Alpha hadn't really understood what she had meant, so she had said that she liked Kokone too. When Alpha didn't react to this, she had added that she liked Nai, as well. Alpha's response had been a dramatic "Ehhh?" – and so she guessed that she had known what Maruko meant after all. But then, how did Alpha really feel about Kokone? Maruko had tried so many times to gain Kokone's attention, but every time, she had felt the other android slip further and further from her grasp.

The last time she had seen Kokone, Maruko had realized that there was just no way she was ever going to win this battle. She was a little sadder than she had expected to be, but had turned her feelings towards creating new drawings, so at least something had come of it all.

"Anyway, I sent Alpha a message - one of conciliation, I guess, and of concession.

If you come to visit I'll let you see the whole thing, but here's the basic text...."


Her eyes were open, but it was a long, long time before she realized it. The message
kept replaying over and over in her mind, as if it were on a loop. The images were
overwhelming, full of unfamiliar sensations, not all pleasant. Some made her lonely, some horribly, unreasonably angry, and others simply made her sad. She knew well enough that these were not her own feelings, but those of the sender, but it was all too overwhelming at once to separate out – and she hadn't even begun to figure out what her *own* feelings were.

When at last Alpha looked around herself, she was alone in a semi-darkened room. What little light there was came from the pale sky outside. She stumbled as she rose, knowing that there was something important that she was forgetting, but unable to focus clearly on the present or immediate past, now that her mind was so full with the message.

Alpha made her way towards her bedroom where she stripped automatically, and managed to make her way into the bathroom, and the tub. As the warm water covered her limbs she felt herself go slack – and the message started once again.


Although we have already met several times, I feel as if I ought to introduce myself, because we...I...have never really started off correctly. I knew who you were long before you knew who I was...and even after we met, I wasn't playing fair with you. It wasn't your fault at all, I was just jealous of you,

Anyway, I'm not sure if I told you, or Kokone told you, but I am an artist when I have the chance. To apologize for being so mean to you – and to explain why I was, in the first place – I've made something for you. I hope you understand it – and mayb one day come to like it. Call it a piece of collage."

Then the images began.

Kokone's face appeared in Alpha's mind, sitting across an unfamiliar table.

Kokone, smiling, talking, laughing. Kokone, serious, Kokone with her eyes shining,

Kokone with a dreamy face, speaking of the unknown future. Image after image of the lavender-haired android, always animated, always speaking. Telling story after story – about Alpha

"And then Alpha said..." the next image came, like every image before and after it, dreams, hopes, desires, secrets, all about Alpha. And with them, the raw emotions belonging to Maruko, as her desire became more and more bitter, as the realization of that desire drew further and further away towards impossibility

Alpha dropped her head backwards onto the tub rim until the message finished playing again. She scrubbed her face with her hands, and stood abruptly, forcing herself back into the present. There was something she needed to do. She toweled herself off, and dressed, drying her hair quickly and not very efficiently.

Walking back out to the café, she could feel cool night air coming in through the windows, and see the dark sky thickly lit with stars, The Milky Way was visible, even from where she stood

Alpha opened the door and stepped out onto the porch where Kokone sat, looking alone and cold, almost frozen in time and space. Alpha was assailed once again with images from the "collage"


Kokone stood and turned, then froze as she saw Alpha's face. The older android stepped out onto the boards, the day's moisture condensed, cold and wet under her feet.

Kokone stuck her hands in her pockets, and smiled that shy smile of hers. "Did it come through all right?"

Alpha opened her mouth to say something, but closed it again without a sound. Tears formed and fell from her eyes and still she hadn't moved.

"Alpha-san?" Kokone took a step forward, but found her arms full of the other android, and her mouth touching fragrant green hair. "Alpha-san," she whispered

After a long while, Alpha appeared to pull herself together. Stepping away from the other android, she half turned away. "Let's go inside," she said. "I'll make some coffee and we can talk."

Kokone followed her silently

The door closed, leaving only the wind moving through the grass, and a square of golden light that illuminated the porch from a window in the café, where two silhouettes could be seen long into the night.

Stellvia : When I Fall

Stellvia was something of an unusual series. Despite the fact that the central pair of characters (and, indeed, their relationship) was as dull as ditchwater, several of the secondary characters managed to quietly involve themselves in ways which more than redeemed the entire story.

For some reason this remains just about the only Yayoi/Ayaka story on the net, which I can't help but feel is rather a shame (feel free to prove me wrong in the comments). I still harbour half-formed plans to write a sequel at some point in the future.

Adult content. You know the drill.

Uchuu no Stellvia : When I Fall

Squinting slightly beneath the brightness of a row of spotlights,
Commander Jinrai Shirogane surveyed the vast crowd assembled in front
of him. The surviving pilots and crews of all six Foundations were
crowded into Vision's great hall, and right now it seemed as though
every single one of them was staring intently at him. Fortunately for
his nerves, he had managed to convince command to keep the cameras
away from this evening's proceedings. Some things were too private to
share with the rest of the world just yet.

From the seat to his right, Admiral James nodded slightly.
Nervously, he stood up and approached the podium. The loud susurrus
of conversations beneath dropped slowly into a whispering calm.
Glancing down at the notes on the screen in front of him for
reassurance, he cleared his throat sharply.

"Before anything else is said," he began, "I ask you all to join me
in a minute of silence, in honor of all those... of the too many who
cannot be with us tonight."

At this, he bowed his head, and the entire assembly fell quiet.
It seemed in that moment as though even the low rumble of the
Foundation's great engines had faded into the stillness. The seconds
stretched, solemn and unbroken.

At last, he raised his head and, once more, looked out over the
gathered crowd.

"Thank you. I know that many, perhaps all of us here tonight have lost
people dear to us today. In the days and months and years to come,
we will mourn their passing, and we will miss them all the more.
But tonight... Tonight, we celebrate. We celebrate the gift that
they have given us. We celebrate the greatest achievement that
humankind has ever known.

"Let the Genesis Mission be a new beginning for us all. Tomorrow we
will face new challenges - a world to rebuild, new alliances to be
forged - and perhaps great sadness as well. But because of you,
we will face them with hope in our hearts - a hope that none of us
will ever forget.

"You are heroes, each and every one. Remember it."

He closed his eyes and let out a long, slow breath. A ripple of
applause spread through the hall, gathering and regathering upon
itself in a crescendo of noise. Smiling sadly to himself, he turned
away and walked back to where his friends were waiting.

Behind him, the crowd gradually dissolved into excited knots, their
voices rising, a clamour of gossip and laughter.

On the floor below, joyful confusion soon reigned. Arisa Glennorth
found herself struggling to corral her friends amid the press of
the mob.

"Hey, Akira, have you seen Shipon?"

"Shima-chan?" The dark-haired girl shook her head. "No."


"Sorry, Arisa. I haven't seen her for quite a while."

"I guess life's a bit busy for the heroes of the hour, eh?"

"Actually, come to think of it," Yayoi mused, "I haven't seen
Otoyama-kun anywhere either..."

"Gah. That girl!" Arisa sighed in exasperation. "She'd--" She
stopped suddenly, her brain catching up with her mouth. Her eyes
grew wide. "Wait a second! Yayoi-chan! You..."

Yayoi favoured her with a quiet smile, whilst Akira turned red and
pointedly busied herself in an examination of her fingernails.

"I think," she said slowly, "that their relationship might be about
to improve quite a bit. Whether or not Shima-chan is expecting it."

Arisa stamped her foot in mock indignation. "Yeesh! Is there anyone
in this whole darned fleet that isn't spending tonight trying to
get horizontal?"

Akira's fingernails were, she decided, really very interesting indeed.

An evil smile flickered across Arisa's face. "Speaking of which..."
She turned to Yayoi, her eyes gleaming. The dark-haired girl raised
her hands defensively in front of her chest.

Now safely out of harm's way, Akira perked up sharply. Arisa's arm
insinuated its way around Yayoi's shoulders.

"Yayoi-chan, you little fox! How come you never told us?"

"W-what?" Yayoi stammered.

"About you and Machida-sempai!" Akira nodded. Arisa giggled slightly.
"Poor Pierre was devastated..."

"I... I was afraid..."

Arisa drooped slightly, then hugged the other girl tightly. "Silly!
you should've heard everyone cheer when you told her like that!"

Yayoi smiled, blushing prettily. "Thank you... all of you."

Arisa stepped back a pace, beaming proudly at her. "So, come on,
'fess up! How long have you known?"

Yayoi's blush deepened. "I... Since around Christmas, I guess.
Just after... Just after the trouble with Shima-chan."

The redhead's smile widened; she leaned closer. "Have you kissed
her yet?"

"I..." Yayoi cast around desperately for an escape route. From across
the room, Kent caught the pleading glance she gave him and nodded,

Turning back to where his teammates were chatting, the blond broke in
cheerfully. "Hey, Ayaka! Looks like you're needed..." He inclined
his head towards the ongoing inquisition.

The others turned as one to follow his indication. Shoujin looked
round at him. "A rescue mission?"

"Looks that way."

The pale boy considered for a minute, then turned to Ayaka, his
expression unreadable behind his mask. "I'd rather you than me,"
he told her.

She laughed, stumbling awkwardly as her three friends pushed her out
across the floor.

By the time she arrived, a moment later, Yayoi looked as though she
was about to melt her way through the floor. Approaching stealthily
from behind, she took the startled girl by the hand, yanking her
bodily away from her tormentors.

Caught unaware, Yayoi stumbled, falling back into Ayaka's arms.
She looked up at the taller girl, her eyes shining. "My hero..." she
sighed. The others stared for a second, before the four of them
burst into laughter.

Giggling helplessly, Ayaka leaned down to whisper in her ear.
"You coming?" She threw a glance towards the exit. Yayoi nodded,
as Ayaka helped her to her feet.

"Please excuse us," she told the other two, who were still laughing
beside them. Taking Yayoi's hand in hers, she strode confidently
towards the exit, her demeanour hardly spoilt by the approving applause
from behind them.

When they arrived, the hangar deck was a turbulent, crowded babel
of noise. Katies and Biancas swung overhead from heavy cranes;
crates and spare parts shuttled along the gangways all around them.

After searching for several minutes, Yayoi finally spotted a familiar
figure taking charge of the repair bay beneath them. "Leila-sensei!"
she called, struggling to make herself heard above the tumult.

The dark-skinned instructor looked up from the frantically scrolling
screen of her computer, glancing around in confusion for a moment
before finally catching sight of the two of them as they made their
way down the stairs towards her.

"Hi girls!" She smiled broadly at them. "What's up?"

"Leila-sensei," Ayaka began, "do you have any idea where we're supposed
to be going?"

The taller woman sighed theatrically, casting a sidelong glance at
her screen. "To be honest, I'm not sure anyone does right now.
We're trying to fit half the fleets of five foundations into
one here... Give me a second." She turned back to the manifest,
fingers tapping pointedly at the keys.

On a whim, Ayaka slid her arm possessively around Yayoi's waist.
The smaller girl started slightly, then turned to look up at her,
stepping a little closer.

"Ah! Finally." The instructor turned back to look at them once again.
"Machida-kun, you've been assigned to the Santa Maria. Find yourself
a Katie that's not too beaten up and they'll sort you out once you
get there. Fujisawa-kun..." She glanced down towards the shorter
girl, "you and your friends have been assigned a room on the Asgard.
You--" She paused suddenly. One eyebrow rose archly as she spotted
Ayaka's hand, a grin spreading across her face. "However, I get the
impression you're not going to be needing it."

As the older woman turned away, she favoured them with an amused wink
of her eye. Yayoi was certain her blush could be seen all the way
to Earth.

Ayaka, her own cheeks flushed, turned to look at her. "Come on,"
she laughed, "let's go."

The ship's comm-link burst sharply into life. "Katie four-zero-three;
Bianca one-five-nine, you are cleared for launch. You kids play safely
out there, you hear?"

Ayaka smiled broadly. "Roger that, control. See you later." She hit
the release system, and her ship shuddered as the catapult swiveled
into position. A second's delicious tension, and then she was away,
the powerful electromagnets hurling her craft out of the launch bay,
the sudden shift into freefall thrilling through her body.

As soon as she was clear of the docking bay, a touch of the controls
brought the gravity field engine online, and her ship leapt into
the darkness. Strong hands pressed her back against the restraints,
tugging her from side to side as she looped and spun.

Moments later, a soft beep from the DLS told her that Yayoi's ship had
joined her, matching her every move from close behind. Ayaka opened
a comm channel, her friend's face smiling at her from the corner of
her view.

"You wanted to fly with me, Yayoi?"

A small nod in response.

"Well, I hope you can keep up..." She grinned - and then she was
gone, the vibration of the engine thrumming through the cockpit as
she accelerated.

Yayoi drew alongside... and then, playfully, rolled her ship into
a tight corkscrew about Ayaka's axis, goading her into responding.
Laughing gleefully, she did so, their two craft tracing a wild double-
helix across the sky.

"Whatever happened to playing safely?" she teased.

"I guess I've fallen in with a bad crowd," Yayoi returned, laughing

Up ahead, the massive shapes of the fleet's cargo ships filled
Ayaka's view. A hundred possible paths whirled through her mind; she
chose one, and the display lit up red with proximity warnings.

Together they swerved hard around the massive engines of the
freighter Heracles, racing scant metres beneath its looming hull.
Ayaka pointedly ignored a torrent of threats from the outraged ship's
officer as she flung her Katie into a sharp, rolling dive, aiming
directly for the bridge of the Cassiopaeia below.

The collision alarm howling in her ears, she nudged the controls back
at what seemed the last possible moment, cutting directly across the
path of the larger ship. Yayoi followed close behind, their twin
engines slashing glittering trails through the darkness as they darted
beneath the vast hull of the transport.

"Not bad..." Ayaka smiled gleefully, her ship tumbling playfully from
side to side, almost dancing around the other girl. Up ahead, the
actinic glow of the Cassiopaeia's gravity drives drew rapidly nearer.

Relaxing slightly, Ayaka eased her ship into a slight climb, aiming to
skirt over the top of the generator spines. In her mind, she was
already plotting the next trick she could try.

"Ayaka?" Yayoi's voice interrupted her thoughts, a note of
unaccustomed fear chilling her blood.

"Yayoi? What's wrong?" Ayaka flicked her DLS to a reverse view,
hunting frantically for the other girl's ship. Yayoi hadn't followed
her. Every muscle in her body seemed to freeze instantly; she stared
helplessly as the tiny craft hurtled heedlessly past her.

"My controls! I can't--" There was a searing burst of light as
Yayoi's ship hit the rippling fold behind the freighter, and then it
was gone. The comm link cut off sharply.


Acting on pure instinct, Ayaka threw her ship into a screaming turn,
forcing her leaden fingers to fight their way across the controls.
The comm channel blinked back into life; Yayoi's head was slumped down
onto her chest, her hair hanging limply over the front of her visor.


Far ahead of her, the tiny dot representing the other girl's ship
was streaking helplessly towards the body of a supply tanker.

With a desperate cry, Ayaka slung her Katie onto an intercept course.
Alarms wailed as she red-lined the engine, the cockpit shaking wildly
under the load. She barely even noticed the tears in her eyes.

Seconds stretched into hours as she flew. Too slow, too slow.
Everything was too slow. The whole world focused on that single,
glittering point of light. Fragments of memory. A young girl; a shy,
sad smile; emotions, unfamiliar and incomprehensible.



Closer now, and still too slow. Under her breath, prayers to any
gods who cared to listen.

Closer still.

Motion. Impact. Fields entangled, and tumbling wordlessly,
breathlessly into space.

Ayaka slumped in her harness, relief and fatigue flooding over her,
drowning her like waves in a silent sea. Her fingers staggered
drunkenly across the controls, gradually slowing the chaos of their
flight. She had just managed to stop them spinning when her abused,
overheated field generator finally shut down.

Her arms aching, she lifted the visor away from her eyes. Fear,
joy, sadness, emptiness... there hardly seemed a difference anymore.
There were tears inside - that was all. Alone amid the flickering
green light of the displays, she wept.

Distant light. A thread of sound. Swimming slowly upwards through
cool, black water. Yayoi stirred weakly, her head seeming far too
heavy for her body to support.

The sound was still there; strange, distant, tugging at her
consciousness. Mustering her strength, she forced her eyes to open.
Brightness; a wave of nausea washed over her. The world rippled around
her, slowly resolving into a hazy focus. The sound came to her again.


"A... Ayaka?" she asked. Her mouth felt dry.


The face on the screen in front of her slid suddenly back into
familiarity, the blue eyes stained with tears.

"Yayoi!" Ayaka sobbed forcefully, her words catching in her throat.
"Thank god..."

Yayoi reached up with limp arms to remove the visor from her face,
shaking her head groggily.

"Ayaka? Where are we? What--?"

Fresh tears crept to the other girl's eyes. "Oh god, I'm so sorry...
so very sorry... It's all my fault." She drew a deep, shuddering
breath. "I thought... I thought I'd lost you again."

"Ayaka." Yayoi's voice was firm, commanding her attention. "You saved
me, didn't you?"

A nod.

She smiled weakly. "And I bet you didn't hesitate for a moment,
did you?"


"Well, then. All we have to worry about is how Leila-sensei is going
to kill us when she finds out."

Ayaka couldn't help it. A small snigger slipped between her lips,
giving way to a rush of laughter. She wiped at her eyes with her
sleeve. "No kidding..."

For a minute or so, they sat in silence as Ayaka composed herself,
taking deep, slow breaths. "Yayoi," she said, "I think my gravity
drive's dead - I guess I pushed it too hard back there. Do you think
you're up to towing me?"

"Give me a minute. I'm still feeling a bit sick. Do you know where
we are?"

"We've been drifting for a while... We might be quite a way away
from the fleet by now."

Yayoi looked down at her monitors for a moment, searching. "Ah!
I think I can see them. We might be in for a bit of a long ride,
though. Just a second."

Stretching her arms stiffly, she dropped her fingers down to
the control panel. Red lights blinked at her accusingly.

"Ayaka, I think my main maneuvering jets have gone. I'm not sure I
can still steer this thing."

"Are the auxiliaries working?"

"Yes," Yayoi nodded, "but I don't think they'll last very long."

Ayaka smiled at her. "Don't worry - they'll make it. Just take
things slowly. Can you manage to grab hold of my Katie?"

"I'll try..."

Moving slowly, still slightly unsteady, Yayoi coaxed her ship closer
to Ayaka's. The manipulator arm stretched out awkwardly, banging
against the other ship several times before finally gaining purchase.

Weighed down by the larger craft beneath it, the Bianca struggled
to respond you Yayoi's commands, but with some effort she managed
to point herself in the direction of the rest of the fleet. The two
girls drifted gently back into their safety harnesses as they slowly
began to accelerate.

In the corner of her screen, Ayaka smiled at her. "Nice flying," she
complimented. "The Biancas are hardly built for this sort of thing."

Yayoi flushed a little at her praise. "Thank you..."

For a long moment, she sat in silence, as though deep in thought.

"Ayaka?" she asked, eventually.


"Can I show you something?"

"Sure." Ayaka smiled at her, intrigued. "What is it?"

Yayoi's hands danced across the control panel. "Just wait a second..."

An window flashed up at the edge of Ayaka's display, indicating a
data transfer in progress. After a few seconds, it vanished.

Moments later, all her screens went dark.

"Yayoi," she asked, a note of fear creeping into her voice, "what's

"Just wait."

Slowly, her eyes began to adjust to the gloom. Faint pinpricks of
light began to appear all around her. When she finally realised what
she was seeing, Ayaka almost laughed at her own incomprehension. As
she looked out, a thousand stars looked back. There, up ahead in the
distance, a cloud of tiny blue motes of light marked the position of
the fleet.

After a time, she began to find the familiar constellations.
She could even, she realised, see the motion of the ships against
their background. Somehow, despite their size, they seemed almost
infinitesimally small.

"Yayoi..." she breathed, "how did you do that?"

"You like it?"

"It's beautiful."

"When we first got here, Shima-chan was always complaining at me
about how we couldn't see the stars properly when we were flying.
It's just something I'd been working on... It's silly, really.
There's no way anyone could manage to fly like this - they didn't even
bother to build a visible-light scanner into these ships. And there
I was, spending my nights trying to work out how to fake it from the
rest of the sensor data..."

"I think," Ayaka whispered, "it was worth every minute."

The sheer wonder on her face made Yayoi's legs tremble. "So do I."

For a long time, they sat in silence together, just watching,
marvelling at the beauty of the universe around them as though it
were a secret only the two of them would ever know.

Soon they began to make out the shapes of individual ships, their
bodies vanishing into the darkness beyond the glow of their engines.
With a sigh, Yayoi switched her view back to the familiar green of
the sensor screens.

Softly, she broke the silence. "Ayaka."


"Leila-sensei was right."

"What do you mean?"

"I don't think I'm going to be needing that room tonight."

The look in Ayaka's eyes as she spoke made Yayoi feel like the most
beautiful woman in the world.

The Santa Maria was not a large ship, and its docking bay had
definitely not been designed to facilitate the sort of entry Yayoi
had to perform. It took several abortive attempts before, with the
help of the ship's crew, she managed to maneuver Ayaka's broken Katie
into the hangar.

The ship's officer who greeted them was a tall, dark-skinned man with
close-cropped hair. He looked suitably impressed with Yayoi's flying,
but rather less so with the state of her craft.

"Jeez, ladies, what happened out there?" he asked, shaking his head.

Ayaka stepped forward to answer. "We were on our way over here from
the Foundation, but I think my Katie's engine must have been damaged
during the mission. It started shaking all over the place, and then
the generator went into emergency shutdown. Fujisawa-san here,"
she nodded to Yayoi, "managed to rescue me."

"I see," he murmured, dubiously. "I'm sorry, we're still in a bit
of a mess here. Can I take your names, please?"

"Fujisawa Yayoi."

"Machida Ayaka. We're both... well, we were both from Stellvia.
We were told we'd be staying with you."

The man's eyes widened in surprise. "Hang on," he said, "I'm sure
I've heard that name before... Weren't you part of their Astroball
team this year?"

Ayaka smiled, nodding.

"Well, it's a pleasure to have you aboard, miss. Both of you. If you
talk to Ensign McCraig here," he pointed to a portly young man who was
standing near the entrance doors, "he'll direct you to your quarters."

The two girls saluted neatly, breathing a shared sigh of relief as
they turned to go.

As the door hissed shut behind them, Ayaka shivered nervously.
The strange tension in the air left her skin tingling. Reluctantly,
she let go of Yayoi's hand, their fingers brushing in the darkness
as she walked across to the bed.

She turned on the small bedside reading light, then sat on the edge
of the mattress, her hands shaking. Yayoi sat facing her on a small
chair, seemingly waiting for her to make the first move.

She tried to speak. Once, twice... her lips didn't seem to want to
work properly. When, at last, she managed to gather her strength,
her voice was barely more than a fragile whisper.

"Yayoi..." she began. She stared down at her hands, clasped tightly
on her lap. She couldn't bear to meet the other girl's gaze.
"I don't know if you can ever forgive me for--"

"No." Yayoi interrupted her softly. Ayaka looked up, startled,
fearful. "That's not it."


"I forgave you a long time ago."

Ayaka felt tears rising within her once again. She shivered violently,
trying vainly to choke them back. "Why?" she whispered.
"I'm not... I can't..."

Yayoi watched her helplessly, trying to keep herself from crying
as well. "Ayaka..." She reached out a trembling hand towards the
taller girl's face.

"No..." A quiet sob. "Please. I need... I need to tell you."

A stray teardrop slipped down Yayoi's cheek. She let her hand fall
reluctantly back to her side as she waited patiently for the other girl
to continue.

"That girl. The part of me... the part of me that wants to hurt
you. She's still inside me." Ayaka drew a long, shuddering breath.
"But I promise. I promise I won't let her win." She raised her head,
determination flashing in her eyes. "I love you, Yayoi. And I swear,
whatever happens, whenever you fall... I'll be there. Always."

Yayoi smiled then, the beautiful, shy, sad smile that made her
heart ache. She stood slowly, stepping forwards.

"Ayaka... I've been falling for a long time."

She knelt down in front of the other girl, wiping a tear from her
cheek with the tip of her finger.

"But right here..." her fingers slipped around to tangle in Ayaka's
hair "...and right now..." Yayoi's breath was warm on her face,
their lips almost touching "'ve caught me."

Ayaka let her eyes drift closed. The kiss was soft, delicate, and
wonderfully, deliciously warm.

"I love you, Machida Ayaka."

As she spoke, Yayoi's eyes seemed almost to glow from within.
Ayaka reached out to her with trembling hands, sliding her fingers
into her hair and pulling the shorter girl towards her once more.

In their second kiss, there was nothing uncertain.

As they parted, Ayaka's hand slipped down towards the catch of Yayoi's
flight suit. With a soft hiss, the seal parted, the fabric falling
suddenly limp. Yayoi's eyes widened in surprise.

"Ayak-aahhh..." Her protest dissolved into an enticing moan as Ayaka
nipped hungrily at the side of her neck.

Encouraged, Ayaka continued to tease her. The girl's skin was soft
and warm beneath the cool of her fingertips as her suit slipped,
unnoticed, down her body. They kissed again - harder now, an edge
of need creeping into their embrace.

"Are you sure about this?" she whispered.

Yayoi took a step backwards, standing slowly upright; her smile
was brilliant. The flight suit dropped sharply to the floor.

"More than anything."

Ayaka pushed herself unsteadily to her feet. Her legs trembling,
she grabbed the smaller girl tightly in her arms, kissing her lips,
her face, her neck, longing to share the shivering heat that rushed
through her veins.

A quiet click, and Yayoi divested her of the smothering warmth of
her suit, leaving it crumpled messily on the carpet. Light, dancing
fingers traced the curves of her body... her sides, her hips... up,
slowly, so very slowly across her stomach, flitting over her breasts
and around her back.

Pausing in her exploration for a moment, Ayaka reached down to take
off Yayoi's glasses, dropping them onto the bedside table.

"That's better," she murmured, cupping the shorter girl's face in
her hands. "I want to see your eyes."

Their lips met once more, parting instinctively. As Ayaka pulled her
closer, Yayoi's hands flicked open the catch on her bra, returning
to brush roughly over the taller girl's nipples as she pushed it up
out of the way.

Ayaka's head fell back, breaking their kiss as she gasped sharply.
Yayoi hesitated for a moment, then leaned in to plant small, teasing
kisses across her breast. She smiled to herself as Ayaka's hands flew
up to tangle around her head, pulling her closer. Every tiny catch
in the other girl's breathing felt startlingly, powerfully erotic.

Keeping one hand to caress Ayaka's breast as she flicked at it with her
tongue, she let the other trail lazily down her back, fingers catching
in the waistband of her underwear. Ayaka whimpered imploringly,
tugging at her hair, and Yayoi was only too happy to comply, dragging
the offending fabric steadily downwards, leaving gossamer trails of
warmth in her wake.

Trembling with excitement, Ayaka took a tiny step backwards, fixing
Yayoi with a smouldering stare. "You," she breathed, "are such
a tease..."

At that, she dropped backwards, dragging the smaller girl down on top
of her as they fell onto the bed. They landed in a hot, surprised
tangle of limbs and dishevelled hair.

Taking advantage of the confusion, Ayaka shrugged her bra off her
shoulders and flung it carelessly away across the room. Yayoi,
however, had no intention of allowing her to escape, falling upon
her exposed neck with a shower of butterfly kisses.

Ayaka found herself practically purring at her touch, desire blossoming
frantically within her. Reaching up, she unhooked Yayoi's bra,
helping her to pull it down over her arms. It soon joined the rest
of their clothes, littering the floor.

The sight of the smaller girl sat astride her overwhelmed her senses.
She tried to speak, and the sheer physical need in her voice shocked
even her. "Please..." she begged. "Please..."

Yayoi looked nervously into her eyes, seeking reassurance. "I...
I've never done this before."

Ayaka gazed up at her, her own fear clearly visible. "Me neither,"
she replied, smiling.

Yayoi leaned down, kissing her with a delicate, aching sweetness.
Then again, more hungrily. Her lips traced burning points down
Ayaka's body, each moving inexorably beyond the last.

Another kiss, tingling at her waist.

Another, lower still.

Another, parting soft hair over trembling skin.

Writhing sensuously, Ayaka let her legs fall languidly apart,
delighting in Yayoi's muted gasp of desire as she did so.

Inch by inch, Yayoi let her lips fall softly along the inside of
Ayaka's thigh, the faint scent of the other girl's arousal swirling
dizzily through her mind.

The taller girl squirmed beneath her, cries of pleasure giving way
suddenly to a burst of helpless laughter

"Hey! That tickles!"

Yayoi giggled, an impish smile creeping across her lips.

"Oh? How about this?" Another kiss.

"Aaa! And that!"

She changed position slightly. "What about this, then?" She trailed
her tongue lightly over Ayaka's exposed lips, marvelling at the
delicate texture of her flesh. A wave of sudden tension made the
taller girl arch beneath her.


Yayoi revelled in the exquisite, intoxicating power of the moment.
Tentatively, she reached out once more with her tongue, tracing the
contours of her lover's skin, flicking lightly over the shrouded nub
of her clitoris.

From above her, Ayaka moaned softly in appreciation. "That feels
wonderful..." she gasped, wrapping her legs around Yayoi's body,
urging her on.

Encouraged, Yayoi drew two of her fingers softly across the length of
Ayaka's lips, then again, more firmly, caressing, trailing warmth and
wetness in their wake. She dipped her tongue delicately between
them, tasting salt and sweetness, the sharp trembling of the other
girl's legs quivering through her body.

Ayaka tossed her head from side to side, whimpering plaintively, her
hands clutching weakly at the sheets around her as Yayoi's tongue
drew maddening circles around the core of her desire. The sheer
physicality of want scattered any hope of thought. A part of her
wanted to beg, to plead... but there were no words, only sensation,
bright, consuming fire, gentle pressure...

She froze. In an instant, the world, her body was focused on a single,
glittering point as Yayoi's fingers pushed slowly - oh, so cruelly
slowly - inside her. Her chest tightened. She couldn't breathe;
every muscle in her body sang with tension, rising, floating in an
endless, indescribable moment--


The world crashed in upon her. She was drowning, and she wished that
it would never, never end...

Yayoi heard the sharp catch in Ayaka's breathing, transfixed between
fear and desire, terrified that she might have hurt her somehow.
The taller girl's legs stiffened around her shoulders, pinning her in
place... and then Ayaka was gasping something which might have been her
name, her whole body shivering wildly around her. Weak with relief,
Yayoi could only kiss gently at Ayaka's thighs, resting her head on
her lover's leg as her soft cries subsided.

They laid a while in silence, the rush of their twin heartbeats
pounding in Yayoi's ears as she tried to gather the will to speak.


The only reply was a quiet, tired murmur.

"Ayaka? I didn't... I mean, was that--?"

With a groan, Ayaka forced herself unsteadily upright, her arms still
trembling in protest. The smile on her face made Yayoi feel like
the queen of the world.

She reached down, stroking Yayoi's hair, and then cradling her face
between her hands.

"Do you," she breathed, "have any idea how wonderful you are?"

"You... liked that?"

In reply, Ayaka pulled her upwards, tugging at Yayoi's shoulders until
she fell full-length atop the taller girl, their legs entangled.
One of Ayaka's hands slid down Yayoi's back, insinuating its way
inside the waistband of her underwear. She pressed the shorter girl
into a hard, searing kiss.

"You mean you couldn't tell?"

Yayoi smiled innocently, shaking her head.

Ayaka couldn't help but giggle. "Well, then... I guess I'll have
to show you, won't I?" She began slowly, teasingly, to kiss her way
down the other girl's neck.

Yayoi's only answer was a breathless purr. After that, there were
no words at all.


Touko-chan in Wonderland

Thought I'd start out with my latest fic, some nice, friendly, lovable MariMite smut. It's rated R, so no peeky if you are under 18. It's also behind the cut. Viva la Fanfic Revolution! We are the Killer Bees, Senor!

Touko's Adventures in Wonderland

by Sean Gaffney

Marimite (c) Konno Oyuki, Cobalt, and various other licensors.
None of these characters are mine.

This fic is rated R, and contains sexual themes, as well as
sexual kinks. Don't read it if you're not old enough to.

Touko pursed her lips, staring at the note in front of her.

*Touko-chan, please come to the front of the mansion. We have
an event that we need you to be a part of. Fukuzawa Yumi.*

Touko sniffed. She's not my soeur, she thought, even though she
acts like it. But she feels the need to order me around like
she is. Well, okay, she doesn't order me around. She just
suggests things. And I do them. Because... I don't know.
Because she smiles at me, and talks about how sad she'd be if I
wasn't there. And because I'm a complete and total sheep with
no will of my own.

Touko was someone who prided herself on her ability to speak her
mind. Today she'd walk right up to Yumi-sama and tell her that
Yumi-sama had no right ordering her around like this when she
was not part of the Yamayurikai, and from now on would simply
have to do whatever insipid task she had on hand without Touko's

Of course, in order to do this, she'd have to go to the mansion,
just like Yumi-sama had asked. Pathetic. Sheep.

She found herself at the door, and saw another note pinned to

*Just go on inside and go up to the meeting room... Shimako and
Noriko are already hard at work. --Y*

There was a little smiley face next to the Y. For anyone else
(including Touko herself), it would have been forced cuteness.
But Yumi-sama was just sort of naturally cute. Even Touko
couldn't deny that.

Touko sighed as she walked up the stairs. It wasn't as if Yumi-
sama wasn't nice to her, or helpful. Touko's recent problems
with the drama club had been very trying, and Yumi-sama had been
right there for her. Some days Touko wondered if she should
just accept Yumi-sama's rosary. At least as her soeur she'd
have some sort of say in things.

Not that Yumi-sama had actually offered Touko her rosary. Or,
for that matter, given any clear indication that she had even
considered it. Sachiko-oneesama had been pressuring her to
choose a soeur, but Touko suspected that if it was left up to
Yumi-sama, she'd simply leave school with Sachiko-oneesama and
go become her live-in companion.

Plus there was Kanako, the 'other candidate', according to Mami-
san. Everyone in the school knew that when Yumi-sama eventually
picked her petite soeur, there were only two possible candidates
- her and Kanako. To Touko that was no choice at all. Kanako
was psychotic. Sure, bad family life, but basically psychotic

Luckily Sachiko-oneesama had been taking more of a hand in
Kanako's life lately, meaning the young girl had less time to
stalk Yumi-sama.

Unluckily, that gave Yumi-sama time to do things like whatever
it was she wanted Touko to help with. Touko sighed and opened
the door.


Shimako lay back on the table, her blouse askew and her skirt
missing, her hand tweaking at one of her nipples. Her breath
was coming in ragged gasps. Between her legs was the face of
Touko's friend, Nijou Noriko. Who had her hand gently stroking
the inside of Shimako's thighs, and her tongue stroking
something else even more intimate.

Touko turned beet red. They hadn't even noticed her come in.

She knew that this sort of thing went on at the school, though
it wasn't nearly as pervasive as new first-years thought. Some
petite soeurs were just... very close to their oneesamas. It
was the sort of thing no one talked about. And certainly she
knew Shimako and Noriko were incredibly close, even for soeurs.
She really wasn't all that surprised by them being intimate.

She was surprised by them being intimate on the Rose Council

Shimako's cries grew louder and more throaty. All the first-
years had assumed when they originally met Shimako that she was
destined to become a nun. Noriko had once said that she and
Shimako had had discussions about the topic, where Noriko had
tried to show her other points of view. This must have been
what she meant.

Touko shuffled back, trying to quietly abandon the room (and the
mansion). Suddenly Shimako let out a long cry, and sat up.

"Oh. Noriko, Touko-chan is here." Touko stared, as, sitting
up, it was now apparent that Shimako was wearing a pair of big,
floppy rabbit ears.

Noriko groaned, and removed herself from between her oneesama's
legs, her face still damp. "Your timing sucks, Touko-chan."

"And so do you, apparently," Touko murmured, not really
cognizant of what she was saying.

Noriko got up and reached under Shimako's torso, lowering her
mouth onto her breast to suckle for a few seconds before pulling
out another card that looked to have Yumi's writing on it.
"Congratulations, you've hit the first part of the scavenger

"SCAVENGER hunt!" Touko exclaimed. "What am I supposed to

"That would be telling," Noriko grinned. She then moaned
slightly as Shimako's hands were beginning to roam around under
her blouse. "You can go read that card, or watch some more.
Whichever makes you happy."

Touko turned and fled the room, slamming the door behind her.
She felt herself breathing harder, which she imagined was from
the added stress and not from seeing her best friend get it on
with Rosa Gigantea.

She looked down at the card, once again written in Yumi's sloppy
lettering. *Touko-chan. I hope Noriko-chan was able to get
this to you. Can you meet me downstairs? Yoshino-san is having
trouble breaking in the gym room we just added. --Y*

Touko stared. And then shook her head. I have an excuse to
walk out, she thought firmly. I can say that I was traumatised
by Noriko having sex. No, I can't. Because if I talk about sex
in front of Yumi-sama I think Sachiko-oneesama would rise up and
bury me in an unmarked grave.

In any case, she was getting out of here. She headed down the
stairs, her eyes locked on the front door...

...and suddenly the stairs folded up flat, and she found herself
sliding down into darkness.


Touko fell for what seemed like forever. Certainly it was
several floors, and she started to wonder whether she was having
a weird fever dream. Finally she shot out onto a floor covered
with gym mats, gasping.

She stood up, still clutching Yumi-sama's note in her hand, and
realized this was the gym room that had been mentioned in it.
She didn't really get much of a chance to study it, however, as
her eyes were quickly drawn to the spectacle in the center of
the room.

Normally, Yoshino-sama would be enough to take in. She was
dressed in an old-fashioned British fox-hunting outfit, except
Touko was fairly certain that those outfits weren't meant to
have cut-outs where the breasts were. She had a fancy yellow
hat, and a yellow riding crop, both the color of her Rose
House. And she had that look that people had learned was
Yoshino-sama's 'insane' look, the one that caused students to
flee the immediate vicinity whenever they saw it.

But compared to Rosa Foetida, Yoshino-sama looked positively
normal. Rei was dressed in a leather bikini-like outfit, only
with a few more straps biting into her legs and chest. Her
mouth was drawn back by a metal bridle, with blinders. The...
well, the panty minimum back of the outfit was enhanced by a
tail. Yes, a tail, made from what seemed to be real hair.
Touko prayed fervently that it was held on merely by glue,
rather than any of the other, more disturbing options that
presented themselves. Finally, she was wearing gloves that
were shaped like hooves.

She was also, Touko was slightly relieved to note, blushing
crimson red and looking down at the floor. At least someone is
embarrassed about all this, Touko thought, looking at Yoshino-
sama's proud smirk.

"Hello there, Touko-chan."

Touko eeped and spun around, looking into the face of a woman
she had never met, but knew was the former Rosa Foetida from
photos she'd seen at Sachiko-oneesama's mansion. She was
carrying a clipboard, and wore a headband... and nothing else.

"I want to apologize for the behavior you're witnessing."

Touko was beyond bothering to be polite. "You *think*?" she
exclaimed in disbelief.

"Of course," Torii Eriko said primly. She strode over to where
the other two were, managing to look graceful and elegant even
in her nudity. "Rei-chan should be looking you directly in the
eye," and as she said this she grabbed Rei's short hair and
yanked it back, eliciting a muffled cry from the young woman.
"And kneeling tall and proud, as a pony should." With this, she
jammed her knee into Rei's back, forcing her upright.

Touko just stared, her mouth wide.

Eriko-sama stepped back, and Rei stayed where she was, breasts
jutting out firmly, her eyes staring directly into Touko's now.
They seemed to smolder; Touko guessed it was Eriko-sama who had
put that there. Wonderful, she thought, Rosa Foetida's into

Eriko-sama moved over to Yoshino-sama, whose look of pride had
turned into uncertainty. She grabbed the crop from Yoshino-
sama's unresisting hand. "This is totally unacceptable,
Yoshino-chan. I graduated from Lillian with the understanding
that you would take Rei in hand to make her into the perfect
pony. And what do I find when Yumi-chan invites me back? She
can't even look a first-year in the eye. What do you have to
say for yourself?"

Yoshino-sama's eyes were wide and fearful. "I'm... I'm sorry,

Eriko-sama raised an eyebrow. "Sorry?"

"I'll do better! I promise!" Yoshino-sama sounded panicked,
but there was also a trace of arousal there.

Shaking her head, Eriko-sama walked over to Yoshino-sama and
yanked on her riding pants, pulling them to the floor. Touko
was utterly unsurprised to find that she wasn't wearing any
panties under them. "I think you need to remember what real
discipline is, Yoshino-chan..."

She then reached out with her free hand and smacked Yoshino-sama
hard on the bottom. Yoshino-sama twitched, but made no noise -
Touko guessed that silence was part of the punishment. She
shifted on her feet, and cleared her throat.

Eriko-sama smacked Yoshino-sama once more, then turned. "I'm
sorry, Touko, you're right. We musn't keep you." She walked
over to Rosa Foetida, bent over, and whispered something in her
ear. Rei-sama immediately relaxed and got up, seeming to turn
back to normal, or as normal as Rosa Foetida ever could be when
wearing a bridle. She walked over to a pile of school uniforms
in the back and retrieved another card, which she then handed
to Touko.

Touko blushed and looked down, but managed to look back up at
Rosa Foetida. Hell, maybe the older woman would start slapping
her around if she didn't, who knew? "Thanks."

Yoshino-sama had straightened up too, which drew another painful
swat from Eriko-sama. "Excuse me, I only gave one of you
permission to move. You truly have regressed while I was gone."

Touko looked at this, then back at Rosa Foetida. Who winked.

Touko shook her head and headed out the exit, hearing the sharp
smacks on Yoshino-sama's bottom fade into the distance.

*Touko-chan - I hope the others managed to have a good workout.
Did you get sweaty as well? Come to the baths, they're towards
the end of the corridor on the right. --Y*

Was this really Yumi-sama doing this, Touko wondered. She knew
Yumi-sama wasn't as innocent as she appeared, but this seemed a
little ridiculous...


The baths were as well-laid out as the gymnasium had been,
looking more like a hot springs than a public bath. Touko
peered into the room slowly, not sure who she'd find in there.
She was rather surprised to see the school newspaper's two
reporters, sitting back in deep relaxation, sake cups in their

Mami-sama was also gently caressing Minako-sama's breast, but by
now Touko wasn't startled. She was rather annoyed, though, at
their presence in the Rose Mansion. "Do the others know you're
here?" she said without preamble.

Minako-sama's eyes opened and she smiled slyly. "Of course,
little Touko-chan. We're all part of the master plan!"

Mami-sama sighed, and pinched Minako-sama's nipple. "Stop

"That's not a convincing way to get me to stop," Minako-sama

"Can we just pretend I watched you two have sex so that you can
tell me what's going on?"

Mami-sama smiled at Touko, trying to look sympathetic. "We
don't really know the story either, Touko-chan. Oneesama has
been trying to figure it out herself." She looked askance at
the sake. "Unfortunately, as that bottle's gotten emptier, the
theories have gotten weirder."

"I've got it!" Minako-sama shouted, flailing her arms and
accidentally groping Mami-sama. Well, Touko assumed it was
accidental. "Remember how you said my theory about killing
Touko-chan, scooping out her insides, then inflating her and
making a blow up doll for Yumi-chan was ludicrous?"

Touko blanched, and Mami-sama thrust Minako-sama back down into
the bath. "Yes."

"Well, then, it must be duplicates! The real Touko-chan is
destroyed, and a compliant clone robot is created, programmed to
worship Yumi-chan. The robot would think it was real, of
course, and just assume that Yumi-chan had converted her to
sapphism by benefit of being really cute and huggable and
luscious -- ow!"

"Stop dreaming of fucking Yumi-chan and get back to fucking me,"
Mami-sama growled. She turned to Touko. "Never let Oneesama
near alcohol - she starts plotting how to seduce the entire
student body."

"Uh huh," said Touko, beginning to feel a lot like a Greek

"Or maybe it's Satou-san! She never really left, did she,
always lurking over there at the University, watching over us
all with her fingers of doom and sexy breasts. I bet she's a
vampire. It explains so much. She must have enthralled Yumi
right before she graduated, which explains how the girl got a
backbone so quickly..."

"Good old Red-eyes Satou, they call her..." Mami-sama said,

Minako-sama stood up shakily, and pointed her finger at Touko.
Touko averted her eyes from the display this created. "Do you
feel it, Touko-chan? Can you feel the Yamayurikai's fingers
slowly creeping through your brain? You're already beginning to
feel... CONFUSED, aren't you?"

Touko nodded. "I think that's a given."

"That's how it starts!" Minako-sama nodded her head, looking
very smug. "The confusion starts in the brain, and then
sloooooowly spreads to the pussy."

Touko put her face to her hand. "Oh, for god's sake."

"We know there's mind control at work here, Touko-chan, we're
just not s--"

There was a loud splash, as Minako-sama fell back into the bath.
Mami-sama was behind her, a bucket in her hand, slightly dented.
"Sorry about that, but I think she was about to move on to how
Rosa Chinensis is secretly an Illuminatus, and I can't tell you
how bored I am with that theory."

"Can I just get Yumi-sama's stupid card?" Touko was beginning
to feel a bit dizzy. She wanted to get the hell out of here.

"Here," Mami-sama said, moving the sake bottle and handing Touko
another white card. "For what it's worth, Touko-chan, I really
have no idea what the hell is going on. We got a phone call
saying to come to the Mansion, and were taken here and given
alcohol by Rosa Foetida... um, the former Rosa Foetida."

"And she said to just get drunk and have sex until I arrive?"

Mami grinned. "No, but they left sake. And when oneesama gets
drunk, she gets paranoid and horny. I can fix the latter."

Touko sighed, and turned. "Bye," she said curtly.

"Good luck! If you find out what's going on, can we get an
exclusive?" But Touko was out the door. She looked at the

*Touko-chan -- I apologize if Minako-sama was appalling. The
alcohol was a necessary evil. Can you grab some rolls of film
from the orange utility closet ahead of you and bring them to
Tsutako-chan at the top of the stairs to the left? I promise
things will become clearer. --Y*

Touko resisted the urge to crumple the card into a ball.
Instead she moved to the closet, grabbed the film, and took the
stairs two at a time. "This can't end fast enough," she


As Touko reached the top of the stairs, she began to hear a
rhythmic clicking of a camera shutter. Presumably Tsutako-sama
was with someone else, and since Mami-sama was down in the baths
with Minako-sama, there was really only one other person Touko
could imagine in there.

Sure enough, as Touko entered the room, there was Naitou Shouko,
Tsutako-sama's Number One Fan, lying on a large bed in her
uniform. Although her uniform had been 'modified' quite a bit.
Touko was positive that Sachiko-oneesama would never tie Yumi-
sama to the headboard with her cravat. Or at least would use a
much better knot.

Tsutako-sama was behind the camera, taking picture after picture
of Shouko-chan looking tied up and helpless. Tsutako-sama was
also topless, but after what Touko had witnessed earler, this
seemed positively civilized. The camera sat on a tripod,
allowing Tsutako-sama the greatest freedom of movement.

Tsutako-sama didn't even turn to acknowledge Touko's presence,
but just reached out a hand in her direction. Touko made a
little noise in the back of her throat. However, she gave the
film to Tsutako-sama as Yumi-sama had asked.

Tsutako-sama had noticed Touko's reaction, though, and chuckled.
"You don't seem quite as horrified as I thought you'd be.
Interested, or just bored?"

"I expected this of you," Touko said truthfully. "After all,
you don't even bother to hide it on campus, skulking around with
your camera all the time." Touko was starting to recover her
usual brashness, and decided to let loose on Tsutako-sama a bit.
"You keep talking about finding interesting stories, but isn't
it strange that your pictures are always of soeurs in close
embracing, or looking longingly at each other? One might almost
think you were obsessed."

Tsutako-sama smiled, and moved away from her camera. "Yes, I
admit I like to photograph pretty girls. I don't exactly make
that a secret, Touko-chan." She moved towards the bed, where
Shouko-chan was gazing at her breasts with a longing expression.
This surprised Touko even less, having spoken with the girl
several times. Most first-years were rather shocked when they
heard about the occasional sexual relationship among their
peers; Shouko-chan was actively seeking it out.

Tsutako-sama continued her speech. "But don't you find it
strange that I have no trouble at all finding those pictures?
People talk about how there are some couples whose love is
physical, but it's far more the norm than you'd think.
Everyone knows the quiet places, the out of the way areas
where it's private... and then the inhibitions fall."

She crept on top of the bed, looking almost feline, and Touko
noticed that she had a rosary wrapped around her thigh, as if it
was a garter. Shouko-chan seemed to notice it for the first
time as well, and began to struggle with her bonds. Tsutako-
sama wasn't paying any attention to her, though or at least not
outwardly appearing to.

"They could still be caught at any moment, Touko-chan. The
sweetest kisses are the ones with a touch of danger about them.
Forbidden fantasies on a sunny afternoon. You have to be quick,
there's always the danger of getting caught."

"Am I going to have to sit through another lecture while you
have sex with Shouko-chan?" Touko said. She was beginning to
lose her will to fight.

Much to her surprise, Tsutako-sama yelled back at her. "If
that's what gets through to you, then yes, I will! Do you have
any idea what you're doing to Yumi-chan? She's given you every
kind of opportunity, goodness knows why. She's helped you when
everyone else on campus would be happy to see you fail, and yet
you don't give her what she so desperately desires?"

"Yumi-sama's not like that! She wouldn't do anything like
this!" Touko desperately shouted. "And you're one to talk! I
notice you still have your own rosary!"

Tsutako-sama grinned. "I had to buy this one specially - I
never had an oneesama to get it from. But you're right, I have
been cruel." She turned back to Shouko-chan, and bent low,
placing her forehead against the younger girl's. Her voice
turned serious. "Shouko-chan, do you want to take my rosary? I
can promise you this isn't because of Touko being here, or any
bets or dares. I want this. I want to take your hand and guide
you as an oneesama, and I want to see you happy." She then bent
right next to Shouko-chan's ear and whispered something Touko
didn't hear, but considering how Shouko-chan turned a deep shade
of crimson, she could guess what the gist was.

Tsutako-sama straghtened back up. "And despite the atmosphere,
this is a "sacred ritual", as Rosa Chinensis would say. Will
you have my rosary?"

Shouko-chan looked up at Tsutako-sama, sheer adoration in her
eyes. "I accept."

Tsutako-sama smiled, then hiked up her skirt, revealing her
rosary and a long expanse of thigh. "Then take it."

There was a tearing sound, as Shouko-chan's bonds tore and she
pounced on Tsutako-sama, who fell backwards laughing. She then
noticed that Touko was still in the room. "Oh, right, Touko-
chan. Get out."

Well, at least I don't have to stay and watch the sex, Touko
thought. "Don't I need a card?"

Tsutako moaned, then focused again. "Right, Yumi-chan's card.
Under the tripod leg. Don't move the camera or I will break you
in two."

Touko moved over to the tripod and took the card, her movements
rather robotic. She left the room and leaned up against the
wall for a minute, then glanced at the card.

*Touko-chan: Thank you very much for delivering the film.
We're nearly done! If you could just go over to the gaming room
(6 doors down on your right), they'll have what you need. Keep
smiling! --Y*

Touko shook her head - and then stopped in mid-motion. Her mind
went back to the argument she'd had with Tsutako-sama.

Touko prided herself on knowing what others were thinking.
People like Noriko and Shouko were open books to her, and she
was convinced that the easiest person on the entire campus to
read was Yumi-sama. Anything she was thinking was written all
over her face.

But what if she was wrong?

More slowly than before, Touko made her way towards her next
destination, a thoughtful expression on her face.


"Full house, Kings over fives."

"Not so fast. Four Queens."

"Dammit. What is it with you people?"

"Just strip, Katou-san."

Really, by now Touko was beyond being surprised. She walked
into the room and noticed it was larger than normal, set up like
a miniature casino. At the poker table were two people she
recognized - the former Rosa Gigantea and Chinensis - and two
she didn't. One girl was wearing thick black frames, white bra
and panties, and nothing else, having just taken off her shirt.
The other, a serene looking girl, was wearing a complete outfit,
and had half the chips in front of her. The other half were in
front of the former Chinensis, Mizuno Youko.

This meant that Satou Sei was completely naked, something that
apparently didn't faze her at all. "Ah, it's the guest of
honor! Touko-chaaaaan, get over here!"

Was this how it was going to end? She'd heard the rumors about
the former Rosa Gigantea - that students who misbehaved were
given to her for 'discipline' and somehow were never quite the
same. Even after graduation, everyone knew that Satou Sei was
the most sex-mad student to hit the school since the sixties.
Would it end like this, with Yumi sacrificing Touko to that
great slavering beast? She knew she'd been occasionally blunt,
others might even say cruel, but really, this was too much.

She felt her legs move of their own accord. Clearly her body
had its own ideas, and was drawn to Satou Sei like a moth to a
flame. A bright, licking flame.

As she stood by the table Sei grabbed her by the shoulder and
hugged her tightly. "You must be exhausted!"

Touko twitched but said nothing.

Sei grinned, that dirty old man grin that defined her. "And
you're aroused too, aren't you? Just a little bit? It's OK, no
one here cares except Kei-chan, and by the end of the day she
won't care either."

"I'm not going to bed with you," the girl with glasses - must be
Kei - said, chewing her lip.

"Uh huh. So how do you feel, Touko-chan?"

Touko opened her mouth to tell Sei off, then shut it suddenly,
turning red.

She was aroused. No, forget that, she was incredibly horny.

When had that happened? DAMMIT! She had been so wrapped up in
her own thoughts, how the hell had she not noticed this?

Sei grinned. "Now Touko, I want to ask you something about this
game we're having."

Youko groaned. "Oh God, why can't you give it a rest?" Kei put
her face in her hands. The other girl just smiled.

"Now Touko-chan. You are the protagonist in this little
performance. You've gone down the rabbit-hole, and run into all
measure of abnormal things. And now you come across the four of
us, playing a game. It all seems like a dream, doesn't it?"

"Yes," Touko said.

"And keeping that in mind, what's wrong with what we're

Touko blinked. Her forehead started to crinkle, but then Sei
slapped her cheek slightly, causing her to look up in shock.

"Don't think about it. What's your instinctual answer?"

"You should be playing mahjong," Touko said.

"A ha!" Sei leaped into the air, dragging Touko along with her
for a bit until she was able to stagger back. "I win!"

"Sei, we're playing poker because it's easier to strip. We've
told you this over and over again."

"There's strip mahjong too!" Sei insisted.

"Only on your Neo Geo!" Youko growled.

Had they always been like this, Touko wondered.

Sei grinned, then hopped onto the table, squatting down in front
of Kei. "Anyway, she said it. It's not just me. So I win."
She closed her eyes and tried to pucker up for a kiss. "Reward

"I never agreed to be your reward," Kei said, trying to back her
chair away from the table.

"You didn't have to, Kei-chan. You are my Penelope, my Juliet.
You are the goal I strive for, the one above all others."

"And what does that make me?" Youko pouted.

"Comic relief," Sei said sharply, before turning back to Kei,
who was starting to look as dazed as Touko felt. "Don't deny
the burning passion that you feel deep in your soul."

"And your pants," said Shizuka, smiling.

"You can go back to Italy any goddamn time," Sei said. She was
then interrupted by Kei reaching out, grabbing Sei's arm, and
pulling her roughly to the carpted floor, whereupon she
straddled her.

"All right, you win. I've tried denying myself long enough.
Take me, Sei! Show me what you've shown the others already!
Make me yours!"

Sei blinked, then grinned. "Well, since you asked..." She then
proceeded to give her a kiss that made Touko's toes curl even
from back over by the table.

After about a minute, the two of them came up for air. "You
were supposed to feel embarrassed and stop," Kei murmured

"So you want me to stop?" Sei said.

"Nuh-uh," Kei grinned. They then went back to kissing

Touko started to find Youko gently taking her arm and leading
her to the door, pressing a card into her hand. "Knowing Sei's
ability to unlock repression like I do, they're going to be a
while. And trust me, it's firsthand knowledge. And Shizuka
and I will be joining them soon. So best for you to go and
face your final boss."

"Youko-san, I'm sorry, but we can't have sex."

Youko blinked. "Are you unattracted to me? Or... it's not
jealousy, is it? Not with Sei over there playing Kei like a
grand piano."

"Oh, it's nothing like that. I have no doubt you'd be a
wonderful lover. No, it's purely aesthetics."

Youko stared blankly. Then a lightbulb turned on in her head.

"Hold on one moment, I think there's something in the other
room." She scampered off, leaving Touko looking at Shizuka, who
smiled right back at her.

"It won't be long now. And I have a feeling this isn't
punishment, for what it's worth. Though the others all seem to
think so. Frankly, if people say about a person that they
should 'know their place', as some have said of you, I tend to
support them anyway. And besides, Fukuzawa's not like that."

"Um... she's not like that, but she's the sort to organize a
giant orgy under the Rose Mansion to seduce me into a sexual

"Precisely. The word is 'seduce', not force'."

There was a cough, and both Shizuka and Touko turned to look at
the unfamiliar girl who stood before them.

Except she wasn't unfamiliar, it was clearly Mizuno Youko. She
was just... blonde. "There was a wig that Eriko had used for a
party in the back room." She leaned over and gently kissed the
side of Shizuka's neck. "Do I aesthetically please you now? Or
do you need me to be naive and submissive as well? Oh, and call
me Shimako and I won't hesitate to break a bone."

Shizuka inhaled sharply. "Goodbye, Touko-san. Sorry we didn't
give you tea, but I think you'll agree that this party is mad."
And then she took Youko's hand and moved towards one of the long
couches on the side of the wall.

Touko stared at them, then back at Sei and Kei, who were now
completely naked. She breathed in, and felt her nostrils flare.

She really hoped that the next room was Yumi.


Touko leaned against the wall, breathing heavily, and looked at
the card.

*Behind the red door. I'm waiting for you. Yours, Yumi.*

Touko looked up. At the end of the corridor was a simple red
door. Not in the shape of a heart or anything, or even a
biscuit like the Council room.

And behind it... what? Touko had no idea what to think anymore.
Shizuka said that everyone else was expecting some sort of
punishment. Was that what this was? Yumi-sama, growing weary
with Touko's blunt criticism and feigned disinterest, had
decided to get revenge? If so, it was a twisted sort of

No, even assuming that her previous views of Yumi-sama were
wrong, this still seemed like an aberration. Could there be
someone else...?

Suddenly, Touko was afraid to open that door.

She knew who was behind it.

She had walked right up to it, and now rested a hand on the
knob. Her arousal had not gone away - in fact, it was worse -
but there was now a healthy aspect of fear involved as well.
She controlled her breathing, forcing herself not to start

The knob turned, and she jumped. It was as she'd expected.
There, on the other side, was Sachiko-oneesama. Giving her very
best polite smile. Touko had based her own on Sachiko's, but it
was clear that even as an actress, she still hadn't mastered it
the way the older woman had.

She gestured. "Come in, Touko-chan." Touko swallowed and
walked inside.

The room itself was wallpapered in gold, perhaps to accentuate
the red velvetey curtains that draped themselves across the
center of each wall. Another curtained area was to her right,
but Touko only noticed it for a moment, because her eyes were
drawn to the large table and bed on the left.

'Bed' was perhaps the wrong term. It resembled nothing so much
as the cushioned bed-table that you got medical examinations on.
Complete with the thin white easily tearable paper. And the
table next to it... well, an examination might be about to take
place, but it was unlikely to be approved by nine out of ten

Touko was no naive virgin. Well, OK, she was a virgin, but she
knew about sex. She had read a few sexy josei-type magazines.
And she was no stranger to getting herself off if the need

But there, on the table, were a large assortment of instruments,
half of which Touko did not even vaguely recognize. She could
guess they were sexual in nature, though, judging by the other
half that she did. Blindfold, gag, collar, and 3 different
types of vibrators all lay there, clean and lined up. Along
with some small metal balls, a long bar with ankle restraints at
either end, and a cat o' nine tails.

It would appear that Shizuka had been incorrect. Punishment was
what this was clearly designed for.

The door closed with an ominous slam. Touko turned to see that
Sachiko had now removed her school uniform, and was dressed in a
blood-red slip that matched the curtains so precisely that they
looked as though they were cut from the same fabric.

Touko felt oddly disappointed. She'd expected leather. She
almost felt like she was outside of her own body now, watching
dispassionately as events around her unfolded. If Yumi's plan
had been to desensitize her with all the sex she'd witnessed
before, it had worked.

Sachiko walked over to the table and picked up the cat, giving
it a quick flip. "This has been in the Yamayurikai for
generations," she said matter-of-factly. "When oneesama first
used it on me, I had to learn its history even as I learned its
touch. And so did Yumi, when I introduced her to this room."
She smiled, her eyes seeming to be far away. "That was such a
wonderful day." Shaking her head, she turned back towards

"I have watched your attitude towards my petite soeur. Your
cold words and harsh demeanor to someone who has been reaching
out to you. You are too stubborn to see what is right in front
of you!" Her voice was harsh, and Touko was taken aback.

"How can you not see what Yumi has to give to you," Sachiko

Then Touko understood. Sachiko was deeply in love with Yumi in
every way. When someone such as Touko rejected her friendly
overtures, it was as if they were rejecting her love.

Sachiko gestured towards the bed. "Matsudaira Touko, are you
ready to accept the punishment that you deserve?"

Swallowing, Touko stepped forward. She wasn't sure if this was
the right thing to do, and if it backfired, she expected there's
be a lot of pain in her future. But that didn't matter. What
mattered was, if this had to happen, then dammit, it had to
happen in the right way.

"I accept my punishment," she said, and Sachiko smiled.

Then Touko continued. "But not from you."

She squared her shoulders. "If this is a tradition that is
passed down, then Yumi-sama should be the one showing it to me.
And if this is because of any faults of mine that cause offense,
then Yumi-sama is the one wronged, and should enact the
retribution." She licked her lips, and finally made her

"And if this is to be my first time with another... then I want
it to be with Yumi-sama."

Sachiko frowned, not looking so much angry as just... upset.
She moved towards Touko anyway, and Touko gently bit her lower

"Oneesama... you promised." The voice came from the other side
of the room, beyond a curtained four-poster bed that Touko had
not noticed before, being too distracted by all the bondage
equipment on the other side.

Touko found her heart beating faster. So, Yumi-sama was here
after all. She found herself sweating a bit.

Sachiko turned towards the bed, looking completely unlike the
image of the majestic ojousama she normally displayed. In fact,
she looked like a small child who'd had their favorite toy taken
away. She gestured towards the implements. "But... torture!"

The curtains parted, and Yumi stepped out. Wearing nothing but
her rosary around her neck.

"Oneesama, I love you always, but this isn't your time. It's my
turn to create a beautiful memory." She smiled and walked
towards Sachiko, who let out with a major, grade-A pout.

"You promised me torture!"

"No, I said that we might have to go that far. It was a worst-
case scenario." She gave Touko a brilliant smile, the sort that
always made Touko weak in the knees even when Yumi wasn't naked.
"But we didn't, because instead, she was wonderful. She moved
towards Touko. "I was touched. And I will be honored to be
your first."

Sachiko sighed, moving to get her uniform. "I still say she
could do with a bit of torture."

Yumi turned. "You can use them on me later in the week, if you
like. It's always good to reminisce."

Sachiko gave Yumi what Touko could only describe as a hungry
look, and quietly left the room. Leaving Touko facing her naked

Yumi took her unresisting hand and led her to the large covered
bed. Just a bed, Touko noted, not even a cuff on the bedstead
or anything. If Yumi was trying to be the good cop, then it was
working like a charm.

Yumi sat down. "When I first saw this room, I think I almost
ran out screaming. I was terrified." She smiled widely at
Touko, who was still standing by the side of the bed.

Touko gestured at her uniform. "Um, should I..."

"Let me," said Yumi, taking a hold of Touko's cravat. She then
proceeded to undress Touko in a way that felt almost like sex
itself, even though she never touched her inappropriately. It
was just the way that Yumi focused on Touko like she was the
only thing in the entire world. It made Touko feel incredible,
and helped her to ignore her discomfort at being naked next to
Yumi. She ended up on the bed, almost trembling.

Yumi sat beside her, and took her in her arms, leaning back so
they were lying facing each other. "This is a ritual that goes
back to the founding of the school at the turn of the century.
It wasn't always this elaborate, and usually is hidden from
outsiders. But the goal has always been the same. A physical
and emotional bond between two women, drawing them closer."

She smiled. "That's exactly how Sachiko explained it to me back
then. I was totally confused."

Touko blinked. "Confused?"

Yumi chuckled. "Don't get me wrong. When Sachiko introduced me
to the pleasures of the flesh, I was more grateful than you can
imagine. Not just because of the ways I found that I could give
her pleasure, but also because I could show Sei how much she had
meant to me before her graduation, and I could help Tsutako
understand just what kind of relationship she could forge with
Shouko. Sex is wonderful," and here she whispered into Touko's
ear, "and I'm very good at it."

Touko let out a small gasp, and pressed her body so that it was
tight against Yumi's.

"But we don't need any of that," Yumi continued. "Even the
Virgin Mary, who I hope to God isn't watching all this,
understands. The school gave us everything we need to show our

Yumi reached down and picked up the cross of her rosary, then
slipped it gently off her neck. "This rosary, given to me by
Sachiko, means more to me than any pleasure she could give me.
It is our faith. The faith between two girls that they will
pledge themselves to one another." She breathed a long, shaky
breath, and Touko realized that she wasn't the only one who was
nervous. Or aroused.

"Touko, will you take this rosary? Will you be my petite soeur?
Will you let me guide you, help you to become the gorgeous,
wonderful, caring woman I know you are? Let me draw you out
from behind your walls? Let me show everybody that you can

Touko had a lump in her throat now, and tears were forming in
her eyes. She took a few moments to respond. Yumi was right,
this wasn't about the sex. It was about letting Yumi see what
she had been hiding. The reason for the cold glares, the blunt
barbs. She had to let Yumi see her wounds, the ones she so
carefully hid even from Sachiko.

And seeing Yumi now, with a look of total conviction on her
face, made Touko admit what she had spent months denying. That
Yumi was the one who could truly heal her, more than anyone

"I accept," she said, barely breathing the words, "Oneesama."
She saw Yumi's shoulders fall, and knew that she had been
incredibly tense. And then, Yumi took the rosary's cross, put
it between her lips, and kissed Touko, lightly putting the cross
into her own mouth.

Touko moaned, and took the cross between her teeth, straining
her tongue around it to try to reach Yumi's. But Yumi had
already pulled away slightly, and had taken the beads and put
them over her neck, making the rosary completely hers.

And now the cross dropped down to Touko's chest, and she was
able to kiss Yumi properly. Yumi was the one to moan this time,
as she took Touko's shoulders and deepened the kiss.

After a while, they broke apart once more. "I have so much to
do, Touko. So much I need to show you, and tell you, and--"

Touko smiled, amused at Yumi's need to talk when she was excited
or nervous. At least she hadn't been completely wrong about
Yumi. "It's all right. I'm not going anywhere tonight. And
besides," and here her glance strayed over to the table on the
other side of the room, still unused, "you haven't punished me
properly. You wouldn't want to disappoint your own oneesama,
would you?"

Yumi laughed. It was a loud, raucous laugh that Touko thought
she must have learned from Satou Sei. "If I used all that
equipment on you after telling Sachiko it wasn't needed, she'd
throw a pout the likes of which you've never seen." And then
the Sei grin faded, and it was simply Yumi's loving smile again.
"We have plenty of time for that sort of thing. Months and
months. For now, all I need is Touko, unadorned."

She leaned down and captured a nipple lightly in her teeth, and
Touko cried out.

She then turned to lie on her back, giving herself to her
oneesama at last.


Sachiko sighed, flouncing up another flight of stairs. While
incredibly happy for Yumi, who had achieved her goal at last,
she was still feeling very... unfulfilled. She debated joining
the others, but only Youko would likely make her feel anything
but the odd one out. And Youko was, by the sound of it, quite

Besides, it wasn't as if she didn't have a perfectly willing
partner. With the added bonus of legs that went on for miles.

She opened the green baize door on the landing, and walked

"Kanako-chan. On your knees."


Erica made me finish this. Thank her.

Also thank the denizens of #otenba for prereading, and the Keep
Rats for the usual barbed comments. Yes, I realize there may be
a bit of an OOC issue here. :)