Story: Crossing Paths (all chapters)

Authors: Shanejayell

Back to chapter list

Chapter 1

Disclaimer: I own none of the characters from Mai Hime or Mai Otome, I’m just borrowing them for awhile. This story also has spoilers for the end of Mai Hime.

Crossing Paths

Yukino Kikukawa’s Private Journal

Day One

After much deliberation and conversation with Haruka, I’ve decided to accept the role of the head of the Executive team. With Haruka graduating to Fuka university the position will be coming open, and she wants me to take it. Knowing that someone I respect so much thinks I can do this helps a great deal, and in truth I have difficulty denying her anything. Tho sadly Haruka has not taken advantage of that fact.

Day Three

Just finished a rather disturbing conversation with the former council president, Fujino. I didn’t want to see her... I still remember the implacable coldness in her eyes when she destroyed Diana, the horror at Haruka’s disappearance. She contacted me by phone yesterday, claiming it was urgent, and after much talking she convinced me of her sincerity.

We met up at the university, borrowing the tea club rooms, where Shizuru formally served us both before speaking. It seems that the former Obsidian Prince, Reito Kanzaki, will be running for president and is likely a shoo-in to win. Shizuru urged me to accept the Executive position in order to keep an eye on Reito, to make sure there is no relapse to his previous behaviors. We feel reasonably confident that the Obsidian Prince was destroyed after the destruction of the Hime Star, but she pointed out that the Obsidian Prince had in the past possessed Reito without any visible sign.

It was the next part of our talk that chilled my bones, however. Calmly drinking her tea Shizuru had explained that if Reito was the Obsidian Prince once more, I could count on her assistance to deal with him. She didn’t say it explicitly but I suspect she would deal with Reito in a very lethal manner.

I wonder if Natsui knows what sort of tiger she has by the tail?

The only highlight of the day was taking a moment to visit Haruka. She seems happy at university, though she’s already back to competing with Fujino. Still, I’m glad that Haruka has someone she knows here, even if I do wish she was still in high school with me. Haruka fiercely hugged me when I confirmed with her that I was planning to run the executive, and I could almost feel my heart skip a beat with the pleasure of it. I didn’t let her see how I felt of course, but I must confess to squeezing her a bit long, too.

Day Seven

The first meeting of the temporary student council, pre election. Reito remains both charming and enigmatic, a smooth but difficult to read figure. The remainder of the council are all new to me, including a blonde young lady taking my old job as secretary. While a bit disorganized to start, we got the meeting going and read through Fumi’s greeting letter. Very inspiring. We’ll be meeting weekly from now on, it seems.

Day Ten

One of the things I’ve become aware of is how many of the members of the Executive are graduating with Haruka. Over a third of the members are going, and I’m unsure how many will stay on with Haruka leaving. On the plus side I’ve gotten assurances from several members I’ve worked with that they’ll follow me.

After some debate I intend to set up a booth on club day, manned by myself and a few others to bring in members. In the past we’ve relied on Haruka’s personal magnetism to pull people in, but I’d rather attempt a more standard method. Wish me luck, I may need it.

Day Twelve

The question of recruiting the former Hime came up while I was talking to Reito today. He confirmed, in his charming way, that he was running for President and asked about my supporting him, as well as my plans for the executive. He jokingly suggested I create a "Hime Soldier" core for the executive, tasked with defending the campus from evil.

Wonder if we could get surplus costumes for the group? And would Midori insist on our learning action team poses?

After assuring him of my support I left, but the idea nudged at me gently. Obviously certain Hime were out of consideration. Fumi and Midori are both adults, though one could argue about how adult Midori really is. Also, however much I may respect Natsuki Kuga, the idea of such a rebel like her in the Executive gives me chills. For similar reasons I wouldn’t want someone like Nao Yuuki in the executive, too. Still, it’s something to consider.

Day Twenty

Miyu Greer has begun working at the Linden Baum diner. It’s a remarkably surreal experience, being served by the former killer android who’s fought both against and for us. I wonder if Alyssa Searrs actually needs the money Miyu will be making, or if Miyu is doing it for her own reasons?

Day Twenty three

I’m still uncertain about admitting a gossip like Chie Harada into the executive, but I must confess she would be an invaluable source of information. Aoi Senou, on the other hand, has been a remarkable morale booster since the club recruitment day fiasco. We are gradually gaining members, which is a comfort as student council requests for executive assistance have begun to come in.

As I expected Miyu, Natsuki, Akira and Nao have all turned down requests to join the Executive. I’m of mixed feelings about that, thought both Natsuki and Miyu have promised to offer temporary assistance if anything unusual does come up. On a more pleasant note Mai Tokhia and Mikoto Minagi have both agreed to join, with Mai finding special amusement in the whole situation. Understandable, considering her sun ins with Haruka previously.

Day Twenty four

Note: Have a long talk with Mikoto over when not to use her wooden practice sword on student council business. May need Mai’s help in explaining it, too.

Day Twenty seven

My meeting with Fumi Himeno was an enlightening experience. On first talking with her you get the impression that she’s sweet, good natured and hasn’t a original thought in her pretty little head, but clearly that isn’t the case. According to records I’ve accessed Fuka is doing much better under Fumi’s reign than Mashiro’s. Admittedly this is partially due to no more Hime disasters, but it also owes much to Fumi’s managerial skills.

Fumi has also made it clear that she’s well aware of my fears regarding Reito. However, she seems much more confident than I that the Obsidian Price is DEAD, but also understands our concerns. She not-so-subtly encouraged me to keep an eye on him, just in case.

On another note, I really need to thank Chie for the report she gave me on Fumi. I have no idea where she got that level of information, but she was incredibly in depth. I doubt I could have done as well even using my Element and Diana.

Day Thirty

Met with the new secretary of the Student Council earlier today. Erstin Ho is a surprisingly pleasant girl, and approaches the job with much energy and enthusiasm. Amusingly, one of the main things this blonde haired girl is noted for is the size of her breasts, which nearly rival Mai’s generous set.

She’s quite new to student politics, and I’ve found myself taking Erstin under my wing, so to speak. When I mentioned this to Haruka in one of our regular phone conversations she warned me not to get too distracted in helping Erstin, and I jokingly reminded her that I was just following in her footsteps.

Day Thirty three

Student council elections officially took place. Reito beat Alyssa SEarrs for president handily, putting him in power with Alyssa becoming his vice-president. Erstin as Secretary and I head of Executive round out the core of the group, with representatives of the other grades assisting as well.

Day Forty

I’m finally beginning to understand more why Haruka would lose her temper while dealing with Reito. It’s really quite frustrating to have spent hours researching a problem, sorting data then present it only to receive a "Now now" from Reito.

Erstin looked quite concerned, I assume she was worried I was going to follow in Haruka’s footsteps and blow my top, but I managed to keep my composure. In fact he seemed very pleased with my reaction, so much so that I suspect he was trying to provoke me to see what I would do.

Remind me to do something unpleasant to him later.

Reito’s primary skill as the council president is in diplomacy, in my opinion. He’s very good at helping fighting parties find some common ground to end their conflict, and often saving the faces of both combatants at the same time. Yet he’s also quite decisive, making good snap decisions when needed.

Day Forty three

Midori has showed up, working once again at the Linden Baum to Mai and the other’s shock. Last we heard we was off living the daring archeological lifestyle but Mai promises to try to find out what’s going on. I’m also putting Chie on the case, so either way I should know more about Midori soon.

Erstin asked me out to lunch to discuss student council business, so maybe we’ll go there. I find I like talking to Erstin even away from the job, and I think she’s getting used to talking with a senpai such as myself. She’s quite smart and not too athletic, and at times I almost feel like I’m talking to a younger version of myself. Unlike me, however, she’s much more outgoing and seems unaware of her circle of admirers.

Day Forty eight

It seems that Shiho Munakata and Yuuichi Tate have officially become involved, despite how close Mai and Yuuichi had become at the end of the Festival. Mai seems to be deeply hurt, though she’s trying her best to hide it and carry on at work or in class. I wish there was something I could do, but it’s out of my hands. Mikoto came to me for advise and I suggested she just continue to be near to Mai and help where she can.

In a remarkable show of restraint Chie sat on the rumors about Mai’s distress, and she and Aoi have even squelched a few of the nastier stories. As I told Erstin earlier, my opinion of Chie has actually gone up a bit.

Day Fifty

Mai has reluctantly pulled out from the executive. I gave her my blessing, as I can understand nursing a broken heart, work and school would be difficult. She has also assured me if anything apocalyptic happens, she’ll help out.

I hope the ‘apocalyptic’ comment was a joke.

Day Fifty six

Midori’s ‘Mai cheer up’ kareoke party went pretty well, I think. I’m still more than a bit hung over, so my impressions aren’t all that clear, but I do recall Mai and Mikoto cuddling a lot. Wonder if that means what I think it means?

On another note I was glad they all accepted Erstin coming along with us. With Chie and Aoi there I would have felt bad leaving Erstin out, and apparently she and Mai do know each other somewhat. Erstin has a remarkably pretty singing voice, and she blushed very cutely in the costume Midori insisted she wear.

Day sixty

Reito was very public about comforting Mai, tho I suspect he’s doing it more to jab at Yuuichi than anything else. He seems to respect Mikoto’s interest in Mai like a good big brother, and it looks like his one public display with Mai was to imply that she dumped Yuuichi for Reito rather than being dumped. Chie promised to help spread rumors to that effect too.

Day Sixty two

I’m going to kill Chie. Lingeringly.

Day Sixty three

All right, I’ve calmed down. Chie has confessed that yes, she was the one who spread the rumor about Erstin romantic interest in her friend, Miss Nina Wang. Apparently Erstin drunkenly confessed during the kareoke party and Chie, giving in to a old habit, put the rumor out without thinking about it. Erstin was devastated, as you can imagine. Nina was apparently unaware of Erstin’s interest and has since snubbed the girl, adding to her pain. Erstin is trying to keep a stiff upper lip in classes, but I suspect it’s wearing on her.

I feel so much sympathy for her it hurts, to be honest. It could so easily have been me in Erstin’s shoes, snubbed by the one I love because of some foolish words. I’m offering her all the emotional support I can, and I’ve also suggested to the Executive that if they see any harassment of Erstin to step on the offenders hard.

Chie is doing everything she can to squelch the story, which may be the only thing that saves her from Aoi’s wrath. Before this I wasn’t aware of the kind of influence Aoi has over her, but tough, outgoing Chie seems to wither when Aoi’s truly annoyed.

To be continued....

Notes: I think Reito actually graduated with Haruka and Shizuru, but I’m fudging that for the sake of the story. :) Also, some of the content is based on information from the ‘Director’s cut’ of episode twenty six.

Chapter 2

Crossing Paths


“So,” Reito Kanzaki smiled as the black haired president of the student council walked by Yukino’s side, “has Chie gotten out of the dog house yet?”

Yukino smiled wryly, her short brown hair giving her a boyish look. “Well, I think Aoi has finally calmed down,” she said as she pushed up her glasses, “though I expect Erstin won’t be talking to her for a long time to come.”

“Poor child,” Reito nodded. He looked concerned as he waved charmingly to several students, “Is there anything I can do?”

Yukino shook her head gravely as she answered, “Not unless you have a miracle cure for a broken heart.”

“Well, I think all of us could use something like that at one time or another,” Reito noted just a bit sadly.

Yukino looked up at him in surprise, but Reito’s expression was largely unreadable. ‘I wonder if he was more serious about Mai than I thought?’ she mused as they left the school halls and went out into the open air.

“Yukino-sempai,” Erstin Ho smiled as she saw them coming, the younger blonde waiting as promised by the front doors.

“Excuse me,” Reito hid a smile as he slipped away.

“You don’t need to call me that,” Yukino reminded her, even though she was secretly a bit tickled that a fellow student viewed her as a upperclassman. Especially from a girl that was actually a bit taller than she was.

“Sorry,” Erstin blushed cutely.

‘Nina Wang,’ Yukino thought as she met the girl’s kind gaze, ‘is a idiot.’ She smiled as she asked, “Lunch in the cafeteria?”

“I’d like that,” Erstin agreed. As they walked along she looked over at Yukino, “I don’t suppose you know why the rumors have suddenly stopped?”

‘Uh oh,’ Yukino thought, silently debating what to say. Deciding honesty was the best policy she confessed, “I had a word with Chie, and she’s putting her network to work on squashing the story.”

“Thank you,” Erstin said softly. She made a face as she added, “Chie came to me and apologized too.”

“Good,” Yukino nodded.

While she talked a faint smile tugged at Erstin’s lips, “Rumor says that Aoi refused to talk to her till she did.”

“I’m not sure it was quite that bad,” Yukino said wryly, “but Aoi was certainly annoyed with her.” They entered the busy cafeteria, both collecting their favorite items before heading to a table. “How are things in class?” she asked.

“Better than I was expecting,” Erstin conceded as she snapped her wooden chopsticks apart. “I think having Shizuru and her fans here has made people a little more accepting than they might otherwise be.”

‘I sometimes underestimate her brains, then she says something like that,’ Yukino mused. A bit tentatively she asked, “And Nina?”

Erstin swallowed her soup uncomfortably, her face pained. “We’re still not talking,” she softly admitted.

Yukino reached out to pat Erstin’s hand gently. “Sometimes it takes a while for people to adapt,” she offered.

“Do you really think so?” Erstin gave Yukino a searching look, her eyes filled with lingering pain.

Yukino debated what she should say then answered quietly, “When my sempai found out about my feelings for her, it created problems but we did get over it.”

“Haruka-san?” Erstin guessed.

“Hmm.” Yukino nodded slightly, “Has the rumor been circulating again?”

A faint blush colored Erstin’s cheeks, “I was sort of told it by a friend when they heard I was working with you.”

“Warned away from the evil lesbian?” Yukino looked amused rather than offended by the whole idea.

“I think so,” Erstin blushed cutely.

“Heh,” Yukino actually chuckled softly.

“It was Nina who warned me,” Erstin looked thoughtfully off into the distance, “I wonder if that means something?”

Deciding it might be best to change the topic Yukino asked, “Did you have a chance to write up the notes for yesterday’s meeting?”

Much more cheerfully they talked business for a bit, including a bit of student council gossip too. Chatting with Erstin Yukino noted how the girl’s eyes could sparkle, her naturally cheery manner overcoming her lingering sorrow to brighten up the room.

“Uh oh,” Erstin murmured, a slight smile on her face as she saw who had entered.

Turning a bit in her chair Yukino saw Mai and Mikoto enter the room, then swiftly realized she had earlier seen Tate and Shiho cuddling at a corner table. “How annoyed is Mikoto at Tate right now?” she mused.

“Ah, quite a bit I heard,” Erstin admitted.

“I’d better go intercept her,” Yukino sighed, getting up and briskly heading over to where Mai and Mikoto were walking through the crowded cafeteria.

Erstin watched her go, once again struck by Yukino’s confident, bold manner. Yet she also had a sweet, gentle side totally at odds with being the head of the executive and the doer of dirty work for the student council. In the two months Erstin had known Yukino she had always taken the time to help, even when she probably had things of her own to do too.

‘Like with Mai now,’ Erstin mused as Yukino and Mai talked, the shorter woman doing her best to fend off a possible scene that would have gotten both couples in trouble.

“That was close,” Yukino sighed as she returned.

“Oh?” Erstin blinked.

“Mikoto had her practice sword with her and fully intended to use it on Tate’s head,” Yukino explained with a wry smile.

“Her versus Tate would be a sight to see,” Erstin noted.

An odd look passed over Yukino’s face, almost like she was remembering something. “Trust me,” she said as she polished off her meal, “Tate wouldn’t stand a chance.”

“Oh?” Erstin asked but Yukino just shook her head with a mysteious smile on her face.

“Well well,” the voice purred from behind Yukino, “isn’t she a bit young for you?”

“Nao,” Yukino said flatly as she turned.

Nao Yuuki wore the same sort of uniform as everyone her grade, yet somehow the redhead made it look sexier as she looked at them with wicked implications in her smirk. “Though I must admit,” Nao added as she looked Erstin over, “you have good taste.”

“Rein in your imagination,” Yukino gave Nao a surprisingly dangerous look, “we’re collegues on the student council.” A smile teased her lips as she looked over at Erstin a moment, “And friends.”

“Too bad,” Nao looked amused, “think of the stories that would spread if you caught her on the rebound.”

“Miss Yuuki,” Erstin frowned.

“What do you want, Nao?” Yukino said, trying not to let on how much the redhead was annoying her. ‘Would it be abusing my powers as head of the Executive if I had Chie investigate her? I’m sure we could find something to charge her for,’ she thought.

Nao smiled a very catlike smile. “I’m just here to see a friend,” she nodded towards Mikoto, “and thought I’d say hi.” She smiled as she sauntered away, “Bye!”

“Is she always like that?” Erstin asked after a long moment of silence.

“Occasionally,” Yukino admitted, “though not so often since she became a nun.”

“She’s a nun?!” Erstin looked disbelieving.

“I think she’s Sister Yukariko’s current redemption project,” Yukino shrugged wryly.

“That’s going to take some work,” Erstin murmured.

To be continued...

Chapter 3


Erstin Ho closed her locker, noting once again some of the wary glances that she got from her classmates. ‘Just remember,’ the blonde young woman reminded herself firmly, ‘your fifteen minutes of fame will pass eventually.’

“Hey, Erstin,” Arika Yumemiya said cheerfully as she reached her own locker, “can I borrow your chemistry homework?”

“Again?” Erstin asked with some amusement.

“I’m sorry,” Arika scratched at the back of her head, her red hair tied back into two braids, “cheerleading ran a bit long.”

Erstin shook her head with a smile as she said, “Okay, but you’ve got to try harder you know.” A bit more seriously she added, “If you flunk out on the exam, copying my homework won’t help you.”

“I know,” Arika nodded earnestly. Both girls set out together even as Arika quietly said, “Nina was asking about you.”

Erstin felt a mix of emotions, anger from Nina’s rejection combined with a odd flare of hope as she asked, “Oh?”

Arika shrugged slightly, “I think she was worried about you...”

“Hmm,” Erstin reigned in her emotions. “But she couldn’t actually come see me about it?” she asked with a sigh.

“Well...” Arika looked uncomfortable.

Erstin smiled a little sadly, “It’s okay, Arika, I understand it can’t be easy trying to be both of our friend right now.”

Both young women hurried to their seats, glad that they still had a few minutes left before class started. “Thank you,” Arika smiled as she took Erstin’s notebook then began to quickly copy out the answers into her own book.

“Thank upperclassman Kikukawa,” Erstin admitted, “she helped me a bit after our meeting last night.”

“The president of the executive committee?” Arika sounded impressed as she copied away, “What’s she like?”

“Very smart,” Erstin mused, “and patient, too. She has a way of looking at you through her glasses that feels very warm and nice.” She looked off into the distance a moment, thinking off the oddly mature older student who so willingly helped where needed.

“You sound like you like her,” Arika noted.

“I do,” Erstin agreed, “she’s very nice.”

Arika was about to say something else when the teacher arrived, and she hurriedly slipped Erstin her book back. “Good morning Miss Sugiura,” they all called out on cue.

“Morning class,” the busty redheaded teacher smiled as she swept into her spot behind the desk, “hopefully my time subbing for your regular teacher will be over soon.”

“We want to keep you, Midori!” a voice called out.

“Thanks, Rita,” Midori grinned, “but we all know that’s because I’m TOTALLY clueless on chemistry.” She moved up and down the rows of desks checking homework, her usual top knot of hair bouncing cheerfully.

“Please be okay,” Arika prayed softly.

“Miss Midori,” Erstin smiled, “Miss Kikukawa wanted me to say hi to you for her.”

“Yukino’s doing well, I see,” Midori grinned, “I’ll have to stop in and see her.” With that she breezed by, thankfully not taking too close a look at Arika’s hastily copied work.

Arika puffed out a sigh. “Thank you, Erstin,” she whispered as Midori returned to the front of the class.

Erstin smiled, “You’re welcome.”

Chemistry class barreled along as it usually did under Midori, their teacher barely grasping the subject more than her students. “All right class,” Midori concluded, “study pages 100-112, then solve the questions at the end of the chapter.”

“More reading,” Arika whimpered as they headed out, rushing back to their lockers to stow their texts and get the books for next class.

“And you’re going to have to do it,” Erstin noted as she twirled the dial on the lock, “I’m going to be busy with meetings tonight.”

Arika blinked as a sheet of paper fell from Erstin’s locker, “Oooh, a note!” She grabbed for it, “Let me see!”

“Arika,” Erstin flipped open the sheet then sighed. “More garbage,” she frowned as she crumpled it up angrily.

“What...?” Arika looked confused.

“Another note telling me to take my gay ass off campus,” Erstin sighed.

“Oh really?” a familiar voice said as she plucked the note from Erstin’s hand. Both turned quickly to see Yukino Kikukawa looking at the note, a very annoyed look on her face. She pushed she glasses up as she asked Erstin, “This has been happening often?”

“A few times,” Erstin looked away shyly.

Gentling her tone a bit Yukino continued, “I’m sorry, you should have told me.” She continued, “Can I take this? I think I can do something about it.”

“I...,” Erstin hesitated.

Arika reached out to squeeze her shoulder, “Let her, please.”

Erstin smiled shyly, “All right, thank you ma’am.”

“You’re welcome,” Yukino flashed a smile, “And didn’t we already have a talk about you just calling me Yukino?”

Erstin blushed, “I’ll try to remember.”

“You do that,” Yukino said with a bit of tease then hurried off.

“Wow,” Arika breathed out once Yukino had left, “she’s really impressive.”

“Oh yeah,” Erstin agreed before shaking herself. “Catch you later,” she said as she retrieved the books for her next class and hurried off.

Meanwhile, Yukino strode to the student council room with a expression on her face that could nearly be described as murderous. Alyssa Searrs, the vice president of the council looked up with a curious look, “Good afternoon, Yukino.”

“Alyssa,” Yukino said, hiding her discomfort at addressing the girl by her first name. Working together on the council had resulted in a lowering of the normal level of formality, but it still felt a bit odd.

“You look rather upset,” Miyu Greer said, the light blue haired woman always hovering near her precious Alyssa.

“What’s student policy on discrimination?” Yukino asked tersely as she took a seat.

That made Alyssa raise her eyebrows. “Discrimination based on race, sex, religion and sexuality is forbidden, officially,” she said.

“I’d say this qualifies,” Yukino said as she passed the unsigned note to Alyssa.

Alyssa read it, her frown looking remarkably old on such a young face. “Indeed,” she agreed, “who received the note?”

“Erstin, our secretary,” Yukino said as she took the note back. “Does that mean I have official permission to act?”

“Baring Reito vetoing, yes,” Alyssa agreed.

“Good,” Yukino excused herself and got her cellphone out. Dialing quickly she waited till it was answered, “Chie?”

“Ah, yes Yukino?” Chie answered her with an understandable degree of wariness. She was quite firmly in the doghouse over her outing Erstin, and only Aoi’s efforts had kept her out of more serious trouble.

“How would you like to get back in my good graces,” Yukino asked with a slight smile, “as well as help someone you’ve wronged?”

“How can I help?” Chie asked eagerly.

“In addition to verbal harassment someone’s dropping threatening notes in Erstin’s locker,” Yukino said grimly, “I want to know who.”

Reito Kanzaki entered just in time to hear that, his expression growing grim. “Alyssa?” he asked, not wanting to interrupt Yukino’s call.

“Vulgar threatening notes to one of our council members,” Alyssa answered promptly, “Yukino’s taking steps.”

“Thank you,” Yukino finished, closing her phone.

“If you need some muscle to end this,” Reito said calmly, with a dangerous twinkle in his eye, “I’m sure I can get Tate and the Kendo club to assist, too.”

“Let’s find out who’s leaving the notes,” Yukino surprised him a bit by adding, “but I’ll keep the offer in mind.”

To be continued...

Chapter 4

Title: Chapter 4: Alyssa Searrs

Interlude: Alyssa Searrs

“Miss Alyssa,” Miyu Greer nodded respectfully as she entered their chambers in the church. The tall, blue haired woman had a icy beauty, one likely coming from her unique nature as a cyborg, one of the best created by Searrs.

Alyssa Searrs turned with a smile, the blonde haired girl dressed in the uniform of a high school junior. Since she had revealed her true nature during the battle with the HIME Alyssa could now use her superior intelligence to her advantage, advancing to high school as the new school year began.

“Were you able to acquire the data?” Alyssa asked.

“Of course,” Miyu handed over the file, “while SEARRS improved their security after we left, it was not sufficient to stop me.”

“Thank you,” Alyssa smiled.

“You’re welcome,” Miyu smiled slightly, “my lady.”

Alyssa sat down, flipping through the pages with a serious expression. Quickly absorbing data she raced through the documents... only to freeze at one point. She set the page down on a nearby, her expression troubled as she asked, “You got this all from the secure archive?”

“Yes, my lady,” Miyu said, well aware of what was causing her mistress distress and wishing she could help, “I also checked into the safely of the data. It had not been accessed for nearly five years, and unless the individual was more advanced than I am the files haven’t been tampered with.”

“Which is extremely unlikely, considering your creator is dead,” Alyssa noted.

“Exactly,” Miyu nodded.

Alyssa nodded gravely, “Then I suppose we have no choice.”

Later that say, two of the more prominent figures sighed in contentment. Natsuki Kuga looked up with her slightly sweaty black hair falling into her eyes as she said, “I’m impressed.”

“Why, thank you Natsuki,” Shizuru purred as the brown haired young woman reached out to stroke her companion’s skin, “I got the new bed just for you.” She smirked, “Or was it something else you were commenting on?”

“Shizuru!” Natsuki protested with a blush.

Shizuru chuckled gently, “I’ve missed seeing you blush.” She smiled as she poked a red cheek, “It’s SO cute.”

“Argh,” Natsuki sighed, covering her head with the covers to conceal the blush, not incidentally revealing she was just wearing lingerie.

“Oooh, you even blush there,” Shizuru stroked her side, bringing forth a surprised squeak from Natsuki.

“Why you...” Natsuki erupted from beneath the covers, the two women engaging in a test of wills that soon devolved into a tickle fight. Gasping for breath and tears streaming from her eyes Natsuki finally gasped, “I give! I give.”

Shizuru relented reluctantly, having rather enjoyed seeing her lover writhe on their bed. “What are you going to give me to stop?” she asked coyly.

“Uh...” Natsuki started, only to be saved by the door bell.

“Well darn,” Shizuru murmured, though there was a flash of something very like anger in her red eyes.

“We’d better see who it is,” Natsuki got up, feeling Shizuru watch her as she grabbed at her robe.

“Aww, don’t put that on yet,” Shizuru cooed, “let me enjoy the view.”

“Not now,” Natsuki belted her dark blue robe around her.

Shizuru looked amused as she followed her to the door of the suite they shared near Fuka academy and university, “Does that mean I get to take a good long look later?”

“Would you cut it out?” Natsuki tried to fight down another blush as whomever it was rapped on the door once again.

“Sure, honey,” Shizuru purred in her ear.

Fighting back a shiver at Shizuru’s tone Natsuki belted her robe a bit tighter then answered the door, “Yes...?”

Both Alyssa and Miyu blinked as they took in the messy pair standing at the door, both flushed and panting a little. “Natsuki Kuga,” Miyu noted after a moment, “visual data indicates we have interrupted you in a moment of...”

“Shhh!” Natsuki blushed, “Not in front of Alyssa!”

“Natsuki,” Alyssa said mildly, “I assure you, I am quite versed in...”

Shizuru smiled slightly, “I think you’ve embarrassed Natsuki. Isn’t that the cutest blush?”

Miyu tilted her head to the side thoughtfully, “It is ascetically pleasing, though it doesn’t match m’lady Alyssa’s.”

Natsuki grit her teeth as she felt herself blush harder, “Could you please stop talking about my blush?”

Alyssa looked amused, “But it’s such a charming blush.”

“Ergh,” Natsuki rolled her eyes, wishing she could just summon up her element and open fire on all of them. Well, maybe not Shizuru, but...

Alyssa shook her head, still smiling slightly. “Sorry, got a bit distracted there,” she admitted as she tried to restore her usually serious look. “Could we speak to you privately?” she asked Natsuki.

Natsuki gave both women a wary look, “What about?”

“Your mother,” Alyssa met her eyes as she replied promptly, “and the work she was doing for SEARSS.”

Natsuki’s eyes widened a bit, then she turned to look at Shizuru, “Do you mind...?”

“I’ll stay in the other room,” Shizuru nodded smoothly. Before she left she fixed Miyu and Alyssa with a look and said, “I know how you two hurt her that time... if this is some kind of trick, you’ll regret it.”

“No tricks Miss Fujino,” Alyssa answered honestly, “I’m not that stupid.”

“All right,” Natsuki said as Shizuru left, “talk.”

Miyu found a chair for Alyssa, pulling it over as she said, “Here, my lady.”

“Thank you,” Alyssa smiled up at her. Turning to the also sitting Natsuki she said somewhat more seriously, “You are aware that your mother had dealings with SEARRS?”

“John Smith,” Natsuki said the name as if it left a poor taste in her mouth, “claimed that my mother was killed trying to bring me to SEARRS.”

“Not quite,” Alyssa shook her head.

Natsuki leaned forward, “Oh?”

Alyssa smiled grimly, “What Dr. Saeko Kuga wanted to do was put you both under SEARRS protection, as she had already traded something to them.”

“What was that?” Natsuki demanded.

Miyu produced the files from underneath her clothes and handed them to Natsuki, “She sold samples of your DNA.”

“WHAT?” Natsuki blurted, looking first at Alyssa and Miyu then down at the documents in her hands.

“SEARRS needed DNA for their attempts to create a artificial HIME,” Alyssa revealed flatly, “even with that they had hundreds of failures.”

Miyu added calmly, “There were one hundred, forty...”

“Miyu,” Alyssa shook her head.

Natsuki rubbed at her arm unconsciously, “I remember getting pricked by needles as a child... I always assumed it was for just regular shots.”

“Apparently not,” Alyssa said with a bit of sympathy. She had always been aware of her artificial origins, but the information that she had some of Natsuki’s DNA had only been just confirmed for her.

“Wait a MINUTE!” Natsuki sat up as a even more disturbing thought occurred to her.

“Yes?” Miyu asked, worriedly watching Natsuki.

Slumping back down with a faintly stunned looked Natsuki said, “That means that I and Alyssa are at least part sisters.”

“Is that so bad?” Alyssa asked after a moment.

Natsuki stopped, then smiled slightly as she met Alyssa’s eyes. “No,” she conceded, “but it is going to take some getting used to.”

“Understandable,” Alyssa smiled.

Thump! With a crash Shizuru pushed on the door she had been listening against a little too hard and fell into the room, landing in a sprawled lump on the floor. “Sorry,” she smiled a little sheepishly.

Natsuki sighed, but she really wasn’t surprised as she got up to help Shizuru up. “You all right?” she asked softly.

“Nothing hurt but my pride,” Shizuru winced as Natsuki helped her up.

“Well, since you were listening into our conversation,” Natsuki said wryly as she led Shizuru over to Alyssa, “I’d like you to meet my little sister.”

Shizuru smiled, “Does that mean I can call you Alyssa-chan?”

“No,” both Natsuki and Alyssa found themselves replying, then looked at each other in surprise.

To be continued...

Chapter 5


Chie Harada entered the student council room shortly before the meeting started, settling down with a confident smile. Her dark hair fell down over her glasses as she laid out the papers, then looked around the room as she waited for everyone to arrive.

Reito Kansaki, student council president, sat at the head of the table, the black haired man’s expression calm and mild. Beside him vice president Alyssa Searss studied some documents, the blonde girl’s expression cool but intense. Next came the head of the executive committee Yukino Kikukawa, the reddish brown haired woman who was now Chie’s boss. And finally Erstin Ho, the busty blonde who had taken up the task of being the council’s secretary and Occasionally general assistant.

“Welcome, everyone,” Reito addressed the room with a cool smile, “I believe we’ll start off with the executive committee’s report.”

Yukino rose from her seat, her glasses gleaming. “We’ve made some discoveries regarding the harassment case.” She gestured, “Chie?”

Chie nodded, “I’m sorry to report that the individual leaving threatening notes with Miss Ho is Takeda Masashi.”

“Who?” Erstin blinked.

“My old classmate?” Reito also blinked before frowning. “How did you determine this?” he asked them.

“Members of the executive took turns warching Erstin’s locker, and we observed Takeda covertly placing a note there,” Chie explained calmly. “After that we followed him to confirm that he wasn’t leaving the notes on someone else’s behalf.”

“Still, are we sure he’s the note writer?” Alyssa asked.

“Here’s one of the notes left to Erstin,” Chie passed over two sheets of paper, “the other is a sample of Takeda’s handwriting we acquired.” She smiled slightly, “Yukino asked Miyu to compare them, she’s certain they were written by the same man.”

“Ah,” Alyssa gave Yukino a respectful look. Only three people in this room knew Miyu was a android, but they all respected the young lady’s skills.

Reito looked pained as he sat back in his chair. “It makes a certain kind of sense that it was Takeda,” he conceded.

Erstin looked puzzled, “I don’t understand, what did I do?”

Yukino reached out and gently squeezed Erstin’s shoulder. “It’s not your fault,” she said gently, “though it’s a bit complicated to explain.”

“I’m rather curious myself,” Alyssa admitted.

“Takeda had the bad luck to fall in love with Natsuki Kuga,” Chie took it on herself to explain, “who he pined over for several months. In the end Natsuki turned him down because she fell in love with someone else... Shizuru Fujino.”

Erstin’s eyes widened, “The former president.”

“And a woman,” Alyssa nodded in understanding.

“Apparently Takeda hasn’t gotten over it,” Yukino looked thoughtful, “and has decided to take his frustrations out on Erstin.”

Reito nodded grimly. “All right then,” he said to the room at large, “how do we want to handle this?”

“We could call him before the council and demand a explaination,” Alyssa offered, “then bring it to the school...”

“I’d rather keep this quiet,” Erstin sighed. She smiled weakly, “The infamy of my coming out is fading, I don’t want any wore attention.”

Chie winced slightly, reminded of her own role in this mess.

Reito nodded chivelrously to Erstin, “Yukino, would your executive committee be able to handle this quietly?”

Yukino nodded, “Leave it to me.”

Alyssa leaned forward, “Just don’t do anything we’ll regret later.”

“Of course,” Yukino smiled.

The meeting ended not long after, and Yukino and Chie headed out together. “So,” Chie asked quietly, “what’s the plan?”

“We get some assistence first,” Yukino said as she drew out her phone and dialed. She flashed Chie a smile, “Nice work, by the way.”

Chie grinned, “Thank you.” Looking up she added Yukino quietly, “Could you excuse me for a moment?”

“Of course,” Yukino said as she saw Erstin hesitate nearby.

Chie walked over to Erstin, feeling more nervous than she usually did. She was used to chasing stories and could normally ask the most intrusive things, but knowing the pain she had unthinkingly unleashed on Erstin made her weak. “Erstin,” she started quietly.

Erstin looked up, the blonde smiling as she said, “Thank you.”

“Considering it’s my fault your in this mess,” Chie said, “you don’t need to thank me. In fact, I’m just hoping you can forgive my stupidity eventually...”

“Maybe,” Erstin agreed after a moment, “eventually.”

Yukino dialed the number, reaching her target in a moment. “I hate to impose,” she said after exchanging greetings, “but I have a kendo related matter I may need help dealing with.”


Takeda knelt in the kendo hall, seeking peace through meditation as he ballanced his practice sword across his legs. Peace was elusive, this time, as his recent actions weighed heavily on the young man’s mind.

‘I need to stop this,’ Takeda sighed, his black hair a spiky mess as usual. He thought of Natsuki and winced, ‘If I want revenge, I should have the courage to face her, not take it out on a substitute.’

With a bang the doors to the practice hall were slammed open, and three figures strode inside. At the lead was Yukino, her expression hard and cold as iron. Behind her Tate Yuuichi followed, along with Miyu Greer.

“What are you...?” Takeda demanded, grabbing his weapon.

With surprising speed Tate struck, his own wooden sword swiftly slapping Takeda’s away. “We’d like to talk to you,” there was sarcasm in his voice as he added, “sir.”

Yukino pushed up her glasses with a finger as she gave Takeda a disgusted look. “We know that you’re the source of the insulting letters to Erstin Ho,” she said flatly.

‘How did...’ Takeda thought, then quickly got himself under control. “I did not!” he said forcefully.

“Voice stress indicates he’s lying,” Miyu reported to Yukino softly.

“Thanks,” Yukino murmured back, glad she had asked Alyssa if she could borrow Miyu.

“What are you planing to do?” Takeda asked them, feeling just a bit unnerved by Miyu’s emotionless gaze.

Yukino met his eyes, “If I could, I’d haul you in front of the student body and denounce you for the coward that you are.”

“I didn’t do...” Takeda tried to protest.

“Oh shut up,” Tate snapped at him. “I’ve seen the notes, it’s your handwriting. And picking on a kid...!”

Once more Takeda felt a stab of guilt, and had to look away.

“Here’s what we’re going to do,” Yukino faced him down with eyes that glittered with repressed anger, “you are going to stop writing notes and stay the hell away from Erstin, and we won’t turn you in to the school authorities.”

“All right,” Takeda said quietly.

“And if you don’t,” Tate said to him quietly, “I will personally take great pleasure in thrashing you before turning you in.”

Takeda nodded, turning away from all three people’s gazes.

“Do you think it’ll work?” Tate wondered as they walked away together.

“My voice stress meters indicate that he’s sincere,” Miyu said calmly, “however that does not guarenttee he won’t change his mind.”

“Well, unless Erstin decides to go after him officially this is the best we can do,” Yukino sighed softly. She looked at Tate and smiled, “Thank you for your help, Tate.”

Tate smiled shyly, “No, I was glad to help.”

“And you, Miyu,” Yukino turned to her, “thanks.”

“I merely obeyed Miss Alyssa’s request that I help you,” Miyu answered calmly. A slight smile teased her lips, “However, I will confess some satisfaction in making him squirm in there.”

“Me too,” Tate agreed. He checked his watch and sighed, “I’d better get going... but call if you need any more help.”

“Will do,” Yukino agreed.

To be continued...

Chapter 6


Erstin Ho’s Private Journal

Day 75

The threatening notes have stopped appearing in my locker, thankfully, and I notice that the gossip about me is also grinding to a halt. It looks like the scandal of Miss Fujino and Miss Kuga being caught doing what they were doing out in the rose garden has overtaken any interest in me. It’s a bit of a relief, honestly, even though I do feel a bit sorry for Natsuki.

Day 76

Natsuki and Shizuru both appeared before the student council to apologize over the garden incident. I think I was one of the few people there trying to take it seriously, considering Reito’s barely concealed chuckles, Alyssa’s impish smirk and Miss Yukino’s smile. Add to that Shizuru’s easy charm and Natsuki’s blushes as they tried to explain and even I was having difficulty being serious.

We also had a unexpected guest that day, Miss Haruka Suzushiro the former head of the Executive. It seems that Miss Suzushiro had some kind of feud with Shizuru while they were both classmates at Fuka, and she came hoping to see her rival brought down a bit. Of course she left annoyed as Shizuru seemed entirely unrepentant.

It was strange.. I had heard all the rumors about how close Yukino and Haruka had been, but it was very different to see it all played out right in front of me. The two fell into what must have been a familiar pattern between them, with Haruka leading and Yukino following, and I was shocked at how angry it made me. All the current members of the student council knew how capable of a leader Yukino was, how come Haruka couldn’t?

Day 79

With President Kanzaki’s permission I took a day out away from the student council’s business, to try to understand my reactions yesterday. Looking back at my feelings towards Haruka’s arrival, I realize I felt jealous of her taking Yukino’s time and attention away. But why should I feel that? Yukino is my senpai on the student council and I’d like to think we’re friends, but there’s no more to it than that.

Or is there? I find myself feeling less and less hurt over Nina Wong’s rejection of me, but is that because I’ve put someone else in her place? Am I merely substituting one hopeless infatuation for another, or just confusing honest admiration with a deeper feeling? I don’t know, and until I do know I dare not act.

Day 81

I think it would help me maintain some perspective on Yukino if she’d stop being so nice to me. On the first council meeting back from my day off Yukino helped catch me up, not to mention having handled the executive and secretarial duties. She just smiled as I thank her, explaining she felt sure I would do the same for her. Well, I think I would try at least.

The meeting itself was mostly dry stuff including a proposal for a actual campus police force, built from the executive committee. Yukino feels that a ad-hoc organization like the executive is useful for emergencies, but day to day activities must also be handled. Yukino pointed out that while the executive were willing they were mostly untrained. Reito and Alyssa agreed to consider the proposal, then discuss it next meeting.

The latest rumor going around is that Mai and Mikoto have finally become a official couple. I’m not surprised people think that, considering how affectionate they can be with one another, but I saw them kissing in one of the stairways today. My only surprise was how Mikoto seemed the more aggressive of the pair...

Day 82

Yukino came to me to let me know that the executive committee and friends were having another kareoke night, and that I was invited. I was rather doubtful, considering what happened last time, but Yukino assured me that Aoi would be keeping a eye on Chie and they were having a teacher supervise. She also doesn’t fight fair, holding on to my hands while looking into my eyes... how could I say no?

Day 84

On the day before the party Nina Wong finally came to me to talk, and it was about as awkward as I had expected it to be. She confessed that she had been startled by the rumors of my feelings towards her. Nina apologized for overreacting, which I thought was a bit of a understatement, and hoped our friendship might be what it once was. Of course, I noticed she didn’t invite me to sit with her at lunch like before, so I’m not sure how sincere she was.

Day 85

My resolutions for the night were fairly simple: don’t embarrass myself and don’t let myself over drink again. I didn’t actually manage to keep either resolution, but things didn’t turn out that badly for me. The teachers supervising ended up being nurse Yohko and Midori, both of whom were far too occupied with drinking and each other to watch over us, so things got out of hand pretty quickly.

And then there were the costumes. Mai Tokiha insisted on wearing a police woman’s for old times sake, whatever that meant, and I found myself gulping when Yukino emerged in a red Chinese dress that hugged every curve. Then she proceeded to sing a old love song, fumbling occasionally but still bringing a tear to the eye.

Nao seemed intent on having me drink, though I mostly managed to turn her offers down. I do remember getting kind of blurry as the night went on, so I suspect someone was adding booze to my soda. I’m pretty sure I remember at least one costume change, though to be honest I don’t recall what they put me in... just Yukino’s wide eyed look as I sang.

Day 86

I have SUCH a hangover. More later.


Why did Chie have to have a camera phone handy? I hadn’t realized quite how skimpy that barbarian outfit Aoi helped me into was. The fake leather top was clearly showing the edges of my nipples, and the bikini bottom was a bit too small, too. I also have no memory of whatever I sang, tho Mikoto tells me it went over well.

On the plus side, Chie has already printed me up a picture of Yukino dressed in both the Chinese dress as well as a cute ‘Joan of Arc’ like design. Both are adorable, and I intend to keep them. And I got prints of most of the others’ costumes too.

Day 88

Nina, Arika and I had lunch together, along with a young man I suspect is Nina’s new boyfriend. I’m curiously not bothered about Sergei, but more by Nina’s need to introduce him to me. Is this her way of proving she’s straight? Or am I just reading too much into it?

My impression of Sergei himself is that he’s a nice young man, maybe a year or so older than Nina. When she left the table he was quite polite, and while he seemed aware of the rumors around me he wasn’t bothered by them. All in all I think I like him. Arika, on the other hand, was remarkably bristly towards him. I can’t tell if she’s annoyed for my sake or just didn’t warm up to him, but they clashed almost from the start.

Day 89

Miss Midori continues to be the jack of all trades teacher, subbing in as needed in various classes. Last time it was Chemistry, now she’s doing English. It doesn’t get much funnier than seeing your teacher mangling a great work of literature, then taking turns with the rest of the class correcting her.

Day 92

Monday, and the highlight of my day was sharing lunch with Yukino. Nina and Sergei were eating together and I couldn’t see Arika, so it was quite a relief to have Yukino beckon me over. We talked and chatted as we ate, but I kept finding myself distracted by gazing into Yukino’s eyes behind those cute glasses and watching her mouth move. She worriedly asked what was wrong when I failed to answer her, and I had to stammer a reply.

Yukino just smiled and told me that she got distracted too, at times.

Day 95

I think I’ve made up my mind to seriously look at my attraction to Yukino. Just ignoring it has failed, in fact I find myself paying more and more attention to her, both in student council and when we spend time together. I find myself looking for the weakest excuses to spend time with her, and when she smiles at me I think I might fly away.

Of course, what to do about it is the question. I have no idea how she’d react to a younger woman asking her out, and to be honest I’m afraid to find out, in case it’s bad news. Maybe I need to ask for some advice...?

Day 96

After some debate, I decided it might be best to talk to Aoi. Chie might have been a better choice, but I’d be too worried about her deciding to spread a rumor around. I also considered asking Natsuki, but to be honest I’m too scared of her. While Yukino and the others have reassured me her reputation is worse than the reality, her occasionally chilling stare is more than I could take.

Aoi sat me down with some tea while Chie was out, and I hesitantly explained my growing feelings for Yukino. She seemed oddly unsurprised, and I wonder how transparent I’ve been the last little while. Still, Aoi was kind as she listened, then offered some quite good advice.

To be continued...

Chapter 7

Title: Chapter 7: Final

Crossing Paths


Yukino finished up her presentation to the Student Council, a revision of the campus police idea they had discussed earlier. She lowered her papers and nodded to Reito and Alyssa, then sat down as she looked up to meet Erstin’s warm gaze, the secretary having already finished with her own note taking.

‘There’s something different about her,’ Yukino found herself thinking, ‘like she knows something... or made some kind of decision.’ There was a certain kind of certainty in her gaze, and Yukino rather liked that.

“Do you have any suggestions for membership in this new police force?” Reito asked, the black haired man smiling slightly.

“I was thinking of asking several reliable individuals,” Yukino answered him promptly from memory, “such as Natsuki Kuga, Tate Yuuichi and others. We’ll also take volunteers from the executive too.”

“I’ll pass this on to Fumi,” Reito said thoughtfully, “and possibly we’ll be able to make these paid positions too.”

Alyssa looked thoughtful, “I may ask Miyu if she wants to apply too.”

The remainder of the week’s student council business was soon wrapped up, and Reito called the meeting to a close. “Good work,” walking over to Yukino Reito said, “a very professional report. I think Fumi will like it.”

“Thank you,” Yukino answered him, “I’m sure Erstin and the others will appreciate hearing that too.”

Reito looked over Yukino’s shoulder at something and smiled impishly as he drawled, “I think I’ll catch you later.”

“Huh?” Yukino blinked as she felt a gentle touch on her arm.

Erstin smiled as the smaller blonde stood close to her, and Yukino felt a odd twinge in her belly as she picked up the soft sent drifting over from her. “Yukino,” she asked her quietly, “are you busy?”

“Yes...” Yukino started, feeling oddly confused then she shook herself, “no, I mean, no I’m not busy at all.”

“Good,” Erstin said as she took Yukino’s hand in her’s, the two of them making their way out to the hallway outside the student council room, “I was wondering if you’d like to go out to dinner tonight?”

Yukino blinked at Erstin’s surprisingly serious tone, “To talk about the campus police? I guess we could hash out...”

“No, I mean out to dinner, together,” Erstin said firmly, “no business, just you and I.” Her smile was suddenly a bit more tentative and shy, “Please?”

Yukino felt her cheeks color a bit but she smiled back at Erstin as she agreed, “All right, let’s go out. Where to?”

“Ah...,” Erstin blinked as she laughed sheepishly, “I hadn’t gotten that far.”

Yukino chuckled warmly, not in a mocking way as she said, “I can sympathise.” She debated saying anything more as they walked then said, “I was thinking of asking you out, too... but I couldn’t get up the nerve.”

Erstin smiled up at her, “Really?”

“Really, really,” Yukino nodded as she moved to push the door open for her.

“Thank you,” Erstin smiled, the two of them walking outside the school as the sun began to dip on the horizon. She shook her head wryly, “I’d like to suggest something a bit more romantic than the Linden Baum, but...”

“It is late,” Yukino agreed. They walked together down the street as she said, “You seemed very... forceful for a moment there.”

Erstin blushed. “Ah... I kind of went to Aoi for some advice,” she confessed.

Yukino chuckled, “I talked with Natsuki a few days ago.” She smiled at the memory, “I suspect you got better advice than I did.”

“Oh?” Erstin looked curious as they made their way off the main campus and out towards the small town of Fuka nearby.

Yukino smiled wryly, “Most of her suggestions involved borrowing a leather jacket and bike and sweeping you off your feet.”

Erstin’s mind nearly boggled at trying to imagine Yukino all decked out in Natsuki’s biker gear. “Somehow,” she confessed, “I don’t think it would suit you.”

Yukino chuckled, the two pausing outside the brightly lit Linden Baum, “No, it wouldn’t... though sometimes I wish it would.”

“You shouldn’t say that,” Erstin reached out to stop her from going in, “the things I like about you are your kindness, your warmth, how smart you are...” she blushed, “and how pretty you are too.”

“I’m not used to people calling me pretty,” Yukino smiled as she looked down at Erstin, “but thank you.” Looking down she realized she was looking right at Erstin’s full breasts and looked up only to meet Erstin’s amused gaze.

Clearly un-bothered by the inadvertant stare Erstin offered her hand, “Let’s go in?”

“Let’s,” Yukino took her hand and they walked in. Clearly Erstin was someone who was aware and reasonably comfortable in her body, a trait Yukino sometimes lacked.

The inside of Linden Baum was thankfully not too crowded, and the two young women headed for a corner table by a window. Outside the trees shifted under a breeze, the fading light shining through the branches. Inside the American styled table and cushioned benches were comfortable as they sat across from each other, smiling.

“Hello Yukino,” Akane said cheerfully as she appeared, notebook in hand, “what’ll you be having tonight?”

Both women placed their orders and Akane hurried off, her red skirt swirling in the breeze. “By the way,” Erstin said quietly, “I’m paying tonight.”

“You don’t have to...,” Yukino started to protest.

Erstin looked at her earnestly, “I asked you out and I planned to pay anyway.”

Yukino tilted her head as she studied Erstin and smiled, “All right, but next time we split the bill, okay?”

“Okay,” Erstin smiled, glad to know that Yukino was planning for a second night out.

“Here you go,” Akane dropped their plates off gracefully as she added, “If you need anything else, just ask.”

Yukino looked amused as Akane left the table and she whispered, “Dim lights and candles, maybe?”

Erstin chuckled softly as classic rock music played in the background, “And some nice, romantic music, too.”

Yukino reached out to squeeze her hand, “Well, we can always use our imagination.”

Erstin blushed faintly as she confessed, “You don’t want to know what’s been going on in my imagination lately.”

Yukino smiled warmly, her glasses gleaming as she asked, “Oh really?”

Erstin shook her head, “Not telling.”

“Is it as bad as Natsuki and Shizuru’s antics?” Yukino asked, winking.

“Well...” Erstin blushed as she quickly changed the subject, both of them talking together with surprising ease.

Yukino chuckled again, once again faintly astonished at how much she enjoyed being with the younger woman. It was such a different feeling than the adoration she had experienced with Haruka, always feeling like she was a step behind her energetic friend. Looking back on it Yukino was beginning to realize that the love she had felt for Haruka had mostly been admiring a older, more confident friend rather than romantic love.

Yukino was reluctant to bring it up, but she felt obligated. “Erstin,” she said in a pause of conversation, “you know I’m a older, mentor figure to you and I’m...”

“You’re worried I’m letting simple admiration get the better of me,” Erstin finished, smiling a little wryly.

“Already had this conversation?” Yukino guessed, smiling.

“My friend Arika brought it up,” Erstin said as she took a drink. She smiled at Yukino, “And I’ve thought about it a lot, too. All I can say is that I can tell the difference between hero worship and love, and I’m certain of what I’m feeling.”

“I can accept that,” Yukino agreed as she reached out to gently stroke the girl’s hand reassuringly.

“Hi there,” Mai Tokhia walked up to the table with a apologetic smile, “I hate to interrupt but it’s getting near closing.”

“Sorry,” Erstin said a bit sheepishly.

Yukino looked down, realizing she and Erstin had cleared their plates a while ago, so captured by their conversation she hadn’t noticed. “Sorry to keep you,” Yukino said as she and Erstin got up.

“Akane didn’t want to interrupt,” Mai winked, “so we held off as long as we could.”

Erstin smiled through her blush, adding a extra tip for Akane as she paid for their meal, “Thank you very much.”

Yukino and Erstin were quiet as they walked to the dorms, each one wrapped in their thoughts. “I had a really good time tonight,” Yukino said as they stopped in front of Erstin’s building.

“Me, too,” Erstin agreed, “would you... like to come in?”

Yukino hesitated, torn between common sense and desire. “Not tonight,” she said as she brushed Erstin’s hair back, “but would you like to join me for dinner tomorrow?”

“I’d love to,” Erstin smiled, accepting that Yukino wanted to take things slow, then tilted her head back and closed her eyes.

Taking the cue Yukino bent forward, kissing her gently like she had wanted to do for weeks. “Wow...” she murmured, reluctantly pulling back.

Erstin nodded, her cheeks flushed. “See you tomorrow,” she smiled as she stroked Yukino’s cheek then turned and walked into her dorm.

“See you then,” Yukino agreed, wishing she was not quite so noble. ‘Still, there’s always tomorrow,’ she thought as she walked home, smiling. Somehow, she got the odd feeling that after all the trouble she had ended up exactly where she needed to be...


Notes: Yes, I could draw this out a few more chapters and drop them in bed together, but I thought their first date was a good point to wrap it up. They’re on the way to being together and probably the worst they have to look forward to is Nao’s snarky comments about Yukino cradle robbing.

Back to chapter list