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		Lemon Marmalade - episode two
		"Second Thoughts"
		(During and subsequent to:
		Orange Marmalade 14: "Twice Shy")


	A soft rap sounded on the door.  Miki marked her place in her
book with a ribbon and sat up straight on the bed, allowing it to
close.  "Come in."

	The door swung inward with the hint of a creak, revealing
Meiko.  Miki's greeting was stifled by the sight of her standing at
the door, eyes downcast, an expression of mingled urgency,
uncertainty, and hope on her face.  Before she could think of an
appropriate opening, Meiko took the initiative.  "Miki..."

	"Meiko," she acknowledged.

	"I-- We need to talk."

	Sighing, Miki nodded.  She'd suspected that this would come,
even as she'd hoped that it might not -- after all, the days following
the Matsuura-Koishikawa family vacation and the... revelations... it
had entailed had been ordinary enough, to all appearances.  She'd
thought that perhaps the worst was over.

	Well, no use dwelling on failed hopes.  "Come in, Meiko," she
answered quietly, in what she hoped was a warm, welcoming tone.  The
younger girl nodded, stepping through the door.  It swung closed
behind her as she stood awkwardly in the room, twisting her fingers
nervously together and looking past Miki, out the window.  Miki winced
inwardly; this might be worse than she expected.  She patted the bed
next to her and coaxed, "Come here.  We'll talk."

	The expression of doubt remained, but, after a moment's
hesitation, Meiko complied.  "I... About the... the vacation," she

	"I thought... you understood, Meiko."  Try as she might, Miki
couldn't keep a trace of recrimination from her voice.  She instantly
felt sorry for it, seeing the hurt in Meiko's eyes.

	"I thought I--"  She cut herself off, shaking her head with a
sudden ferocity that vanished as quickly as it appeared.  "I don't
know what I thought!  I just..."


	"Miki, please."  The older girl fell silent, and Meiko
continued.  "I need to know what... why."

	"Fair enough."  Taking a deep breath, Miki ventured, "Which
particular part do you want to begin with?  Why it wasn't wrong?"

	The Matsuura twin surprised Miki by answering, "No... no, I--"
She dropped her eyes away from Miki's, reluctantly admitting, "I don't
think... that it was wrong."

	"That's--"  Words couldn't express it.  She settled for,
"That's good."

	Absently nodding, Meiko continued to search for words.  "I
want... I just... Why we..."  Abruptly, her cheeks colored, and she
looked back up, meeting Miki's gaze, searching for some sign in her
eyes.  Softly, she asked, "Do...  Do you love me, Miki?"

	She looked so vulnerable that the answer came easily.  "Of
course I do.  You didn't think that...?"

	"I...  No..."  She turned away.  "But, you said... oniichan--"

	"That I found him attractive?"  Meiko nodded in response, an
almost-imperceptible inclination of her head.  "And I still do.  That
doesn't mean I don't love you."

	"Can you love two people at the same time?"  Meiko's voice was
pitched barely above a whisper.

	"I think you can, sometimes.  Don't you?"

	"I... I never used to.  I don't know if--"  She turned
suddenly, desperately clutching at Miki's shoulders, almost knocking
the older girl backwards off the bed.  "You... you won't leave me,
will you?  You'll stay with me forever, won't you?"

	Looking into Meiko's eyes, Miki knew there was only one thing
she could say.  And she hated herself for it.  "I can't promise that,
Meiko."  Pain flashed through the younger girl's eyes, and her hands
began to fall away from Miki's shoulders, but Miki caught them in her
own.  She rapidly continued, hoping Meiko would listen.  "People
change, Meiko.  We can't help that.  But--"  Please, let her listen...
"I'll do my best.  For as long as you want me."

	Tears welled up in Meiko's eyes.  With surprising strength,
she pulled Miki forward into a tight embrace.  "Just... please...
don't leave," she murmured into Miki's ear.  "Everyone else... I
couldn't stand it if you did, too."

	Miki sat on the bed for quite some time, quietly holding and
comforting the young girl.


	That evening, Meiko sat on the couch in the living room.
Images flickered past on the television screen, but her thoughts were
elsewhere.  The conversation with Miki had proven reassuring, but a
small part of her continued to doubt.  How long had it been, since...?

	The soft thump of the front door's closing jolted Meiko out of
her reverie.  "I'm home," her brother's voice called.

	"Welcome back."  She turned to look and blinked, surprised.
"You're soaked."

	Yuu rolled his eyes.  "It's raining," he explained, a hint of
exasperation plain in his voice.

	Meiko stood and walked slowly toward the back of the room.  "I
told you you should've taken an umbrella this morning," she scolded.

	"There weren't any left!  Get me a towel, would you?"

	"On my way."  She paused, grinning to herself.  "Maybe you
should've bought an umbrella."  He could miss the obvious at the most
startling times...  She ducked into the bathroom, searching for a

	"I've bought three this year," Yuu grumbled, unaware that he
was complaining to himself at the moment.  Meiko re-emerged from the
bathroom in time to catch the remainder, however.  "Somehow, they
always vanish..."

	"Maybe you need to be more careful with them, then."
Honestly.  "Here," she called, tossing the towel to her older brother.

	"Thanks."  He dried his face and hair, missing his sister's
nod, then proceeded to attack his clothing, hoping to blot some of the
water from it.  He was largely unsuccessful in the attempt.  "Where is
everyone?  It's unusually quiet."

	Meiko shrugged.  "You beat our parents and the Koishikawas
home," she began, "and Miki is in her room."  A moment's pause.
"Reading.  An said she had a quick errand to run.  That was about an
hour ago--"  Right before the conversation; she hadn't felt it was
safe to speak to Miki about... that... when An was around.  The chance
that her little sister might overhear...  "--So she could be home at
any time.  You're earlier than usual, aren't you?"

	Nodding, Yuu replied, "There were almost no customers all day.
Once the rain started..."

	"No one taking shelter from the storm?"  She smiled; between
Miki and Yuu, she felt better than she had since... for some time.

	Yuu's voice, on the other hand, contained all the excitement
of an economics exam.  "Not for the last few hours."

	"Lucky you."

	He shrugged.  "I prefer to work, believe it or not."  She
couldn't decide whether there was a touch of sarcasm in his voice or
not.  "I'm going to go change," he announced.

	Meiko nodded, but Yuu had already passed her.  He climbed the
stairs, heading for his room.


	Yuu paused at the top of the stairs, glancing along the
hallway toward Miki's door.  He took a single hesitant step in its
direction, then, frowning, glanced down at his wet clothing and turned
around.  Time enough for that later, he thought.

	He walked into his room, closing the door behind him.  A
moment later, Miki emerged from her room, carrying an umbrella.  She
quickly descended the staircase.


	From the sofa, Meiko turned her head toward the stairs at the
sound of footsteps.  Her expression betrayed some surprise as she saw
Miki rather than Yuu.  "Oh, Miki... you're going out?"  That was

	In answer, Miki smiled softly, reassuring her.  "Just for a
little while."

	She chewed on her lip for a moment before admitting, "Oniichan
is home."

	Miki stopped and looked at her.  "I didn't see him.  Would you
tell our parents I won't be home for dinner tonight?"

	Frowning slightly, Meiko nodded.  Miki had already stepped
down into the genkan.  Calling, "Thanks," over her shoulder, she
stepped out the door.  

	The front door closed, and Meiko reached out and pressed a
button; the television promptly fell silent.  Sinking back against the
sofa, she sighed theatrically to herself.  "Either I'm missing
something," she declared rhetorically, "Or I'm living with a
half-dozen manic-depressives."


	Later that evening, she ruefully recalled those words as she
tried to come up with something, anything at all vaguely
complimentary, to say about her younger sister's new haircut.  "It's,
um... unique," she finally forced out.  It certainly was.  Unique in
the sense that it looked as if her head had very narrowly escaped
being run over by the lawnmower which had claimed over eighteen inches
of her hair.

	"Thanks!"  It was safe; Anju was cheerfully oblivious.  "I
thought maybe a different style would be nice."

	"Ah.  Well, don't you think this might have been a little bit

	The younger twin shook her head.  "Uh uh.  I wanted to be sure
people would notice."  She glanced at Meiko's clock, and her eyes grew
wide and panicked.  "Oh, no, tell me that time isn't right..."

	"It's right," Meiko answered, without looking.  In truth,
knowing that An would stop in to talk to her, she'd taken the
precaution of setting it forward fifteen minutes.  That ought to be
about the right amount of extra time her twin needed...

	Predictably, Anju spun, dashing toward the door.  "I have to
get ready, I'm going to be late!  Sorry!"

	"Don't..."  Meiko grimaced as the door slammed, then wryly
concluded, "...Mention it."  She sighed; this date was not a good
idea, she just knew it.  Yuu would say she was being paranoid, though,
if he said anything at all.  Anju, too, and she would be less

	Maybe she was.  So much had happened over the course of the
last month that she didn't even trust her own judgment at this point.
But surely her sister's was just as bad.  Dating Tsuchiya Kei,
chopping off most of her hair...

	Well, to be honest, the haircut wouldn't have been half bad...
if Anju had been a boy.  Of course, considering the kind of girl her
twin had always been...  Sometimes, she despaired of ever--

	"As if I'm one to talk," she muttered aloud.

	Well, there was one good thing, she supposed.  She wouldn't
have to worry about losing Miki to her sister.

	That thought made her laugh for several minutes, though she
wasn't sure just why.


	The telephone rang, and Meiko set aside her book with a sigh.
She'd been making little progress all night, thanks to a myriad of
other worries.  And now, just as she'd decided to set them to rest for
tonight, this.  Typical.

	"Hello?" she said, not bothering to keep all of the irritation
out of her voice.

	"Ah, Meiko-chan.  This is Satoshi."

	She clenched her free hand into a fist, nails digging into her
palm.  This was -not- going to help her relax.  "Miwa-sempai, if
you're calling to ask me out--"

	"No, actually, but I'm glad you've been thinking about me."
She could -hear- that smug smile.

	"I have -not- been thinking about you!"  She was dimly aware
that she was not so much speaking to Satoshi now as screaming at him,
but it was too late for that.  "I have no reason to think about you!
I don't -want- to think about you!  I don't even -like- you, and I
-DON'T- WANT TO GO OUT WITH YOU!"  She drew in a deep breath, and
finished, "So -why- don't you hang up right now and spare us both the
effort of pretending that you didn't call me because you want to go
out with me?"  There, she thought that sounded appropriately

	His reply was more amused than anything else.  "No, I hadn't,
really... but I'd be glad to.  How about tomorrow at seven?"

	"Sempai, with all due respect, I'm going to have to throttle
you in a moment."

	"Oh?  I'm sorry to hear that."

	She sighed.  He just didn't learn...  "Fine, have it your way.
Why did you call?"

	"Eh?  I wanted to speak to your brother, of course."

	"What?"  Why would--  She shrugged; they were classmates.  It
was possible.  "No, never mind.  He's not here right now."

	"I guessed as much.  Would you ask him to call me when he gets
a chance?"

	"Fine.  Does he know your phone number?"

	"Yes, he has the number... thanks."  Then he started smiling
again; she -swore- she could hear it.  "Until next time, Meiko-ch--"

	Meiko set the receiver down, cutting him off.  She had a book
to get back to.


	"I thought I was supposed to be the one to walk you home."

	Anju blushed, looking up at Kei's sardonic smile.  "Your place
is closer," she protested weakly.

	It didn't play.  His smile grew into a playful grin as he
countered, "You don't even know where I live."  Her blush deepened
until she felt her entire body must be bright scarlet, but Kei
affected not to notice.  "What's the real reason?  Or shouldn't I

	She gave up after only a few seconds.  "I thought they'd want
to be alone," she muttered.


	She flushed again at the myriad of meanings he seemed to cram
into the syllable.  "I didn't mean like that..."

	Now he arched one eyebrow, the picture of innocence.  "Like

	"You're doing this on purpose!"

	"Doing what?" he inquired, poker-faced.

	Having no ready response that wouldn't further incriminate
her, she punched his shoulder.  Hard.

	He burst out laughing.  "All right, all right," he managed as
he began to calm down.  "I'm sorry."

	"Well, you should be."  Still, she couldn't help grinning
herself.  "So... just where do you live?"  She craned her head, but
the neighborhood was unfamiliar to her -- just another quiet
residential area.  This time of night, most of the homes were dark and
silent, with very little to distinguish any one from its neighbors.

	"You were right," he admitted, "It's not far.  I've got an
apartment in--"  He raised his arm to point, but let it fall again as
he realized they wouldn't be able to make out the building.  "Well, we
can't see it from here.  About three blocks."

	"Hmm."  She nodded acknowledgement and turned to once again
look toward his face.  There was something about his eyes that
fascinated her.  He couldn't be much older than she herself, but...
"Do you have any brothers or sisters?"


	Perhaps that wasn't the line of conversation to pursue, she
thought, blinking.  "Um... so, you're a musician?  That's kind of

	He stopped; she continued for two steps before stopping and
turning.  Because of that, she almost missed the shadow that crossed
his expression.  "How...?" he asked.  In his current state -- was it
surprise? -- his voice sounded oddly mechanical, as if it were
detached from his body.

	"Your fingers," she explained hastily.  "When we were dancing,
I noticed... they're very strong, but delicate..."  Realizing she was
on the verge of babbling, she clamped her mouth shut.

	Whatever expression Kei had had, it was now gone, replaced by
a kind of weariness as he slowly began walking again.  Wordlessly, she
fell into step beside him, watching his face until, finally, he spoke.
"I'm not a musician," he said.  She frowned slightly and opened her
mouth to ask another question, but he cut her off, saying, firmly,
"I'm sorry to disappoint you."

	"Oh... no, it's not.  Disappointing, I mean."

	"This is the building."  He stopped, then turned to face her.
"Are you sure you don't want me to walk back with you?"

	"That would be counterproductive, wouldn't it?"  She smiled,
faintly, and was rewarded with an answering smile, almost mirroring
her own.

	"All right, then.  I'd invite you in, but I wouldn't want to
seem too forward..."

	"I don't mind," she assured him.  "But it is late.  I should
get back before anyone starts worrying and decides to come looking for
me."  The sudden appearance of one or more overprotective psychics
tended to quickly put an end to a budding relationship.  And to the
family's residence in the town in question, for that matter.

	Kei nodded.  "Good night, then."  He waved, turned to enter
the building, and, standing in the doorway, turned to wave once more.
Then the door closed behind him, and Anju began slowly retracing her
steps, heading towards home.

	Her thoughts were far from home, though.  She could still hear
his words:  "I'm sorry to disappoint you."  And she could still recall
his eyes, the eyes that had fascinated her.

	She was fairly certain that it had been pain that she'd seen
in them.


	Meiko sat bolt upright in bed as her door swung open, but
relaxed as she recognized the silhouette that stepped in.  "Miki," she
greeted, brushing a stray lock of hair away from her face.

	The older girl remained near the door, looking
uncharacteristically awkward.  "Sorry.  I didn't realize you were in

	"Don't worry about it, just come in.  How was the big night?"

	Miki crossed the room and sank onto the mattress near Meiko's
feet with a sigh.  "I'm not sure."  She laughed.  "At least your
sister had fun."

	"That bad?"  Meiko winced in sympathy and reached to turn on
her bedside lamp.

	"Don't bother."  Miki's voice stopped her, and she laid back
again, nodding acquiescence.  Miki continued, "Bad?  Not really.  But
I'm pretty sure it wasn't good."

	"Do you want to talk about it?" the younger girl ventured.
She didn't know whether to be relieved or concerned when Miki shook
her head.

	"I thought I did, but... I'm not sure I understand myself,
yet.  It might not be fair."  To Yuu, she finished silently, and
sighed.  "Meiko," she asked plaintively, "Am I making a fool of

	"I think it's cute," came the answer, followed by a playful

	"It figures."  She rolled her eyes up toward the ceiling and,
adopting a much-put-upon voice, asked, "Why me?"

	"Just lucky, I guess."

	"Some help you are."  But she was grinning, now, and Meiko
wasn't slow to point that out.  "Okay," she acknowledged, "Fine.  I
know when I'm beaten..."

	Meiko leaned back against her pillow and the headboard,
favoring Miki with a serene, knowing smile.  "You're welcome."


	With a twinge of regret, Anju stood and stepped out of the
bath.  Ordinarily, the hot water relaxed and soothed her, but tonight,
her mind kept returning to her date with Kei.  To their conversation,
but, mostly, to his eyes.

	Wrapping a fluffy towel around her, she crept out of the
bathroom and upstairs.  She froze at the top of the stairs, listening,
before padding on the balls of her feet down the hallway to her door.
Slowly, her fingers reached out and turned the doorknob...

	"Welcome home, An-chan," came a voice from behind her.  

	She jumped and had to scramble to keep both her footing and
her towel.  Whirling, she ended up with her back to the door, one hand
still clutching the doorknob, the other held in front of her in a
warding gesture.  Meanwhile, the one who had surprised her was
laughing quietly.  Anju tried to glare, but that only made the other
girl laugh harder, so she quickly gave up.  "Thanks," she murmured
sheepishly.  "I didn't want to wake anyone up..."

	"I wasn't asleep.  But I plan to be, shortly."  Miki yawned,
as if to accentuate her point.  "Good night, An-chan."

	Smiling, she responded, "Good night," and turned the knob,
stepping backwards into her room.  Miki had already turned as Anju
swung the door closed.  She hadn't felt tired, until a moment ago,
but, now that she thought about it...

	She slipped out of the towel and into her bed, musing about
how different short hair felt against the pillow than long hair had.
Clasping her hands behind her head, Anju stared up at the ceiling.  It
had, she decided, been a good night.  Eyes and all.

	Rolling onto her side, she contemplated her reflection, barely
visible in the large mirror of her dressing table.  Tsuchiya Kei was a
mystery, and a tantalizing one at that, but surely Matsuura Anju had
some mysteries of her own... right?  She couldn't be so transparently
shallow as she felt at this moment, could she?

	Anju studied the murky reflection of herself, barely more than
a shadow in the darkness:  The long sweep of her legs, the gentle
curves of her thighs, the small waist and flat stomach, the rise of
her petite breasts, the expanse of her arm and shoulder, now freed of
the hair that had tended, when loose, to fall over them.  She
squinted, but the features of her face remained hidden in the
reflection; only her chin, the tip of her nose, and the curve of one
cheek were visible to her.  She lifted that arm, slowly spread her
fingers, all the time watching in fascination as the image mirrored
her movements.  She traced from her chin along that cheek to her
forehead, toyed with her bangs for a moment, finally dropped her hand
back to her chin.  There were small calluses on her fingers, born of
long hours of violin practice, and they were slightly rough against
her smooth skin.  It made her smile -- she, too, had a musician's
fingers.  It was one of her mysteries, if not a very big one.

	Kei said he wasn't a musician.  Anju turned onto her back
again, the better to gaze at the ceiling and contemplate that
particular mystery.  Perhaps she'd been wrong about him, after all.
But he did have the hands.  And she liked him, no matter what Meiko
thought of him.  He was cute, he was thoughtful, he was nice.  She
liked being with him.  And, most incredible of all, he seemed to treat
her as an equal.  Or as an adult.  None of the others had; it seemed
that, even to Miki, she was just the little sister.  She liked the

	She liked his smile, too.  And his eyes, with their hint of
pain of a sort unusual for one as young as he.

	Smiling contentedly, she closed her eyes.  Her hands travelled
along her side and, almost of their own volition, gently cupped her
breasts.  Gently massaging the flesh, Anju wondered how his hands
would feel.  The twinge of pleasure that shot through her at the
thought surprised her, and she continued the motions, imagining Kei's
presence.  Her fingers brushed and teased her nipples until they were
hard; her hands slid slowly up and down the swells of her body.  One
hand brushed slowly past the soft tuft of pubic hair, barely touching
her moistened slit, and she moaned softly at the surge of sensation.

	Her fingers continued dancing over her body, further arousing
her.  Now, one hand moved to the acutely sensitive flesh of her inner
thighs, caressing them; she lightly scraped the velvet-soft skin with
her fingernails as her entire body began to slowly undulate on the
bed.  The warmth had spread through her entire body now, and she was
blanketed in a slowly-building pleasure.  Yearning, she spread open
her soft folds, arching her back and thrusting her pelvis toward the
ceiling.  The fingers of her right hand traced her delicate nether
lips, while her left again caressed the curve of her breast.  A burst
of pleasure shot through her frame as one fingertip brushed the erect
bud of her clitoris; moaning aloud, she redoubled her efforts, feeling
herself approaching climax.  Her thumb slowly circled the sensitive
organ until it throbbed with urgent desire.   She imagined Kei's arms
encircling her body and...

	Abruptly, a wave of liquid fire spread through her quaking
body as she reached orgasm.  Intense pleasure surged over her like a
series of tidal waves, leaving her gasping for breath, half-drowned in
an ocean of sexual bliss.  There, she floated for a long moment,
shuddering in the warm glow.

	Then, drained and exhausted, she collapsed flat on her back,
quickly drifting into a deep, dreamless sleep.