I would like to start out by saying that any resemblance to
Steve Tsai's Kimagure Orange College is purely coincidental.
This is so because I just found out about its existence an hour
after this idea was conceived, when I went in search of KOR fan
fiction. I had not read it, fearing it would influence me
unduly. I will not be accused of plagiarism. However, upon
actually getting around to reading it, I didn't like it. So, I
guess I have nothing to worry about then.

I pretty much just saw the entire series, and I am not ready for
it to end. Even the movies, though a fitting end, were not even
enough to satiate me. And so, I will continue it. I hope you
enjoy.

Ok, you know the drill, Kasuga-kun and pals do not belong to me.
They are property of Matsumoto-san, TOHO, Studio Peirrot,
AnimEigo, ADV, and anyone else I happened to have left out.

Thanks to: Matsumoto Izumi for creating a world I delight in.
Semisonic for the chapter title and Closing Time.
Three Doors Down for such an inspirational piece of
music that is "Be Like That."

Warning: Though this is not anywhere near lemony, there are
parts that have a nice lime smell. Just so you know. Oh, and
also, don't expect too much to be happening as far as a real
plot at first. This first chapter is mainly for review
purposes. Ok, carry on.

Kimagure Orange Road Forever
Chapter One
"Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning's End"

I, Kasuga Kyosuke, am the luckiest man on the face of the
planet. The summer of 1991 was opening before me, and already I
had had two experiences worthy of recording. The first, as I
have no doubt already relayed, is that which required me to
travel three years into the future after almost being killed in
a car accident. The episode let me a take a brief look into the
world that Madoka and I will share. Though, I am quite content
to build upon that which has come before to lead up to that
world I glimpsed, I constantly battle doubts. Hikaru-chan is
doing well. Both in the future and the present. She still
loves me, and I'm worried she will always. The paragon of
happiness deserves someone to whom she can devote herself to.
Memories of me will probably stand in her way...

What was the other experience I had? Ahem, well, that
is... Madoka and I... We, ah,... You know... Anyways, that's
when I began to call her Madoka and not Ayukawa. She found the
idea of me calling her Ayukawa in such a situation to be silly.
My future self was vague about the experience, as if to avoid
ruining it for me. He needn't have worried. He could have
described the entire experience in detail, and it would have
never compared to the real thing. And by no means will I
describe it now. Suffice to say... it was... the best. Just
like he told me it would be. Now, college is a new set of
challenges. New obstacles. And yet... High School had its own
charm. I wouldn't dream of giving those memories away, but
now... Now it's time to make more memories. Making more
memories with Madoka Ayukawa...

Now, I was back in this place. Funny how these stairs
have seen so much: so many memories overlaid. The day I came
to this town, Madoka Ayukawa was here. Her red straw hat blew
across the sky. Upon seeing it, I jumped into the air and
caught it. Often, I've time-slipped on these stairs, causing
interesting things to happen. I'll be the first to admit, I'm
not fully in control of the Kasuga family Power. The
supernatural powers my family has had for untold generations are
hard to deal with at times. These stairs seem to be a rallying
point for my powers and my life. It was on these stairs that I
broke Hikaru's heart. Her cry of "ANSWER ME!" echoed off the
concrete. It was on these stairs that our lives collided and
none of us would ever be the same again.

"Kasuga-kun!"

I turned and smiled. Madoka Ayukawa, her red dress tight
against her figure, her long dark hair moving softly in the
breeze, her blue eyes shimmering in the golden sunlight, moved
toward me. "Madoka," I answered, "Over here. I've been
waiting." Her heels clicked softly as she came down the stairs.
I moved to meet her halfway, but she waved me to stay. I
chuckled gently to myself.

Once down, she came into my arms with such ease that I
could hardly remember a time when embracing her was not reality.
"There are still," she said quietly, nuzzling into my shoulder,
"still 99 steps." She brought me closer, if possible, and we
let the world drift away. Or, we would have, had it not been
for the two others that, I dare say, have meant so much to me.

"Kasuga!" Komatsu Seiji and Hatta Kazuya walked around
the bend of the stairs and called to me. "Ah," Komatsu said,
"Getting so close here in public? My, my, Kasuga, you dog!"
They parked themselves three feet or so from Madoka and me.
Hatta, after nearly failing entrance exams, wound up going to a
local art school. He's started work on some manga he hopes will
bring him fame and fortune. Signed on as his manager, Komatsu
is hoping for the same things. They still haven't grown up, I
suppose.

I pulled out of the full embrace, and instead, I let one
arm wrap around Madoka as we turned to face the pair. Since
that night, I was not afraid to be seen holding Madoka. No
embarrassment would stop me from acknowledging her love or my
love for her. "The two of you never change, you know, always
making things sound more perverted than they are." They smiled
at me. "So you like being a couple of sick idiots?"

"Of course," Hatta said, "Say, have you seen your sisters
around anywhere?" My sisters, Manami and Kurumi, were always
being chased by the pair. They were self-proclaimed perverts.
Constantly surrounding themselves with girlie magazines and
stolen panties, Komatsu and Hatta were always hatching another
scheme to bring them closer to various girls. The girls usually
being my sisters.

"No," I commented while shaking my head, "Ok, I see you're
doing this on purpose. Ha Ha. Very funny." I turned to
Madoka, "Why don't we leave these two brutes to their usual
devices and go get a drink at the ABCB?" The ABCB was a pub and
cafe that we had all grown up in. Madoka had been working there
since not long after our meeting, and even I had helped out
occasionally. The pub was in a structure that resembled a one
story house. It had a wonderfully open window in front, stairs
leading to the front door, and a dark green tiled roof which was
punctuated by a large sign reading "ABCB" with the appropriate
Japanese Hiragana under the western letters. I moved my arm
down to grip her hand in mine. She nodded and gave my hand a
squeeze. I squeezed back and waved over my shoulder with my
free hand as we walked down the steps.

"Master is thinking of selling the cafe," Madoka said
suddenly as we walked along. I nodded. I knew that. When I
had traveled to the future, I had found myself face to face with
a pervert of an old man who had bought the store from someone
who had bought it from Master. "He says his wife wants him do
something that will make a little more money for the family. I
fear I may soon be out of a job."

I looked up at the sky as we walked along the street.
"Things change, Madoka. If things were to remain the same it
would just cause pain for all of us. You can't force the world
to obey a set of precepts, no matter how much you want it to."
It took us no more than ten minutes to reach the pub. I noted
the large open window showed Master was hard at work washing
dishes. I waved and headed up the stairs with Madoka at my
side.

The small golden bell above the door tinkled as we
proceeded from the steps and into the restaurant. Master waved
and pointed to the bar stools, indicating we should have a seat.
I didn't know Master's exact age, but he was probably in his
late thirties. He had reddish-brown curly hair that, while
short, connected to his full beard maybe an inch or so in length
from his large chin. Master wasn't obese, but he was definitely
a full man. His informal nature led me to instantly like him.
"Yo," he said, "Kasuga-kun, Madoka-kun, what can I get you?"

I browsed at the menu though I couldn't remember when I
last actually needed it. "Iced Coffee," I answered after a
moment. It tended to be my favorite of ABCB's specialties. I
looked over to Madoka who nodded at me. "Make that two,
Master." He turned on two miniature coffee machines. I was
never quite sure why he used machines that were as ancient as
those, but it seemed to have something to do with the flavor.
Inefficient as the process was, it made iced coffee to
perfection. New does not always mean better.

Master moved the brew to a refrigerator to cool it down.
As he turned back to us, he grabbed a hold of a large envelope.
Opening it, he dumped the contents onto the bar. There were
three letters. The first was addressed to everyone. The second
was for Madoka, and the last was for me. "I've already read
mine," Master said soon enough. "Hikaru left very specific
instructions. You can both read the one for everyone, but you
are not to read each other's. I assume you can handle that."

Madoka and I blinked in unison. Of course we could handle
it, but I was worried about what Hikaru might be planning. Her
love for me was extremely deep, and she did not give up easily.
True, it had been two years or so since I had actually last
communicated with her. As much as I disliked pessimism, I
wouldn't put it past her to step back and regroup before
attacking once more. And, if she really was planning something,
how could I discuss it with Madoka if we were not allowed to
discuss what our individual letters read? I pulled at the
envelope for the one for everyone and pulled out the folded
paper. I read it out loud slowly.


"Dear Everyone,

"I want you to all know I'm doing well in New York.
I've been accepted to the New York Actor's Studio with a
musical primary. My teachers are extremely nice and
encourage me. I'm trying out for a part in a production
of Cats! I'm not sure I'll be able to make it because my
experience is so limited. Even so, a small part would
make me happy. I'll have Master tell you anything else.
^_^

"Love, Hikaru-Chan"
I set the paper down on the counter. "It's nice to see
that Hikaru is doing well," I said, despite the lack of
enthusiasm in my voice. Though it was nice to hear that she was
doing well, I feared she wasn't being honest. Although usually
honest to a fault, I can't imagine Hikaru being perfectly fine
so long after... I suppose it was good that she moved to New
York. A city so far away from this place would help her form
new relationships without the constant daily reminders of that
which she lost. Then again, maybe I was simply reading too much
into it. The idea of Hikaru not caring for me was something
neither my ego, nor my love for Madoka would have liked to
consider.

I pocketed my own letter as Madoka did the same and sipped
at my coffee. "Hikaru will become a star, I'm sure. Then
she'll forget us all," Madoka joked lightly as she reached for
the glass of iced coffee Master had just placed in front of her.
Her smile was echoed for only the briefest of moments in her
eyes, but soon they turned dark and even her smile seemed to
fade. Her chin fell into her hand as she sipped at her coffee.
I reached over and she obligingly fell into me, resting her head
on my shoulder. "Kyosuke..." she breathed as she looked deep
into my eyes. She could have said she was worried about Hikaru.
That, maybe, this wouldn't all blow over. Maybe this never
should have happened. Maybe we were wrong. She didn't need to
because as I gazed into her eyes, I could read it all there,
staring back at me.

I kissed her gently and stood. Master pretended to not
have noticed a thing and was hard at work cleaning glasses I
already knew had been washed. I pulled a couple of notes out of
my wallet and turned to toss them onto the counter. Master
shook his head, and I smiled nervously as the notes were
returned to their leather holder. Master gave me a smile of his
own and took our empty glasses to wash them. He leaned forward.
"Kasuga-kun," he said in a low voice, "It's about time, if I may
be so blunt." I blushed slightly and stammered out something
incoherent, even to myself. "I recall two nervous fifteen
year-olds working here during a break from school. Despite
their obvious attraction to each other, they seemed to be having
problems expressing it. Then, with Hikaru in the mix, I was
quite worried you two would end up falling apart." His eyes
stung in a memory having little to do with Madoka or me. I
recalled him once telling me to chase her down, because he had
once made the mistake of not going after the one he once loved.
Master's help was a sort of vigil, to combat the forces to which
he once lost.

"You see yourself in me," I wondered out loud. He nodded
at me, memory becoming less strong with each passing moment, but
his eyes told it all. However the situation was related to
Madoka and me, I was sure Master could do without the daily
reminder, and yet... He seemed to thrive on the ability to
correct his mistake vicariously through the two of us. I didn't
mind. In fact, I was glad that Master was always there to help
us out. Despite the number of times I still ended up making an
idiot of myself, I'm sure the number would have been higher had
it not been for Master's help.

"Exactly." He turned to dry the glasses off with a nearby
towel. "Don't get me wrong, Kasuga-kun," he commented suddenly,
"I love my wife, and had that incident been changed, I might
have likely not met her. However, one should take care to limit
the amount of what-ifs that the heart can remind a person of."
He walked over to the shelves and placed the glasses back with
the others that were awaiting costumers. He turned back to me
as Madoka stood. "You two make sure it all comes together, or
you'll soon be paying your own bills, ok?"

I just nodded and put my light windbreaker around Madoka's
shoulders. True, it was summer, but it was only the beginning
of the season and the breeze could still get chilly at night.
Taking Madoka's arm in mine we headed out of the cafe and into
the nice evening outside. Turning back the way we came, we
headed towards the direction of the park, my apartment building,
and Madoka's neighborhood. Silently, I could feel we were both
heading back to her house. My arm moved up and her head fell to
my shoulder as we continued down the block and up those stairs.
Her eyes closed and, with my guidance, we continued on. We took
a slow turn towards her house. Madoka shifted position and we
walked slowly up her steps.

"Kyosuke..." she said quietly as she looked up into my
eyes. "Would you like to come in for some tea or something...?"

I shook my head. "Tea... No, I just had the coffee at
ABCB. But... I could still come in."

Madoka smiled. "That's fine... I haven't got any." She
stood turned and opened the door with her key. Quickly, before
I could react, she got up on her tiptoes and kissed me lightly
before rushing through the door. I blinked before running after
her. She was already to the stairs when I closed the door
behind me.

"Hey," I called after her, "No fair! I didn't have any
time to react." I stumbled through the walkway after her and
gazed up to the top of the stairs.

She stuck her tongue out at me playfully. "Catch me, if
you can!" she replied and was gone upstairs. I tossed my shoes
at the entrance and ran after her, pulling at my belt as I did
so. When I hit the top step, she was closing her bedroom door.
I dived at it, and did a half-step-jump thing onto the bed after
her. I toppled onto her and kissed her passionately. "Nice
catch," she said winking after I had pulled back. "But I wasn't
really trying."

I laughed. "No, you were easier to catch than that red
straw hat of yours. Which, by the way," I mentioned suddenly
after, "I still have that hanging on my wall at the apartment,
you know?"

Madoka looked at me with feral eyes. "Less talk, more...
this," she hissed, flipping me over and kissing me. I found the
straps on her dark red dress and pulled them down slowly,
teasing her. One thing I found about finally losing my
virginity, women lie more often than not about sex. Any woman
that says she wants it less than a man is lying. They might be
able to trick us mere males of the species for the years prior
to actual intercourse, but not long after that. Since that
night many of my preconceived notions were replaced by the
knowledge of someone who was truly considered an adult. I think
this is why my future self was so ready to have relations with
the future Hikaru. Still, I know there's no way he could have
possibly kept it from Mado-- The pillow smacked the side of my
head. I blinked. "Idiot..." Madoka said softly, "Wherever you
were, it wasn't here." She smiled. "More concentration
please."

"Fine, I was just thinking of... No matter, well, let's
see," I reached around her back to find the dress's zipper.
When I had the handle firmly in my grip, I pulled it down
slowly. I went bit by bit and looked into Madoka's eyes to see
if I could detect a trace of annoyance. I was soon rewarded
with a feigned look of boredom.

She rolled her eyes at me. "Gonna take all night, Little
Boy? Jeez, you're lucky I'm in a silly mood this evening." She
tore at my clothing and I soon found myself less clothed than
she. "Forget this, I think I'll just take over." So she did
too... I wasn't aware that Madoka could be such a predator.
Still... Ah... "Kyosuke..." I found myself caught in that
which once again I could not, and would not explain. Her body
moved on. The moment...

"BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP"

My eyes flew open and Madoka rolled over onto me, burbling
something unintelligible. I looked over to the source of the
disturbance. I grabbed at my pants and my watch fell out onto
the bed. The watch blinked a digital 9:00 AM. I rubbed my eyes
as I pondered this information... "SHIT!" I cried,
unfortunately waking up Madoka. "I'm late for my Advanced
English Literature class! Ishida is going to kill me!" I
scrambled to collect my clothing. No sense in even trying to
change at this point. I was never going to make it to the
college before 9:30; I wasn't going to bother stopping at home.
I threw on my crumpled jeans and wrinkled t-shirt as Madoka sat
up, wrapping the sheet around her as she did so.

"Is this really necessary?" she asked, yawning. "I mean,
you're already going to be a half an hour late. Can't you just
skip it?" She stepped out of bed and headed towards the
bathroom. "Seriously," she said, looking back at me over her
shoulder, "Aren't I worth the time for breakfast, at least?"

I nearly tripped as I pulled on my sneakers. "Madoka..."
I said without patience. "You know as well as I do that if I
miss one more class for Ishida, he might drop me. Think about
that..." I let a sly grin form on my visage. "I know you're a
delinquent..." That last comment earned me a sheet to the face.
"Ok, seriously, see you around..."

Madoka stuck her head out of the bathroom door. "You can
borrow the car. I don't have to be anywhere at all today, and
you seem to need it a bit more than I. I guess my bad habits
are rubbing of on you." She blew me a kiss. "See you around
noon then, Little Boy." I waved over my shoulder and grabbed my
other shoe. Hopping as I put it on, I nearly tumbled down
Madoka's stairs. Once at the bottom, I grabbed her car keys and
headed out the door. I bounced down the outside stairs and ran
around to the garage. I turned the key when I got to the
driver's side door and slide into the old worn in seats. I
turned on the ignition and the ugly thing purred. I stepped on
the break and shifted to drive.

I rambled out of the garage and took a left towards the
college complex. Not wanting to waste any time, I sped up to
the speed limit of fifty five kilometers per hour. Madoka's car
was an old something or other of European design. Maybe a
Volkswagen. It certainly wasn't Japanese. I did like the paint
job though. The car was red with two white race stripes running
from the trunk to the hood and into the grill on the front. It
looked like some kind of runaway cast member from Herbie Does
Tokyo. I gazed out of the windshield barely aware of what was
outside. When I reached the parking lot outside of the lecture
hall, I jerked to a stop. Quickly I put Herbie's cousin in
park, turned the key, and jumped out. I threw the keys in my
pocket and ran through the double doors of the hall, taking a
right towards Ishida's Advanced English Literature.

I flew through the doors and tried to slip into a back
seat. I hoped to whatever deities might exist that Professor
Shun Ishida failed to notice my presence. The gods, however,
chose not to listen to me. Whatever he was saying abruptly
dropped off as his eyes zeroed in on me at the back of the room.
"Kasuga Kyosuke..." he enunciated slowly, "This is the third
time you've seen fit to make me look like a fool not worthy of
your proper attendance. Is there something we need to discuss
with Dean Yikukoto?" His eyes narrowed, daring me to defy him.

I gulped audibly and tried to meet his gaze. "Uh..." I
stammered, "Uhm, no, sir. I'll make sure to be on time from now
on, uh, sir." I felt the air seep out of me like a deflated
balloon. Maybe I should have stayed home with Ayukawa... I
blinked. Jeez, I was so nervous, Madoka had switched back to
Ayukawa... I *was* scared of this guy. I felt my cheeks heat
up as the rest of the lecture hall broke out into laughter.

Ishida's glasses flashed. "Glad we have an
understanding." He turned back to his board and grabbed a pile
of notes. "Now, back to the subject of Austen's use of
vocabulary. You'll note in chapter three of Sense and
Sensibility that she uses..." I sighed deeply as Ishida's focus
returned to that of his subject. I had absolutely no interest
in British literature. However, I wanted to become a
journalist, and as such, I was hoping to increase my knowledge
of English as much as possible. I tried my best to practice
with Madoka, but she was far better at it than I. In fact, in
the last few years I noticed her accent had become softer from
when I had first heard her speak English on a trip to Hawaii.
Her parents were having a concert and they had invited Madoka
and any friends she wanted to bring along. Madoka, Hikaru, and
I ended up going together. I've always thought of that trip as
a turning point. I can not deny its influence on both of our
decisions to face our love for each other.

I choked as I thought Ishida was once again staring at me,
but I relaxed as I noted that it was not me he was looking at.
It was another unfortunate student doing the horrible act of
chatting with a neighbor. The student practically died upon
being noticed, and I was glad I wasn't the only one that Ishida
held grudges against. Ishida seemed to let it slide and say
nothing to her outside of the glare. I could feel the relief
oozing out of the girl. She glanced at me with eyes that must
have read, "This is going to be a *very* long class."

So it was. I found myself drifting off every ten minutes
despite all attempts to actually get into the source material.
At least it was easier than high school. Unlike what I had
heard of American schools, for the Japanese youth college is a
break after the constant examinations of high school. This made
it much easier to think straight, as well as get my bearings in
both my professional and personal lives. Having something close
to school without having to worry as much did wonders for my
self-esteem. I thanked the deities when the bell finally rang,
and removed myself quickly from the deathtrap of a classroom.

I sighed loudly once I was outside of the lecture hall and
headed out to the parking lot where the Herbiemobile was
awaiting. I cursed automatically upon noting the traffic ticket
on the windshield. It seemed as though I had not parked six
inches from the curbs. Hell, I didn't even *know* you could get
ticketed for that on a campus parking lot. Learn something new
every day, I suppose. I opened the car door as other students,
glad to be out of there as well, pushed past me to get to their
own vehicles. Some jerk even cut me off as I was pulling out.
The fear that Ishida inspires could even lead to reckless
driving... Maybe the man should have been locked up long ago.
I shifted into reverse and backed out of the parking lot. Now
it was time for some breakfast, or brunch, with Madoka.

The little car rambled down the small Tokyo streets as I
headed home to Madoka. I looked at myself in the mirror.
Though it had only been a month since the incident involving
time-travel, I could swear my tan was getting darker and my
figure was bulking up. Just like that of Kyosuke from three
years yet to come. I smiled as a took a left down Madoka's
street and wondered if it was just me trying to flatter myself.
He had just seemed so much older and more... Well, that wasn't
even it, after three years, I'd expect him-- uh me? --to be
older, but it was more than that. His experience was echoed in
his looks, as if his mere maturity had caused the change from
what I was now to what I would be then. He seemed so sure of
himself and so sure of the world around him... So sure that he
and Madoka were to always be. I didn't like to admit it, but I
often worried. So, our relationship was guaranteed for another
three years at the very least, but what about after that? I
gave myself another once over when I pulled into Madoka's
garage. "Good Luck!" I told my reflection... And for a moment,
I could have sworn I heard it reply "Thank you, Kyosuke. You
too."

I slipped out of the car and shut the door behind me as I
stepped out onto the concrete floor of the garage and made my
way around to the front door. I hadn't completely wrapped my
fingers around the door, when it swung open, almost smashing me
in the face. "Boo," whispered Madoka as she peered out at me.
Her sun dress already on. "I made some ham, eggs, and hash
browns... And plenty of coffee," she explained as we headed
from the door to the kitchen. The food was already out, with
carafes of juice and milk next to the steaming pot of rich dark
brew. "I tried something new, and attempted to cook the ham in
a honey sauce. I found the recipe for it in some of my sister's
stuff. So, I thought, 'What the hell?'" She poured us both some
coffee as we sat down to eat.

"It looks positively scrumptious," I said, and I meant it.
It looked like the recipe required a sprinkling of brown sugar,
as I could see grains glinting in the light as I cut into the
pink meat. Adding it to a small pile of hash browns, I stuffed
the combination into my mouth and savored the taste. Who would
have thought it? From tomboy to delinquent to the perfect
wif... I almost choked at the thought, but managed to contain
my food with a quick swig of coffee. Following that by cutting
more meat and eating it, I hoped Madoka had missed my near
choking-to-death. I added some hash browns to the mix and
placed them in my mouth, chewing diligently.

"Kyosuke?" Madoka asked suddenly.

"Mmm?" I responded through a mouth of partially chewed ham
and hash browns.

Her eyes looked deep into her soul as she explained, "It
was you, wasn't it... Nine years ago, I mean... In the park."

I blinked. What park? I certainly wasn't in the area
nine years before. "Madoka, what are you talking about?" I
took another bite of hash browns as I waited for her to explain.

She distanced her eyes as if viewing something far, far
away. "Nine years ago, as you know, I met a man who saved my
life. I've been wondering since the day I found out you had
supernatural powers if you were somehow him. He had powers
too... I know it's silly... But I remember his face so
clearly... Funny how I never noticed he looked so much like you
until that day..."

"Ma-ma-adoka," I coughed. I now remembered what she was
talking about. Three years ago, I heard a story of a man who
was Madoka's first love. He promised her he'd return in six
years to where they first met, under a tree in the park near
those stairs I'm so taken with. My grandfather, who is
telepathic, sensed my displeasure upon finding out there had
been someone before me and sent me back in time to find out what
the situation was there. And indeed, I met the nine year old
Madoka Ayukawa... Who I ended up saving... Who ended up
falling in love with me. Originally, Madoka had known it was
me, since my grandfather had sent her back in time to retrieve
me. But when Kazuya, my cousin, came to get both of us, I had
him send us back to the morning before we traveled back in time.
I remembered everything because of the Power... Madoka,
however, never remembered anything. Yet now, she had put two
and two together, and found out the solution equaled four.

"Yes," I breathed.

"Hmm, Kyosuke? Yes, what?" she inquired.

I swallowed. "Yes... In the park... That was me...
Grandfather had sent me back and I..."

In the gravity of the situation, I wasn't able to use the
power to prevent Madoka's mug from shattering. Not that I
suppose it mattered. Who cared about a mug at a time like
this? We stared in silence at the broken mug for what seemed
like the next best thing to eternity. Finally, she spoke. "So,
when you said he still loved me... It was because you love
me... And that woman who looked like my sister, but wasn't...
I went back with you? Why can't I remember?"

I bit my lip. Madoka had figured out more than I would
have ever thought... Maybe, just maybe the power was rubbing
off on her... That would explain how she put together the
situation so quickly. Then again, Madoka was smart. Smarter
than me by a large degree. I would never put it past her to
figure out anything on her own. Regardless, she knew now, no
sense in keeping it a secret. "The power, Madoka, is what
allows me to remember. Since you don't have the power, and we
came back before we, ah, well 'left,' there was no need for your
present self to remember what had happened."

Worry crossed Madoka's visage as she fought some inner
battle I couldn't begin to understand. "Kyosuke... You
didn't... You didn't do this on purpose, did you? Knowing that
I'd fall in love with you and... Because if you did, then you
know all of this is... just..." Tears began to form in her eyes
as she gazed pleadingly at me.

"MADOKA!" I screamed, my voice cracking even though I was
several months nineteen. "How could you even think something
like that? I'd never do anything to hurt you, least of all go
on some damn fool trip to the past to make you love me. Call it
a fluke, call it destiny, call it whatever you like, but I never
created your love. Besides, that version of me in the past
existed long before I ever knew that it was me. I suppose I
could restore your memories, but I'm not sure I have the power
to do so, I think we should consult Grandfather on that fact.
And I know, if I can't do it, he can, or it shouldn't be done at
all."

"I believe you, Kyosuke," she said, her eyes' expression
fading to happiness and relief, "I just needed assurance. I'm
not as sure as I pretend to be, you know that. I just didn't
want our love to be... staged. I had to know it was you, even
though I guess my heart knew all along. I guess that red straw
hat is really a red string of destiny..." I chuckled at that.
It turned out that the hat I had caught on the stairs four years
ago had been bought for Madoka by none other than myself after
traveling back in time. It was something I had instilled on the
tomboyish nine year old. If it hadn't been for my description
of the current Madoka, however aside, not mentioning exactly who
it was I was describing, she never would have grown her hair out
or began wearing skirts... Or stopped being a tomboy. Whether
I intended to or not, she was partially right, I did help create
my ideal woman. But the love... No, the love was inside the
tomboy before the skirts, before the hair, before the trading of
the soccer ball for the doll... The love caused these changes,
not the other way around. I was not responsible for making her
love me, that I could honestly insist.

"Madoka..."

Her smile appeared, and my heart nearly jumped through my
throat as it did. "Kyosuke... I love you so much..." The
chair scrapes as she moved it closer to me and embraced me
fiercely. I could have stayed in this moment forever, feeling
her warmth on my chest, listening to her breathing. If there's
anything better than having sex with Madoka Ayukawa, it's just
being with her forever and always. Nothing else mattered in
that moment. Just her and me and the sound of her breathing
gently into my chest. The concept of love made tangible at
last. I'm not sure how long we sat there, I know neither of us
really cared. We would have stayed that way had it not been for
the phone call that rang. "Leave it," she said quietly, but my
instincts, the Power possibly, told me that this was a call not
to be missed.

I gently rebalanced Madoka so she could sit on her own
without falling off the chair. Getting up, I walked over to the
phone and lifted the portable receiver of its base and pressed
the talk button. "Ayukawa Residence, may I help you?"

"Ah, Kyosuke," came the craggy voice of my grandfather, "I
thought I could sense your thoughts well enough to determine you
were at Madoka's. Good, good. Kyosuke, we are having a family
meeting at your father's apartment. There are things that we
need to discuss now that you and Madoka are having sexua--"

"Grandfather!" I yelled, scandalized. The old man had
absolutely no sense of decency. "Yes, ok, well, it's actually a
good thing you called anyway. She knows about the time
traveling incident involving us ten years ago. I needed to know
if you could restore her memories."

I heard the eyebrow raise. "She knows, but she doesn't
remember?"

"Apparently she just put two and two together. I mean,
it's not exactly hard, considering I looked almost exactly as I
did when I traveled back in time, and..." I rubbed my right
temple with my free fingers. "This is hurting my head.
Besides, I saved her life by using the Power. How hard is it
really to take the fact I looked like the guy who saved her and
then that we both have supernatural powers and come up with the
conclusion the two of us are one in the same? The odds of us
being different are... Well, regardless, she figured it out."

"I see, Kyosuke. Well, we can deal with that over dinner,
since we have so much to discuss. And make sure Madoka wears
something tight fitting... Leather perhaps?"

"Grandfather!" I yelled again. "Have some decency,
please. Besides, we're eating dinner, not going clubbing."
Which was a good thing, I suppose. I was never really one for
clubs, though I would go there if Madoka wanted to go. She
always liked the discos, but then she was a big fan of the
Japanese rock scene. There were a few artists like Wada Kanako,
BlueW, and the Alfee that I liked, but those generally were not
the kind of people Madoka listened to. Considering my
grandfather's request, I decided that one of Madoka's sun
dresses with a floral print would be a wise choice. I didn't
land Madoka just to have her fondled by my pervert of a
grandfather. "We'll be there around seven o'clock. See you
then." I placed the phone back on its base and walked over to
the table where Madoka was collecting our plates.

"I heard you mention the memories," she said quietly.

"Yes." I nodded.

"What does he think?" She placed the dishes in the sink.
"Does he think the memories can be restored?" Scrubbing absently
she turned to look at me.

"He doesn't really know. But there are other things about
the Power I guess he wants to discuss. I guess we'll find out
later." I looked at the clock. It was already past noon. I
had a some photographing to do later that day, for a
photojournalism class I had just started. "What do you think of
going on a shoot with me?"

She blinked at me before her face changed. "Are you
trying to change the subject?" she asked me.

"Only partially," I admitted. "I have this project where I
need to take pictures of those things that make me who I am. I
can't turn in a project with that subject if it doesn't include
you. You're more important than anything else, and so I need
you just as much as I'm trying to change the subject." I was
thinking that taking along Madoka might do well both for her and
for my grade. Though I'm sure that sounds just a bit insincere,
especially in such a time as this was, I was actually just
trying to multitask. It couldn't leave her to mope around the
house, and how could I describe my life in pictures without a
few dozen or so of her? Madoka means everything to me, and I
needed to show that. She is my life, all else is secondary. It
was less getting a good grade because she was with me, than
meeting the minimum requirements for the project.

A glisten swept across Madoka's eyes before she replied,
"You either tell the truth, or have gotten much better at
flattery since we first met." I went to complain, albeit,
half-heartedly, but she cut me off. "I know which one it is. I
just like to tease you."

"After last night," I responded, "do you really think it's
wise to do so again?" I was very nearly caught up in the scent
of her, and the warmth of our bodies, and the... I shook myself
out of this. I needed to get those shots.

"No," Madoka agreed, reluctantly, "I guess it wouldn't be
such a good idea. It would be fun though."

"Can't argue with that." I looked around for my equipment
hanging by the door. I walked towards them and grabbed my keys
as well as my camera and accessories. "Should we take my
scooter or your Herbiemobile?" I asked while looking at the
amount of equipment. I could have easily put it in the
compartment in my scooter, but then, it was summer, and the
little red car had air conditioning...

"My car," she said, "it has air conditioning. And just
what do you mean by Herbiemobile?" She looked at me
inquisitively.

"You've never seen the Love Bug?" I asked. I was
surprised. Even in Japan, Disney films were considered
classics.

"The what?"

"I'll explain later," I told her as we headed out of the
door of the house and down the steps towards the street. I
gazed up at her house as we walked in front of it. It was a
large two-story house by Japanese standards. The direction of
the house didn't actually face the street, but instead faced to
the right. The stairs and garden were built to face the street,
as well the basement and garage, but they seemed at odds with
the rest of the white house. The house's roofs were tiled in a
brown and ornamental shutters graced each window. Running
around the second floor on the outside was a wonderful white
brick balcony with steel supports, some of which gracefully
appeared to add even more oddness to the house. Yet more was in
the way the garage was built. As I said, it was connected to
the basement, and yet it had no door. It was open, more like a
car port wedged underneath the house. It actually did nothing
to keep away the elements if there was a wind blowing. It
looked nice, but I suppose that's all it really did. My
favorite feature of the house, besides the trees that sat at
each side of the house, was the small anteroom feel of the space
covered in front of the door. Unlike a majority of houses,
where you might get cold or hot or wet while attempting to open
the door, the small five by five "anteroom" kept this from
happening. I took another gaze at it before slipping into the
small red Volkswagen.

I suppose we could have even walked if we had so wished.
The park where I wanted to shoot really wasn't all that far from
Madoka's house, and my own apartment was very nearby. However,
it was a hot day, and I had my equipment, and despite my
nickname for it, I liked Madoka's little red car. It was a
short drive, not much more than ten minutes or so, and we pulled
up along the curb. The park was wedged between our stairs and a
residential section and so it had no true parking lot. I
worried only slightly that we might get a ticket. We never had
before. Of course, then again, every time before I had locked
my scooter within park bounds, and the car never came along. We
could easily see the car from where I wanted to shoot, so if a
police officer asked for its removal, we could oblige him.

I thought it cute to have Madoka be on the swings since so
much had happened there. I gazed around and marveled. The most
important events of my life, with the exception of my birth and
my mother's untimely death, had happened within the range of a
few square miles. The swings for instance are where I convinced
Madoka not to return to America. Where we sat and talked about
innumerable things. The playground it was in was the place
where the time travel incident occurred that was causing us both
such stress. I shook my head. No time for that. I brought out
my Nikon 3100 and aimed it, at an angle, to capture a moment in
time: Madoka swinging slowly, a broad smile on her face, the sun
hat on her head, and the sun dress wafting in the breeze.

I took several more shots of her on the swing before
moving on. Though it was tough to be so steady, I got a lovely
shot of her sprawled out on the merry-go-round from up in a
tree. I was quite a bit away, but you couldn't tell because of
my Nikon's long range lens. It had cost me an arm and a leg,
but it was well worth it. I had already gotten a dozen shots of
small children at play as well as few of urban wildlife like
birds and squirrels without having to disturb them. This,
however, was one of the best shots. We moved onto the stairs.
As I snapped, memories came flooding back, as is what always
happens when I'm on these stairs. These stairs lead to destiny.
We finally worked our way up to the top of the stairs. Not
being too far from my apartment, I suggested we stop there for a
rest from the hot Pacific sun.

We trundled through the sliding glass doors of the Green
Castle Apartments. When my sisters and father moved into a
house from this very same apartment building, I opted to remain
in an efficiency apartment on a lower floor. My family still
lived in Tokyo, though a few miles away from here in a house
that Madoka had helped them find. The reason I stayed was in
part because of the proximity of the apartment to the college
and in part because of its proximity to Madoka. Ok, so maybe
more of the latter than the former. The apartment building was
very much built in the style of Madoka's house, and I wondered,
more than once, if they had had the same designer. The multiple
floors were stacked almost haphazardly, and the large balconies
had the same steel frame sometimes showing. The white was the
same color, albeit maybe a slight bit more miffed from overuse.
My room itself was fairly bare. It contained no carpeting, just
a small bed with a metal frame, a desk in the opposite corner,
and a bookshelf containing my telephone and a picture of myself
and Madoka overlooking Yokohama Bay.

Under the left hand side of the desk, I had a small
refrigerator. Inside I had a couple of cutlet sandwiches and a
few beers. The sandwiches were a holdover from my high school
days, and the beers were a recent development. I blame Madoka
for that. Sometimes her drinking scares me. I admit, she
drinks less than she once did, still I find she goes overboard
at times. Besides, she's a mean drunk... However, I wasn't
really thinking of that at the time, and I tossed her one of the
beers and a sandwich. At first we munched in mutual silence,
then, suddenly, Madoka whipped out my camera and snapped a shot
of me stuffing my face. Overcome, I dived on her and wrestled
her into submission, retrieving my camera and returning it to
its satchel.

"I thought we weren't going to do that so soon," Madoka
teased.

"I didn't follow through, besides, how else would I have
gotten my camera back?"

"You could have asked nicely."

"Uh huh," I said, staring her in the eyes, "I don't
believe that for a second and neither do you."

"I suppose," she said, biting off a piece of cutlet
sandwich. Maybe it was just me, or maybe it was just the
arousal cut short, but I could almost swear she was biting into
the sandwich seductively. Yes, I know it sounds silly, but
still... "Is there a reason you're staring at me so intently?"
she asked, as if reading my thoughts.

I raised an eyebrow. "Is there any reason I can't?"

"Hmm," she responded, feigning deep thought, "that's an
excellent question. I'm afraid I don't know the answer to
that." She set her beer down, slid off of the bed, and walked
over to me. She gently began to massage my shoulders. "Even
though you never appear to be, you get so tense when taking
pictures. You get into all these weird positions to find just
the right shots and eventually end up with a back like this one
--full of knots." Instead of answerinng, I merely sighed
appreciatively, relaxing into the able hands.

Often, it seemed my peers couldn't see the point of a
serious relationship. They argued that we all had plenty of
time to find that person who means everything to us. However, I
respond, what if that certain person is already in your life?
Should the two of you really wait? I didn't believe that. No
way with Madoka here could I have believed it. Of course, I
often wondered just how much of the power affected my destiny.
One thing I had often considered, how many incidents can
actually be attributed to the power's influence. This is not to
say that the power is in and of itself a sentient being, but it
isn't beyond reason that it "helps" along those who wield it. I
would indeed say that at the time I met Madoka, I was quite
lonely. My sisters love me, but sometimes they show it in weird
ways, and often my father works late. This was fine --when I
had friends. However, because of one of Kurumi's power misuses,
we moved to Tokyo, and I found myself exploring the area. This
included the stairs that I met Madoka on. I've often asked
myself whether the power "sensed" my loneliness and diverted
Madoka to me, or me to her, or in some way altered the situation
unnaturally.

My own concerns about the legitimacy of our relationship
went unvoiced as far as Madoka knew. She obviously had far too
much to worry about already, and I didn't want to add to it.
Instead I, maybe incorrectly, kept those thoughts to myself. I
knew eventually we'd have to discuss it, but I wasn't ready to
bring it up now. To be honest, there were many things that
Madoka and I would have to discuss that I really didn't want to.
I had actually been thinking quite a bit about marriage. I knew
from my foray to the future that it was too early to propose
now, and besides, I really didn't have any kind of steady
income. I was on a work-study program with the university to
help pay for my college education, but that allowed me a daily
allowance of something like twenty-five hundred yen. That
barely covered rent and food. Anything extra my father was
gracious enough to provide. He always said it was his duty to
help me until I could help myself. No way could I place a
burden on him by asking Madoka to marry me.

Of course, I was still assuming that I would be the
responsible party when it came to finances. That lead to
another dark subject I really didn't even want to think about.
It would be moronic of me to think that I could avoid the
subject of our differing economic class, but every day, I
ignored the obvious. I never paid any attention to Madoka's
wealth because, in the end, it didn't matter. It still doesn't,
not really. However, there were things to be hammered out in
traditional Japanese fashion. The tradition could even go so
far as me having to take her name. I laughed a bit at that:
Ayukawa Kyosuke. In Japanese society it is not always the
male's name that is taken. The bond between the families
usually reflect the family of the higher status. Though the
idea of this status procedure may already seem silly, it gets
worse for us. Despite Madoka's wealth, there was also the
matter of her heritage.

Madoka's father is of Anglo-Saxon descent. He's an
American, to be even more specific. Her parents live in America
where they are famous violinists in the New York Philharmonic.
Even in this day and age, non-Japanese are considered outsiders
at the very best, and inferior at the very worst. Madoka,
though clearly Japanese in culture and personality, still had
Anglo-American blood flowing through her, "devaluing" her in the
patriarchal Japanese societal mindset. True, it was all
entirely absurd. If push came to shove with either of the
families, I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to whisk Madoka off
and have a private personal ceremony. Where'd we go from there,
I'm not sure, but we'd figure out something. Clan rivalries had
no place in a world on the verge of the twenty-first century. I
wouldn't allow them to interfere.

"Kyosuke," I heard very far away. "Kyosuke." Closer now.
My eyes creaked open slowly. "Ah, good you're awake." Madoka
looked at me, amusement apparent on her face. "You were
enjoying that massage so much that you fell asleep quite some
time ago. It's nearing the time we're supposed to go over to
your family's house to discuss... things..." Her visage turned
darker as she searched around for the car keys. A moment later
her features stretched out in shock. "The car! We left the car
at the park!" Within seconds, we had both bolted out of my
apartment, slid down the fire-escape, and were running towards
the park with all due speed. Luckily, the close proximity that
had lead us to walk to my apartment in the first place, was on
our side as we raced. We were quite relieved to find that not
even a ticket graced the small red car.

The Herbiemobile slowly putted to life and rambled off
into the main part of the road. Eventually, it stopped putting
and rambling altogether. Amazingly, at faster speeds, the car
seemed to glide across the open road. Maybe it was in response
to its race car heritage. I made a note to myself to inquire
about the origin of the car at a later date. Instead, I focused
on the looming meeting. The house my family was now living in
was quite a bit away from my apartment. Though further from the
school than my apartment (and the apartment we used to have),
the administration still allowed my sisters to go there. They
agreed that it would be rather stupid to remove the girls from a
stable environment. I admit it wouldn't matter much longer, as
my sisters would very soon graduate from high school. Madoka
and I discussed this with offhandedly as we pulled up to my
family's new house. In the driveway next to the small blue
Honda my father owned was another car I didn't recognize. It
was a small red sports car with a huge spoiler on the back. I
couldn't think of anyone we knew who could afford such a thing.

As Madoka and I exited her vehicle, my grandfather came
down the walkway to greet us. "Kyosuke, Madoka," he said by way
of salutation. He peered up and down Madoka with enough of a
leer to make me genuinely nervous. "Looking quite sexy there,
Madoka." He then pointed over his shoulder to the red sports
car behind him. "Like the car? I just got it. It has alloy
wheels, a crimson-metal paint job, spoiler, custom lights,
leather bucket seats, custom exhaust pipes..." He went on down
the list for several minutes until he noticed my attention was
waning.

"Grandfather!" I heard myself shout. "You can't be
serious... Do you even know how to drive? Do you have a
license?" Nothing about the old man suggested that either of
these would be true. In fact, quite the opposite. "When did
you learn to drive?"

"Kyosuke, Kyosuke, Kyosuke," he scolded lightly as he
shook his head, "You take things much too seriously. I just
went to the Department of Motor Vehicles and they gave me one."
He smiled at me and whipped out a driver's license with a goofy
picture of himself on it. "See, there, I told you."

I looked at him with suspicion. "What do you mean they
just gave one to you? You mean you made them give it to you,
right, Grandfather?" My grandparents were distinctly indiscrete
about their powers. They lived up in the mountains where the
only people they met on a daily basis were weary travelers and
uneducated mountain folk. These people, even if they bothered
complaining about the strange happenings at the Kasuga Lodge
would never have been believed. Superstitious as the mountain
folk were anyway, my grandparents probably seemed somewhat
normal or expected. Hence, my grandparents had lived their
lives without worrying about losing their home, or their
friends, or becoming the target of a government conspiracy to
turn them into some kind of super weapon. Now, I admit, this
might seem a bit paranoid, but trust me, having special powers
isn't without its downside.

Sometimes I think I get worried too often, but I as I
said, paranoia is the first line of defense. I always feared
that we would have to move back to the country with my
grandparents to avoid their spectacles. In the country, their
parlor tricks were amusing. In the city, however, they could be
threatening to our chosen way of life. My grandparents (mostly
my grandfather) were used to using their powers whenever they
felt like it, so I guess I couldn't totally blame them. When
one gets old, it's said that it is harder to change. I've
experienced some of that myself. However, I'm sure not to the
degree that faced my grandparents or even my parents. I can't
imagine how hard my mother's death hit my father. If Madoka
ever...

"Kyosuke," my father said, sticking his head out the door.
"It's much too bad I have seen so little of you lately.
However, if you would come in, we got some Mr. Fried Chicken
baskets. I know how much you like it. If you would please come
in, we'll get started with the family meeting. Right,
Grandfather?"

"Oh, what, oh? Right. Right, you are," my grandfather
affirmed as we walked through the door of my family's new house.
My grandfather expertly navigated around the furnishings in the
house that was still very unfamiliar to me. Not surprisingly,
when we all reached the dining room, my sisters were already
scarfing down fried chicken, mash potatoes, cole slaw, and hot
buttermilk biscuits. My mouth watered at the very sight. It
didn't take long for one to see that fried chicken was my
favorite food. Well, to be honest, it was everything I just
described. I loved everything that came with the meal.
Especially the biscuits. Left alone with a box of biscuits and
a bottle of honey, I'd eat the entire thing before I knew what
was happening. Not pleased with what I saw, I quickly forgot
both my table manners and the fact that this was a serious
occasion and began to fill up my plate.

Madoka gave me a mock-glare as she took a seat next to me,
and slowly, carefully-- faux-gracefully filled up her own plate.
I knew it was just to tease me. Sadly the only things I could
think of for revenge would have been completely.. ah...
inappropriate. Instead, I just made plans for later. Soon
after, the rest of my family sat down at the table and dug in
with a large sense of informality. Dinner could be funny. What
was to come after could not. I snatched some more mash potatoes
from Kurumi. She rasp berried me in normal fashion. Also in
normal fashion, Jingoro, our pet cat, was begging. I threw him
a small piece of chicken which he quickly began to nibble at on
the floor. Grandfather made himself useful and passed out soft
drinks.

As the food disappeared quickly, the air grew tense, and
my grandfather's face turned serious. Everyone around the small
table recognized it and fell silent. The last time Madoka had
seen my grandfather so serious... No, that was my grandfather
from the future and the Madoka from the future. This Madoka had
never seen things happen when my grandfather was serious. I was
impressed with her ability to either recognize the need for
attention or to take her cues from the rest of us.

"Madoka," Grandfather spoke slowly, "You know quite a bit
now about the Kasuga family, but you do not know everything.
After discussing it with Grandmother, my children, of which I
consider Kyosuke's father one, we've decided to fully bring you
into the fold. This is not by any means an obligation to wed
Kyosuke. Though, I feel you wouldn't mind." He winked at us
both before continuing. "No, what this means is that we lay our
secret, and indeed, our lives in your hands. Kyosuke's father
was lucky, in a way, he wasn't aware of the power until after
his parents had wed. There was no reason for my daughter to use
her power as often as Kyosuke has had to simply defending his
life. I understand the differences between a rural existence
and an urban one, even if Kyosuke doesn't believe me." I
gulped. I forgot my grandfather was telepathic.

"The oldest manuscripts," he went on, "that we can find
indicate that the Kasuga family is descended straight from the
Emperor's Line, and thus directly related to the gods. Now
whether you believe this or not, I'm simply tracing the line as
far back as we can go. The next reports are writings of a
Chinese philosopher that sate that he believes there are certain
areas in the world that contribute to destiny. 'It is
conceivable,' he writes, 'that one clan could receive eternal
powers by remaining in one of these areas for generations.'
That suggests maybe the mountains of Hokkaido are an 'area' and
have given their powers to the Kasuga family. The third option
is one I've been researching on my own, rather haphazardly I
admit, it could be purely scientific. The energy might have
something to do with the magnetic fields throughout the body,
charged by the electrical impulses running through it."

Grandfather looked around and saw that those of us who had
heard it before nodded. "Now," he said after a moment, "there
are practical things to the clan, besides just the history of
it. We don't really have formal meetings. It'd be too
dangerous. We have our enemies, and if you get involved,
Madoka, you will be a target. There are very few members of the
Kasuga Clan still aware of their heritage. Generally, if
they're not aware, we don't have to worry about them, because
their powers will never surface. For the record, the entire
clan basically consists of myself, my wife, my son and
son-in-law, Kazuya, Kyosuke, Kurumi, Manami, and now you, if you
accept. If not, I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to stay away
from us, because you'll not only be in danger, you'll be putting
us in danger. Do I make myself clear?"

Madoka looked hurt. "Of course, I accept. I may not have
been respectful of my own family obligations, but this is less
about you, if I may be so blunt. I won't let Kyosuke go. If
I'm a target now, so be it. I'll do all I can to fulfill
whatever obligations I may have in order to satisfy my
relationship with him." I smiled as I felt her hand grip mine
under the table. "Whatever is needed of me to protect him, just
ask, and I'll see it through." The air in the room was tense
and Madoka blushed slightly at the power of her response.

Grandfather waved her blush away. "You have nothing to be
ashamed of. We understand where your loyalties lie. That is
what we are looking for anyway. If your reasons for protecting
us and accepting risk is simply on Kyosuke's behalf, go for it.
In the end, you are still helping to protect us and accepting
risk to yourself. We're adding quite a bit of stress to your
life and I'm glad you've chosen to essentially become part of
our family. Even if you do not wed Kyosuke, which I feel is an
unlikely event, you will still be part of our family."

"I understand," Madoka answered, resolve hardening her
usually soft features. "You may know that I don't respect
obligations that I do not enter into freely. However, when I
give my word, as I do now before you all, I stand by it. I'm
proud to be considered part of your family." Madoka gazed
around the table. "And, over the years, I've grown to love you
all as my family. This promise is simply a vocal affirmation of
what I've already pledged myself to."

"Kyosuke," Grandfather said as he looked from Madoka,
"Take her home. You two need to talk. Also, I feel that you
should be able to restore her memories by yourself. It's a very
intimate things, and I don't want to get involved. I may be a
bit..." he shrugged in absence of a word, "...at times, but I
know when to stay out of the way." He looked back at Madoka.
"Eventually you understand, I want you to at least review the
complete history of the Kasuga clan. Especially the parts about
the clan's enemies. There are tips in there that descendents of
the clan gathered to have the ability to recognize and avoid
them. You must eventually read those parts, if not all of what
I have collected into a volume of clan history." He stood up,
and we all followed. He moved over and embraced us both. "Now,
go home."

My family waved as Madoka and I left the house and headed
for her car. Once again, she slipped into the red European
auto. Rather suddenly, Madoka pulled out and slipped out into
the street. With amazing skill, Madoka shifted into a higher
gear and the car barely seemed to stop before changing
directions like some kind of flying saucer with racing stripes.
She continued at a normal pace for Tokyo residential streets. As
we passed the park on the way to her house, we hit a pot hole
quite hard. The shock caused the glove compartment to snap
open, and out of it a piece of paper fell onto the floor below
my feet. I couldn't get at it, so I unbuckled my seatbelt and
reached down to get it. I should have just placed it back into
the compartment, but no, I had to read it. I regret what I
found there.
Pay to the Order of Nihon Mortgage Company:

5,000,000 Yen

Midsize house at corner of Yanta and Kokoro

By: Ayukawa Madoka

Account #877-876460-7766
I blinked at the address I quickly recognized as my own
now, or at least my family's. "What the hell is this?" I
turned and stared at Madoka, holding up the paper as I did so.

"Hmm?" she murmured as she tried looking at the document
with her peripheral vision. "Oh, I just helped put a down
payment on your family's new house, as your father needed to buy
some new equipment for his latest shoot. Once he gets paid,
he'll pay me back."

"Oh," I said disdainfully, "He'll pay you back. Well
then, that makes it all perfectly understandable. You should
have told me. He should have told me. I could have cut down
somewhere. Dammit, you people need to talk to me." I was
feeling quite upset. I thought I had a right to. "Going behind
my back like this. The both of you. It's shameful! Madoka, you
overstepped your bounds."

"Will you just listen to yourself? And of all times,
after I'm accepted into your fam--"

"You weren't then," I said bitterly, cutting her off.

Madoka flashed me an angered look the likes I hadn't seen
for nearly two years or more. "Oh, shut up. You know damn well
that's a load of bull-- AHHHH--" Her sudden scream prompted me
to look around quickly. It took me mere milliseconds to
register the source that had elicited her scream. In the
argument, we hadn't noticed that someone was going straight
through their red light. Before we could react, there was a
sickeningly loud crunch. Indescribably soon after, the little
red car was flying down the red lighted street, rubber
screeching and asphalt flying. I remember at least one of the
tires exploding, the rim whining along the road. At one point
the car tipped over and rolled down into a ditch. The contents
of the car, including Madoka and myself, were thrown about like
so much cocktail mix. When the car finally impacted the guard
rail at the bottom, I was hurled out of the car. As I sailed
through the air, I had a moment to reflect on the action of
removing my seatbelt. I, Kasuga Kyosuke, quickly lost
consciousness and the already darkened world turned the darkest
black I can ever remembering witnessing.