ONEGAI TWINS REVISITED

One:

With a grunt, Miina raised her arms and stretched her back into an arch as she stood in front of the kitchen sink. Outside the window was a view of a typical spring morning by the lake. Flowers that she and Karen had planted were blooming and the trees were already far along with new leaves. This was her third spring in the house she shared with Maiku and his sister Karen. She shook her head in unbelief. Things had changed in that time, and yet some things stayed the same. Maiku still was an independent programmer, and would continue to be after graduation. Karen had been helping with his programming for almost two years. She wasn't as fast as Maiku but she was as competent as he was. They must be brother and sister for sure to be able to do that programming. Miina smiled and shook her head at the thought of how she still wasn't certain how to use a computer beyond the basics.

The sound of boiling water brought her back to reality. Preparing tea for Karen and Maiku while they worked was part of her responsibilities. Carrying a tray with a teapot and three cups she went upstairs. The first stop was the room she still shared with Karen. Through the closed door Miina could hear the tap of computer keys as Karen worked at her computer. She gave a gentle knock on the door before entering, and quietly went in. The young woman at the desk was definitely not the unsure, and undeveloped, girl that came to the front door that night years ago. The long black hair was still there, but her body was one that most girls would die for. Miina thanked the gods that Karen was Maiku's sister for more reasons than one.

"Hey, Karen, I brought you some tea. Take a break before you wear yourself out like Maiku does." Miina set the cup on the desk beside some of Karen's paperwork.

Karen stretched herself and gave a sigh. Her deep blue eyes looked up at Miina. "That time already? I don't know how my brother did this by himself." She rolled her shoulders. "I guess it's about time for me to do the laundry." She pushed away from the desk. "I'm ready for the break. I'll be down in a couple of minutes." Karen picked up the cup of tea and closed her eyes as she sipped. A smile came to her face. "Miina, you do make a much better cup of tea than I ever could."

As Miina exited the room she thanked Karen for the compliment. It was her next stop down the hall that she saved for last.

Tapping lightly on Maiku's door, Miina let herself in. At his desk, with his ever present headphones on, Maiku had no idea anyone was coming in. She slipped over and placed the tray and tea on Maiku's bed. Quietly moving over behind Maiku, she wrapped her arms around him and gave him a kiss on the back of the neck. Maiku didn't react other than with a smile, this was a normal greeting for Miina. Long ago he gave up trying to be gruff at being interrupted while working. Nor was he embarrassed or upset by her kiss.

As he entered in a couple of extra letters to the program with his right hand, he reached up and held Miina's hands with his left. "Haven't I told you how much this disturbs my train of thought while working?"

Miina didn't have to look to see Maiku's smile, she knew it was there. Pulling her hands loose she removed the headphones from Maiku's head and heard the faint sound of music. "Right, so you don't want a break with excellent tea and wonderful female companionship?"

Maiku saved the work he had done before turning around to the pouting face of Miina. Looking around her he saw the cups and pot on the bed. He raised an eyebrow. "Hmm. I see some tea over there." He turned his head taking in the room before looking up at Miina. "Where's the wonderful female?" She stuck out her tongue at him and made a face.

From the door to his room came Karen's voice. "Do I qualify as wonderful female companionship?" She took another sip of tea as she smiled at her brother and Miina.

Miina poured the other cups and handed one to Maiku. After taking a tentative sip, she moved the tray so Karen could sit on the bed beside her. The three were silent as they enjoyed the tea and quiet moment of rest.

Miina happened to glance out Maiku's window and thought she saw movement near the old empty house across the road. She looked a little closer but didn't see it again. Probably some animal or kids, she thought to herself.

Karen broke the silence. "So, Maiku, we are almost through with school. What are your plans after that? Anything important that I need to know about?" She looked at Miina over the teacup and winked. Maiku ignored her as he sipped the tea slowly with his eyes shut.

He opened his eyes as he finished the tea, and smiled. "Miina, that was good! Thanks." He turned back to his computer. "Now if you two will let me finish my work so we can still afford to live here." He paused, and turned back around to face the girls. "Well?"

Shaking her head, Karen stood up and handed her cup to Miina. Stepping over to Maiku she gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and whispered in his ear. "Baka!" She turned and went out the door toward the stairs.

Miina placed the cups on the tray and stood up to leave. Glancing over toward Maiku she could see his look of expectancy. "What? You expect something?" Picking up the tray she started for the bedroom door.

"Miina?" Maiku had a slightly lost look on his face.

Miina stopped and looked down at Maiku. "Oh, all right." She stepped over and kissed him on the other cheek. "You don't deserve that you know." Turning, she went out the door, and slid it shut.

Maiku smiled again as he slipped the headphones back on his head and returned to his programming.

Downstairs the girls cleaned up the kitchen area, and Karen started the new electric washing machine. The increase in earnings from her programming did have its advantages. "Anything else we need to do, Miina?"

Miina was checking the food supplies and refrigerator. "As a matter of fact we need a few things." She paused to write a couple of entries on a list. "Looks like I need to go by the store or we don't eat." She turned toward Karen. "Want to come? I could use the company."

Karen took the hint. "Sure, and let's leave 'Mr. Clueless' upstairs." She smiled at Miina.

As they reached the road at the top of the drive, Miina again thought she saw a movement near the big house. This time she stopped and looked closer.

Karen had not seen Miina stopping and took a few steps ahead before noticing she wasn't beside her. "Miina? What are you doing?" She also looked toward the ruin of a house where she had found her mother's diary. "Do you see something?"

Miina frowned and shook her head. "No." She tried to look into the shadows by the house. "I don't know, I just thought I did see something again." She turned toward Karen. "I thought I saw something there earlier when we were in Maiku's room. Hmm." Shaking her head she started back up the road. "I must be seeing things, nothing is there."

Karen looked back at the ruin, then turned and followed Miina. Soon their conversation let the supposed incident be forgotten.

TWO:

Standing in front of Maiku's bedroom door Miina gave a hesitant knock. "Maiku, I'm coming in." She could hear the tap of computer keys but no answer to her knock. She slid the door open and went to the side window that faced the road. Maiku saw her movement from the corner of his eye and watched as Miina lowered the shade of the window.

"Miina? What are you doing?" He pulled off the headphones and frowned as she came toward him tiptoeing. Even with the shade down Miina kept glancing toward the window.

"Shh! Maiku, I think someone is watching the house."

Maiku turned his chair toward the window and looked, even though he couldn't see outside. "Huh? What? How?" He could see Miina was clearly a little upset and frightened. Standing up he took Miina's hand and led her back toward the hall door.

He waited until they were out of sight of the window. "Okay, what is this about?"

Miina held both his arms. She kept her voice down as she explained. "Yesterday, twice, I thought I saw someone near the old house on the hill. Today I saw something again." She glanced toward the windows in the stair hall. "I'm sure I saw a person hiding in the trees up there." She looked Maiku in the eye. "And I know I saw a light up there after my bath!" Her grip tightened on Maiku's arms. "Karen is downstairs watching the hill right now."

Maiku tried to lighten Miina's mood a little by smiling and giving her a hug. "Hey, come on. I've got two beautiful women in the house. It's probably just some pervert trying to see in. You haven't lost any panties lately have you?" It didn't work.

Tears started to come in Miina's eyes, and she tried to pull away. "Let go of me! I'm serious, and you think it's funny. Let go!"

Her initial struggle surprised Maiku, but he held on and pulled her closer. Her tears wet his shirt. "All right, all right. I'm sorry, okay?" He held her a little tighter. "Let me get a flashlight and I'll check things out." He looked down at the top of Miina's head. "Miina?" Maiku pushed her back until he could see her red eyes. "Miina, you stay inside with Karen, I'll be back in a little while."

Miina shook her head in the negative. "No! You stay here with us." She put her arms around Maiku and held to him tightly. Her voice was muffled by his shirt. "Let's get Karen and you stay with us tonight. Okay?"

Maiku sighed, but he saw Karen quietly coming up the stairs. "What did you see out there, sis?"

Karen shook her head. "I'm not sure, but I didn't see a light." She looked at Miina holding tight to Maiku. "Miina and I saw something this morning, but I didn't think it was that important at the time. Any ideas?"

Maiku looked back down at Miina. "Well, I had one, but it wasn't accepted by the other member of the house." There was a muffled 'no' from the region of his chest. "Miina wants me to stay in the room with you both tonight." He felt an affirmative head shake. "In the morning I'll check things out." There was another head shake.

Karen looked at Miina and Maiku for a second. "Maiku, I'll be okay by myself. Maybe you could just keep Miina here." She started to move by them to enter her shared bedroom.

Miina let go of Maiku with one arm and grabbed Karen's pajama sleeve. "No! All of us together, Karen! I don't want any of us alone tonight!"

Karen looked at Maiku, and he gave a slight shrug of his shoulders. "It's okay Karen, let me get my futon and pillow. I'll set up inside of your door. In the morning I'll go over and see if I can find out anything." He detached Miina and handed her to Karen. "You go on to bed, I'll be there in a few minutes."

After finishing up a few more lines of code and shutting down the computer, Maiku picked up his futon and pillow from his bed and put them in the hall. Turning off his room light, he opened the shade on the side window that faced the road and hill. Nothing moved, and there was no light. He went to Miina and Karen's room and laid out his futon inside the door and pulled the door shut.

As he lay down Miina's quiet voice came from the other side of the room. "Maiku, thank you. That's why I love you."

He lay back and closed his eyes. "It's okay, Miina. That's what I'm here for." He turned over. "Love you too." Miina couldn't hear that part, he said it so quietly. Maiku spent a restless night as he listened for each unknown noise in the house.

THREE:

Morning finally arrived. At least it became bright enough for Maiku to see across the bedroom to the sleeping girls on their futons. He had been awake for hours, and the longer he stayed alert the more agitated he became. It was his family that may be threatened! His sister and his... His what? What was Miina to him really? In the past couple of years she had changed from an unknown person, to his possible sibling, to someone else that he could legally be close to and have more then sibling feelings for. But at the same time he had never said anything to change the relationship. He closed his eyes again. Two weeks ago he had taken steps that he had not told Karen or Miina about. Doubts about what they might think, especially what Karen might think or do, bothered him since then, and so he had said nothing. Opening his eyes again he stretched and sat up quietly. He slid the door open enough to ease out and changed to his clothes in his room.

Going outside into the early grey light he scanned the hill and what he could see of the buildings up there. Seeing nothing obviously different he walked down the road to a place hidden from view and moved into the trees on the hill. As quietly as he could he circled deep into the wood and edged toward the old house. He found a space by a tree that was covered by brush, but gave a good view of the area that Miina and Karen had seen the intruder. Maiku settled in for a long wait.

Daylight grew and the sun came over the mountains, Maiku's eyes grew heavy from lack of sleep. As his head almost flopped toward his chest, a movement near the old house caught his eye. Adrenalin surged as he saw someone heading toward the opening where his, and the girls, home could be seen. The figure came more into view, but he couldn't see the face, only a long plait of hair down the figure's back. Maiku eased himself from his hiding place and very quietly moved toward the person that had stopped just inside the trees.

His stealthy movement brought him to where he could see the person's hair was red. In fact, it was a familiar shade of red. Before he could reach out to grab the person's shoulder, she turned and looked at him over her shoulder with deep blue eyes. Shock stopped his hand. "Miina?"

The young woman smiled. "You must be Maiku. I was told you were very protective of your family, and I guess that definitely is right. Hi!"

Four:

Maiku's shock was evident from his open mouth. His eyes grew as he realized that the woman in front of him was a little taller than his Miina, but her eyes were the same color of blue as hers. Her hair was longer, and she looked just a little older. He could only stutter out. "Who are you?"

The girl's smile grew and she gave a little bow. "I'm sorry. My name is Akane Sakai."

Maiku had regained his composure, and his initial meeting with Miina came to mind. He stood straight and gave a small introduction bow. "I'm Maiku Kamishiro." Raising up slightly he looked Akane in the eye. "Are you going to say you're my twin? Right now I have enough of them."

Akane gave a little laugh, sounding just like Miina. "Good heavens, no! I'm not your sibling, I'm your cousin!" She stopped for a second and the smile got bigger. "I'm Miina's sister."

Maiku involuntarily took a step back and fell in a sitting down position. He looked up Akane, his new cousin, and shook his head to clear it.

Akane squatted down in front of him. " Morino-san said you would be like that. She said to give you this." She reached into her bag and brought out a picture and handed it to Maiku. The familiar picture was of two babies in a pool, with the house in the background. Maiku had seen four of these already. "And she said to give you this one too." She handed the new picture to Maiku.

Maiku's hand shook slightly as he saw what was in the new picture. It was similar to the first but had some changes. Where the boy baby had been standing up in the first, he now was laying on his stomach in the water, his face twisted into a cry. The sitting girl with the hat was turned slightly away from the camera looking at a third baby. The new baby, a girl, had red hair and was laughing as if she had just pushed the little boy down. Maiku's eyes started to blur as he looked at a woman's arm reaching for the little boy. In the foreground was a child's head with red hair running toward the camera. Maiku looked back at Akane. He pointed to the red haired baby girl. "This... this is Miina?"

Akane nodded, and pointed to the running child in front. "And that is me. I think it must have been the next picture on the roll of film after the other one."

Maiku was at a loss for words. Standing, he gave the pictures back to Akane. "Come on, let's go to the house. It's been a long night and I need some breakfast. Somehow we need to sort this out."

FIVE:

Karen and Miina were busy in the kitchen preparing breakfast for the family. Miina was humming a little song under her breath as she did some cutting. When they woke up this morning Maiku's futon was empty, so he must have already been doing his search. Both were anxious to hear his results.

Hearing the front door slide open Miina called out. "Maiku, is that you? We're almost ready with breakfast." She wiped her hands on a towel and turned toward the hall. Maiku hadn't answered yet. "Maiku? I'll go, Karen." Karen nodded in reply.

As she stepped into the main hall she saw Maiku removing his shoes, and someone else with their back to her that had long red hair. "Maiku?" He looked at her but his expression was strange. "Maiku, who's our guest?"

At that moment the stranger turned toward Miina and laughed. With a couple of steps she had wrapped her arms around Miina and was hugging her. Miina was in shock, almost as shocked as she was when Karen announced that she was Maiku's sister, and not Miina.

Holding Miina's arms in her hands Akane stepped back and looked at Miina. "Miina! I'm so glad to see you again after all this time!" She hugged her again, just as Karen came out to see what was going on. Akane could barely whisper in Miina's ear. "I'm your sister Akane."

Karen's eyes opened wide and she collapsed with a breathless "Miyu!"

Maiku stood and watched. When Miina looked at him over Akane's shoulder, as if to say 'what is this?' he shrugged and motioned her toward the dining table. After Karen collapsed, he picked his sister up and laid her by the table.

Miina was trying to untangle herself from Akane. "Hey, who are you?" She pulled an arm from her neck. "Let go of me! Who are you, lady?" With an intake of breath a thought occurred to her. "Hey, are you the one that's been spying on us?" She looked to Maiku for help, but he was taking care of the unconscious Karen. Anger was taking over from surprise. Finally she had enough. "Lady, let go of me and go sit down. Now, lady!" Miina untangled from Akane's grasp. "Sit!" She pointed to the table. "There!"

With tears of happiness in her eyes, Akane complied.

Miina moved toward the table and grabbed Maiku's hand. She pulled him to his usual place, and then sat herself down almost touching him. She still glared at her new, supposed sister, Akane. "Talk, lady."

Six:

Karen had recovered enough to sit up by the time Akane had control of herself to speak.

Akane pulled the picture of the two babies from her bag. " My name is Akane Sakai. This is part of my introduction."

Miina looked at the picture and pushed it back to Akane. "Okay, so you have a picture. It seems the whole of Japan has that picture, and you aren't Maiku's sister." She still glared at the interloper.

Akane was able to smile again. "This is the other part of my introduction." She pulled out the second picture and set it in the center of the table. Karen leaned over and her eyes opened wide, and her hand went to her mouth.

Maiku sat with his arms folded and his head down as he already had seen the picture. Miina pulled the picture toward herself. Her finger touched the red headed girl baby, and her eyes rose to meet Akane's.

Akane nodded. "Yes, that is you. The one running is me. You are my younger sister." She looked at Maiku and Karen. "They are my.. no, Karen and Maiku are OUR cousins."

Miina looked at the picture and leaned a little against Maiku's shoulder. Karen reached over and took Miina's hand. No one could think of anything to say.

Akane looked at the three people in front of her. "You're my family." She still was smiling. "Don't you want to know how I found you?"

Maiku finally spoke, but his head was still down. "The UFO news a few years ago? That's how we found this house and each other." Miina's free hand had slipped into his and he squeezed it.

"No, no, I missed that somehow. I guess my classes kept me too busy to notice." Akane leaned forward. "No, it was a friend of yours, Ichigo Morino, she found me and showed me all the pictures she had of everyone."

Maiku raised his head in astonishment. "Morino-senpai? She found you? Why would she be looking for someone from our family?"

Akane looked at him. "Something about research she was doing." She paused. "Oh, yes, she also said I should ask to stay here with you. And you are as handsome as Morino-san said."

Maiku's mouth fell open. Karen's eyes opened wide again. Miina took a couple of breaths as her face began to match her hair.

"Stay here with us? And Morino-senpai says Maiku is good looking." Miina huffed another breath. "Why would..."

Maiku put his hand on her shoulder. "Miina, stop."

She turned toward him. "But..."

He shook his head at her. "Miina, come with me, please." He stood up and put out his hand for her. He looked over at his sister. "Karen, please take care of our cousin Akane. How about our breakfast maybe?"

Karen nodded in agreement, and started to rise.

Akane stood also. "Please Karen, let me help too."

Karen looked to Maiku. His quick nod told her it was okay. "This way Akane." She gave a smile. "You really are our cousin?" Together they went to the kitchen.

SEVEN:

Maiku walked with Miina to the edge of the lake without talking or letting go of her hand. He stood a second looking out at the water. Miina kept her head lowered.

"Miina, you know why I stopped you don't you?"

She spoke without raising her head. "Because I was angry? I'm sorry, Maiku, but it was so sudden. And..never mind. It's my fault."

Maiku turned toward Miina, and lifted her face up until he could see the tears on her cheeks. He shook his head. "No, not because it was sudden. It was because you thought she might want me just like you do. Pure jealousy, right?" She nodded and tried to lower her head again. Maiku cupped her face in both his hands. "Miina, she is really your sister, and that makes her part of our family. She has as much right to stay here as that strange girl I let in three years ago. You understand?"

"But, Maiku..."

"Miina, she isn't taking your place in the house. So it's okay." He looked at Miina's tear stained face and did something he hadn't done in a long time. He kissed her on the lips. "Now let's go back and welcome your sister properly."

Miina held his arm close as they went back in the house. He didn't stop her.

EIGHT:

The rest of the day was somewhat normal. Maiku had work to do and shut himself in his room. Karen and Miina told stories of how their lives had been over the years. None, including Maiku, wanted to ask about their parents. That was yesterday, and this was their new today.

As evening came it was Miina that asked if Akane really did want to stay.

"Stay? Yes, that's right, I do need a place to stay. I only arrived early this morning." Akane paused. "Of course I'm not sure how long my stay would be for." She watched Miina's face. "If that's okay with you and Karen."

Miina smiled a genuine smile. "Sister, you are welcome as long as you would like." She giggled. "If you stay very long I can get you a job at Herikawa's store."

Akane looked thoughtful a second, and leaned toward Miina. "I'm sorry, but I can't stay that long." She smiled a little. "Actually I haven't told you everything about my life yet." She sighed heavily. "I don't think my husband wants me to stay away for long. After all we've only been married six months." Reaching into her bag she brought out her wedding band and put it on. "That's better. I didn't feel right without it. I'm not sure why Morino-san said to take it off."

Miina was sitting with her mouth open, while Karen's eyes opened wide.

Their talk went late into the evening.

Later that night Miina knocked on Maiku's door. As usual he didn't answer since he didn't hear it. Miina went in and lifted his headphones. "Hey, we need an extra futon and pillow for Akane."

Maiku kept tapping in code, but didn't turn around. "I figured that. Go on and use mine." Miina leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

As she was rolling up the futon Maiku stopped entering his code and turned toward her. "Hey, Miina, I need you to read this over and stamp it please." He held a file folder out to her. "You can do it at your convenience. Thanks."

Miina took the folder with her arm load of bedding. "Night, Maiku." He got another kiss on the cheek, and he grunted a 'good night'.

Maiku finished the last lines of the program and shut down the computer. He removed his headphones and turned off the music. Standing up and stretching to loosen up after sitting so long, he looked toward his bed. "I really need to pick up an extra futon one day." He lay down on the wood floor of his room with an old cushion for a pillow. "I hope this is the last time I have to do this." Sleep finally came.

NINE:

Morning. Maiku woke with the sun in his eyes, and groaned. Sitting up he tapped the floor with his knuckles. "This does not rate as a bed. Maybe I need just one tatami in here." He stretched and put his school clothes on. Opening his door he could hear the sounds from the kitchen as the girls made breakfast. At least he would start the day out with a good meal.

Coming down the stairs he heard three voices in the kitchen. Whispers, then giggles, then someone 'shushing' the others.

Maiku stepped into the kitchen. "Good morning everyone." He sniffed the good smells and smiled. "Breakfast ready?"

The three girls looked at him. Karen nudged Miina, and she finally answered. "You may wait at the table for your food."

The cool chill even Maiku felt. He backed out quietly. "Okay, okay. But it does smell good."

The table had been set, and even had a fresh flower in the center. He sat down and quietly waited. "What now?" He tried to review his actions, but didn't find anything to warrant the cool reception.

Finally the three ladies of the house entered with a selection of breakfast items. They placed the tasty food at their part of the table, and a plain bowl of rice in front of Maiku. Then Akane sat opposite Maiku, and Karen next to him. Miina took the end place farthest away. Maiku was at a loss. "Miina, why are you down there?" No answer. He looked at his sister, who studiously ignored him. "Karen, what's going on?" He tried his last chance. "Akane, what..."

She just looked at him over her bowl. Setting it down, she said one word. "Baka!" In unison Karen and Miina nodded agreement.

Maiku blinked a couple of times and started again to mentally review his actions. He was at a loss. After a minute Miina reached under the table and placed the folder he had given her last night on the table top and tapped her finger on it. A dim light went on in his head. "Ahh, I thought you would like that." He watched her unchanged face. "At least that's what I thought."

Karen took a sip of tea and gave her feeling on the idea. "Baka!" Across the table Akane and Miina nodded.

His eyes grew larger. "But I thought you wanted..." He didn't go on as three pairs of eyes burned into him. Finally he turned to Miina, who was still tapping the folder. "What's wrong?"

She stopped the tapping, reached for her tea cup and slowly took a sip. "You didn't ask me." Akane and Karen nodded agreement.

Maiku was now a little confused. "But at the station I told you we wouldn't have a problem with you staying here when we were married."

All three girls shook their heads in the negative.

"You said that was only an example, and not a proposal." Miina took another sip of tea.

Karen nodded again. "I heard you say that."

Akane added from across the table as she also sipped tea. "Morino-san heard it that way too."

The light in Maiku's head finally lit brighter. Standing up he bowed toward Miina. "Miina-kun, I wish to ask you to marry me." He waited and then looked at her.

With her finger again on the folder, she looked back. "Why do you want to marry me?"

Maiku's brain slowed down again. "Because..." He stopped and looked at Karen and Akane. All three were watching him closely. Finally he decided on his answer. "Because I love you, and want you to be with me and Karen in this house."

The girls looked at each other. Akane and Karen both sipped tea again. Miina tapped the folder. "The ring?" The other two nodded their heads.

"Ring?" Maiku looked perplexed again. "I didn't know I had to have a ring right now." His panic level started to rise. "I'll get one when I go to town?" He phrased it as a question.

The girls looked at each other and shook their heads in the negative.

Maiku sat back down stunned. He turned toward Karen, and she wouldn't look at him. Next he tried Akane, and she closed her eyes as she had another sip of tea. Miina just returned his look without a smile.

Outside Maiku heard the sound of a small motorbike coming near the house. After the sound stopped there was a knock at the door. Relieved to get out of the room, Maiku almost ran to answer it. There stood a delivery man with a small package and envelope, both addressed to Maiku.

He returned to the table with the delivery, and placing the package on the table he opened the envelope. The girls were showing some interest in what he was doing. Maiku read the letter to himself, stopped and read it again. Folding it, he laid the letter down and picked up the package. Slowly and carefully he opened the seams of the wrapping and brought out a small box. Before he opened the box he reread the letter. All the girls were very interested, but wouldn't say a thing, as they watched him.

Maiku placed the small box in front of him and stared at it a few seconds. Finally, he sighed, stood and moved to Miina. "Miina Miyafuji, I love you and I ask to marry you." He turned to Akane. "Akane Sakai, as her older sister I ask your permission for our marriage, and your blessing to us." As he spoke he opened the small box to disclose a ring. Then he waited.

For the first time that morning Miina smiled at him. "I accept your proposal Maiku Kamishiro." She pushed the folder toward him at the same time opening it to reveal her signature and stamp on the marriage certificate. He removed the ring from the box and placed it on her finger, where it fit perfectly, and gave her a kiss.

Across the table Akane laughed and added that she gave her blessing.

Karen went over to Miina with tears in her eyes, and gave her a hug. "Now you really are my sister!"

Maiku had stepped back and looked around the room, then out the windows toward the lake. After closing his eyes a second he again picked up the letter to reread it. "Kamishiro-kun, I noted you had not purchased one of these. Please be certain to ask Miina properly to marry you. Also, you must ask Akane, as her older sister, for permission and blessing. You will pay me back later. If you do not follow my instructions, I will do something very bad to you." It was signed, "Ichigo Morino" He refolded the note and put it in his pocket, then reached for his new wife.

Across the lake on the boat dock a small figure was peering into her high power range-finder telescope. Ichigo Morino gave her famous 'scary laugh' as she watched the activity in the Kamishiro house. "Got you that time, Kamishiro-kun."