A/N: This really came to mind from nowhere, in a complete jumble. I tried to do the best I could with all the thoughts and ideas swarming in my head. Gosh, I got really confused sometimes. Anyways, this is my first try at this fandom/pairing. Hope you like it.

Title: Understand
Rating: T
Word Count: 7238
Pairing(s): Otaru x Lime, (Cherry x Raven, Bloodberry x Akashi)
Synopsis: Throughout the chaos that swarms in their lives, will Lime and Otaru ever really understand each other? Will a serious conversation be all it takes to understand?

.o0o.

Understand

.o0o.

"Lime, I'm home."

"Ah, welcome home, Otaru," Lime answered cheerfully from her place by the stove, as Otaru entered and closed the shoji behind him.

Otaru sighed as he took off his getas and walked into the room.

"How many times must I repeat, Lime? It's not Otaru, anymore; it's 'father'," Otaru pouted, which promptly resulted in a giggle from Lime.

"Don't be silly. You may have raised me as one, but in any case, I'm older than you," she answered proudly and self assured.

"Oh? And how do you figure that?" he lifted an eyebrow at her 16 year old body. The same he remembered from 17 years ago.

"I was built way before you were cloned," she answered swiftly.

"Well, yeah, but you weren't conscious at the time. I woke you, remember?" he retorted, "Besides, that's when you were a marionette. You're human now," he continued with a smile, confident in his small victory, as he sat by the table.

She gaped at him.

"That's totally unfair! Just because I'm human now, it doesn't mean I'm not the same Lime," she grumbled as she kept cooking.

"There's a whole lot of differences-"

"I'm not talking about the physical abilities and you know it," she pointed the long chopsticks at him accusingly; he just stared at her, surprised.

"I was talking about me." She frowned, and kept her eyes trained on him, "My mind, my soul, and my heart are still the same. I can still recall every memory, every emotion and every feeling I've had since you woke me."

"Okay, I get it, you're upset. What brought this on?"

"You!" she stared directly at him with her deep blue eyes, "You keep treating me like a child!"

"That's because you are one." He replied, nonplused.

"You don't treat Cherry and Bloodberry like this!" she accused, turning off the stove.

"Yeah, well, they're different…"

"How?" she demanded, cleaning her hands on a rug from the sink, "How are they any different from me?"

"Well, they're older…"

"What!?" she gaped at him again, letting the rug fall in shock, "They are not! That's preposterous! If you insist on that fact I'll be forced to remind you that the one you woke first was me! And we were made human at the exact same time! So that'd make me the oldest!"

"Well, you certainly don't act like it," he grumbled as he watched her retrieve the rug and pick up some tableware.

"Just because I act childish, it doesn't mean I am," she grumbled back, setting the dishes and the food on the table.

"By the way… where are Cherry and Bloodberry?" he asked, looking around as if expecting them to jump out of anywhere.

"They're out tonight with some friends," Lime answered, recalling that Bloodberry had been adamant in going to the circus that had arrived that same day in town.

"Eh? How come you didn't go too?" Otaru looked at her, surprised. Usually it was Lime who was out with friends, playing until late before she rushed back home.

Lime gave him an exasperated look, but soon smiled teasingly and retorted.

"What, and leave you here to starve? You'd probably go straight to bed without eating if none of us was here to cook for you."

"Hey! I fed myself just fine before any of you came around." He replied, hurt, shoving some food in his mouth.

"That's what? Seventeen? Maybe even twenty years ago?" she continued smiling, "You're not that young anymore."

"Wha-?"

"You were the one who wanted to be the oldest…" she trailed off, giggling.

"And I am. But it doesn't mean I have to like it," he said, continuing to eat.

They ate the rest of the meal in silence, casually looking at each other when they thought the other wouldn't notice. Otaru kept trying to find any differences from her former body; it was a nice hobby as far as he was concerned. He could look at her all day if he had to, but he tried, nonetheless, not to be overly conspicuous. So far he hadn't found any satisfactory difference in her.

'It's almost as if she didn't change at all, from that time. If I didn't know better…' Otaru reflected, 'Then again, she says so herself; she's still the same.'

Finally unable to withstand any more silence Otaru spoke up, as Lime collected the tableware.

"So, how was your day?" he tried to sound nonchalant.

"Oh, it was fun!" she replied brightly, setting the tableware by the sink to wash, as she retrieved the soap from the cabinet.

"Really? That's good. What did you do?" he asked curiously.

"Yumeji stopped by and took me the movies this afternoon; it was really cool," she replied absently as she began to wash the dishes, not noticing how Otaru's eyebrow began to twitch ever so slightly and his smile began to strain.

"Is that so?" he asked, trying to keep the possessiveness and jealousy out of his tone. It'd do her no good to be this possessive; he was her 'father' after all. He could do with the protectiveness he showed about Cherry and Bloodberry, but this possessiveness that Lime seemed to awake in him… it made him, well, uneasy, for lack of better word.

"Yeah! And then after the movie ended we went for a stroll in the park, and had some ice cream," she continued, still unaware of Otaru's possessive reactions by the table, "The sunset was really beautiful today." She recalled before turning to look at him with a smile, "He even invited me to dinner with him tonight but I refused."

Otaru didn't even bother to ask why. She'd given her answer earlier when she said she couldn't 'leave him here to starve'. Still, it amazed him that in all her innocence she failed to see that Yumeji liked her. As in… more than a friend. Well, he thought he was pretty obvious, at least. The guy was 24 years old, and probably had a crush on her ever since she saved him from his mansion on fire few days after he had woken her. And it wasn't as if he could blame him for it either. Lime was very lovable. Too lovable, really. So much that he found himself internally arguing about it, sometimes.

"Hey, Lime…" he called.

"Hm?" she hummed from the sink, happily.

"Did it ever occurred to you that Yumeji… well, likes you?" he asked, suddenly not too sure if he wanted to know the answer. What would he do if she said 'yes'? What would that mean for them?

Lime stopped washing, set the dishware on the sink, and turned to look at him, confused.

"Well, of course," she answered and Otaru felt his heart fall, "We're friends, after all." She continued, eyeing him. He was behaving oddly. What was with that look of despair in his eyes before she continued?

Otaru felt a measure of coolness wash over him at her last words, calming the despair that threatened to take over. It wouldn't do, it definitely wouldn't do for him to show any weakness in this matter. Even if he… he was too old for her! He shouldn't even be thinking about it! He was their 'father'!

"Friends… right," he acknowledged before looking up to the ceiling, wondering if she would ever notice the amount of boys he chased away because of her.

At first he refused to admit that he was jealous. Even thought he had admitted that the one he'd have taken as a bride was her, before they left to deal with Doctor Hess, he wasn't too sure if they had managed to listen with all the explosions.

Then, he refused to admit that he was possessive. He took extra care as she grew up not to let Lime too far from his sight when she was with her 'friends'.

He refused to admit that she made him happier than she should with little things, like holding his hand when they went out, smiling that absolutely radiant smile when he got her something she'd been wanting for a long time, hugging him when he/she needed comfort, falling asleep in his lap and curling up closer as she slept…

He refused to admit that he loved her simply because she meant the world to him and he didn't want to jeopardize that with something that might not be returned anymore. He knew, without a doubt, that she'd loved him when she was a marionette. All the moments they'd had didn't leave any room for doubt. Their feelings for each other had run deep, but he was just a kid back then. Unable to make his choice before it was too late.

He remembered quite vividly the feeling of despair when they left him the last time. He'd been so sure that he'd never see them again, and berated himself for not being able to show her how he really felt. Because he loved all of them, but the only one he was in love with was her. Because he felt so lost every time something happened to her, and it always seemed to happen only to her, as if the fate was taunting him, telling him that eventually he would lose her…

And then, against all chances, they'd come back to him. Human. He'd been so grateful. Ever so grateful for being granted another chance with them… another chance with her. He vowed to protect them, he vowed that this time he would be the one making them happy… but somehow he had the feeling that he'd screwed that up, too. Besides, now he felt too old to pursue her as he should have when he was younger. He frowned at that.

"Otaru… are you ok?" Lime asked. She'd been watching as that myriad of emotions had crossed his face, and was beginning to get worried.

"Hm?" Otaru turned his gaze to her again and it took him a second to guess what she'd asked, "Oh. Yeah, I'm fine."

Lime frowned.

"You don't look fine."

"I'm just tired. I had a rough day at work," Otaru lied, trying to cover up for his lack of subtlety.

Lime gave him an exasperated look that immediately told him she didn't buy that excuse, but then shook her head in dismay, knowing he wouldn't tell her the truth even if she pushed him, dropping the subject.

"You should go lay down, then," she said, turning back towards the sink and resuming her task, "You do look like you could use some rest."

"Yeah, I guess…" He kept looking at her.

"What?" she asked, feeling his eyes on her, but continued to wash the tableware.

Otaru just shook his head and stood up.

"Need any help?" he offered, walking over.

"I thought you said you were tired," she accused.

Otaru chuckled uneasily.

"Yeah, well, I won't drop dead from helping you do the dishes," he came to stand at her side, smiling, "You wash and I rinse?"

Lime appraised him for a few moments and finally gave a small smile.

"Deal."

Otaru smiled back and started to do just so.

"Do you know when your sisters plan to be back?" he asked.

"Hmm, I don't know. But they shouldn't be out too late. You know how Cherry gets when night falls," Lime giggled, "She'll drag Bloodberry home whether she likes it or not."

Otaru nodded, absentmindedly, as he kept his attention focused on her and his task.

"Besides, the circus show doesn't end that late, I think," she proceeded.

"The circus?" Otaru asked, looking at her.

"Ye- oops!" Lime's eyes widened and she began to giggle uncomfortably, before she turned to face him, blushing at being caught hiding something, and began to speak in a hushed tone while staring at his chest, unable to meet his eyes, "Well, you see… the thing is, Bloodberry knew the Higure Circus had arrived today, so she wanted to go!"

Otaru tilled his head to the side, but kept quiet. He knew that if he spoke she'd lose her nerve and he wouldn't get it out of her easily. He honestly didn't get what seemed to be the problem, and Lime sure was acting like there was one.

She finally looked into his eyes, a fierce emotion shinning in them as she began to speak more confidently, "Plus it's been so long since the last time they've been around! She really really missed them, and she really really really wanted to see Akashi, so she blackmailed Cherry into going along so it wouldn't be so awkward!"

Otaru's eyes widened in surprise and comprehension. Oh yeah, Akashi. So they were worried he wouldn't approve of it? Seemed like it. Not like there was much he could do about it; so long as his girls were happy and the guys they liked didn't turn out to be some total morons/psychopaths, he was fine with it. Well, not really… but he wouldn't forbid it if she really liked the guy. Above all, he trusted their judgment.

"Besides, Raven passed by earlier, and Cherry took him along, so they'll be fine!" she attempted to reassure him.

"Raven's in town? I didn't know that. But yeah, I suppose they'll be fine…"he agreed.

"…You're not mad?" she asked, biting her lower lip and looking sheepish.

"Why would I be?" he asked, surprised.

"Well… I, you… uh, nothing," she stammered, getting her eyes focused on her task again and scrubbing the dishes energetically, "It doesn't matter."

"Yes it does. Tell me, Lime," he insisted, cupping her chin and gently turning her face to his, "I won't get mad."

She blushed and looked away from him, lowering her head in embarrassment when he let go of her chin.

"It's just…" she bit her lip again, a nervous habit she'd picked up over the years, "… we were worried that you wouldn't approve of it."

"Why's that?"

Lime looked at him as if he had lost his mind.

"You spend most of your days chasing their suitors away!"

"And…?" Otaru bit back the urge to point out that she had her fair share of suitors also.

"Well, one of the reasons you use the most is 'you're too old for her'. Don't you think we're right to think that you wouldn't approve of Akashi?" she pointed out, bluntly.

"Well, Gennai is old for you…" he attempted to joke.

Lime tapped her foot impatiently and he sighed, realizing she wasn't joking. Taking her hand he pulled her over to the table so they could sit and talk more comfortably. Lime sat at her usual place, blushing a bit from holding hands with Otaru, and shook her head to keep the pervert thoughts out.

"No, I don't mind it if it's Akashi," he began, staring at his own lap, "I've known him almost as long as Bloodberry did; I know he's a good guy and although their age difference is rather large now, I know he still loves her."

Lime watched as his expression softened as he talked.

"And I can see how Bloodberry's eyes sparkle when she so much as thinks of him. She loved him. And he took care of her when I was unable to, so I know he's the right choice for her."

"What about Cherry and Raven?" She prompted.

"Well, I heard he promised to marry her when he was just a little kid," he chuckled, "so if she loves him and wants to marry him what can I do? I sure ain't going to forbid them to keep their promise."

"Good point," she conceded, "There's not much you can do about it if she sets her mind to it."

"And what about you?" he asked, suddenly serious.

Lime tilled her head to the side.

"What about me?"

Otaru let out a suffering sigh.

"Don't you like anyone?" he asked carefully.

"Of course I do." She answered cheerfully, but with a mater-of-fact tone laced through it.

Otaru felt his heart constrict inside his chest, but put up a brave front. He didn't want to let it show just how much that hurt him. It wouldn't be fair for Lime.

"Otaru… what's wrong?" she asked, worried.

Otaru turned surprised eyes her way.

"Nothing's wrong."

Lime paused.

"You look like you're in pain." She whispered finally.

Otaru remained silent.

"I can see it in your eyes," she continued, staring at her lap, "Any of us would be able to recognize that look in your eyes… since we've seen it before."

She paused again.

"I just don't get it what's so wrong about me liking-"

"There's nothing wrong with that!" he rushed to assure her, "If anything, there's something wrong with me for reacting this way."

Lime frowned sadly, and her eyes turned moist. Otaru's eyes widened. That's exactly what he had wanted to prevent.

"Ah- Lime, don't cry!" he stood up in panic.

"Aren't I allowed?" she let a tear run down her cheek, still staring at her lap.

"It's not that at all!" he sat beside her.

Lime curled her legs up and brought them to her chest, securing them with her arms and laid her head upon her knees.

"Look, Lime. There's nothing wrong with you liking someone. Nothing at all! It's just… well, I think it's normal that I feel this need to protect you. I'm your fa-"

"Stop saying that!" She wailed, curling up more tightly, "You don't get it."

"So what do you want me to say? Since whatever I say only seems to upset you further," Otaru said, rubbing her back comfortingly.

"It's not 'what I want you to say'. It'd be meaningless if you didn't feel it anyway!"

"So what is it?"

"I just want to understand!" she cried lifting her head but keeping her eyes trained on her knees, "Why is it that it's fine for Bloodberry and Akashi, and so wrong for me and-"

"Will you listen? I already told you it was fine! Whoever it is!" Otaru replied, mystified.

"No! Will you listen?" she countered, "Who do you even think it is!?"

"I don't know, ok!? But I trust your judgment!"

She lifted her head and glared at him for a few seconds.

"Do you love someone?" she accused.

"What!?" Otaru spluttered blushing, "However did you get to that conclusion?"

"Do you!?" she repeated, turning to stare ahead and drying her tears in frustration.

"Come on, Lime-" he tried to dissuade her. It was crazy.

"Is it Lorelai?" she asked in a small voice, staring at the floor, "It's understandable. She's helped you so much… especially when we weren't around…" a few tears dropped onto her knees and slid down her legs to her feet.

"Lime, that's silly. I don't-"

"She does!" she snapped, staring at him.

Otaru stared back at her, in shock.

Lime smiled painfully, misinterpretating his silence. More tears fell from her eyes, and she turned her head away, staring at her feet.

"Didn't you ever think it was odd? That she never married, I mean," she clarified, "I did…" She paused, "…so a few years back I had a conversation with her." She paused again.

"… a conversation?" Otaru said, snapping out of his shock. Then a new thought crossed his mind, "How many years back?"

She hesitated.

"Lime…"

"You'll laugh," she explained her hesitance.

"Ok, let's work this out. How about I make a promise?" He offered.

"A promise?" she inquired

"There's been a whole lot of misunderstandings between us, I'm sure. And many of those may have actually been a part of the previous conversation. So how about this? I promise I won't laugh at anything you'll say, and I won't interrupt you either. I'll let you explain everything, and once you're done I'll give you whatever answers I can, considering your questions."

Lime seemed to consider it for a few minutes before she stood up and made her way to the kitchen area again.

"Does that mean you refuse?" Otaru watched her go.

"No, I'll do it," she agreed, tentatively, reaching for a kettle in the cabinet above, "I'm just going to make some tea."

"Trying to post pone something?" he asked in an effort to lighten the mood.

Lime looked at him and back towards the next cabinet where the jar of tea leaves was, silently asking for help. Otaru recognized the sign and stood up to help retrieve it as she filled the kettle with water and placed it on the stove.

"No, I'm just trying to calm down a bit and I thought chamomile tea would help. Besides, I need some time to order my thoughts," she clarified.

"Right," he agreed, handing her the jar.

"Thanks," she answered absentmindedly, holding the jar to her chest as she retrieved the tea pot.

"You're welcome," he said as he stood behind her and helped her get it down safely.

Lime's breath caught in her throat at the nearness of his body, but she took a deep breath and pushed the thought away. It's not like he understood… he didn't love her. Stepping away quickly, she walked to another cabinet and took out a couple tea cups.

Stealing a glance at him, she saw him looking at her in confusion but shrugged it off and reached for the sugar pot. Sighing she looked down and noticed she still held the tea jar in her to her chest, so she unscrewed the lid and took out some leaves putting them in the tea pot. Putting the lid back on, she made sure it was well closed before she turned back to Otaru and gave it back to him silently.

"Uh, thanks," he replied uncertainly, putting it back on the cabinet as he watched her check the kettle.

"The water should be boiling soon," she answered his unspoken question.

He nodded.

"You need anything more?" he asked, looking around for something left to do.

"No, you can go sit down if you want. I'll take it in a couple minutes," she replied pleasantly.

"Nah, I'm good," he shrugged it off and continued to look at her.

"What?" she asked, curiously.

"Oh, nothing much. I was just wondering if I would ever understand women," he chuckled, "One moment you're happy, next you're in tears, now you're serious, and I still have no idea what caused most of the mood swings in our previous conversation."

She rolled her eyes at him and turned off the stove; she could hear the water boiling already.

"Well, it's not like I can blame you entirely for that…" she took the kettle off the stove and poured the boiling water into the tea pot, "…after all, excluding Lorelei, we're the only grown up women in this planet. It's normal that you have no idea how to deal with us, even though you've been living with us for years. You were the first man to ever face those problems, with no guidance whatsoever."

"Yeah, I guess," he smiled apologetically, watching as she prepared the tea and placed everything in a tray to take it to the living room, "But thanks to all of you we were able to save Lorelei… and thanks to that, she was able to provide and help develop the female cells leading to finally, and quite successfully, clone women for the first time! Soon we might not even need to do it anymore. Did you ever really thought about it, Lime? You're going to be one of the first mothers in Terra 2! Isn't that great?" he laughed.

Lime blushed and her movements slowed considerably.

"Hmm, yes, I'd thought about it before. Me and Cherry even talk about it sometimes. Bloodberry just listens in and offers the occasional opinion," she giggled, remembering some of said opinions, as she held the tray and motioned for him to go sit by the table again, "We also talked about it with Lorelei. Since she is the only other woman we could turn to that actually knew how it works." She blushed profusely, remembering all she'd been taught since then, as she set the tray down and served him the tea, "She taught us all she knew about it… that's also the time when I had that conversation with her." She admitted.

Otaru stared at her, curiously, playing with the cup she'd handed him since the tea was still too hot to drink.

"It was a few years back, when we were all 12 yet. We all began to wonder what was expected of us as woman's since we were never really taught anything particular about it," she saw a look of remorse in his eyes and she immediately knew he was blaming himself for it, "No! Don't take it wrong! I mean, you did the best you knew. And Lorelei helped you a lot when we were infants, I know. She also taught us several things over the years, one of them being the reason why we only ever really began to wonder about babies and what was expected of us at that age."

He nodded, not wanting to interrupt, like he had promised.

"Well, you know about the talk we had with her back when we were all marionettes yet, right?" she turned somber for a moment, "When Marine was still around?"

"The one about puberty?" he asked, wanting to make sure. He'd had a lot of conversations with them at the time since it'd been a very confusing time.

"Yeah, that one. Well… at the time we only talked about the psychological side of the problem, since back then it wouldn't make sense to talk about the physical changes," she saw the confused look Otaru was giving her and she rushed to explain, "We were marionettes, hence those changes could not occur. It'd be pointless to discuss it."

At that he nodded again and waited for her to continue.

"Anyways, one of the changes that occur on puberty is what allows a woman to have babies," she explained, before she added with a mysterious smile, "I'm not going to explain the details to you, I don't want to traumatize you."

Otaru smiled at that.

"Since then, we became much more aware of our… femininity, so to speak. And then I began to wonder… You remember as I, during that conversation, asked if she'd found her true love? I noticed at the time that her smile seemed a bit strained… and she didn't want to answer; she avoided the question. It's truth, back then I didn't think much more of it, but when we talked about it again this time around I felt like I needed to know her answer," she mimicked his earlier movements with the tea cup, staring intently at it, "I asked her why she'd avoided my question back then, and with a bit prodding she admitted that she'd fell in love with you, Otaru. She told me she'd probably fell for you right after we saved her. That's why she was so radiant every time you were around…"

Lime didn't look up from the cup, so she missed the stunned look on his face.

"I…" she hesitated, "…also asked her if that was the reason she wouldn't have children."

Otaru's eyes widened at that, and he was hard pressed to keep quiet.

"I know what you're thinking. 'Since she was frozen for 300 years it's probable that she wouldn't get out of there unscattered.' And it's truth, for most part. You also forget that she's an amazing scientist." She looked him in the eyes and saw the puzzlement in them so she once again attempted to explain, "As you've said before yourself, she was the one who helped develop the program that would sustain the clones made from her own cells. We ourselves are part from those very clones, - except for the personality incorporation Dr Hess performed before he died. Anyways, didn't anyone ever think that if her reproductive cells were frozen, than any other clones would also turn out to be?"

His confusion seemed to reach a turning point at that as he let her wise words sink in. He'd actually never thought Lime would be so… insightful. She acted so childish all the time, and now he could see the perceptive woman she'd become. Right there, under his nose, and he never really noticed it. Suddenly, her horde of suitors made much more sense.

Lime continued, unaware of his conflict.

"Truth is, she could fix it, and she did. Otherwise no woman, clone or her, would be able to bare children. And she also confessed that part of the reason she never had a child was because she thought you didn't love her back."

She saw the apologetic look in his eyes and for a moment she didn't know to whom he was apologizing. To her, because he did love Lorelei? Or to Lorelei, because he didn't? She chose to keep those questions for later inquiry.

"She told us a baby should be the outcome of a loving relationship. The parents need to love each other in order to engage in- uh, for making the baby. The baby needs the parents to love each other. It helps during pregnancy, and later development. Children need to be loved, and they need to watch how love works in order to understand it and appreciate it," she clarified, "And since she seemed so sure that you didn't love her, she didn't want to burden you with it."

Otaru nodded guiltily. He'd honestly never thought much about Lorelei. At first she was a like a fantasy – a painting of a long deceased beautiful woman he thought he'd never get to meet. It was okay to admire her, back then. Then he found out that she was still alive and did his best to save her for Yeasu-sama, but the girls ended up saving him and her at what he thought was their expense, since they'd been made exactly for that purpose. He'd felt so lonely that he didn't pay much attention to the human woman they'd saved. Then, when then girls returned, he began to open up again, and he spoke to her from time to time in an effort to better understand them. But that'd been it. She was a friend, sure, but never more than that.

"That why I… well, snapped a while back. I thought you did love her," she explained sheepishly.

"Lime-"

"I'm not finished." She added, "I have a theory about that. Why you love her, I mean."

He stared at her, waiting for her to continue. It was ludicrous. He'd never thought of Lorelei as more than a friend, how could Lime ever think that he'd love her?

"It had to do with your indecision about us," she began, "You were always unable to chose between us, ever since the very beginning. You used to say you loved all three of us equally, and that's what caught my attention. I began to wonder if the reason you couldn't chose one of us was because each of us were a third part of what you really loved. If that was the reason, it meant you were just like Mesopotamia... We were a replacement."

Otaru eyes widened in shock at her admission and his heart constricted in his chest.

'How could she ever think she was a replacement!? Never! I'd never do that to them!'

Lime could see the hurt and insurgency in his eyes, but she continued anyways. She needed to get it out of her head; it'd been making her miserable for months.

"I thought the real reason you couldn't chose was because each one of us was a little bit of her. We were made to replace her. It was logical that since you loved each one of us equally, it meant the one you really loved was Lorelei." She let a few tears run free and she took a sip of her tea that was turning cold by now, "She didn't seem to think so, but I believed it. I never tried to persuade her of the contrary, though. I was afraid you'd realize we weren't good enough; that you'd realize the one you loved was her; that you'd leave us to be with her. I was so very afraid…"

Otaru sighed, slightly infuriated. How could she ever come up with such nonsense? He had to admit it might be logical, but it was not truth. Standing up from the opposite seat by the table he walked towards her and sat at her side, putting an arm over her shoulders he took the cup from her hands and placed it on the table, tea forgotten for the moment, and pulled her closer. She let herself be pulled and a few more tears fell before he dried them with his thumbs.

"You done?" he asked gently.

"Mostly," she sniffled, "I want you to answer me now, is that ok?"

He nodded for her to continue. She tilted her head slightly and laid it on his shoulder, comfortably snuggling closer.

"Well, I never really understood why you used to chase boys away when we were younger, and still do it now." She said.

"Well, I've had my fair share of talks with Lorelei over the years, too. And thought she didn't explain it to me in as much dept as she explained it to you girls, I certainly understood that you were too young to have boyfriends." He explained, "Some might have called me lunatic, and over-protecting father, but I did what I thought was best for you girls. You might even say I was a bit jealous, I wanted your attention all to myself." He added with a chuckle.

Lime stared at him, absorbing his words.

"So how come you never chased Yumeji and Raven away? And Akashi is never around much, but…" she asked, curiously.

"Well, because you knew them before you turned human, for one. And I trusted Yumeji to take care of you when I wasn't around. You should have seen how he acted like an older brother when you were only months old. Still does, I guess." He added with a small strain in his voice.

"Right. I guess I can understand that," she answered thoughtfully, looking back to the table, "So how come you've been acting cold to him now?"

"I've not." He dismissed such notion. He hadn't, right?

"Oh yes, you've been. I think he knows why, but he refuses to tell me each time I ask," she added, annoyed.

'Yumeji knows?' Otaru's eyes widened, 'Guess I wasn't so good hiding my feelings after all…'

"Well, uh… I-I really have no idea what you're talking about. I'm the same as always." He stammered.

"Hmm…" she eyed him suspiciously, "I didn't want to push earlier, but… what did you meant when you asked me if I knew Yumeji liked me? Surely you don't mean-"

"I do." He sighed, looking her in the eyes, "He loves you."

Lime eyes widened and she blinked, turning her gaze back ahead of her.

"Well… that certainly explains his weird moments, I guess."

"You really had no idea?" Otaru asked, curiously, "I mean, I've only just began to notice that you were much more perceptive than I ever gave you credit for, and now you tell me you never noticed Yumeji loves you." He added, amused.

"It's hard to notice things when you're not actually expecting them. I always saw Yumeji like a little brother. Uh, older brother now, I guess. I never expected him to… well, I really didn't expect anybody to fall for me. I'm just as childish as I used to be." She giggled, "Well, maybe not as much," she admitted, "but, when it comes to love…"

"What?" he looked down at her face.

She moved away from him slightly, turned to him and looked up at him, blushing.

"I've told you before." She sighed, "'My mind, my soul, and my heart are still the same.'"

Otaru stared at her mesmerized. She couldn't mean…

Lime looked up at him fearfully. She feared he was going to turn her down. Maybe he did love someone else after all. Why would he love her anyways?

"D-does that mean you… well, y-you…" he stammered.

"Exactly how blind can you be?" she asked with a keyed up note to her tone, but she'd resumed her earlier fetus position. An obvious sign of apprehension.

Otaru held her closer to him, tentatively. He'd never dared to hope… and now here she was, telling him her feelings for him hadn't changed ever since they'd met. That even though he was her father now, she still loved him. Suddenly all her earlier conversation made much more sense. She didn't think he loved her back, clearly. And the longer he thought about it the more clues he found. She'd compared her situation to Bloodberry's, stating the fact that the man she loved was about as old as Akashi. She spoke of old promises when she wondered on his opinion in Cherry's case, both cases loves that came from before them turning human. How could he be so blind?

"I guess I'm pretty blind, yes." He admitted, his voice hoarse with emotion, "But so are you."

She sighed, trying to hold the sobs and tears that threatened to spill from inside.

"If you're talking about Yumeji I already told you-"

"You weren't expecting it. Yes, I know. That's not what I meant." He cut in.

"Then what?" she asked, looking up at him, her eyes shining with unshed tears.

"Mine hasn't changed either." He confessed.

Lime tilted her head in confusion and her brows furrowed in puzzlement.

"Your…?" she inquired, mystified.

"…heart." He completed.

She nodded.

"That really doesn't tell me who you love, you know?" she countered, "But I'll be happy for you either way. I'll understand." She tried to smile.

"You suck at lying," Otaru chuckled.

"Well, excuse me for trying to make you feel better about turning me down. I'm sure it won't happen again," the tears she held finally ran down her cheeks as she tried to dry them.

Otaru held her closer to him, hugging her to his chest and lovingly running his hands on her back, trying to sooth her.

"Silly Lime," he cooed.

"Well, that makes me feel so much better…" she rolled her eyes and hit his chest half heartedly, but she let her head rest against his shoulder, her tears wetting his haori.

Gently he propped her head up to look at him. Her expression conveyed her fear of his reaction. He held her face tenderly in his palms and he dried the tears with his thumbs as he smiled at her encouragingly.

"You, Lime." He said simply. "I love you."

Her eyes widened and she stared at him without blinking.

"Oh… I get it," she took his hands in hers and brought them down to rest on her legs and shook her head, "I cried myself to sleep at some point." She concluded, "But damn this dreams for making it harder."

"Lime, you're not sleeping." Otaru sniggered.

She seemed unsure for a moment. She shook her head again, gently.

"If I were awake, you'd have never told me that you loved me," she seemed sure of it.

Otaru decided to indulge her, mostly because he was curious.

"Oh? Pray tell, what would I do, then?" he asked, seductively.

She raised her eyebrows in confusion. Could it really be…?

"Well, for starters you wouldn't be trying to make a move on me. You always seem to think of me as a child, and you use all that father-daughter talk to keep me away…" she said, baffled, "I think you'd think you're too old for me if you did love me, though you'd never admit it. I don't care, though. No matter how old you were, I'd love you always." She hugged him, still thinking it was just a dream.

Otaru hugged her back.

"Yep, definitely more perceptive than I ever gave you credit for, but you're still silly. You're awake, Lime. This isn't a dream no matter how much it feels like one. This is truth. I love you." He leaned in and gently brushed his lips to hers. Both felt the electric charge between them and the tingles all over their bodies.

At that she jumped back, alarmed.

"What?" he inquired.

"I couldn't have dreamt that…" she whispered in a small voice, looking in his eyes.

"So now you're convinced? How?" he incited.

"… I almost didn't remember what a kiss on the lips felt like. Since the only time I was kissed was actually an accident with you back when…" She rambled before she saw the amused look in his eyes, "Am I really not dreaming?" she added fearfully.

He brushed a lock of her hair behind her ear, tenderly.

"You're not."

At that she began to cry again.

"Uh, Lime- what-?" he began to stammer, confused.

"I'm fine," she laughed weakly as the tears kept falling, "I'm just… so happy."

"Don't scare me like that." He whined.

"I'm sorry, Otaru." She smiled at him, "I didn't mean to. Honest."

"…are you really sure you're ok, though? I'm way older than you now; I'm actually old enough to be your father." He asked, anxiously.

She gave him a hard stare.

"Don't you dare try and go back to the way it was now, Otaru Mamiya. I don't care how old you are, I love you. I've loved you this all time! Did you think it was easy, all this time, knowing that I couldn't act on it for several reasons? Today I just… I don't know, I snapped, I guess."

"I'm glad you did, even if it was damn confusing at the beginning," he smiled, holding her close.

"How do think they'll react?" she asked in a small voice.

"They'll be happy, I think. Most of them knew for longer than we did the way we felt about each other." He guessed.

"I guess so." She nodded.

"So… does this means you're my girlfriend? Never thought I'd see the day," he admitted.

"Lucky you; I am," she smiled happily.

"Does that mean you'll marry me?" he asked bravely.

She looked up at him, surprised.

"… you… don't want to?" he asked fearfully.

"As soon as you want to! Of course I will!" she replied, brightly.

"And children…?" he continued.

"As many as you want!" she replied fiercely. Then she frowned somewhat. "Wait, I just remembered that birthing is supposed to be really painful. We'll see…" she smiled sheepishly.

"You're right. You'll have to explain it all to me, I want to understand so I can be more helpful when we get there. By the way, one of the things Lorelei never mentioned was how to get a woman pregnant. I suppose you know how to…?"

"I do. Want me to show you?" she flirted.

"Aren't we supposed to be married first, though? She said so." He cocked his eyebrow at her eagerness.

"I suppose so. I don't mind waiting, so long as I can still kiss you," she giggled.

"Anytime," he conceded, leaning in so he could claim her lips.

They pulled apart for air a few seconds later.

"See? Isn't this nice?" she asked, breathlessly, "All it took was a little understanding."


A/N: So what did you think? Confusing? (Prolly)
Sorry if I did confuse someone with the overall moodswings, but that's the way it came to me and I didn't edit much, lol.
Anyways, not bad for a 1st try of this fandom, I think. xD