DISCLAIMER: I do not own Maria-sama ga Miteru
Sachiko said weakly to the person who served her tea.
"Don't mention it."
Noriko said, smiling warmly before returning to her seat.
Sachiko brought the rim of the cup unto her lips and elegantly took a sip.
'Not bad but I will only be satisfied if Yumi was the one serving me this.'
She silently complained.
"Hey, maybe Yumi-chan has something important to do so she headed straight to class. You'll see her at lunch so stop sulking."
Rei said teasingly. Aside from the former Roses, Rei was the only one who can speak to Sachiko like that without fearing for her life.
"I'm not sulking! I'm worried. Classes are about to start but she still hasn't arrived."
Sachiko said almost hysterically. Yumi is not the type who arrives to school at the last minute so she couldn't help but worry that something bad might have happened to her. What if she got hit by a car and was taken to a hospital? No, no, she shouldn't be thinking of something as horrible as that.
"Why are you so certain that Yumi-san hasn't arrived yet?"
Yoshino asked suspiciously.
"Why? Because...I'm her Oneesama and girlfriend so I'm the one who knows her best."
Sachiko proudly said, hiding the fact that she waited for Yumi at the station for almost half an hour. They never promised each other that they'd go to school together every morning but for Sachiko it was a silent agreement so for the past few days it has become a habit of hers to arrive early at the bus station to wait for Yumi. As for Yumi, the girl probably thought that they've only been meeting there by chance.
'Yumi, where are you?'
Suddenly, a lot of possibilities popped in her head.
'Maybe due to Yumi's overwhelming happiness last night she found it hard to sleep so she overslept this morning.'
Nah, that doesn't make sense.
'Perhaps Yumi was kidnapped?'
Sachiko quickly dismissed that thought. The Fukuzawas are not filthy rich so it's unlikely that any syndicate would bother kidnapping their precious daughter.
'But what if the abductor is a crazy stalker who's hopelessly obsessed with Yumi and is desperate to make Yumi hers?'
Now that makes sense. To Sachiko's senseless mind, I mean. She could already imagine it, Yumi's very-tall-freshman-with-long-hair-stalker (she forgot her name) covering Yumi's nose and mouth with a rug soaked in chloroform. Yumi looses consciousness after inhaling that toxic chemical and the stalker easily drags the helpless girl into an awaiting get-away vehicle. Sachiko's face turned pale with fear then crimson due to anger. She was about to contact the Ogasawara Private Army and order them to capture a certain Lillian student dead or alive when she realized the fact that Yumi's stalker was just a first year therefore the girl doesn't have a driver's license meaning she doesn't have a car. There's no way she could have acquired a get-away vehicle. That was her logical explanation.
The creaking sound of the stairs caught everyone's attention. Sachiko gazed intently at the biscuit door, patiently waiting for the approaching person to enter. Her heart-beat quickened due to excitement at the thought that she will finally see the person who will complete her day. Even though she almost got late because she waited for Yumi until her legs got tired while enduring the lustful gaze male passengers were throwing at her, she won't get mad at Yumi. Only a glimpse of her cute pig-tailed girl is more than enough to brighten her up when she's having a bad day so how can she be mad at her? And to see Yumi safe was the most important thing.
The doorknob slowly turned then the wooden door opened and an angelic brunette stepped into the room.
The girl greeted awkwardly. She was wondering why the atmosphere inside the room was so quiet and everyone was staring at her, especially Sachiko. The heiress was looking at her with disbelief or rather disappointment.
Noriko greeted belated then hurriedly served a cup of tea when Shimako took a seat.
"I'm sorry. We're we supposed to have a meeting? I've completely forgotten."
Shimako said apologetically, thinking that a scheduled meeting was postponed due to her late arrival.
"No, it's fine. No meeting is scheduled today. We were talking about Yumi-san when we heard someone climbing the stairs and we all thought it was her."
Yoshino explained to the white rose. Like Sachiko, she was also wondering why Yumi wasn't there.
"And because Sachiko hadn't received her daily dose of Yumi, she's a bit depressed today."
Rei commented, knowing that her friend doesn't have the energy to fight back her teasing.
'I really have a bad feeling that something happened.'
Sachiko was lost in her thoughts again.
'If it's not the stalker then maybe someone else abducted her.'
Although her prime suspect was off the hook, obviously Sachiko had not dismissed the idea of Yumi being kidnapped. Who on earth has the motive to do such thing to a kindhearted girl?
The name entered her mind along with the image of the intimidating college student she met not so long ago. She knew that woman cannot be trusted. Kei might have convinced Yumi to come over to her house by inviting her for tea. Yumi promised Sachiko that she will never go to that place again but what if Kei found out about Yumi's weakness and used it to seduce the girl. She might have made an offer Yumi could never refuse. Maybe she promised Yumi the thing the latter always long for, the thing Yumi can't get enough of. Yes, maybe Kei used cakes and ice cream as a bait to lure Yumi and the unguarded girl fell for that dirty trick. There's nothing dangerous about sweets unless it's contaminated with drugs that will make Yumi unconscious or alcohol that will make her drunk.
Sachiko swallowed a lump in her throat. She couldn't stop the negative thoughts invading her mind. She pictured the image of a weak and defenseless Yumi trapped like a prey inside a lion's den. What will that woman do to her innocent and pure angel? Yumi might get raped!
'I have to save her!'
Sachiko thought determinedly. Forget about the private army, she would personally kill anyone who would dare lay a finger on her girl.
"I wonder if Yumi-sama is missing school today due to sickness. Maybe she caught a cold."
Noriko said casually which halted Sachiko from her murderous thoughts.
'Yumi is sick? Why didn't I think of that?'
She wondered to herself.
'But if Yumi really is sick then I should be taking care of her.'
She was about to rush over to second year Pine class to make sure of Yumi's absence when Shimako spoke.
"But I met Yumi-san in front of the statue a while ago. We parted ways because I headed to the sanctuary. I thought she'd be here by now. She must have gone straight to class."
Sachiko was relieved knowing that Yumi was not sick but her worry turned into irritation.
"She could have at least stopped by to give me a proper greeting."
She mumbled angrily. There she was, going crazy worrying over Yumi when there was nothing to worry about after all. Why Yumi did not appear at the RoseMansion was a mystery but she better have a good explanation for it because her girlfriend was really upset.
"A proper greeting eh? You mean a sweet good morning kiss?"
Yoshino who was unable to hold herself joined her cousin on teasing Sachiko but quickly ran behind Rei when Sachiko shot her a venomous look.
'Scary. Yumi-san's girlfriend is so scary.'
The frightened girl thought as she continued using Rei as a shield against Sachiko's death glare. Everyone knows that it's not safe to tease Sachiko when she's in a bad mood, especially when she's upset.
'I thought she'd be excited to see me after what happened last night.'
Sachiko thought bitterly. She just wanted to be with Yumi as often as possible; she wanted to see her smile, hear her voice, grope her body and make out with her before classes start. Is that too much to ask, she wondered.
Due to her need to be left alone, her feet led her to this place. Clear blue sky was above her and the wind rustled her skirt as she sat on the roof of the high school building. The view was nice up there. Yumi could see the whole expanse of LillianAcademy and she couldn't help but admire the beauty of this school. Thick trees and blooming flowers that surround the pathways made the scenery more serene. But the serenity in front of her was not enough to calm her troubled heart.
She spotted Maria-sama's garden from a distance and her lips formed a smile when she remembered the stone statue located in the middle of it. Every time she sees that statue she remembers her memorable first encounter with her goddess. Her smile slowly faded and tears started to fall. Yumi was holding back these tears all morning but now that no one could see her, she allowed herself to cry. She didn't know how she made it through her classes without breaking down in tears but thankfully she managed to survive.
The familiar two-story old building caught her eye as she scanned the grounds and not far from it, she recognized the gymnasium. The image of her serving tea to her Oneesama and the memory of their dance rehearsal flashed to her head and more tears continued to stream and her chest ached so painfully that she found it hard to breathe. Her gaze then turned to the sanctuary and she immediately closed her eyes, not wanting to see any other sight that would remind her of her love.
'Here I am all of me, loving you completely...because you complete me.'
Even with her eyes closed, the memory still lingered. She could still remember the immeasurable happiness she felt upon hearing those words.
"Does she still mean what she said? Does she still feel the same?"
She asked herself miserably. The sweet words and promises, the passionate kisses and warm caress, were they all just part of a dream? If they were, then she'd rather stay asleep than face this cruel reality. Maybe the wonderful things that happened these past few days were just a result of her desperate imagination. After all, they were too good to be true. She should have known that life is not a fairy tale that has a happy ending.
Her eyes involuntarily opened and the sight that greeted her made her heart throb more painfully. It was the old greenhouse. That place is very special to her but not as special as the person inside it. She knew Sachiko was there, waiting for her. They were supposed to have lunch together inside that garden but Yumi did not have the courage to face Sachiko so the brunette looked for a place to hide. How can the person who brought her so much joy be the same person she feared to see the most?
"I'll do anything just don't leave me. Please...Sachiko."
Sobbing uncontrollably, she let out the words she might desperately say to her love.
"I shouldn't say that to her. I don't want her to take pity on me. I must stay strong and accept her decision."
She told herself. She decided that she would do the right thing no matter how hard it was. Sachiko's happiness was all that matters and Yumi will give it to her even if it breaks her heart.
As soon as the bell rang indicating the end of classes that afternoon, Sachiko quickly made her way out of her classroom. Rei, seeing her friend who was in such a hurry tried to chase her. They were walking down the halls and numerous students tried to approach them but decided not to when they saw Sachiko's irritated expression.
"Sachiko, I know you want to talk to her as soon as possible but I think you should just wait for Yumi-chan at the RoseMansion."
Rei said worriedly as her friend continued walking briskly towards the second year classroom. Rei knew that Sachiko was not good in handling her emotions especially when it involves Yumi. She remembered last February when she and Minako walked in on the meeting room and found Yumi and Sachiko having an argument. Yumi ran out of the room in tears leaving her frustrated Oneesama. Rei was afraid that Sachiko might confront Yumi in front of other students and she might accidentally say something that would make Yumi cry.
"I will not sit there and just wait for her to appear. If she really is avoiding me, she would immediately go home after school."
"We can't really say that she is avoiding you."
Rei said as she grabbed her hand to halt her.
"If she's not avoiding me, then what is she doing? Playing hide and seek? I don't think so."
Sachiko spat before pulling her hand from Rei's grip.
"First, she did not show up at the mansion this morning then at lunch, she stood me up at our meeting place. Whatever her explanation is, I want to hear it NOW."
Sachiko said as she continued marching down the hall. She looked really pissed and Rei could do nothing to stop her.
After a few more steps, they finally reached second year Pine class. Most of the students from that section were still inside the room and Sachiko hoped that Yumi was among them.
"Oh, Gokigenyou Rosa Chinensis and Rosa Foetida. Are you here to pick up your seours?"
Mami who happens to be one of Yumi's classmates asked. She was one of the few students who had already exited the room.
"Yes. Are they still inside?"
Rei asked while Sachiko stared intently at Mami. The intensity of her stare made Mami feel so intimidated that she found it hard to speak so the girl just nodded her head as a reply. The heiress turned her head on the door once again and watched as students exited the room one by one until she spotted who she was looking for. She could see the shock in those brown orbs that were staring at her piercing sapphire eyes. They stood there facing each other, not minding the crowd of students that gathered around them. Some of them were curious but most of them were concerned. They were worried that their admired Chinensis sisters were having a misunderstanding and have decided to break their bond.
Yumi, realizing where they were thought it would be best if they talk privately. She was expecting Sachiko would want to talk to her but she did not anticipate this.
She greeted nervously as she bravely held her gaze at Sachiko who just stared at her with a stoic face. She knew her girlfriend would be mad at her but she was not prepared to face her wrath in public. Sachiko was upset and Yumi was well aware that words of apologies were not enough to calm her down. Hugs and kisses might do the trick but they can't do that in public.
And as Yumi pondered on what she should do, Sachiko closed the space between them and to everyone's surprise, Sachiko enveloped Yumi in a warm embrace. The crowd stared at them with disbelief that was soon replaced by excitement. Tsutako hurriedly took pictures as Mami enthusiastically jotted down on her notes.
"Aaaw, they're so sweet!"
"Do you think they went through a misunderstanding and now we're witnessing their reconciliation?"
"Rosa Chinensis is the most affectionate Oneesama I've ever seen."
"I'm so happy for them!"
Though they had no clue on what was happening between the two, they were glad they were able to witness such a beautiful display of "sisterly love".
"I was so worried."
Sachiko whispered to the girl in her arms that seemed to be shocked by her girlfriend's action. Yumi like Rei was expecting Sachiko would attack her with words not with hugs. I guess what they did not realize was that Sachiko was not the girl she used to be. She has learned to be more expressive of her feelings and she has become better on dealing with her emotions. She wasn't angry with Yumi, she was afraid. She was afraid that she did something that caused Yumi to avoid her. She feared that her love would want to end their relationship. She wanted to hear Yumi's reason immediately so she could clear things up quickly to prevent the situation from getting worse but as soon as she saw the love of her life, she felt that nothing really mattered except to have her in her arms.
"Okay, that's enough. We still have a meeting to attend to."
Yoshino said to break the crowd and allow them to pass. Sachiko reluctantly pulled herself from Yumi but she tightly held Yumi's hand as they walked towards the mansion.
The student council meeting didn't go well. The Yamayurikai members were not able to achieve anything on their agenda that afternoon mainly because the Chinensis couple seemed to be very distracted. Sachiko was having a hard time tearing her eyes away from her lovely brunette so she decided not to pay attention to the meeting and allow herself to leisurely stare at her girlfriend. She couldn't help it. She felt that there was something bothering Yumi so she carefully observed Yumi's behavior and facial expressions. Yumi was silent the whole time with a serious expression on her usually unstable face. She was in deep thought and knowing that Sachiko was staring at her made her feel uneasy. It took her a great deal of effort to restrain herself from glancing at the girl sitting beside her. She feared that if their eyes meet, her resolve would shatter. She had always thought of herself as a weak person but this time she wanted to be strong.
Their friends, noticing the tension between the two were deeply concerned but decided not to meddle with their problem as a form of respect. And when Rei decided to end the meeting, they were not surprised to see that the couple wanted stay in the room. They knew Sachiko and Yumi needed to talk so they gave them their much needed privacy.
From the corner of her eye, Yumi noticed her Oneesama's cup of tea. The cup was visibly half-full so she assumed that Sachiko did not finish her beverage because it was no longer warm. She knew that a cooled tea does not suit her Oneesama's taste. Yumi stood up and hurried for the electric pot. She quickly prepared fresh warm tea and served it to Sachiko.
"Yumi, what is going on?"
Yumi heard as she placed the cup in front of Sachiko. She knew this conversation was bound to happen and there was no way she could prevent it.
"Please talk to me, Love."
Sachiko said soothingly as she reached for Yumi's hand. The smaller girl had no choice but to directly look at her girlfriend.
"I'm sorry about lunch."
"It's alright. I forgive you."
The seated girl softly said as she wrapped her arms around the smaller girl's waist as Yumi stood frozen like a statue. With her head resting on Yumi's chest, Sachiko could clearly hear Yumi's heart beat.
"But could you at least tell me why you stood me up like that?"
The heiress calmly asked as she nuzzled on Yumi's uniform, inhaling the sweet scent that usually calms her.
"I just needed to be alone so I could properly think."
Sachiko stiffened upon hearing this statement. She did not like the flow of this conversation. She couldn't bring herself to ask what the brunette was thinking because she was afraid of what she might hear. She did not want to entertain the possibility that Yumi was breaking up with her. It just did not make sense at the moment.
Yumi started hesitantly as she gently stroke Sachiko's silky strands.
"How do you feel about your cancelled engagement?"
Sachiko was speechless for a moment at what Yumi unexpectedly asked. Didn't the girl already know how relieved she is now that the biggest obstacle in their relationship is gone?
"There is no word to describe how happy I feel now that it's over. I'm sure you are aware of that, my Love."
Sachiko said lovingly. With a heavy sigh, Yumi freed herself from the embrace and returned to her seat.
"You don't regret it?"
Sachiko's loving smile faded when she saw the serious expression on Yumi's face.
"What is this about? Do you think not being engaged to Kashiwagi-san makes me sad? I can't believe you're still jealous of him."
An exasperated Sachiko said but quickly calmed down and affectionately cupped Yumi's cheek.
"You have no reason to feel that way."
"Even though he's not gay and is actually in love with you?"
Her sapphire eyes widened at what she heard. Yumi used the word "though" instead of "if" and it made Sachiko nervous. She had a feeling that Yumi already found out about Kashiwagi's true sexuality. But how?
"You don't have to hide it from me. I already know. He told me."
Yumi said, seeing the surprise on those blue orbs. Those eyes quickly turned to slits due to anger.
'That imbecile! Is he trying to ruin my relationship with Yumi?'
"When did he speak to you?"
Gritting her teeth, Sachiko managed to ask.
"He drove me to school. I was very surprised when I saw him outside our house this morning."
Lifting her cup, Yumi took a sip before she resumed speaking. Surprisingly, Yumi was acting so calm contrary to Sachiko who was loosing her cool.
"You got into his car?"
The older girl asked worriedly. It is not safe for a young woman like Yumi to get into any man's car unless they are related or unless they've known each other for a long time. And besides, what would the students think if they see Rosa Chinensis en buoton getting out of a young man's car at such an early time? They might get the wrong idea.
"He said you asked him to pick me up so I agreed. I was so worried that something might have happened to you so I was really pissed when he admitted that it was just a lie to trick me."
Unforgivable. That was the only thing that came to Sachiko's mind. She will not forgive her cousin for using her name to trick her love. She swore that she will not let him get away with it.
"What did he want from you?"
Surely, Kashiwagi had his reasons for going through all this trouble.
"That is exactly what I asked to him. I found it strange that he was acting so serious and less annoying than he usually is so I figured he was about to tell me something important. He told me about your conversation last night."
"I swear I was going to tell you about it. Please don't think that I was planning to hide it from you."
Sachiko said defensively. She didn't mind Yumi knowing but not like this. She wanted Yumi to hear it from her.
"It's alright. I understand."
Yumi said with a knowing smile.
"I was nervous at first. I thought he was going to warn me to stay away from you but obviously he was not aware of the true nature of our relationship."
"He's not? Then what did he want?"
"He said he wanted my help."
"He wanted me to help him win your heart. Can you believe that?"
Yumi answered with a soft chuckle. Sachiko stared at Yumi and noticed that Yumi's smile and laughter were different. They were not reaching the brunette's eyes meaning she was not laughing with her heart. Sachiko realized that her girlfriend was hurting. Yumi was trying to hide how affected she was by this revelation.
"I'm sorry if he's bothering you. I promise I'll tell him about us as soon as I get the chance."
"No, don't do that."
"I must admit, I felt his sincerity. Why don't you give him a chance, try to consider his feelings."
What on earth was she saying? Sachiko couldn't help but think that her girlfriend was willingly handing her over to someone else without even putting up a fight. Is she not worth fighting for?
"Go out with him. If you spend time together your feelings for him will slowly come back. He's not a bad person and I think he's good for..."
Yumi was babbling but was silenced by Sachiko's angry voice.
"Enough! Can't you see that you're hurting both of us? How many times do I have to tell you that I never loved him? Why are you pushing me towards someone else when you know it's you whom I love?"
Sachiko was angry yet she wanted to cry. She was angry that Yumi believed that someone other than herself deserves to be with Sachiko. And she wanted to cry because she felt that Yumi did not love her enough to fight for their relationship. Yumi's thoughts had always been easy to read but at that moment, Sachiko couldn't comprehend what the girl had in mind.
"I promised I'll convince you to have dinner with him tonight. He said he'll waiting for you outside."
Sachiko was dismayed knowing that Yumi made this decision without even consulting her first. Why is Yumi so determined to set her up with her ex-fiancé?
"What am I, a toy that you'd easily throw away when you suddenly lose interest?!"
"I just don't want to be a burden to you. Don't hold back your feelings for him just because of me."
It was a hard and painful decision to bring up this suggestion but Yumi thought it was the right thing to do.
"You're such a stubborn girl."
Call her stupid if you like but nothing could change Yumi's decision and Sachiko knew it. She knew that Yumi did not have enough self-confidence and the girl had always been intimidated of Kashiwagi. She regretted telling Yumi that there was a time that she did like that man. Because of that simple information, Yumi somehow thought of herself as a substitute or a second choice.
"I think you'll be much happier with him, Oneesama."
That was the last straw for Sachiko. She's had enough of Yumi's inferiority complex.
"Oneesama? Is that all I am to you? I thought I mean more to you than that."
Sachiko tried not to raise her voice but the hint of annoyance was evident in her tone. She was really disappointed. She couldn't understand why it seemed so easy for Yumi to let her go. For a moment she wondered whether Yumi's love for her was different than the kind of love she had for the girl.
"I do love you but..."
"But you don't trust me! Maybe you don't value me at all. "
Sachiko muttered angrily.
"That's not true! I love you."
"Fine. If you want me to go out with him, then so be it."
Yumi's chest tightened at hearing this. She knew she should be happy because she was able to convince Sachiko to agree with her proposal but there was a part of her that wished that Sachiko didn't agree.
Ignoring the pain piercing her heart, Yumi forced a smile to prove that she was fine.
"W-Well then, w-we better leave."
Clearing her throat, Yumi tried to hide her shaking voice. Turning her back from Sachiko, Yumi hurriedly brought their teacups to the sink. There, away from her Oneesama's view, Yumi washed the cups while fighting back the tears that threatened to fall.
Outside the gates of Lillian, a familiar fancy car was parked. And beside it, a handsome young man was standing, patiently waiting for her princess to arrive. A charming smile appeared on his face as soon as he recognized two young ladies approaching.
"Good evening, Yumi-chan."
He warmly greeted the pig-tailed girl before turning his head to the tall young woman beside Yumi.
"Good evening, Sa-chan."
He said with his gentle voice. His hopeful eyes were gazing at Sachiko's gorgeous face, hoping the girl would smile back at him.
"Gokigenyou, Kashiwagi-san. Thank you for inviting me for dinner."
The raven-haired said nicely.
"I'm glad you accepted my invitation despite such short notice. Thank you."
Kashiwagi stated then looked pointedly at Yumi who forced herself to smile.
"I am doing this because Yumi wants me to. You know I'd do anything to please my dear sister."
Sachiko emphasized, she made sure that Yumi heard her clearly and hopefully got the message. Yumi felt miserable because Sachiko was treating her cold. Ever since they left the RoseMansion, the older girl had not talked to her.
"I am truly grateful to you, Yumi-chan."
"Then, why don't you show your gratitude by asking her to join us for dinner?"
It was an unexpected suggestion that sounded more of a command. Gazing intently at Sachiko, Kashiwagi understood what his cousin meant. He read the message on those sapphire eyes which stated," If Yumi's not going, I'm not going either".
"Yumi-chan, I'd love to invite you to joins us."
The good-looking man said sincerely. He didn't seem to be disappointed at the possibility that he would not be alone with Sachiko. What matters to him was to spend time with the woman he loves so he will grab every chance he gets just to be with Sachiko.
Yumi had been silently standing there the whole time, waiting for Kashiwagi and Sachiko to leave so she could go home immediately and cry silently in her room when Sachiko suggested that she should come. Yumi thought it wouldn't be good for her if she comes. Imagining Sachiko being with Kashiwagi was already killing her and to see those two together might be something she wouldn't be able to bear.
"Of course, she'd come."
Was Sachiko's quick retort when Yumi failed to respond. Without a word, she gestured the brunette to get into the car. Yumi wanted to politely refuse but Sachiko's icy glare made her unable to speak.
Kashiwagi took the driver seat and started the engine. Glancing up at the car's rear view mirror, he could see the beautiful passengers on the backseat. He might have noticed the awkward silence between the two but decided not to pry. Little did he know that the reason why these sisters were acting differently was because of him.
Kashiwagi planned to take Sachiko to a romantic date but changed his mind at the last minute because what was supposed to be their first date turned out to be a dinner for three, so he decided to take them to a traditional Japanese restaurant instead. It was an old establishment that boasts authentic Japanese cuisine at its finest. It's the kind of restaurant wherein you have to take your shoes off before entering. Inside, a kimono-clad lady greeted them then offered a private dining room. The room had tatami floors and at the middle of it was a low dining table. The shoji screen on the other side of the room was open, revealing a fantastic view of a magnificent Japanese garden.
Yumi was reading the menu worriedly. She had never been in that kind of restaurant and she was not familiar with the dishes and the prices were very expensive.
"Shall I order for us?"
Kashiwagi said without looking at the menu. He seemed to be a regular costumer in that restaurant and was well aware of its specialty.
"That would be nice."
Sachiko who was seated across the table said with a smile. It was a simple gesture to show her appreciation but this simple act made a huge impact on the girl sitting beside her. Yumi never imagined that such a scene could easily crush her heart.
"This is a lovely place Suguru-san. You're really good at discovering special places."
Sachiko complimented after Kashiwagi had given his orders to the lady server.
"Well, I'd like to think that I have good taste...especially when it comes to women. Don't you agree Yumi-chan?"
He said with a charismatic smile. Even a dense person like Yumi could easily figure out the flirtatious message in that statement. Saying that he had good taste when it comes to women was definitely a compliment to Sachiko who happens to be the woman he adores. It was like he was saying "I only choose special things so I chose Sachiko because she is special". Normally, Sachiko would scowl at her cousin but this time she acted as if she never heard a thing. It's hard to tell whether she was flattered or disgusted by the compliment.
"I couldn't agree more."
Yumi managed to say as she tried her best to hide her displeasure. The sight of Kashiwagi flirting with Sachiko really annoyed her.
"So, how's college life?"
Sachiko suddenly asked. Perhaps she was trying to start a friendly conversation with the young man. After all, the purpose of this dinner was for her to know him better. Kashiwagi enthusiastically talked about his course and about his future plans when he takes over his family's more Kashiwagi talked about himself, the more Yumi thought little of herself. Kashiwagi is matured, intelligent and confident. And he could give Sachiko a life that Yumi could never afford. He had big dreams and he was determined to be successful in life. The guy has great qualities than any one would easily admire. He is the ideal man that most girls dream of. It's not hard to imagine that even a princess like Sachiko who has high standards would fall for him.
Throughout the meal, Sachiko had been graciously conversing with Kashiwagi and Yumi had been silently observing the two. She was not being ignored but Yumi preferred to isolate herself as the conversation went on. She was trying her best to put on a smile but she couldn't wear a mask for too long. Yumi felt her heart bleeding every time she caught Sachiko giving Kashiwagi a smile of approval. Seeing her love being friendly with her rival was painful to see but at the same time it made her furious.
Kashiwagi said as he picked up a sushi from the serving plate and placed it on Sachiko's bowl using his own chopstick. Yumi's eyes widened as she remembered a familiar scene. It was during New Year's Eve when she and Rosa Gigantea spent the night at the Ogasawara Mansion. Kashiwagi-san and her brother Yuuki were also there, acting as guards. Aunt Sayako ordered sushi for dinner and Yumi would never forget how angry she was when she saw Kahiwagi picking up the urchin, salmon roe and abalone, among others, from Sachiko's sushi box and placing them in his own. Then she was confused when Kashiwagi placed his own flounder, squid and sweet shrimp to the empty places of Sachiko's box. And Sachiko was eating the sushi Kashiwagi placed on her box without any questions. That time, Yumi couldn't comprehend why that scene angered and hurt her at the same time. Yumi was jealous but she was in a state of denial, telling herself that she had no reason and no right to feel that way. But the pain and anger she felt that time were nothing compared to what she was feeling now.
"Yumi-chan, don't you like the food?"
Kashiwagi asked worriedly when he noticed that Yumi staring blankly at her bowl of rice. Kashiwagi might have assumed that Yumi was being silent because the girl felt like she was intruding on his and Sachiko's privacy. But Kashiwagi did his best to make Yumi feel that she was not out of place, that she was not a third wheel. On the other hand, Sachiko who was usually sweet, caring and thoughtful to Yumi acted as if she hardly knew the girl which was rude because she was the one who dragged her there in the first place.
"I'm fine. Don't mind me."
Yumi answered scowling. Her anger brought by jealousy was slowly surfacing. She was certain the food was great but nothing tastes good to a person who's feeling bitter. And the sincere look of concern on Kashiwagi's face annoyed her even more.
"Yumi, don't talk to him like that. Is that how you treat your senior."
Sachiko said sternly.
"I'm sorry for her rude behavior. She's becoming unruly lately. I'm afraid I haven't been a good Oneesama to her."
She added with a heavy sigh. Yumi's heart literally stopped beating for a few seconds. She didn't know what was happening to her. She knew she should be happy because Sachiko and Kashiwagi were getting along well but all she felt was bitterness.
'You're defending him? Why are you so nice to him? You hate that guy, right?'
For the first time in her life, she felt that Sachiko had betrayed her.
"It's alright. You don't have to be so strict on her. Yumi-chan is a good girl and you're a wonderful Oneesama, Sachiko."
Hearing this man utter the name of her love was unbearable.
'Are they intimate enough for him to call her in such an intimate way? And why is she allowing him to do that?'
Yumi couldn't take much more of this torture.
"Excuse me. I need to go to the restroom."
She said then stood up abruptly. Not waiting for a response, Yumi walked out the room. Walking absentmindedly, she found the restaurant's restroom. She quickly entered one of the cubicles and tears flowed freely from her eyes as soon as she locked the door. After barely a minute she heard a familiar voice on the other side of the door.
There was no mistaken to whom that voice belonged to. Yumi was suddenly overwhelmed with happiness knowing that Sachiko quickly followed her there. She thought Sachiko didn't care about her anymore but perhaps she was wrong.
Yumi asked between her sobs. She wanted to open the door and jump into the arms of the woman she loves. She wanted Sachiko to comfort her as she weeps.
"Yumi, you've been very quiet throughout dinner. Are you alright?"
Sachiko asked and Yumi was enraged.
"Am I alright? How can I be alright?! Do you know how painful it is for me to see the two of you together?"
Yumi said, yelling at Sachiko who was leaning outside the door. Thankfully, they were the only ones there so they were able to have their privacy. The heiress couldn't see Yumi's tear-stained face but the brunette's cracking voice indicated that she was crying.
"But Yumi, you're the one who wanted this. You told me to spend time with him, to give him a chance."
"But I never asked you to drag me along. Why do you I have to be here? Why do I have to witness the two of you flirting with each other?"
Releasing her pent-up emotions, Yumi cried hysterically. She never imagined herself raising her voice at her Oneesama but because there was a barrier that separated them, she was able to speak her mind. If she was facing Sachiko, she knew the words would have been stuck on her throat.
"If I had dinner with him by myself it would be considered a date. That would mean I'm cheating on you. And for the record, I am not flirting with him. I was simply being nice."
"Nice? Just admit that you like him...again!"
Yumi exclaimed, clenching her fist. She was breathing heavily due to anger and her heart was rapidly beating.
"Why does it seem that you're angry? I'm just doing what you asked me to."
Sachiko said innocently. Yumi was silent as she tried to figure out what was happening.
"You're hurting me."
Yumi said sadly when she finally calmed down and her tears subsided.
"No Yumi, you're the one who's hurting yourself."
Sachiko replied with a softer tone as she pressed her cheek and palms on the wooden door.
"You're hurting me too by pushing me away so I guess that makes us even. But more importantly, I am doing this to make you realize how much I mean to you. I am giving you an idea of the pain you are bound to experience if I do decide to accept his love. Tell me, can you handle seeing him being intimate with me? How would you feel if I kiss him the way I kiss you?"
Yumi almost lost sanity just by thinking about it. She realized that letting Sachiko go was easier said than done. .
"I know you're suffering and you will continue to suffer until you make yourself believe that I am yours and you are mine. If I cannot convince you to believe me then I'll make you convince yourself even if I have to hurt you by making you jealous all the time to the point that you can no longer take it so you'll beg for me to stop. By then you'll realize that you need me and you will never try to hand me over to someone else again."
With that, Sachiko moved away from the door.
"I hope I made myself clear, Love."
She added as she stared at the door as if she could see through it. When Yumi felt the older girl was about to leave, she hastily unlocked the door and stepped out the cubicle. She was disappointed to see that Sachiko was already gone but she was touched at what she found. There by the sink was a white handkerchief with the letter S embroidered at one corner.
'Thoughtful as ever.'
Yumi walked towards the sink then twisted one of the knobs and washed her face with both hands. When she lifted her head, she was greeted by her reflection on the mirror. Staring at herself, she thought about everything Sachiko had said. Slowly, she clearly understood what she really wanted.
She mumbled to the pig-tailed girl who was staring back at her with as sarcastic smile. She realized that she was being stupid for trying to throw away her happiness when all she had to do was to accept it. Using Sachiko's handkerchief, Yumi wiped her face and made herself presentable before leaving the restroom.
"Is everything fine, Yumi-chan? How are you feeling?"
Kashiwagi asked as soon as Yumi returned to the room.
"I'm fine now. Actually, I think I'm feeling better."
Yumi answered truthfully. Kashiwagi was a bit surprised by Yumi's sudden change of mood. Yumi glanced at the beauty beside her and realized how foolish she was. How could she even think of letting go of someone like Sachiko. The beautiful creature caught her gaze and her heart melted when Sachiko sweetly smiled at her.
'That smile is meant only for me.'
Yumi thought to herself selfishly.
"I'm glad to see you're alright."
The deep voice interrupted the girls from their dreamy state. Turning her head to the owner of the voice, Yumi remembered the awkward situation she had put herself in.
'I'm sorry Kashiwagi-san but Sachiko is mine.'
She told herself with finality as she flashed him a competitive look.
"Kashiwagi-san, I'm sorry that things didn't turn out the way you planned."
Yumi said seriously.
"You don't have to apologize Yumi-chan. I don't mind you joining us. In fact I'd love to invite you again next time."
The gentleman answered with good-nature. He assumed that Yumi was feeling guilty, thinking that she ruined his date with Sachiko.
"There won't be a next time."
Yumi firmly said.
"I won't allow Sachiko to go out with you in the future with or without my presence."
Yumi boldly said. Sachiko was pleasantly surprised hearing this from her girlfriend. It flattered her to see Yumi being possessive over her.
"I understand that you're being protective of Sachiko because she is your Oneesama but don't you think you're going too far? Being her little sister doesn't give you the right to interfere with her personal life."
He calmly explained, ignoring his surprise at hearing Yumi call Sachiko solely by her name.
"But I am not just her little sister."
Yumi said confidently then turned to face Sachiko. No words were needed for Sachiko to understand the message on those mocha eyes that were humbly gazing at her, asking for approval. Sachiko simply nodded as a sign that she was giving her support.
Turning back her head on the guy in front of them, Yumi urged Sachiko to speak.
Of course, she was speaking to Sachiko.
" Yumi is my girlfriend."
Sachiko said without any hesitation. Kashiwagi remained silent and it was hard to tell how surprised he was.
"Yes, we're in love."
She said then turned her gaze to Yumi.
"I'm sorry but I can never love you the way you want me to."
"Are you saying that you're a..."
"A lesbian? Yes, I believe I am."
Kashiwagi fell silent for a moment as if he was in deep thought.
He said with a bitter smile. Yumi and Sachiko found it odd that this guy easily accepted the situation.
"I knew you still haven't forgiven me but I never thought you hated me so much that you'd even go this far."
He suddenly said with a sad expression. Both girls were confused at this reaction.
"What are you talking about?"
"I know you were terribly offended when I told you that I was a homosexual. And you think this is your chance to have your revenge."
"I don't know what you're saying."
"Sachiko, you want to hurt me the way I hurt you. I can't blame you for that and I am willing to go through any kind of punishment until you forgive me but you don't have to get her involve with this."
Sachiko's hatred for this guy immediately came back when she finally understood Kashiwagi's interpretation of the situation. Yumi however, was still in the process of analyzing things.
"Don't flatter yourself! This has nothing to do with you. Believe it or not, we are in a romantic relationship."
She said, fuming. Yumi finally caught up and upon realizing that Kashiwagi had no plans of giving up, she decided to take matters with her own hands.
"Kashiwagi-san, I know it's hard to believe that someone like Sachiko would fall for someone like me. Actually, it took me awhile to convince myself that it really is true. But now, I fully believe that what we have is more than sisterly love."
Sachiko said lovingly as she smiled at Yumi, making the girl more confident.
"So you see, calling her "Sachiko" is no big deal. I can also embrace her any time I please."
And as she spoke, her upper body slowly moved closer to Sachiko.
Kashiwagi wanted to yell at Yumi to stop but he couldn't speak and neither could he move. He was so shocked he couldn't even blink as he witnessed Yumi's face inching closer and closer towards Sachiko's. He watched closely as their lips were about to meet and Kashiwagi was somehow expecting that Sachiko would slap Yumi's cheek and tell her to "Stop being caught up in the moment!".
But Sachiko sat motionless, staring at Yumi with a pleased expression.
'Slap her the way you slapped me. Reject her the way you rejected me.'-was Kashiwagi's silent plea.
But his prayer was not answered as Yumi's lips finally reached Sachiko's. Kashiwagi hoped that Sachiko would quickly push Yumi away but to his dismay, Sachiko cupped Yumi's cheeks to hold her in place as she passionately deepened the kiss. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. The woman he loves was kissing a woman. And she was clearly enjoying herself with her eyes closed as she eagerly moved her lips on Yumi;s mouth. They have gone lost in their desire and it seemed they have forgotten that there was another individual inside the room.
Kashiwagi's voice brought the girls back to their senses. Turning her attention to the intruder, Sachiko reluctantly let go of Yumi.
"Like I said, Yumi is my girlfriend. We're in love with each other."
She said after catching her breath.
"Alright, maybe you do love her but do you love her enough to choose her over your family? I wonder how Grandfather will react if he finds out about this."
"He already knows."
Sachiko bluntly said and Yumi gasped in surprise.
Kashiwagi said with a smirk.
"Why do you think Grandfather suddenly cancelled our engagement?"
He was speechless. He knew there was a reason but this was beyond his imagination.
"He is fine with it?"
"Surprisingly, yes. He loves me more than his company so like what he said last night, I can be with whoever I choose to be with."
Sachiko said confidently.
"Kashiwagi-san, I know someday you'll find the right one for you. I hope you'll find her soon."
She added with sympathy then stood up and offered her hand to Yumi who reflexively took it. The couple walked out of the room leaving the young man brokenhearted.
Kashiwagi, being a gentleman insisted on driving them home but Sachiko politely refused. She didn't want Kashiwagi to get hurt even more.
Using the restaurant's phone, she called for the family driver to pick them up.
Outside the restaurant, there was a stone pathway leading to the Japanese garden. The garden was breath-taking. The colorful lights enhanced the beauty of the towering trees and blooming flowers, making them glow in the darkness of the night. There was a koi pond that has a bridge leading to a small but lovely gazebo. It was here that Yumi and Sachiko decided to kill time as they wait for the driver to arrive.
"This place is nice."
Sachiko said, admiring the view.
"I think it's romantic."
Yumi added as she lightly squeezed Sachiko's hand. Sachiko glanced down at her and warmly smiled.
"I'm sorry for asking you to go out with him. I was acting stupid."
"Yes, you were. But I'm sure you've learned your lesson."
"Yes, I did. I realized that if I loose you, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I don't want to suffer like that so from now on, I promise to do everything I can to help this relationship work. Now I know that I love you so much, I don't think I can ever let you go even if you ask me to. "
"Yumi, all I ask of you is to love me without reservation."
Sachiko said as they shared a warm embrace. Yumi's eyes widened when she remembered what she had heard earlier. She slightly pulled away and looked at Sachiko's face.
"Is it true that you're grandfather knows about us?"
She asked nervously.
"Of course. Even my parents are aware of it."
Sachiko answered casually as if it was no big deal.
"You told them?!"
"Not really...I mean, their my family so I guess they easily saw it through.
Sachiko said defensively. She forgot that Yumi didn't know about the method she used to convinced her family to allow her to be with Yumi. She had no plans of telling Yumi about the depression letter she wrote which "accidentally" got into the hands of her mother.
"And as you can see they have no problem with it. They saw how much I love you."
It sounded too good to be true but Sachiko would never lie to her. This revelation made her very happy. Now she can love Sachiko with all her heart without fearing that she would be taken away someday.
"I'm so happy."
Tears of joy were streaming on her cheeks as she said this. Sachiko, seeing her love crying due to happiness couldn't help herself from crying too. They were glad that they were able to fix everything.
She said lovingly as they smiled at each other. After smiling like fools, their lips decided to express their joy in a more intimate way, ending the night with promises sealed with passionate kisses.
to be continued...
A/N: The New Year's Eve scene was copied from the novel. It's such a shame that it wasn't included in the anime.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter and if you have any suggestion or any criticism please let me know.