Notes and Disclaimers: Like all of the Maria-sama ga Miteru stories I write, I am borrowing the property of Konno Oyuki, Shueisha and Geneon.
This story is part of a series which includes the stories The Truth About Yoshino and Too Much Information. You do not need to read the earlier ones (I don’t think) to enjoy this, but the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts, so you might as well. ;-)
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And once again, my thanks to the Fanfic Revolution just about everything, but mostly for making me laugh.
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The Problem With Sachiko
It was totally Yoshino-san’s fault.
Well, mostly Yoshino-san’s, but a little bit Shimako-san’s fault too.
It certainly wasn’t HER fault.
Despite her friends’ snarky derision when she had denied it, she had never, not once, not at all, thought “that way” about Onee-sama.
Well, okay, there was that time that Sachiko-sama put on the Cinderella dress and she had taken a moment to admire the low-cut front. But that wasn’t anything particularly weird. Even Torii Eriko-sama, the former Rosa Foetida, had said so. “Service,” she had called it, for the Sachiko fans in the audience. The problem with Sachiko-sama was that she had such a lovely figure; it was hard to not notice in a situation like that.
And there had been that time she stood outside the changing room at the jeans store, listening to the rustling of Onee-sama’s clothes as she undressed – she had been embarrassed at the time, hadn’t she, that she had even thought about such a thing. The problem with Onee-sama was that her legs were so long and her waist so slim, of course anyone thinking about her in jeans would think that way.
Yumi shook her head. But that was it.
But, then, there was that time at Sachiko-sama’s family’s summer house, when she was asked to wake Onee-sama up. She could remember quite clearly her thoughts upon pulling the blanket down from over Onee-sama’s head, uncovering the pale white arm thrown back upon deepest black hair. And that alabaster skin clothed in a thin summer nightgown of baby pink. Even at the time she had thought that the problem with Sachiko-sama was, that looking too long at such beauty would be bad…she could have easily become too stimulated at the sight. She had stopped herself and woken Sachiko-sama up.
But now the memory didn’t stop. Instead of carefully choosing a place upon which to lay her hand and shake her sleepy onee-sama, in her mind her hand drifted gently down that slim arm, across the shoulder to the long neck, which lay open to her view. Her hand felt the pulse in that neck and dropped slowly down onto the nape of her neck, above her chest, clothed only in a thin….
Yumi shook her head, fiercely this time, forcing this new, edited version of her memory to cease. This did NOT happen! This was NOT what she had thought, she reminded herself firmly.
Nor, she continued firmly, did she jump Onee-sama that time at the Sports Festival when she first saw her in gakuran. No, she did not. The problem with Sachiko-sama was that she just looked so incredibly dashing in that outfit. She had felt quite a thrill of electricity shoot through her at the sight of Onee-sama’s figure wrapped so elegantly in that military uniform. She couldn’t deny that. But she hadn’t once thought about throwing herself at Sachiko-sama and embracing her fiercely.
Not then, anyway.
But now, her mind once again altered the train of events. Yumi’s “Waaahhh,” followed by Sachiko’s quick smile and spin as she showed off her new look. In the new version of this memory, Yumi was there when she completed the spin, taking Sachiko-sama’s shoulders into a firm grip, her lips pressing forward onto Onee-sama’s surprised, but not displeased, face. Onee-sama’s hand, gripping her own as the kiss lingered…
“STOP!” Yumi shouted out loud.
“Stop what?” Yoshino-san looked over at her friend. Taking in Yumi’s red face and expression of appalled realization, Yoshino-san followed her question with a throaty laugh. “Oh ho,” she muttered. “Not at all, huh?”
Yumi snapped her mouth shut audibly. “Not,” she whispered hoarsely, trying to not be too obvious “until you two put it into my head!”
Yoshino-san waved her finger back and forth, clicking her teeth in a way that made it evident that she was enjoying Yumi’s discomfiture way too much. “Tch, tch, tch, Yumi-san. Good girls at Lillian shouldn’t think that way at all. What will Sachiko-sama think if she learns you had such thoughts?” Sitting back in her chair, Yoshino-san put her hands flat upon her desk and yawned. “Well, I guess that’s the question, isn’t it?”
“What Sachiko-sama will do, right? Isn’t that the obvious thing to wonder?” Yoshino-san looked over at her friend with a strange expression on her face. “You know, I really do think that you never *did* think things like that before…otherwise you’d have already thought about her reaction. Huh. That’s a bit of a surprise.”
“Why is it such a surprise?” Yumi wanted to talk about anything else, but she couldn’t stop herself from asking.
“Because how many times have you walked into the Rose Mansion and seen Shimako-san and Noriko-chan red-faced and awkward? And how many times have you come into the council room and found Rei-chan and I strangely out of breath, standing on opposite sides of the room?”
“What are you talking ab…” Yumi’s sentence petered out as the meaning of Yoshino-san’s words sunk in. “You mean…oh.”
“Yes, I mean, ‘oh.’ Yoshino-san mocked gently. “Yumi-san, did you really never once figure it out?”
“I guess not.”
But now Yumi’s mind had moved onto the “obvious thing to wonder” as Yoshino-san had put it. How would Sachiko-sama react to even the hint that Yumi had feelings that weren’t pure? She wasn’t naive, Yumi understood that. The problem with Sachiko-sama was that she was so opinionated about things. One could hardly dare to ask her about other people’s relationships, much less one’s own.
Yumi remembered Onee-sama in the back seat of her family’s black car, quietly stroking her hair, struggling with her own ethics, unsure how much to say or to ask about Sei-sama’s relationship with Kubo Shiori-san. But Sachiko-sama hadn’t been judgmental about the nature of the relationship, had she?
What *did* Onee-sama think about such things? Her feelings about the men in her family and their affairs was well-known, but surely she knew about Rei-sama and Yoshino-san, and she had never said a word.
Did she know about them? Did she care?
Yoshino-san watched Yumi, a small smile on her face the whole time. Yumi glanced at her friend. I’m so glad that I’m amusing you, she thought bitterly.
“Come on, Yumi-san, let’s go over to the Rose Mansion.”
Yumi stood, taking her bag in one hand and reaching out to Yoshino-san with the other.
“Did you ever ask Rei-sama, about whether Onee-sama knows?”
Yoshino-san nodded. “Of course. She said, ‘Sachiko knows,’ but she didn’t tell me if she told her, or she just figured it out.”
“Hmmm.” Well, that didn’t help much, did it.
“Well, at least you know one thing, Sachiko-sama isn’t the kind of person to hate another person for that.” Yoshino-san and Yumi headed out of the classroom and down the hallway towards the stairs.
Well she wouldn’t be, would she? Her own fiancee was like “that” and she still maintained a cordial relationship with him. But that was different, like Yoshino-san and Rei-sama, that was “over there,” nothing to do with her.
“Why don’t you just ask her?”
Yumi stopped where she stood, her face flaming red. “No way.”
“It’s a simple thing when you consider it. Either way, you’ll know,” Yoshino-san said contemplatively.
“That’s easy for you to say,” Yumi protested.
“It wasn’t easy for me. Not at all. Just because Rei-chan and I have been together so long, you’d think it would be kind of natural, but it wasn’t.”
Well, yes, you would. She had. How hard could it be, just leaning over and kissing another person?
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” Yoshino-san’s comment made it seem like she had read Yumi’s mind. “I almost didn’t do it at all.” Her voice was very soft by the end of the sentence. “I’m glad I did.” Turning towards Yumi, Yoshino-san’s cheeks were visibly pink in a way that was incredibly appealing. Yumi though that, if this was the face Yoshino-san had used on Rei-sama, then there really wouldn’t have been any way for her to resist.
“I was terrified that she’d push me away. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to survive if she did. I mean, its one thing to love another person and be so close to them that that you’re closer than sisters, closer than lovers, closer than anyone. But what would it be like if Rei-chan had rejected me? How could we go on the same way? We couldn’t have, right? Not for a long time, anyway. So it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
Yumi gazed forward, her eyes rising to the wan blue sky. What if she did say something and Sachiko-sama rejected her? Would she be able to survive that?
Yoshino-san’s steps lengthened, “But I did it. And it was wonderful. So Yumi-san, if you’re thinking about Sachiko-sama that way….” She spun in place, her braids flying behind her, a smile on her face. “You should too.”
Yumi watched Yoshino-san as she walked slightly ahead of her, wondering if she really was thinking about Onee-sama that way, or it was just a flight of fancy put into her head by her friends’ situations.
The problem with Sachiko-sama was that even though she was outwardly so cool and composed, underneath, she was a roiling mass of raw emotion. What if asking her made it all explode?
They walked silently to the Rose Mansion, each lost in their own thoughts. Yumi wondered if Yoshino-san was pondering her next conquest of Rei-sama. The glint in her eyes certainly made it likely. Yumi decided not to ask.
At the biscuit door on the second floor, Yoshino-san put her hand out to take the door handle, pausing for a moment. Her eyes narrowed and she waved at Yumi to stop where she was. After a second or two, Yoshino-san waved Yumi forward, and she continued on her way up the stairs. Because Yumi had been stopped mid-step, her tread was heavier than usual on the step that squeaked and it made a piteous moan, like a soul in torment. Yumi moved quickly off the step and finished climbing the rest of the stairs. Yoshino-san nodded as Yumi joined her, then opened the door to the meeting room.
Yumi could hear the scrape of a chair as the door opened. Once inside she could see that Shimako-san stood at the window looking down upon the school grounds, while Noriko-chan busied herself making tea. There was a strange atmosphere in the room, like they had interrupted something.
Yumi glanced at Yoshino-san only to be met with a strange expression. Yoshino-san cocked her head and raised her eyebrows, as if to point something out…. Yumi followed Yoshino’s eyes to Shimako-san, who was gripping the windowsill tightly and breathing a little heavily.
Yumi understood, now, why Yoshino-san had made her step on that squeaky stair. That scrunchy feeling made its usual way up her back until it hit her ears, where it left her feeling a little embarrassed. Quickly, to cover the moment, she greeted her fellow council members in a cheerful voice.
Noriko-chan served them all tea. The three second-years sat quietly doing homework until the remaining members joined them. When Rei-sama and Sachiko-sama entered the room, they would notice nothing of the agonized awkwardness of a few minutes ago.
Council business was disposed of rapidly and the six continued on with their work until it was getting dark. Sachiko-sama stood, with her eyes fixed on the window.
“I have to leave, my parents are expecting me.”
Yumi nodded with sympathy. The problem with Sachiko-sama was that her family was very important and she had many appointments that she had to attend to, as her father’s only child.
“Yumi,” Sachiko-sama turned holding out a hand. “Walk with me.”
Yumi stood quickly and gathered up her things into her book bag quickly. “Yes, Onee-sama.” She took her bag up, and turned towards Sachiko-sama whose hand was, quite inexplicably, still outstretched.
Blushing slightly, Yumi reached out to take Onee-sama’s hand, avoiding the beaming looks of encouragement from everyone else at the table.
Sachiko led the way out of the room, after a moment for farewells. All the way down the stairs Sachiko-sama held Yumi’s hand, while Yumi wondered, and worried. The problem, she thought, with Onee-sama was that if she didn’t want you to know what she was thinking, you wouldn’t know what she was thinking. Her hand was warm and the pressure of her fingers wrapped around Yumi’s made her feel happy.
The reached the bottom of the stairs when Sachiko-sama stopped and turned towards Yumi, her face quite serious. She looked as if she had something to say, although Yumi could not guess what that might be. Clearly she wanted privacy for them to speak – they now stood alone in the foyer of the Rose Mansion, away from prying eyes and ears.
Sachiko’s expression was thoughtful, her lips pushed out in a slight pout as she considered her words. Yumi found herself watching those lips and wondering what it would be like to kiss them.
What would Sachiko-sama think? Yoshino-san’s voice came back to Yumi in a flash. And in response her own private thought, how hard could it be to lean over and kiss someone. Her feet welded firmly in place and her hand starting to sweat in Onee-sama’s, she understood what Yoshino-san meant when she said that it was the hardest thing she ever did.
Following that, she thought that the problem with Sachiko-sama was, plainly, that she did think about her that way, after all.
“Yumi,” Sachiko said, after a long moment. “I…I’ve been thinking.” Her cheeks turned visibly red. “Rei and I were talking, you know, and she was telling me about…”
The scrunchy feeling began again, only this time it traveled down her back, landing somewhere below her waist. Yumi could feel the world spin slightly.
“…her and Yoshino-chan. And Noriko-chan told me about her and Shimako. And I was thinking that,” Sachiko-sama leaned over Yumi, her lips growing larger as she moved nearer. Yumi could feel her face grow hot and hotter still as Sachiko’s lips brushed her own. “I’d like us to be closer.”
Yumi’s eyes closed, as all the many scenes she’d imagined of her and Sachiko-sama together sped through her mind. Laying together in the grass at her summer home, spinning in an endless embrace at the Sports Festival. The problem, she thought as she kissed back, with Sachiko-sama, was that she took so long to do this.
They pulled away from each other, both with faces red and hot, made redder a moment later when a smattering of applause came from above. Yumi and Sachiko-sama spun, looking up at the balcony above where Noriko-chan, Shimako-san, and Rei-sama grinned at them as they clapped, while Yoshino-san flashed an impudent “V” sign at them.
As Yumi stared up at her friends and felt her shoulders being embraced by Onee-sama’s possessive arm, she thought that the trouble with Sachiko-sama was that she had really lousy timing.